In 2008, Paul Rusesabagina refuted the lies of Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s conspiracy to change the history of what happened during the Rwandan genocide. Most especially the experience of humanitarian Paul Rusesabagina who saved the lives of 1,268 people who took refuge at the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, Rwanda during the 1994 Genocide. Kagame became jealous of the attention and accolades that Rusesabagina was receiving from the world. In Kagame’s eyes, there is only room for one hero named Paul in Rwanda. The article was published in 2008 and is excerpted below.
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.
April 6, 2008