December 10, 2022

Raven Tribune

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Judgment awaits in Rwanda: From Hollywood hero to terrorist

As of: 09/20/2021 00:02 am

Hollywood filmed the story of Paul Ruspakina in “Hotel Rwanda” that saved more than 1000 people from genocide. Now he is being interrogated in his home country.

Carolyn Hoffman, ARD Studio Nairobi

A story hard to believe: Paul Rousseff really wanted to fly from Dubai to Burundi in August last year, but he never got there. Instead, the plane landed in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. “The circumstances are very suspicious,” says Gert Hankel, an international lawyer and linguist for Hamburg Social Research. “He was brought to Rwanda against his will. That is, without exaggeration one might say: he was abducted. He was thought to be in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, but he was actually arrested in Kigali.”

Caroline Hoffman
ARD-Studio Nairobi

Rusebakina attended a press conference on handcuffs. He was charged with supporting and promoting terrorist organizations. Gert Hankell, author of a book on Rwanda, explains that it is “about the militants who attacked Rwanda from abroad, from Congo and Burundi, and killed people in Rwanda.” “Rosebagina is said to have deliberately supported and encouraged all of this.” He is considered a hero who filmed the Hollywood story.

Suddenly popular

In 1994 Paul Rusapakina managed the “Hotel des Mill Collins” in Kigali. In the spring of the same year, the then President of Rwanda shot down his plane with a missile. There was a wave of violence, and within a few weeks about a million Tutsis and moderate Hutu died.

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More than 1,200 people were rescued at the Rusebakina Hotel. Hollywood discovered its history ten years later by producing the hit film “Hotel Rwanda”. Paul Rusbagina suddenly became famous. In 2005, he received the Presidential Medal of Independence from then-US President George W. Bush.

Criticism of the regime in Rwanda

The genocide in Rwanda came to an end after incumbent President Paul Kagame and a Tutsi rebel group marched from neighboring Uganda on the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and overthrew the then extremist Hutu government. Russabajina left Rwanda and lived for a long time as a taxi driver in Belgium. He later became famous through the film and began to speak politically criticizing the regime in Rwanda. At the same time, he cracked the story as a hero.

Some voices were raised that he was asking for money from refugees. Pasha Mewenganzi, a former employee of the hotel, talks about this: “His heroism and what he did was misrepresented in the film,” he says in an interview. ARD-Studio Nairobi this August. “The film didn’t show what really happened. It wanted to make money.” Rusebakina and others who were rescued have repeatedly denied this in the past.

He wears a pink prison inmate uniform: Paul Ruspakina on his way to court in Kigali.

Image: AFP

Not all of these allegations can be verified. As members of the Rwandan opposition enjoy it again and again, you may be part of a campaign against regime critics. Some disappear or die mysteriously. It is certain that Rusandapakina is on the rise as a critic of the Rwandan president. He accused him of a dictatorial leadership style. He later founded an opposition party, the military unit of which is called the National Liberation Army (FLN).

Armed group support?

The armed group also went to court. Rosebagina is accused of supporting them. He denies this. But: “The charge of terrorism is not approximate,” says Hunkel. “Some time ago Rusebakina went public in a video clip. In this clip, he calls on the Rwandans to unconditionally support a National Liberation Army. He says that this army deserves support in all respects. Many were injured and great damage was done. ”

The statement in the video is only a political comment, Rousseff said about the allegations. However, it is doubtful, the Rwandan expert explains, that even in the case of a constitutional process, he could be accused of aiding terrorist activities.

“He has no free protection”

But such a process is not expected. “Kidnapping is the first point to make it clear that it has nothing to do with the rule of law,” Hankell criticized. “He had no free protection, it was controlled and monitored. The Rwandan government did everything it could to bring the action to the desired conclusion.”

The verdict is actually due to be announced in August. But it was postponed. Paul Ruspakina is 67 years old. Audiences believe he will spend the rest of his life in prison.