Hotel Rwanda Hero Denied Medical Bail In September, Right To Evaluation By Independent Doctor
CHICAGO – Nov. 13, 2020 – Paul Rusesabagina, the humanitarian hero and human rights activist whose true story of saving 1,268 people during the Rwandan Genocide inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, continues to suffer from medical maltreatment as he is detained in Kigali, Rwanda. Rusesabagina was kidnapped during a trip to Dubai, taken to Rwanda on a private charter, and then held in an unknown location, tied up and blindfolded, for three days. He has been jailed since that time in Rwanda while he is tried in a corrupt and illegal proceeding.
The activist and cancer patient was refused medical bail on September 17th and has been denied the right to be evaluated by an independent doctor. A combination of photos released in the Rwandan media yesterday show a startling and visible deterioration of his health. In recent conversations with his family he has also complained of dizziness, headaches, and faintness, probably caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure and the conditions of his confinement. This has led the family to renew an urgent call for his immediate release.
Rusesabagina is an internationally renowned human rights activist and genocide prevention educator. During the Rwandan Genocide, Rusesabagina sheltered 1,268 people at the Hôtel des Mille Collines, which he was the manager of, saving them from certain death. He fled the country to Belgium in 1996 after an attempt on his life, and was granted political asylum and eventual citizenship there. He has dedicated his life to educating people about the Genocide to ensure that never again means never again and advocating for an internationally sanctioned truth and reconciliation process for Rwanda and the Great Lakes region of Africa. A legal permanent resident of the US, Rusesabagina lives in San Antonio, Texas. In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has a history of cracking down on dissidents, engineering sham trials, and mistreating prisoners. He has forced Rusesabagina to use government-appointed lawyers, denied him access to his international counsel, and has not allowed him any unsupervised contact. Rusesabagina is a cancer patient in remission, has a cardiovascular blood pressure condition, and requires daily medication. He has lost at least fifteen pounds during his detention so far, and has apparently required hospitalization three times so far, yet the Rwandan government has refused to share records and details of those incidents with Rusesabagina’s physicians in Belgium. Despite his precarious health issues, the illegal circumstances of his kidnapping and detention, and the raging COVID-19 pandemic moving through Rwanda, Kagame has resisted calls to release him.
Paul’s family is once again leading calls for the US and Belgian governments to intervene on behalf of their citizen and resident so that he may be brought home safely.