Paul Rusesabagina, Hotel Rwanda’ Hero, Held on Terrorism Charge

NAIROBI, Kenya — Paul Rusesabagina, whose bravery in saving more than 1,200 fellow Rwandans from genocide inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda,” has been arrested by the authorities in Rwanda who are holding him there on charges that include terrorism, arson and murder.

During the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Mr. Rusesabagina, a Hutu who was working as a manager at a hotel in the capital, Kigali, helped shelter people fleeing the violence that eventually killed as many as one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Mr. Rusesabagina sheltered more than 1,200 Rwandans who fled to the hotel he was managing during the 1994 genocide, a story that became a film. But he has become a critic of President Paul Kagame.

But in recent years, Mr. Rusesabagina, 66, has become an opponent of the government of Rwanda’s long-serving president, Paul Kagame, who has kept the country politically and economically stable but is accused by human rights groups of brutally silencing his critics. Mr. Kagame’s government has alleged for years that Mr. Rusesabagina is supporting Rwandan rebels attacking the country from abroad.

The Rwanda Investigation Bureau said in a statement on Twitter on Monday that Mr. Rusesabagina was suspected of being “the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits,” including the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change and the Party for Democracy in Rwanda, both opposition parties. The Movement party has a militant wing, which operates in the region and which the Rwandan government considers a terrorist group.

The bureau also accused Mr. Rusesabagina of helping to carry out attacks in 2018 “against unarmed, innocent Rwandan civilians on Rwandan territory.”

The authorities did not provide any evidence of the charges against him.

The Rwanda Investigation Bureau said he was arrested “through international cooperation,” but did not say which countries or agencies may have assisted, or where or when he was arrested.

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Mr. Rusesabagina last spoke to his wife last Thursday from Dubai, and his whereabouts was unknown until he surfaced on Monday in Rwanda, according to Kitty Kurth, a spokeswoman for his Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, who is based in Chicago.

In this Thursday, Dec. 2, 2004 ,file photo, Paul Rusesabagina, the inspiration for the film "Hotel Rwanda," poses with actress Angelina Jolie at the premiere of the film at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

“We believe he was kidnapped and taken by extraordinary rendition to Rwanda,” Ms. Kurth said in a statement. “He is a regular critic of human rights violations in Rwanda, and the Rwandan government regularly brings false charges against all critics in order to try to silence them.”

He left Rwanda years ago, saying he was afraid to go back home, and has Belgian citizenship and an American green card, Ms. Kurth said in a telephone interview. He has homes in San Antonio, Texas, and Brussels, and the family is pleading with American officials to intervene.

Source: New York Times

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