Paul Rusesabagina, longtime opponent of President Paul Kagame, was the manager of the famous ‘Hotel des Mille Collines’ in Kigali, portrayed in the famous Hollywood movie “Hotel Rwanda” during the genocide against Tutsis in 1994.His background as the manager of Hotel had inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda” before turning into politics where he became a critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Speaking to reporters earlier Monday, the acting spokesperson of Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), Thierry Murangira,declined to comment on the circumstances of the arrest, arguing that it could “compromise the investigation”.
But Rwandan investigators blame him for acts of terrorism, fires, kidnappings and murders, notably committed on Rwandan soil on two occasions, in June and December 2018.
The Belgian federal prosecutor knew that Rusesabagina was the target of an international arrest warrant and was informed by Rwandan justice officials about his arrest.
Since he fled the country shortly after genocide in 1994, the former hotel manager became then a fierce critic of Rwandan Government. While in exile, he founded the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) and continued to blame Rwandan President Kagame for muzzling the opposition.
Born in Ruhango, a rural district in Southern Rwanda, in June 1954 where attended neighboring Primary and Secondary Schools in Gitwe in Scientific Section, Rusesabagina later moved to Kigali where he got an employment at ‘Hotel des Diplomates’ before being promoted to the position of hotel manager until the genocide was sparked by the death of the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on 6 April.
The then Belgian airline Sabena owned another hotel des ‘Mille Collines’ at the time of the genocide and when the European managers were evacuated Rusesabagina, manager of the smaller Hôtel des Diplomates at that time, was made manager.
During the genocide between April and July 1994, the four star hotel continues to operate with 112 rooms, a bar/café, three conference rooms, a restaurant, and the now famous swimming pool where Rusesabagina alleged to have bribed the genocidaire militia and senior officers of the defeated Rwandan Armed Forces (ex-FAR) with money and alcohol to keep them from killing the refugees in the hotel.
By portraying his story in the ‘Hotel Rwanda’ movie as someone who was helping people during the genocide against the Tutsi, some genocide survivors and have disputed Rusesabagina’s account of rescuing them from Hotel Mille Collines at the time of tragedies.
Tom Ndahiro, a Genocide scholar based in Kigali says that the news of the arrest of Rusesabagine is welcome and should be a message to his deputies and ‘cheerleaders’ that their time is up.
This he said is because Rusesabagina has openly supported genocidaires and their terror outfits that have crossed into Rwanda and killed innocent civilians for a long time.
In 2015, people who survived the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi at Hôtel des Mille Collines, as well as experts, said that a book by Edouard Kayihura is a major contribution in the fight against Rusesabagina’s lies that he saved the Tutsi at the hotel.
The book, “Inside the Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story…and Why It Matters Today,” written by Kayihura, a survivor from the hotel, tells the story of what really happened during the Genocide. It discredits the 2004 Hollywood film that inaccurately portrayed Rusesabagina as a hero.