Prescribed Medication Withheld For Illegally Kidnapped & Jailed Humanitarian
CHICAGO – Dec. 28, 2020 – Paul Rusesabagina has now been in prison after being illegally kidnapped and held bound and blindfolded in Rwanda for 123 days.
His wife and family are extremely concerned about his health as they have been since he was kidnapped. In recent weeks, the situation has become much worse. Paul’s wife, Taciana, is more than just a concerned wife, she is also a trained nurse who has worked in hospitals and owned a private pharmacy. She is very concerned that the Rwandan government is setting Paul up to suffer a stroke due to his ongoing hypertension.
In talking with Paul on Friday, Christmas Day, on the family’s weekly five minute call, he sounded very upset about his health, which is rare for him. He usually tries to protect the family from the worst of his condition. On this call though, he asked us to “pass this message on to who you have to.” From Paul, this is a very serious sign.
He has been mentioning that his blood pressure is high since the family were first able to talk with him, and getting higher on recent calls. In addition, he has complained of dizziness and headaches. On the family call this week, he said that his dizziness is worse, and is getting in the way of his normal functioning during the day. Paul has also lost a significant amount of weight during his imprisonment, according to information from his lawyer and the media, the family believes in the range of 30-40 pounds. On someone of Paul’s frame, about 5’8″ this is an alarming amount of weight.
Taciana Rusesabagina said, “The family is very concerned because my husband Paul has not been given the medicine prescribed to him for years by his Belgian doctor. We sent supplies of this medicine to the Belgian Embassy, and were told that they delivered them to the Rwandan prison. These medications never reached my husband.”
The only medicine that Rusesabagina is given by the Rwandan government is two pills a day, a double dose from the one pill a day two weeks ago. He is told that these are for blood pressure, but there is no way for him or his family to know whether this is true. These pills could be for anything. Most importantly, they are obviously not working as Paul’s blood pressure is higher than ever and his dizziness is worsening. These are incredibly serious symptoms that are pre-conditions for a stroke.
There are standards for treatment of blood pressure that the Rwandans are clearly not following with Rusesabagina. He should have remained on his existing medicine that was provided to him by his Belgian doctor via the Belgian consular officials. With Rusesabagina’s marked weight loss, he should also have his medications and condition fully reassessed, since blood pressure is clearly related to weight.
Most importantly, it is clear that the current medications he is taking are not working. Standard medical treatment in this situation involves trying other medications or combinations of medications to find the specific treatment that works for the patient’s physiology. Doubling the dose of a medication that is not working is completely insufficient if that does not work immediately. Hypertension patients typically work with their doctors for weeks or months to find the treatment that works best for them. Paul had this with his Belgian doctors. The Rwandan doctors are starting over with a single medication, ignoring his previous medication despite the fact that it was provided to him.
Even worse, the Rwandan government continues to deny that there is anything wrong with Rusesabagina. In press releases and statements by people like the Rwandan Ambassador to the United States and the Rwandan Justice Minister, they insist that Paul has medical treatment and that he is fine. The Rwanda authorities are telling the U.S. and Belgian government that his blood pressure is high, but explain that this is probably due to a “new machine” that they are testing which is not properly calibrated. However, the machine does not factor in the dizziness, which is due to hypertension. These stories are completely false, and these lies may be intended to hide his worsening condition so that no one intervenes. Rusesabagina is likely being told by the Rwandans to tell both the Belgian and United States diplomats that he “is fine.”
Rusesabagina has no access to his Belgian doctor. In addition, his Belgian doctor has requested information from the Rwandan doctor, but this has not been granted. And again, the medicine sent by the Belgian doctor was never given to Rusesabagina.
The Rusesabagina family has pleaded with the Rwandan government to free Paul Ruseabagina on compassionate grounds, but now believe that his situation is worsening by the day and that a health crisis may come sooner rather than later. Thus the family, led by Paul’s wife, Taciana, once again urge the governments of both the United States and Belgium to intervene. If Rusesabagina’s health continues to deteriorate, all three governments will bear responsibility.
Paul Rusesabagina was illegally kidnapped and taken to Rwanda, he is innocent of all the charges that the Rwandan government has manufactured against him. He will not receive a fair trial in the Rwandan system, his health is now an IMMEDIATE concern. Prisoners in the Rwandan system frequently die or are disappeared. Paul’s family is desperately concerned that he will become President Paul Kagame’s latest victim.