CHICAGO – September 15th – Why is the Rwandan social media troll army and the KT Press, a pro-government media outlet, trying to relitigate and bring in “new” evidence now that the Show Trial of Paul Rusesabagina is over and we are waiting for a verdict on September 20th? Why are they attacking Paul’s daughter Carine and others for defending her father? These are questions raised by a September 12th article in the KT Press and a subsequent Twitter storm among Rwandans working for the government.
Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House and many other groups regularly warn that the Rwandan press is not at all “free,” and is in reality a propaganda arm of the Rwandan government. In addition, new evidence comes out daily from Rwandans in exile and numerous authors who decry the work of the social media arm of Paul Kagame’s Rwandan government, responsible for controlling all messages in the public sphere about Rwanda, and for regularly attacking any critics of the regime.
Paul Rusesabagina needs to be released on compassionate grounds now. Paul’s family and team once again call on the United States and Belgian governments to do everything they can to immediately bring about Paul’s release from Rwanda.
Now the Rwandan government is responding to the many articles and factual accounts about the Sham Trial of Paul Rusesabagina. It is now clear that there was no credible evidence linking Paul or his MRCD (Movement for Democratic Change in Rwanda) party to the alleged attacks he is charged with committing. The government put up only two witnesses, neither of whom testified about the attacks. Many of Paul’s co-accused were coerced into giving testimony incriminating themselves and Paul before the trial, and then recanted that testimony on the stand. The alleged victims testified to seeing an attack, but they did not identify any of the attackers or the group responsible. No proof was provided that Paul gave financial support to any group involved.
The KT Press article purports to provide “evidence” in the form of several WhatsApp conversations between Paul and other Rwandans talking about their support for the FLN group that is alleged to have committed the attacks. One telling point about all of the “new evidence” is that the KT Press journalist is one who the Rwandan propaganda machine has frequently used to distribute false and forged information going back as far as 2010. In 2010 the Rwandan government used Kagire to write about forged Western Union receipts that they were trying to use to falsify connections between Rusesabagina and the FDLR. In 2020 the Rwandans used him to try to spread a false story that the Rusesabagina had applied for a Rwandan passport in 2004 (he hadn’t) but Kagire was happy to showcase the forged documents in his story.
The article claims that these WhatsApp messages came from the now infamous “Belgian Dossier” which the Rwandan prosecutors mention over and over during the trial, but which was never admitted into the case as evidence.
The problem here is that Paul’s family and team have a copy of the complete Belgian Dossier. We have read it many times. The “evidence” that the articles and trolls are citing does not exist in that dossier. In fact, there is NO evidence in the dossier that incriminates Paul in any way. The Belgian government had this evidence for several years, conducted extensive investigations, including interviewing Paul in the presence of the former Rwandan Attorney General, and never brought charges against him, because there was nothing there.
So why would the Rwandan government and press make up evidence AFTER the trial is over? It seems that they have also been reading the press coverage by those who followed and independently monitored the trial, and it is now abundantly clear that they completely failed to prove their case against Paul Rusesabagina. Not only that, but many international legal and human rights organizations have continually pointed out the lack of due process, along with the trial and human rights violations committed against Paul during the process.
In this particular case, it is a verifiable fact that the MRCD party, in a 2018 press release, condemned the alleged attacks shortly after they were reported, stated that they believed the Rwandan government was responsible, and called for an independent investigation by the United Nations. Paul and the MRCD did not support these attacks but condemned them. The Rwandan government now seems concerned that the world is taking note of the false narrative they provided during Paul’s illegal imprisonment.
Unfortunately a guilty verdict in Paul Rusesabagina’s trial is expected next week. Paul’s family and team knew that he would be declared “guilty” the moment he was kidnapped – no trial was needed. But a Show Trial happened, and the Rwandan government still failed to produce any credible evidence against Paul.
With the verdict now due on September 20th, it is not surprising that the Rwandan propaganda machine has kicked into high gear. This machine will be slandering Paul and his supporters in the press and on social media at every opportunity. Members of the government, and their spokespeople, will continue to declare Paul is guilty, despite the fact that by doing so they are further undermining the presumption of innocence, and violating his rights. None of this last minute press frenzy would be necessary if the Rwandan government was confident in the Prosecution case and if they placed any value on the rule of law. But, they have gone on the attack because the prosecution has no case against Paul. They know that the international community is going to take apart the trial and report on the lack of evidence and complete lack of a fair trial in detail once the trial is done.