CHICAGO – Aug. 31, 2020 – Paul Rusesabagina, the humanitarian famous for saving 1,200 refugees during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, whose true story was told in the film Hotel Rwanda, has been arrested while traveling.
“We believe he was kidnapped and taken by extraordinary rendition to Rwanda,” said a spokesperson for the family. “[Rusesabagina] is being held by President Paul Kagame’s government on false charges. He is a regular critic of human rights violations in Rwanda, and the Rwandan government regularly brings false charges against all critics in order to try to silence them.”
The Rwandan government has been attempting to discredit Rusesabagina since the movie Hotel Rwanda appeared in 2004. He is seen as a famous Rwandan in exile who is embarrassing to Kagame and his authoritarian government. The various charges against Rusesabagina were shown to be false on many occasions, but Rwanda continued to pursue him. Rwandan agents have regularly followed Rusesabagina for over a decade, including invading his home, threatening his life, and frequently attempting to disrupt his public and private speeches.
Rusesabagina’s family is extremely concerned for his well being, and is pleading with the international community to get involved. “Paul is a cancer survivor and heart patient who requires daily medication,” said a spokesperson for the family.
His family has not had any contact with him since his disappearance. They have requested to visit him immediately, to make certain that he is safe, and to ensure his swift release.
Paul Rusesabagina is a peaceful activist recognized around the world with awards, honorary degrees, and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.
International action is needed immediately to pressure the Rwandan government and insure Rusesabagina’s safe and speedy release.
Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation President Paul Rusesabagina – Biography
Paul Rusesabagina is the real life hero of the acclaimed film Hotel Rwanda and the President and Founder of the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation.
As portrayed by actor Don Cheadle in the film, Rusesabagina saved the lives of more than 1,200 people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Rusesabagina served as manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali and bravely risked his life to shelter Hutus and Tutsis who were seeking refuge from the genocide that killed more than 800,000 people.
Rusesabagina served as special consultant to United Artists and Lion’s Gate Films’ production of Hotel Rwanda, which also starred Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix and Nick Nolte. His popular autobiography, An Ordinary Man, was published by Penguin Group (USA) Inc. in April 2006.
In order to further the mission of his foundation, Rusesabagina now tours the world speaking about social justice, human rights activism and the lessons learned from the Rwandan genocide, one of the worst tragedies of the 20th century. He has spoken to large organizations of journalists, educators, students, policymakers, business leaders and human rights advocates throughout Europe and the United States. Rusesabagina describes his experiences during the horrific genocide, the terror and the helplessness of the people he sheltered, and the ways in which governments, non-governmental organizations and ordinary people can work together to prevent genocide throughout the world.
In 2000, Paul Rusesabagina received the Immortal Chaplains Prize for Humanity. In 2005 he received the the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President George W. Bush. That same year, Rusesabagina was also honored with the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award and the Humanitarian Award from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
After receiving these honors, Rusesabagina formed the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation to help provide voice to victims of genocide and support peace efforts in Rwanda and throughout the world. What started as a personal mission to teach the lessons of Rwanda has become an international movement to fight genocide throughout the world.
The Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation raises public awareness about the need for an internationally administered Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa. The Foundation also works on issues related to the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 5 million have died. The Foundation is campaigning for an end to Rwandan military intervention in the Congo and against the deadly exploitation of conflict minerals in the region.
Paul Rusesabagina continues to be the President of the foundation, a 501c3 public not for profit charity, based in Chicago Illinois.
Paul Rusesabagina was born June 15, 1954, at Murama-Gitarama in the Central-South of Rwanda;
His parents were farmers. In 1962, he entered the SDA (Seventh Day Adventist) College of Gitwe, a Missionary School. He attended seven years of primary school and six years of secondary studies.
From 1975 to 1978, Rusesabagina attended the Faculty of Theology in Cameroon. In January 1979 he was employed by Sabena as a front office manager in their newly opened Hotel Akagera in the Akagera National Park. Here he learned to excel in the tourism, hotel, and catering industry.
Through The Suisse Tourist Consult, Rusesabagina’s application was accepted for entrance into the Kenya Utalii College in Nairobi in the Hotel Management Course, which he started in early 1980 and finished in September 1984 in Switzerland.
Back from Switzerland, Rusesabagina joined Sabena Hotels again and was employed as assistant general manager in the Mille Collines Hotel from October 1984 until November 1992, at which time he was promoted to general manager of the Diplomate Hotel (also in Kigali).
As portrayed in the film Hotel Rwanda, Rusesabagina moved back to the Hotel des Mille Colllines during the horrific Rwandan genocide, where he worked tirelessly to protect and shelter those fleeing the violence that had gripped his country.