Belgium Parliament asks for Rwanda to Repatriate Rusesabagina

BRUSSELS – June 9, 2021 –  Tuesday Belgian parliament voted overwhelmingly to support a resolution by Els Van Hoof, a Member of Parliament from CD&V party. The resolution condemned the enforced disappearance, illegal extradition and incommunicado detention of Paul Rusesabagina which took place in August of 2020 when Rwanda used a plane hired through GainJet aviation to kidnap Rusesabagina and take him to Kigali, Rwanda.


The Belgian majority parties of PS, Vooruit, Open VLD, MR, CD&V, Ecolo and Groen voted Tuesday afternoon to approve the resolution. The resolution condemns the kidnapping, detention and treatment that Rusesabagina has been receiving during his kidnapping, torture and more than 260 days in solitary confinement.


The supporters of the resolution did not stop by simply supporting the release of Rusesabagina, they called President Kagame out for numerous additional human rights violations. They said, “We urge the Rwandan authorities to conduct credible and thorough investigations into allegations of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, and to prosecute the alleged perpetrators.”


Samuel Cogolati, a Member of Parliament from the Ecolo party said, “I think it is very important that our parliamentary assembly can take this position today and say: beware, a red line has been crossed and we plead for the absolute respect of human rights. Paul Rusesabagina is not just anyone. He is known for having saved the lives of more than a thousand Tutsis and moderate Hutus in his hotel, the famous Hotel des Milles Collines, which was immortalized in the film Hotel Rwanda, and who settled in Belgium, who even obtained Belgian nationality in 1999.”


Cogolati continued, “In any case, what is very clear is that there was no international arrest warrant. I think it is important to say this because there is a principle to which we must remain very attached within this commission, it is the Due Process principle, the principle of having the right: no matter what one’s origin, no matter what one’s religion, no matter what one’s ethnicity, to a fair trial.”

The parliamentarians also urged Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès to urge Rwanda to repatriate Rusesabagina. Parliamentarians talked about the case of Guy Theunis as a precedent for Rusesabagina’s repatriation. Theunis was a Belgian priest was arrested in Rwanda in 2005 on suspicion of inciting genocide. Theunis was transferred from Rwanda to Belgium. When he arrived back in Belgium, the judicial investigation against him was completed without any result.

Carine Kanimba, one of Paul Rusesabagina’s daughters, was encouraged by the positive votes of the majority parties for the action on behalf of her father. “My father is proud to have become a Belgian back in 2000 after he fled Rwanda as a refugee to escape the tyranny of Kagame and his cronies. He was sad that he had to denounce his citizenship in Rwanda in order to become Belgium, but that was the law. He embraced his new country only to have them abandon him in his time of need.”

Cogolati decried the treatment of Belgian citizen Rusesabagina by saying, “When I read that he is subjected to cruel and inhuman acts such as being deprived of food, I said to myself that this is completely unacceptable and that we must react once again as representatives of the Belgian people.”

In the United States, the outrage over Kagame’s illegal treatment of Rusesabagina is growing. The Lantos Foundation has submitted a request to the U.S. government to initiate proceedings against the Rwandan Minister of Justice and the head of the Office of Criminal Investigations under the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows financial sanctions to be taken against foreigners who violate human rights.

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EMERGENCY situation – Paul Rusesabagina Denied Food and Water in Rwandan Prison

CHICAGO –  Today Paul Rusesabagina’s family discovered that the Rwandan government has stopped providing food, water and medication to Paul while he is in prison. Paul’s wife Taciana said “we are all incredibly frightened and don’t know how my husband will get food and water to survive. We think they are trying to harm him.” In addition, Paul told the family that their 5 minute call this morning would be the last that he could make to them, and that communications are being cut off. Paul told the family “they cut everything.”


Rusesabagina believes this is an attempt to coerce him to return to the trial that he has been boycotting since March 12. All of the conditions of his imprisonment have changed over the last two weeks. He was moved to a new cell with unknown cell mates who are likely there to report on him to the government. Now his food, water, medicine and access to his family through short weekly phone calls is being cut off. Of particular concern is the fact that the doctor the Rwandan government provided prescribed three bottles of water a day, and he is not receiving those.


Paul’s lawyers attempted to visit him in prison this morning. They were stopped at the gate and not allowed to enter. The lawyers received word yesterday that Paul’s food would be changed and Paul informed the family of the full changes this morning.

Rusesabagina has been in a Rwandan jail for 280 days since his kidnapping in late August, 2020. He was tortured on arrival and held in solitary confinement for over 250 of those days. Withholding food is also nothing short of torture, and is a massive violation of his fundamental human rights. The UN’s Nelson Mandela rules, along with every other legal document dealing with incarceration, provide that feeding prisoners is the absolute responsibility of the government that holds the person. 

Withdrawing Rusesabagina’s food and water supply means simply that he has no access to food or water, and appears to be yet another inhumane form of punishment being applied by the Rwandan government. 


The internationally recognized Mandela Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners state that “Every prisoner shall be provided by the administration at the usual hours with food of nutritional value adequate for health and strength, of wholesome quality and well prepared and served.” In addition “drinking water shall be available to every prisoner whenever he needs it.” 

Paul Rusesabagina has been badly mistreated during his time in prison in Rwanda. The Rwandan government has also made it clear that there will be no fair trial in his case, as fair trial rules have been violated at every step along the way since his kidnapping and arbitrary detention. 

The United States, Belgium, the EU and the international community need to act IMMEDIATELY intervene with the Rwandan government, ensure that Paul Rusesabagina is once again provided with food, and demand his immediate release.

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Belarus’ Lukashenko Follows the Lead of Rwanda’s Kagame

CHICAGO –  While there is no formal Dictator’s School, the world has seen that it emboldens the other bad actors if one dictator is allowed to get away with bad behavior. When Rwanda’s Paul Kagame was allowed to kidnap a humanitarian from the United States and bring him to Kigali for a sham trial, it set a bad example. When the international community remained silent and did not demand the immediate release of the humanitarian, Paul Rusesabagina, it set an even worse precedent.


“The Kagame government has readily admitted that they chartered and paid for the GainJet airplane used to kidnap Hotel Rwanda humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina, the man who saved the lives of 1,268 people during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The international community did not express outrage, did not demand his immediate return to the United States, where he is a legal permanent resident, or to Belgium, where he is a citizen. This lack of action demonstrated to dictators all over the world shows that no one really cares about human rights over their desire to placate Paul Kagame,” said Carine Kanimba, daughter of Paul Rusesabagina.


“To make matters worse, in Paul Rusesabagina’s situation, the company that transported him and whose employees were in league with the kidnapping plot, witnessed his torture, and has been allowed to get off without consequences, said Anaise Kanimba, daughter of Paul Rusesabagina. “There have been no legal consequences for the kidnapping or torture against GainJet by either Greece or the EU. This sends a bad signal not only to GainJet but also to dictators the world over.”

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Family, Legal Team of Illegally Extradited and Jailed Humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina to Reveal the Details of His Captivity and Torture After His Kidnapping

Virtual Press Conference on Tuesday, May 18 at 10:00 AM EDT

CHICAGO –  On Tuesday, May 18  the family and legal representatives of illegally extradited and jailed humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina will reveal recently uncovered details of the events which occurred while Rusesabagina was being held incommunicado by the Rwandan Government in the time between his kidnapping on August 27, 2020 and the announcement of his arrest on August 31, 2020.  
The family is updating their filing with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture after more information on the circumstances of Rusesabagina’s captivity have come to light. Rusesabagina’s international human rights lawyers Kate Gibson, Peter Choharis and Philippe Larochelle will provide insight on their filing and the ramifications of the torture Paul has endured.


Unfortunately, Rusesabagina has still been provided with no contact with his international legal team, and very limited contact with the two lawyers representing him in Rwanda. The conditions of his detention and solitary confinement for his first 260 days in captivity also add to the evidence of torture. Solitary confinement for more than 15 days is an explicit violation of the internationally accepted Nelson Mandela Rules, which are the internationally accepted standard minimum rules for the detainment of prisoners. According to that definition, this type of confinement in and of itself is torture. 


The situation for Rusesabagina continues to deteriorate, with even harassment and threats against his lawyers increasing significantly in recent weeks. Even his Rwandan lawyers are now effectively blocked from representing their client.


In late August, the international human rights icon whose story of saving 1,268 people during the Rwandan Genocide was told in the film Hotel Rwanda, was kidnapped and flown against his will from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Kigali, Rwanda. 
The press conference will be held via Zoom on Tuesday morning at 10 (EDT) and 9 (CDT). 

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: May 18, 2021 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Rusesabagina Family Press Conference

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_CcZ6PCWUTjCNGFJiTQlQhw

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The press conference can also be viewed on the #FreeRusesabagina Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/FreePaulRusesabagina

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Rusesabagina’s Rwanda Imprisonment Violates UN’s Mandela Rules, Int’l Human Rights Standards

May 11, 2021 – Paul Rusesabagina has been in a prison in Rwanda for more than 250 days since his kidnapping from the United States in August, 2020 and the conditions of his illegal confinement continue to be a violation of his human rights under international law. Rusesabagina’s prison conditions constitute clear violations of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Prisoners, also called the “Nelson Mandela Rules,” and other international human rights standards on imprisonment, and there is no reason to believe that the Rwandan government will modify his treatment in a positive direction. This is simply another example of the complete lack of fair legal processes in this case. The world needs to call for his immediate release from prison in Rwanda.

“Paul’s kidnapping also violates U.S. law,” concludes Peter Choharis, one of his international lawyers.  “And the government’s own statements demonstrate that Rwandan officials at the highest levels conspired to kidnap Paul instead of using U.S. deportation procedures,” he added. 

Rwanda regularly ranks among the worst prison systems in the world, with ongoing violations of the rights of all prisoners noted annually by human rights groups and government reports. As a very high profile political prisoner, Paul Rusesabagina’s case highlights everything wrong with that system. 

Paul’s treatment is not just a matter of his health and well-being but is also one of the many places in which he has no chance of receiving a fair trial in Rwanda. Kate Gibson, one of the members of Paul’s international legal team, argues that “A fair trial also means that the accused are detained in conditions that meet internationally recognised standards of detention.” 

Paul was held in an unknown location for three days while he endured torture and was coerced to provide incriminating statements that he has since revoked in court. He then was moved to a police station, and then transferred to Mageragere prison, where he has been held since September, 2020.

Since that time, he has been held in solitary confinement, in a windowless cell for 22.5 hours a  day. Gibson notes that “the United Nations has set minimum standards of detention, called the “Nelson Mandela Rules”, which prohibit solitary confinement of more than 15 consecutive days. Prolonged solitary confinement is considered by the UN as a form of torture, because of the severe psychological distress and physical toll that it has on a detainee.” Paul has been held in solitary confinement not for 15 days, but for 250. Rwanda is clearly in violation of the Mandela Rules, which apply directly to this type of situation.

He is given five minutes per week to speak with his family, in calls that are monitored by his jailors. The prescription medication that he needs to regulate his heart condition were given to the prison by the Belgian Embassy in September last year, and still hasn’t been given to Mr. Rusesabagina, so he is suffering unnecessarily from high blood pressure, headaches and dizziness.

The Rwandan government has also gone to extraordinary efforts to keep Rusesabagina from having access to legal counsel of his choosing, first barring all lawyers, then allowing in two Rwandan lawyers but preventing any external counsel. 

“Evidence from the government’s own witnesses cast reasonable doubt that Paul is guilty of any of the charges against him.  But even after he was kidnapped and tortured, and after the evidence of his innocence, he is still being held in solitary confinement with dwindling access to any legal counsel,” adds Choharis.  “Given the clear danger he is facing, the U.S. and Belgian governments should demand his immediate release,” he said. 

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Rusesabagina is Innocent: Government Witnesses

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.

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Unidas Podemus Initiative Approved – Urges the Government of Rwanda to Release Activist Paul Rusesabagina and Guarantee Human Rights

Mallorca, Spain April 28, 2021 – The Balearic Islands Parliament approved an initiative on Thursday, April 22  presented by Unidas Podemos to urge the Government of Rwanda to proceed with the liberation of the activist Paul Rusesabagina, to advance the democratization of the country and guarantee human rights. 


The initiative has been led by Unidas Podemos, presented jointly with the rest of the Pacte parties, and approved by the Commission on Social Affairs, Human Rights and Sports unanimously. The activist’s family (his daughters, Carine and Lys, and his nephew, Jean Paul) witnessed the debate and vote on the initiative in a separate room. Cristina Mayor, deputy of Unidas Podemos and promoter of the Proposition,  explained that “it is necessary for the Parliament to speak out in defense of human rights. Today the case we are bringing here is that of Paul Rusesabagina, who must be released immediately.”


Mayor also used her turn to speak at the Commission to read a letter from the activist’s family: “As a hotel manager, our father took in and gave refuge to 1,268 people who had taken refuge in him. When the militias tried to break into the hotel to kill everyone, our father used his charm and his negotiating skills to protect the people. He exchanged money for lives and food for favors. He appealed to everyone for help, spending day and night asking for help. He welcomed all the victims who could reach the hotel and managed to protect and save everyone present. Since the terrible events of the genocide, our father has become a clear and dedicated defender of human rights and civil liberties.


 “We know that there is a lot of impunity in the Rwandan government. The whereabouts of many political dissidents are not known, they are persecuted. In this Commission we have carried out various initiatives in favor of human rights and it could not be that we did not present this here. I would also like to thank all the groups that work in their defense, for their constant work ”, explained Mayor. “I want to thank you because this NLP has been unanimously approved. I am not saying this as a member of the Unidas Podemos, but surely on behalf of the family, which is surely very grateful for the support. It is known that Paul’s health is not good and that he has had difficulties accessing his lawyers. He needs a fair trial and access to the medications he needs. We hope that this initiative serves as a model for other regions and other countries in the world to defend human rights,” concluded Mayor.
Carine Kanimba, daughter of Paul Rusesabagina, said, “We are so thankful for the leadership shown by the The Balearic Islands Parliament in calling for my father’s immediate release. We hope that the rest of Spain follows their lead. Years ago, one of the first Intra Rwandan Dialogues on Truth and Reconciliation was held in Spain, so it is only fitting that we come back here to call for my father’s freedom.”

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Exposing the Pact Between President Paul Kagame, Some Genocide Suspects, Some Genocide Survivors, and Two Supposed Humanitarian Groups Against Paul Rusesabagina, An Ordinary Man

A Response to Hotel Rwanda or the Tutsi Genocide as Seen by Hollywood by Alfred Ndahiro and Privat Rutazibwa

By Paul Rusesabagina

April 6, 2008

For the last 5 years, Rwandan President Paul Kagame has been waging a fierce smear campaign against me and my actions. All of this started in 2002 when for personal reasons I declined an invitation from the President’s office to attend genocide commemoration ceremonies in Kigali, during which the President intended to officially recognize me for having protected refugees at the Mille Collines Hotel at the height of genocide. Things got worse two years later when film producer Terry George painted me as a hero in the movie Hotel Rwanda. Inspired by my personal genocide experience, the film aimed to bring awareness to the world’s audience about the horrors of the biggest crime of all.

The movie premiered with immediate success, prompting several high profile personalities and humanitarian organizations to express their profound admiration and cheer me on in my humanitarian line of work. That is how I started, in 2005, Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, with a view to assist victims of genocide, both Hutu and Tutsi, without discrimination. I also launched the idea of setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Rwanda. In April 2006, the Viking Penguin publishing house released my autobiography, An Ordinary Man: the true story that inspired the movie “Hotel Rwanda”. Also, after Hotel Rwanda came out, I have been frequently invited to give lectures, notably at colleges and universities in Western countries. At my lectures, I rail against genocide and other crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda, including those committed by President Kagame and his army, the RPF. On November 15, 2006, I wrote the prosecutor of the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, to formally file a criminal complaint against General Paul Kagame and members of the RPF high military command. 

Eager to silence me over my inconvenient pronouncements and to sully my image, President Kagame has resolved to fight me head on, in the process vowing to trample evidence and falsify the history of genocide as it occurred at Mille Collines Hotel. In the throes of apparent jealousy and frustration for seeing an ordinary civilian man collecting honorary distinctions from many organizations and world leaders for his action during genocide, President Kagame has appeared ready to do anything, including predicating his own fate to that of prisoners held hostage in Rwandan jails. With the only goal of wiping out my reputation, he has not shied away from using the most reprehensible tactics, such as striking an alliance with some genocide suspects held at Kigali Central prison, commonly known as 1930. That’s how his closest associates have enlisted the services of a notorious hate peddler, former RTLM journalist Valérie Bemeriki, as well as Amri Karekezi and Grégoire Nyirimanzi, both of whom were Councilors of Kigali City’s Biryogo Sector and Nyakabanda Sector respectively during the genocide. There is also a certain Setiba, an infamous genocide suspect involved in several massacres at the Nyabarongo and Giticyinyoni roadblocks.

Besides these genocide suspects held hostage in prisons, President Kagame’s most loyal servants have also hijacked scores of genocide survivors of Mille Collines Hotel, and have bought from them falsified testimonies accusing me of complicity in the genocide and ill-treatment against them while under my care. A handful of cowards among them have succumbed to this terrible tactic of institutionalized defamation. Odette Nyiramirimo, Tatien Miheto Ndorimana, Egide Karuranga, Bertin Makuza, Christophe Shamukiga, Yolande Mukagasana, and Jean de Dieu Mucyo are part of this select group. The President’s office believed that they had gathered key ingredients for the authoring of HOTEL RWANDA or the Tutsi Genocide as seen by Hollywood, a book recently published by L’Harmattan. The book is nothing but a compilation of egregious lies cooked up by two Rwandan academics, Alfred Ndahiro – an advisor to President Kagame in communication and international relations, a man who never lived in Rwanda until Kagame brought him to the president’s office – and Privat Rutazibwa, a defrocked priest who once headed the Rwandan Information Agency, and is a journalist, writer, and ideologue for President Kagame’s political party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). These false testimonies are recycled by such populist media as Radio ContactFM 89.7, the daily The New Times, and the Rwandan Information Agency, all of which were created and are fully funded by President Kagame and his inner circle for the only goal of smearing opponents. 

The overdrive to erase history facts has caused these puppet survivors to forget that they once freely volunteered their testimonies to credible western journalists in the immediate aftermath of the genocide long before they were sucked into this on-going retraction campaign. Their statements today lack any foundation and serve only to discredit the deponents. The twisting of their own testimonies about genocide goes as far as changing the context of their arrival and stay at Mille Collines Hotel. They even dare to claim that this Hotel, the best in Rwanda at the time, was in fact a Concentration Camp similar to the ones set up during the genocide of Jews in Europe. But such a comparison is nothing but an outright insult to the memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust who endured the atrocity of real concentration camps.

Some civil society groups, which include certain shady local and foreign humanitarian organizations, have partaken in this grand conspiracy gambit by President Kagame. He has particularly targeted organizations involved with the fight against AIDS, which is a pet subject of his wife, as well as human rights groups working directly under the wings of the RPF. Among the most known leaders of these organizations are François Ngarambe and Théodore Simburudari, who head twin genocide survivor associations grouped under IBUKA, Allen Susan of the San Francisco Project in Kigali who is also a research fellow at Emory University (USA), and Rakiya Omaar, Director of African Rights who is a staunch ally of the RPF.

The use of genocide victims’ suffering as a political tool

In kicking off his smear campaign and leading the way for his hordes of informants, President Kagame has unabashedly used the 1994 genocide as a political instrument, manipulatively playing to the deeply hurt feelings and emotions of genocide survivors, with the only goal of winning their sympathy to his smear campaign.  He has succeeded in holding their associations’ hostage and to use them as political pawns. The ones that attempted to resist – but not for a long time – have been completely infiltrated or bought out while holdouts have been systematically demonized. To wit, during the last 2 national genocide commemoration events in Nyamasheke (in former Cyangugu Prefecture) in 2006 and Murambi (in former Gikongoro Prefecture) in 2007, President Kagame  on both occasions publicly engaged in smear rhetoric against me. In his speeches to the nation, he called me all kinds of names: a hero made in Europe and America, a liar, a swindler, a person with no history, etc. These insults were not simple temper tantrums; they were run and re-run on State radio and Television. Other media operating under the President’s control also reported extensively on the abusive language speeches inside and outside of the country. For some people, rallying behind the President in his defamation campaign afforded them an easy way to access special favors usually reserved for his most loyal followers. For others, it became a stepping stone to increased visibility and entrenched political positions. Yet others found a way to use this campaign to boost their souring image and get back in the President’s favor.

In the days following these commemorative events, President Kagame designated Alfred Ndahiro, his personal advisor in communication and international relations, also the author of the afore-mentioned book, to coordinate this campaign. Mr. Ndahiro initially called on all Mille Collines Hotel genocide survivors to join in this smear offensive. Then he recruited some genocide suspects ready to bear false testimony against me. The on-going change of heart dynamic observed in many of Mille Collines Hotel genocide survivors is insincere and only shows how far the regime is willing to go to peddle lies, manipulate and trivialize genocide through repeated and varied use of false testimony.

Corruption and infiltration of prisons and human rights organizations

President Kagame’s smear campaign against me and my initiatives appears to be a long-term project, and a recurring theme in future annual genocide commemoration events. It appears to be solidly anchored around collaboration from suspected genocide criminals such as Valérie Bemeriki, a former RTLM journalist whose incendiary rhetoric during the genocide led to the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent Rwandans. Following the live radio and TV broadcast of her testimony at the closing ceremony of the National Memorial Week in Rebero, Kigali, in mid-April 2007, emissaries of the RPF and the president’s office paid rounds of courtesy visits to the hate-stoking journalist during genocide in her prison cell, the first time in her 10 years of incarceration that she enjoyed such courtship from the presidential staff. In the lead-up to her live radio and TV testimony against me, she had received close doctoring from prison Director Dativa Mukanyangezi. She also was coached by Tom Ndahiro, a former RPF army member, an improvised writer at the government’s weekly IMVAHO newspaper after the genocide, and a former member of the so-called National Human Rights Commission, and is now a talk show host at Radio Contact FM 89.7.

Both instructors had convinced her to make up accusations against me in exchange for special favors, including possible presidential pardon. Initially, Ms. Bemeriki had resisted the offer, making it necessary to shake her a little bit. Her interlocutors had searched her prison cell with a fine tooth comb, taking away all of her secret documents, including those on genocide. The incident opened up her eyes, and she caved in to all of their subsequent demands. From then on she readily accepted to play the President’s game, and all she needed was a little time to get to know well her co-conspirators. 

During her testimony in April 2007, she questioned my role in saving the refugees at Mille Collines Hotel during the genocide, and concluded that I did not deserve any of the awards. Later, Alfred Ndahiro, the President’s advisor, came to see her in person in her prison cell. He delivered a personal message from President Kagame who had closely monitored her testimony against me while visiting the USA, and was prepared to reward her for her effort. But he wanted her to add a little bit more beef to the story. Mr. Ndahiro gave her a list of allegations to include in her testimony. Hoping to use her collaboration against the President’s “sworn enemy” to obtain an early release from prison and a return of her seized documents, Ms. Bemeriki did not even think twice. Within a few days, she produced dozens of pages of false testimony against me, which she sent to the President’s advisor through the prison’s Director. Later, the President’s advisor arranged for an audio-video recording of Ms. Bemeriki going through the litany of her false accusations against me, in stark contempt of the most basic moral and ethical etiquette. 

The book by Alfred Ndahiro and Privat Rutazibwa is nothing but a collection of lies mostly inspired by the specious account offered by this inmate as a bargain for prison release. The daily The New Times has found in her a steady source of its regular baseless allegations. As an example, under the title “Rusesagabina becomes notorious flag-bearer of genocide negationism”, Felix Muheto wrote in The New Times of Friday November 23, 2007: “Those who know his role during genocide have testified to us that he notoriously gave out names of Tutsis who were at the UNAMIR-protected Hotel des Mille Collines to RTLM journalists like renowned Valerie Bemeriki, a genocide convict in Rwanda. 

Soon after the release of the book of lies and its signing at the Université Libre de Belgique, in Brussels, on February 23, 2008, author Alfred Ndahiro went even further in an article entitled “Rusesabagina despairing as his delusion gets exposed in a book” and published in The New Times of March 5, 2008: “reliable sources close to the “1930” prison revealed to us that not long ago,  Paul Rusesabagina tried to bribe Valerie Bemeriki, the repentant RTLM journalist, so that she retrieves her all-revealing testimony on his real role in the 1994 Genocide … She also indicated as previously revealed in our articles that he used to inform the notorious RTLM on the whereabouts of some Tutsis, leading to subsequent death of some. He is also known according to various sources, including Valerie Bemeriki, to have been a valuable source of intelligence or the government security agencies during the Genocide”. These two articles as well as many others published about me in the same newspaper, often by the same author, are part of the all-out smear campaign of President Kagame, are trust-challenged, and truncate the history of genocide.

Other genocide suspects locked away at the “1930” prison, especially two former councilors of Biryogo and Nyakabanda Sectors as well as the notorious Setiba, have also been courted by presidential staff members in order to join the team of informants. The President’s office, in collaboration with the military intelligence special services, have been pressuring them to make up false testimony against me. A disinformation database has been set up and run by the same services while waiting to find a western sellout journalist willing to market these lies.

Within civil society, the character assassination campaign against me and my action is run by the Ibuka Associations of genocide survivors in Rwanda. These associations use awareness and mobilization of Mille Collines Hotel survivors to fabricate false testimony against me and my initiatives, especially Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF). In tandem with the RPF, Ibuka has worked to impose the same exact tactic on its local representations in Europe, Canada and the USA, and its Belgium-based branch appears to be the most active, perhaps because of its strategic geopolitical location. With the presence in Brussels of many European institutions and a very strong political opposition to President Kagame’s, the Belgium-based Ibuka branch has been ordered to defend President Kagame’s general line of policy and to spread disinformation against me and my initiatives. Any Ibuka members staying clear of this plan or foiling it are equally smeared and accused of collaborating with me, the enemy. 

In that context, the RPF has created CRB, the so-called Communauté Rwandaise de Belgique asbl (or the Rwandan Community of Belgium), run by Rwandan Tutsi extremists most of whom grew up and lived in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This exclusive club acts as a powerful lobby that manipulates genocide survivors living in Belgium in order to enroll them in President Kagame’s smear operation. Genocide survivors who resist are intimidated and threatened, especially through RPF- remote-controlled internet discussion groups where they are branded as pro-genocide Hutus or as survivors by default. Urubuga rw’intore and Ibuka-l are two of the internet discussion forums dominated by informants working on behalf of President Kagame. Among the big names of this RPF mouthpiece organization in Belgium known as the CRB are Chantal Karara and her brother Gustave Karara, Digne Rwabuhungu, Jean Mukimbiri, Yolande Mukagasana and Tatien Miheto Ndorimana. The last 2 have been successful in splitting the organization in two factions, leading to a self-proclaimed  provisional committee headed by a certain Mélanie Uwamariya, a Rwandan-Belgian woman.  The two architects at the top of this club who are responsible for this mess are none other than Manzi Bakuramutsa, a former Rwandan Ambassador to Belgium, and a Rwandan secret service agent named Olivier Kayumba, also serving as the First Secretary at the Rwandan Embassy in Brussels, who currently is heavily implicated in the assassination attempt of my brother-in-law. An on-going law suit pitting members of the Belgium-based Ibuka is at the heart of what’s terribly wrong with this whole smear operation. 

In France, supervisory authority over President Kagame’s effort to destroy me and my actions rests with Marcel Kabanda, a historian in charge of Ibuka-Europe, Espérance Brossard, president of Ibuka-France, and José Kagabo, a historian and an active member of the RPF. In the USA and Canada, the defamation movement against me is run by Sharangabo Rufagari, Alexis Bisangwa, Alexandre Kimenyi (the owner of Ibuka-l internet group), Egide Karuranga, Jean-Paul Nyirinkwaya from PAGE-Rwanda association in Canada, and Louise Mushikiwabo, the newly appointed Information Minister in President Kagame’s government. Coordination at the top is under the care of James Kimonyo, the Rwandan Ambassador in Washington, DC, who is notoriously known for having caused an uproar on September 8, 2007 at the launch of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Initiative (TRC) in Chicago, by alleging that two former American Ambassadors were arms dealers.

The African Rights organization headed by Rakiya Omaar is another active partner in President Kagame’s demonization campaign. Strangely enough, the same Rakiya Omaar of the same organization wrote the following in 1995 in her book entitled “African Rights: Rwanda, Death, Despair and Defiance” under the heading “Hotel Mille Collines, Kigali” in the chapter titled Death Camps: 

“Paul Rusesabagina was manager of the Hotel Diplomate before the genocide. The interim government requisitioned this hotel immediately after unleashing the genocide. When the expatriate manager of the hotel was evacuated, Paul was told by the new government to take over the management, which he did for a few days until the government evacuated to Gitarama on 12 April. The Belgian company that owns the Diplomate also owns the Mille Collines; at this point Paul was transferred to the Mille Collines. During his spell as manager of the Mille Collines, Paul Rusesabagina, who is a Hutu, earned the respect and gratitude of the many people who took refuge there. Many of the refugees evacuated from Mille Collines paid warm tribute to his efforts to protect and help them. Speaking the day after he himself was evacuated from his hotel, he described how running the hotel was somewhat different from his normal professional activities” (Revised edition, pp. 719-729). 

The fear of contradicting her previous account has forced her to shun public visibility, and she has instead chosen the route of going silent while active in the underground. Her investigators are regular visitors of Kigali central prison to talk to select detainees identified by the president’s office, the military intelligence services, and the prison’s director. Among the selected detainees are Ms. Valerie Bemeriki and the afore-mentioned Councilors of Sectors. An intensive back and forth activity between this so-called British human rights organization, African Rights, and the intelligence services of the President’s office and the military, has been observed. Her investigators are very close to the military intelligence apparatus, and the modus operandi of both appears to be similar. It is reliably reported that soon after the onset of the genocide, this British naturalized woman of Somali origin lived in the Rwandan territory under RPF control, fully fed and housed by this rebel organization. After the war, she has continued to enjoy many favors from the RPF. Having thus found a comfortable lifeline, she dumped her career of jurist, and outright betrayed the ethical standards dear to human rights organizations by plunging head first into the regime’s mafia-like schemes that serve the RPF’s interests and her own. She has immediate access to the President and his entourage, especially high ranking military officers and senior officials, as well as businessmen. The RPF provides her with funding, arranges fund-raising for her, orders government ministries to do business with her, houses her and her employees, provides her with transport and identifies partners for her. 

With the help of the RPF, Rakiya Omaar has become a close friend of Dr. Allen Susan, an American researcher on AIDS who heads the Kigali San Francisco Project with funding from Emory University in the USA. Her project was part of Kigali Hospital  before the war, but during the genocide she and her staff moved to Zambia. She was later expelled from Zambia for espionage according to accounts from some of her staff, and she returned to Rwanda where she has established strong ties with the RPF. Now the RPF has teamed her with Rakiya Omaar in exporting President Kagame’s demonization campaign against me. This on-going conspiracy against an ordinary individual whose courage during a moment of peril has won him international acclaim, is causing a growing number of observers to question these so-called human rights leaders’ real understanding of humanity. 

Evidence cannot be denied

In the meantime, there were massacres upon massacres throughout the entire country of Rwanda. Using the best estimate, 800 thousand people were killed in one hundred days. That’s 333 killings every hour, or 5 ½ people murdered each minute. These astounding figures document the reality of the first three or four weeks from the beginning of the genocide. In many areas there were large numbers of uncounted people who survived injuries of all sorts, including many women who were systematically raped.  While the rest of the country was in total chaos, the Mille Collines Hotel was the only refuge where more than a thousand people threatened by certain death were able to assemble and survive. 

Evidence cannot be denied. During the genocide, Mille Collines Hotel did not lose one single human life. A total of 1268 people found refuge in the hotel for about three months, and no one was killed or wounded. This is an undeniable fact in the history of Rwandan genocide. Soon after the genocide, while survivors’ and witnesses’ memory were still fresh, and long before any political manipulations had taken sway, many researchers and scholars of international reputation wrote and recorded facts about this exceptional event. A full chapter was devoted to the history of genocide at Mille Collines Hotel in the book by African Rights: “Rwanda, Death, Despair and Defiance”, (revised edition, August 1995, pp 719-724) in the section titled Death Camps, Hotel Mille Collines, Kigali. In June 1994, in Kigali’s suburb of Kabuga, which at the time was under RPF control, interviewed witnesses readily acknowledged my protection and paid tribute to my effort. A good example is on page 719, paragraph 3: “Paul Rusesabagina, who is a Hutu, earned the respect and gratitude of the many people who took refuge there. Many of the refugees evacuated from Mille Collines paid warm tribute to his effort to protect and help them”. 

Furthermore, Philip Gourevitch, a journalist at the New Yorker, also visited Rwanda after the genocide in order to conduct research. In 1998, his book “We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families” was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux  of New York, translated in French in 1999 and published by Denoël in Paris under the title “Nous avons le plaisir de vous informer que, demain, nous serons tués avec nos familles”. This book won the prize of the National Book Award in 1998. One of the lead characters of the book, whose testimony holds a vital role, is Odette Nyiramirimo who was asked by the journalist to tell her history since birth. On page 149, Odette recounts her ordeal during the genocide: “Two weeks went by. Then Paul called from Mille Collines. He was an old friend and he wanted to check if anyone was still alive so he can save”. When the genocide ended, both our families remained close and Odette even participated in the initial project of the film Hotel Rwanda, and we traveled together many times after the film was released. 

Today, Odette is a member of the Senate under the grip of President Kagame, and has made a complete about-face in her story line. She has decided to betray the truth and feed lies into President Kagame’s demonization campaign against me and my achievements. However, there is nothing surprising about Odette’s attitude, because as she testified herself on page 82 of Gourevitch’s book, she had danced in the streets under President Habyarimana: “We danced in the streets when Habyarimana took power, she confessed”. The question is whether she will always dance every time a dictatorship replaces another in Rwanda. 

Odette’s attitude brings to mind the attitude of Yolande Mukagasana, the author of the ”La mort ne veut pas de moi”, loosely translated “Death does not want me” in English, published by Fixot in Paris in 1997. From pages 244 to255, Yolande described how a high ranking military officer was sent by me to escort her to the Hotel. She wrote: “The next day, I got news that the Director of Mille Collines Hotel had been repatriated back to Brussels or somewhere else, and had been replaced by a friend of mine. The French government reportedly had even secured an agreement from military leaders not to attack refugees at Mille Collines Hotel. I notified the doctor and requested him to inform the Hotel Director of my presence at Saint Paul: (…). The doctor made three back and forth trips between Saint Paul parish and the Hotel, (…). Each time, he came back with bad news that the Director cannot be found, but reassured me that an employee recorded his message. I started to despair. 

Among refugees, the atmosphere became gloomier as time went by. (…). Suddenly, a big silence hit the chapel. Women started to tremble (…). I turned back towards the entrance and I thought I saw death. A high ranking military officer, armed with a revolver and escorted by two armed soldiers, stood in the doorway and called out my name: “Muganga Mukagasana Yolande”. I felt like an electrical shock went through my body, and I froze. For the second time, only stronger, my name rang out through the walls of the chapel: “Muganga Mukagasana Yolande”. For the third time, the officer screamed out my name. (…). I made the decision to stand up, yes, I was going to stand up and head towards the officer. I was in disbelief as my memory filled up with images my six weeks on the run. (…). I tried to stand firm but my legs gave way under me. I heavily crumbled down to the floor. I stood up again and stumbled forward towards death. (…).

 I planted myself a few meters away in front of the officer and said: “I am Yolande Mukagasana, I was not shaking anymore, but rather altogether resigned. I expected to receive a full round of machinegun fire in my stomach any minute. “Is it you Muganga Mukagasana Yolande? – Yes, it is me”. (…) “I came to look for you and escort you to Mille Collines Hotel on the Director’s orders. – I beg your pardon? I am telling you I have received an order to take you to Mille Collines Hotel.” It seems unthinkable. Am I in Paradise already? (…). – I cannot leave behind the two children of my niece. That is not a problem, get them!”  For a moment, I ask myself if this was not a trap to torture and assassinate us afterwards. But I quickly found an over-riding argument: a government army officer could not guess that I knew the Director of the Hotel. (…) The hall of the Hotel looked as if it had been hit by an earthquake. The floor was littered with clothes, bags of flour, and some boxes of potatoes. The eight black leather sofas had been 

pushed two by two against each other to make larger beds. The blinds had been lowered while all the light bulbs of the chandeliers were broken. Then I came face to face with Spérancie. (…). “And my children? Do you, by any chance, have any news about my children?” (…). At times, it seems as if my life had stopped on that day, right there in the hall of Mille Collines Hotel, in Kigali. (…) Because I have kept only a vague memory of what happened after that. I can just remember the tarpaulin-covered truck that took away about 50 of us.”

Yolande Mukagasana spent only one night at the Hotel and the next day, she was evacuated by the contingent of the United Nations. Unfortunately today, she is one those genocide survivors who are puppets of the RPF, who holds conferences in different parts of Europe to tarnish my image. 

Two human rights organizations of international reputation, Human Rights Watch and Federation International des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme have also published a book that touches on events at Mille Collines Hotel. The book’s title is “Aucun temoin ne doit survivre, le genocide au Rwanda”, published by Kathala in Paris, in 1999. In English, the book is called “Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda”, and is also available on line at http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/rwanda/. On page 739, it reads: “An exceptional case: the Mille Collines Hotel.” The authors explore the challenges that we faced on a daily basis and the multiple distress calls that we made.

These books, as well as many others, published either during or immediately after the genocide, had a unique objective of informing about the genocide. They are exempted from all political manipulation of the RPF and will always occupy a position of highest authenticity in the history of the Rwandan genocide and all other crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda in 1994. They will keep a net advance distance from all other compilations of lies such as the book by Alfred Ndahiro and Privat Rutazibwa, evidently the work of President Kagame and his most loyal servants. 

For example, in Ndahiro’s book, he claims that I visit Rwanda regularly. He claims that I own land.  He claims that I am investing in the country.  The truth is that I am not allowed to visit Rwanda, as President Kagame has openly designated me as “persona non grata”  in his speeches to the nation. The truth is I no longer own land as the land I had has been given as a bribe for false testimony against me, to a certain Alexander Nzizera, who never sought refuge at the Mille Collines Hotel.  I even have evidence that the same Nzizera destroyed the building on my property where he is now developing condominiums for his own capital gain. And lastly, the truth is, I cannot, in sound judgment, invest in a country where  government corruption took from me what I rightly owned before.

It is absolutely stunning how President Kagame and his acolytes have launched an all-out war against me and have tried every trick possible to question my role in protecting refugees at Mille Collines Hotel, where no one was killed, kidnapped or beaten, all the while keeping quiet about thousands of Rwandans who were assassinated in the areas under the control of Kagame–an army general at the time, and under the control of the RPF army, also under his command. Their crimes before, during and after the genocide have been well documented, especially in the above-mentioned book “Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda”, from pages 818 to 838.

The Rwandan people are not fools–they just need accurate information about their history. They need to be free and live freely. And they need a future based not on justice of the winner, but on the rule of law, mutual respect and truth and equitable justice.   This is the only hope for our future generations.

Caught between the anvil of international investigations reports on his own atrocities and those of his army, and the hammer of international political pressure as well as International Humanitarian Law, President Kagame desperately tries to run away from the truth and find an easy scapegoat for their crimes. He continues to use genocide as his best war horse, unabashedly exploiting politically and economically this humanitarian tragedy. I consider it a blessing and feel particularly honored that I have the opportunity to bring to the attention of Rwandans and the international community the sad reality of President Kagame’s demonization campaign against me and my achievements. 

The ultimate goal of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Rwanda as initiated by my foundation, The Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, is not to continue the war of words between two men, but to end Rwanda’s social injustices and to heal our shattered nation.

Paul Rusesabagina

Brussels, Belgium

April 6, 2008