'We Believe He Was Kidnapped': Inspiration Behind 'Hotel Rwanda' Arrested By Rwandan Government
Paul Rusesabagina has been an outspoken critic of Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame. Some believe he was kidnapped.
September 01, 2020 at 7:15 pm
Paul Rusesabagina, the inspiration behind Oscar-nominated film Hotel Rwanda has been arrested on charges of terrorism, according to the Rwanda Investigation Bureau.
Rusesabagina became a global icon after he sheltered 1,200 Rwandans in Kigali's Milles Collines hotel in 1994 during the Rwandan Genocide. Don Cheadle was nominated for an Oscar after playing him in the film which centered on his life.
But over the past few decades, he has become an outspoken critic of Paul Kagame, who has ruled the country with an iron fist since 2000. Despite leading the armed force that ended the genocide in 1994, Kagame has been called one of the most repressive leaders in Africa and in recent years has made it a point to criminalize any dissent. He arrested his opponent in the 2017 presidential election and claimed to win 99% of the vote.
Human Rights Watch has a lengthy list of people Kagame has either had arrested or killed. His forces have long sought to detain Rusesabagina, who has lived in Belgium and the United States since the late 1990s due to fear of being arrested for his criticisms about Kagame. Rusesabagina has repeatedly called for Kagame's removal, according to The New York Times.
On Monday, the Rwandan government paraded the 66-year-old in handcuffs on television and held a press conference accusing him of "terrorism, arson, kidnap and murder."
Kitty Kurth, a spokeswoman for Rusesabagina's Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, criticized the charges in a statement to The New York Times.
“We believe he was kidnapped and taken by extraordinary rendition to Rwanda. 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,” Kurth said.