KIGALI, Rwanda – May 3, 2021 – Last week, government witnesses in the trial of Paul Rusesabagina added to the evidence that Paul Rusesabagina is innocent. The charges against him are false charges similar to charges Rwanda has raised before and the international community has rejected before.
Paul Rusesabagina is on trial in Rwanda on a series of false charges, all related to his command and support of alleged attacks by the National Liberation Front (FLN). These charges would not stand up in a court of independent judges and should not stand under Rwandan law. The blatant and ongoing violation of Paul’s fundamental rights makes a fair trial impossible. The continuing farse also clearly depicts a trial that is nothing more than an exercise in silencing a political opponent. Interestingly, as the case continues in court some of the charges have even been refuted by witnesses brought forth by the government.
Paul Rusesabagina is accused of founding and organizing the FLN. In fact, the FLN was organized as a part of the National Council for Renewal and Democracy Party (CNRD) in May, 2016. This was two years prior to Paul’s association with these parties through an umbrella group of political parties called the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD). Paul had no part in the founding of the FLN, which existed for two years before the CNRD/FLN joined the MRCD. Accusations that Paul founded the FLN are completely false.
Contrary to the allegations in the indictment, even if the FLN engaged in the alleged terrorist activities and attacks, as a leader of the MRCD (not the FLN), Paul had no connection to or responsibility for those alleged attacks. On April 29th, the first two government witnesses against Paul, Herman Nsengimana and Marc Nizeyimana, both gave testimony that Paul was not in any way in command or control of the FLN forces. In their testimony, they stated that the political and military sides of the MRCD coalition were totally separated and had nothing to do with each other. In addition, MRCD leaders are on record on multiple occasions stating that they had no knowledge of any alleged FLN activities until after the occurred. In his role as an officer of the MRCD, Paul had no authority at all over any other party in the coalition, including the FLN and its activities.
The Rwandan indictment also links the MRCD and FLN at every turn, referring to them as the “MRCD/FLN.” This association is incorrect. The MRCD is at most a coalition group made up of several independent political parties focused on democracy in Rwanda. The parties continue to operate separately, and members of each party in the coalition do not direct the actions of the other parties.
Paul had no direct ties to the CNRD/FLN party, at most they were related through the MRCD coalition. The closest analogy to this arrangement might be a European coalition between the Social Democrats and Green parties. The leader of the Social Democrats would not give orders to a member of the Green party.
In addition, when reports about an attack attributed to the FLN were made public, Rusesabagina and the MRCD coalition demanded a United Nations investigation into the alleged attacks. The attacks followed a pattern of false flag attacks carried out by the RPF. There are no independent reports that the FLN carried out these attacks. When questions were later raised about the potential for future violence by the FLN, Paul and the MRCD took action and removed the CRND which was in control of the FLN. In June/July 2020, the CRND officially left the coalition along with the FLN.
While Rwanda continues to insist that Paul has been investigated and had charges pending for years, this is simply false. Research proves that Paul Rusesabagina has never been on a US or Interpol “no fly” list or arrest list. No Rwandan warrant for his arrest has ever been produced, either before or during the trial. He was accused more than 10 years ago of similar connections to the FDLR, an armed rebel group active in the DRC, all of which were also false with no evidence ever presented. And finally, if the Rwandans actually had enough evidence to extradite Paul from the US or Belgium, why did they kidnap him? Why not just follow the law and ask for his transfer? Because this is the same as accusations against Paul Rusesabagina made over the past 15+ years. The charges were fabricated to silence a political opponent and no evidence exists.