Humanitarian hero of the Rwandan genocide, Paul Rusesabagina’s arrest on the charges of terrorism continues to raise questions.
Rusesabagina, portrayed by Don Cheedle in Hollywood’s ‘Hotel Rwanda’, is an outspoken critic of the current Rwandan Government, making his arrest look more and more like it was politically motivated.
As noted by an anonymous blogger, Rusesabagina is an ‘opposition party president, and [apparently] a member of Rwandan Movement For Democratic Change (MRCD), ’ founded in 2018. It’s argued that the MRCD has sought to ‘topple the current Rwandan Government’ after ‘founding documents were [apparently] leaked’ which indicated that the MRCD had planned a militant lead coup de tat.
While the anonymous blogger condemned Paul Kagame’s (former Tutsi rebel leader) government for a history of abuses of power, acknowledging that Kagame’s rule has ‘caused havoc, pain and suffering.’ The author also accused Ruseabagina of naïveté, and of being too close to the MRCD’s militant wing, which, the article said, ‘has caused its own fair share of bloodshed.’
It appears that Rusesabagina’s association with the MRCD, and pro-Democracy movements in Rwanda, may be the primary reason for why the Kagame government labelling the humanitarian a domestic terrorist.
From what can be pieced together across the news spectrum, it’s likely that Rusesabagina is being set-up as the face of the militant branch of MRCD.
The New York Times said that no evidence has been presented to back the charges, stating that Rwandan authorities have ‘accused Mr. Rusesabagina of helping to carry out attacks in 2018 “against unarmed, innocent Rwandan civilians on Rwandan territory.” They’ve also claimed that Rusesabagina went to Rwanda on his own.
This is despite Rusesabagina having ‘left Rwanda in 1996 for political asylum’ in Belgium. He now lives in Brussels, holds Belgium citizenship, and an American green card. (NYT)
In 2016, he put his name up for President in the Rwandan elections, calling the Kagame Government a ‘dictatorship.’
The BBC, quoting Rusesabagina’s adopted daughter, Carine Kanimba, said that his family “didn’t know how he got to Rwanda, when he was just in Dubai for meetings.” Claiming that Rusesabagina would “never have done that on his own free will because he knows that in Rwanda they [authorities] want him dead.”
As things go with the complex (and far too often corrupt) world of African politics, not all is as it seems.
Hence the fog of concern surrounding Rusesabagina’s mysterious, sudden disappearance from Dubai, and reappearance in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Where photos were published of him handcuffed and flanked by police.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has a history of threatening, arresting and intimidating political opponents. Even downplaying Rusesabagina’s role in saving ‘1,200 people from the country’s 1994 ethnic genocide’ (Fox News). Depicted in the 2004 film ‘Hotel Rwanda’, starring Don Cheedle.
It’s seemingly well within the scope of Kagame’s pattern of governance to arbitrarily arrest opponents on dubious charges. Pro-Democracy, Rusesabagina is a big target, and if these questionable charges stick, a huge propaganda win.
This is why it’s probable Rusesabagina is now a political prisoner, kidnapped by a government, doing its best to legitimize suppression of any, and all political opponents.
Ultimately, it’s the fact that the Kagame government’s accusations don’t add up. They’re are out of character for Rusesabagina. Who once told Baptist run Good Faith Media (EthicsDaily) that ‘The best road to reconciliation is through dialogue…I believe in the power of words.’
Rusesabagina, who displayed the heart of a Pastor during the ’94 ethnic genocide, has had ministry and theology training, but describes himself as a ‘failed pastor’; writing that he felt as though God had left Rwanda in 1994, leaving himself and the nation, to face the brutality of ethnic genocide alone.
Rusesabagina struggles with the silence of Christians in Rwanda before and during the bloodshed. Especially the silence of Church leaders, who, as he tells it, either participated in the killing, or were too timid with the Gospel to call out, and counter the rising tide of ethno-political hatred, intolerance and violence.
This silence, and compliance, according to Rusesabagina, was one of the biggest contributors to the Hutu massacre of Tutsis.
Had he become a pastor, Rusesabagina says, he would have ended up with the wounded or dead who sort refuge in Churches (An Autobiography, p.173).
As a side note, the Rwandan Genocide exists as a case study in ethnic division, and racial tension, for both sides of the metaphorical Western political bird.
Rusesabagina’s description of Rwanda’s ‘racial divide’ (ibid, p.40) crushes, “only white people are racist” critical race theory assumptions, that underscore the entirety of the Black Lives Matter sentiment, and fuels the Marxist party that shares its name.
The lessons this “race” war teaches nations hasn’t clearly been heard.
Neither, I would say, has Rusesabagina.
Rwandan victims’ voices appear to have been pushed aside by the hubris of Western privilege.
The deaths of Africans are regarded as an African norm. The continuing bloodshed is ignored, as lessons are quietly dismissed as though we were more mature; placed to one side because we’ve learned all we need to from the horrors of the Jewish holocaust, and therefore, “it could never happen again.”
However, when the torch of ethno-supremacism is raised over against others, whether black or white, there’s a form of blind conformity to political narratives, and the dehumanization of opponents that reflects pre-1994 Rwanda.
From this the abyss could operate a menacing orgy of violence, devouring everything and everyone in its path. As it marches from house to house, city to city, separating the “naughty from the nice”, life from those deemed unworthy of life under another nightmarish manifestation of prideful ideological fanaticism.
And that’s exactly what we see slowly happening in the West.
Angry intersectionality inquisitors march, parading Black vs. White – us vs. them – from largely Leftist echo chambers, filled with red-faced, white leftists whose monologues of hate, are a projection of pre-programed self-hatred.
Many appearing to advocate no real peaceful way forward; advocating nothing more than a violent attempt to derail, and replace, multi-ethnic eye-to-eye relationships, with and eye-for-an-eye one.
We see the former being attacked by proponents of the latter.
The radical left attacking, or trying to destroy the relationship between the white and black community, who instead of entertaining ethnic division, or obsessing over melanin, live out an eye-to-eye dialogue of reconciliation. A dialogue that blooms beyond warring factions, shades of melanin, and the self-interest of opportunistic, eye-for-an-eye race-baiting politicians.
Rusesabagina’s arrest reminds the West of the tragedy of Rwanda, 1994.
Yet there’s silence about massacres in Nigera of Christians at the hands of Islamists. Silence about mass corruption in South Africa, causing huge social, and economic problems.
This conspicuous, selective silence is why we should note well the absence of Black Lives Matter black squares for Rusesabagina, or for Africa in general.
When it comes to good character, whether it be movement, government or individual, consistency matters.
[i] Rusesabagina, P. 2006. An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography
First published on Caldron Pool, 10th September, 2020
©Rod Lampard, 2020.