Arrested ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero Duped Into Flying To Kigali

“Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Rusesabagina (C) is escorted by police officers to leave after his pre-trial court session at the Kicukiro Primary court in Kigali, Rwanda, on September 14, 2020. / AFP / STRINGER

 

 

Paul Rusesabagina, the polarising hero of the “Hotel Rwanda” film who was arrested last month in Kigali, was duped into boarding a jet he thought was flying to Burundi, a New York Times report said.

“How I got here — now that is a surprise,” he told the US daily in a jailhouse interview with two Rwandan officials in the room. “I was actually not coming here.”

Rusesabagina, a Hutu, became famous after the Hollywood film in which he is credited with saving the lives of more than 1,200 people as they sheltered in the hotel he ran during the country’s 1994 genocide.

Some 800,000 mostly Tutsi but also moderate Hutu were killed in the genocide.

The 66-year-old has lived in exile since 1996 and holds both Belgian citizenship and a US “green card”.

 

“Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Rusesabagina (C), wearing a mask, appears at the Kicukiro Primary court in Kigali, Rwanda, on September 14, 2020. / AFP / STRINGER

 

Over the years, he has become a staunch critic of leader Paul Kagame’s Tutsi-dominated government, accusing his ruling party of authoritarianism and anti-Hutu sentiment.

According to the NYT’s Friday report, Rusesabagina flew from the US to Dubai on August 26, before boarding a private jet he thought was heading to Bujumbura in Burundi which neighbours Rwanda.

The plane was operated by GainJet, a charter company based in Greece that is often used by Kagame, the report said.

But it landed in Kigali where Rusesabagina was arrested. The NYT quoted Rwanda’s spy chief as saying “he delivered himself here.”

He has since been charged with terrorism, financing and founding militant groups, murder, arson and conspiracy to involve children in armed groups.

Rusesabagina says he was heading to Burundi at the invitation of a pastor, to speak in his churches.

 

“Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Rusesabagina (C), wearing a mask, appears at the Kicukiro Primary court in Kigali, Rwanda, on September 14, 2020. AFP / STRINGER

 

But the NYT was not able to speak to the pastor and says Rwandan officials believe he was actually heading there to coordinate with armed groups based in Burundi and Congo.

In 2018, Rusesabagina co-founded an opposition group, the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), which is said to have an armed wing called the National Liberation Front (FLN).

In multiple speeches, Rusesabagina has expressed support for the FLN — which has carried out armed attacks and is described as a terrorist organisation by Rwanda — but the extent of his involvement in its actions is unclear.

He has denied forming the FLN.

AFP

US Demands Due Process For Detained ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero

FILE: Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame reacts in front of a wreath for the 25th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda, on April 7, 2019. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

 

America’s top diplomat for Africa has urged a fair trial for “Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Rusesabagina, as concern mounts over the mysterious circumstances of his arrest and return to his home country.

Rusesabagina, who saved more than 1,200 Rwandans during the 1994 genocide by sheltering them in a hotel, appeared in handcuffs in Kigali this week accused of serious charges including terrorism after a quarter century in exile abroad.

It remains unclear how the strident opponent of long-ruling President Paul Kagame, who had been living in the US and Belgium since leaving Rwanda in 1996, was extradited to his homeland.

Tibor Nagy, US assistant secretary for African Affairs, said he met Wednesday with Rwandan ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana to discuss the circumstances around Rusesabagina’s arrest.

“The United States expects the Rwandan government to provide humane treatment, adhere to the rule of law, and provide a fair and transparent legal process for Mr. Rusesabagina,” Nagy said in a statement.

Rwandan investigators say Rusesabagina, who was played by US actor Don Cheadle in the 2004 Oscar-nominated film “Hotel Rwanda”, was arrested “through international cooperation” but have refused to elaborate.

Rusesabagina’s family have said they cannot understand why their father, a high-profile regime target, would return by his own free will to Rwanda where almost certain prosecution would await.

Global accolades

“We believe he was kidnapped and taken by extraordinary rendition to Rwanda,” a spokesman for the family said in a statement Wednesday.

He “is being held by President Paul Kagame’s government on false charges”, added the statement shared by the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, a charity in his name.

Rusesabagina was hailed a hero over his actions during the genocide that killed some 800,000 Rwandans and he was awarded, among other global accolades, a US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 by then president George W Bush.

But inside Rwanda, the ruling party began to attack his motives and character in the years since as Rusesabagina’s attacks on Kagame hardened in exile.

Investigators say Rusesabagina was suspected of creating and financing “extremist terror outfits” in East Africa, including the FLN, the armed wing of a movement he founded abroad to bring about political change in Rwanda.

The Rwanda Investigation Bureau said Rusesabagina was the subject of an international arrest warrant over alleged crimes of terrorism, arson, kidnap and murder.

Supporters of the government in Kigali — including Ambassador Mukantabana — have been sharing videos on social media of Rusesabagina vowing to use “any means possible” to “liberate” Rwanda from Kagame’s rule.

The former military leader whose troops drove the genocidal regime from Rwanda in 1994 was once championed in Western capitals as a visionary reformer, lifting his country out of the devastation of the killings.

But he has ruled ever since and critics say he shows signs of autocratic leadership, overseeing constitutional changes to prolong his rule and targeting opponents both inside Rwanda and abroad.

 

AFP

Rwanda Arrests Hotelier From ‘Hotel Rwanda’ On ‘Terrorism’

hotel-rwanda
A Rwandan man reads an article from the French publication TV5 on his phone about Aloys Ntiwiragabo, a Rwandan Genocide suspect on August 26, 2020.  AFP

 

 

Rwandan investigators announced Monday they had arrested Paul Rusesabagina, whose heroic actions during the 1994 genocide were depicted in the Oscar-nominated movie “Hotel Rwanda”, accusing the high-profile government critic of terrorism.

The Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) said Rusesabagina, who lives in Belgium, had been detained “through international cooperation” and was being held at a police station in the capital on serious charges.

“With the cooperation of the international community, Paul Rusesabagina was arrested and he is now in the hands of RIB,” RIB acting spokesman Thierry Murangira told reporters in Kigali.

Murangira refused to detail how the arrest occurred or the extent of involvement of international authorities in detaining the outspoken critic of long-ruling President Paul Kagame, claiming doing so “could jeopardise investigations”.

Eric Van Duyse, spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office, told AFP they were informed of Rusesabagina’s arrest by Rwandan authorities “but we have no details of the circumstances”.

Murangira said Rusesabagina, who has agitated for political change in Rwanda from abroad, was the subject of an international arrest warrant and “suspected of financing and creating terror groups” operating in East Africa and overseas.

He is accused by investigators of terrorism, arson, kidnap and murder, including against his own countrymen on Rwandan soil in two incidences in June and December 2018.

– Fierce critic –

During the 1994 genocide, as manager of the Hotel des Diplomates in Kigali, Rusesabagina used his influence and connections to shelter 1,268 Tutsis and moderate Hutus from being slaughtered by the Interahamwe militia.

American actor Don Cheadle played him in the 2004 Oscar-nominated film “Hotel Rwanda.”

From Belgium, where he sought asylum with his wife and children, Rusesabagina became a fierce critic of Kagame, who has been in power since 1994 when his forces overthrew the genocidal regime.

Rusesabagina has accused Kagame’s government of killing opposition figures and detaining and torturing activists both at home and abroad.

The RIB has said the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), which Rusesabagina co-founded abroad, and its armed wing, the FLN, are “extremist terror outfits”. Rwanda has also accused neighbours, including Burundi and Uganda, of harbouring the group.

Rusesabagina, in a video posted to YouTube in December 2018, said the FLN was seeking to “liberate” Rwanda from an oppressive government in Kigali.

Once championed in Western capitals as a reformer, Kagame has been criticised for overseeing constitutional changes to prolong his rule and cracking down on opposition voices.

AFP

 

Rwanda Issues Arrest Warrant For Genocide Suspect In France – Prosecutor

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

Rwanda has issued an international arrest warrant for a top former Rwandan military official, Aloys Ntiwiragabo, who is under investigation in France over his role in the country’s 1994 genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

“We have issued an international arrest warrant against Aloys Ntiwiragabo, the genocide suspect. We have investigated his case and we are working with the French unit in charge of combating war crimes and crimes against humanity,” prosecutor-general Aimable Havugiyaremye told a press conference on Tuesday.

France opened a probe into alleged crimes against humanity by Ntiwiragabo after he was found in the suburbs of the city of Orleans, about 100 kilometres south-west of Paris.

French investigative news site Mediapart tracked down the former Rwandan spy chief, who had been identified by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as one of the architects of the genocide.

Neither the ICTR, Interpol, France nor Rwanda were actively seeking him now and had dropped arrest warrants years ago.

The revelation of his whereabouts came barely two months after another suspected genocide architect, Felicien Kabuga, was arrested on the fringes of Paris.

Kabuga, who evaded police in several countries for 25 years, is accused of financing the genocide.

Kabuga had asked for a trial in France, citing frail health and claiming the UN court in Africa would be biased against him, and possibly hand him over to Rwandan authorities.

A team of prosecutors and investigators from the international tribunal handling Rwanda genocide matters arrived in Kigali Tuesday for a two-week visit to investigate and gather evidence on Kabuga and other genocide suspects at large.

France has long been known as a hiding place for wanted genocide suspects and French investigators currently have dozens of cases underway.

A plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana, from Rwanda’s Hutu majority, was shot down in Kigali on April 6, 1994, unleashing the killing spree that would leave mainly Tutsis but also moderate Hutus dead.

AFP

PHOTOS: 117 Stranded Nigerians Return From Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania

In this photo released by @AzmanAir on August 2, 2020, returnees disembark from an airplane following their evacuation from three East African countries.

 

A total of 117 Nigerians stranded in three East African countries as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have returned home.

They were brought back to the country on Sunday from Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania.

The airplane which evacuated the returnees from the three East African countries touched down at about 3am at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

A Nigerian airline, Azman Air, which conducted the evacuation exercise, announced the arrival of the returnees in an early-morning tweet.

 

In line with the guidelines of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on evacuation, the returnees are expected to go into self-isolation for 14 days.

At the end of the isolation period, they are also expected to take another test to ascertain their COVID-19 status before reuniting with the society.

 

US Evacuees Now 1,430

Their return to the country came barely a day after the Nigeria Government evacuated 300 more Nigerians stranded in the United States.

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in a tweet on Saturday, confirmed that a total of 300 citizens were brought back to the country.

 

According to the agency, the evacuation of the new set of returnees who also arrived at the international airport in Lagos via Ethiopian Airlines is the fifth from the US since the government began the exercise.

All the returnees had tested negative to COVID-19 before boarding the flight and would also observe the mandatory 14-day self-isolation as directed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

The latest evacuation brings to 1,430 the total number of Nigerians who returned from the US.

Highpoints of the arrival of the stranded Nigerians from the three East African countries are captured in the photos below:

France Opens Probe Into Rwandan Genocide Suspect

A file photo of French President, Emmanuel Macron. Ludovic MARIN / AFP

 

France has opened a probe into alleged crimes against humanity by a top former Rwandan military official, Aloys Ntiwiragabo, during the country’s 1994 genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

Anti-terrorism prosecutors told AFP Saturday that a preliminary investigation was opened after Ntiwiragabo was found hiding in the suburbs of the city of Orleans, about 100 kilometres south-west of Paris.

French investigative news site Mediapart tracked down the former Rwandan spy chief, who was identified by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as one of the architects of the genocide.

Neither the ICTR, Interpol, France nor Rwanda were actively seeking him now and had dropped arrest warrants years ago.

The revelation of his whereabouts comes barely two months after another suspected genocide architect, Felicien Kabuga, was arrested on the fringes of Paris.

Kabuga, who evaded police in several countries for 25 years, is accused of financing the genocide.

Kabuga had asked for a trial in France, citing frail health and claiming the United Nations court in Africa would be biased against him, and possibly hand him over to Rwandan authorities.

France has long been known as a hiding place for wanted genocide suspects and French investigators currently have dozens of cases underway.

A plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana, from Rwanda’s Hutu majority, was shot down in Kigali on April 6, 1994, unleashing the killing spree that would leave mainly Tutsis but also moderate Hutus dead.

 

AFP

Zambia Denies Accusations Its President Sponsored Rwandan Rebels

Zambia’s President, Edgar Lungu, (pictured) was accused of supporting “rebel attacks to remove Rwandan President Paul Kagame from power.

 

Zambia’s government on Tuesday rejected claims President Edgar Lungu had bankrolled a Rwandan rebel leader accused of orchestrating deadly attacks in his country’s border regions.

The claims were made by the rebel chief, Callixte Nsabimana, who is on trial for terrorism and other charges. He has already admitted to working with other foreign governments against Rwanda.

During his latest hearing on Monday, Nsabimana told a Rwandan High court that Lungu had promised his National Liberation Front (FLN) $1 million to help oust the administration in Kigali.

He said Lungu had made a down payment of $150,000 in support of “rebel attacks to remove President Paul Kagame from power”.

Zambia is surrounded by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola. It is 1,258 kilometres away from Rwanda. Image: www.distancefromto.net

In a statement Tuesday the Zambian presidency said it “would like to categorically refute these claims”.

It stated “unequivocally that these allegations are false and must be treated with the contempt they deserve”.

“The governments and peoples of Zambia and Rwanda continue to enjoy strong and fraternal relations founded on mutual respect,” said the statement from presidential spokesman Isaac Chipambe.

Nsabimana, also known as “Sankara” has in previous hearings named Burundi and Uganda as supporters of the rebel activities against Rwanda.

The rebel commander is charged with terrorism, treason, incitement violence, murder and kidnap among other charges.

AFP

COVID-19: Uganda, Rwanda Take Delivery Of Mobile Testing Labs From Germany

Forensic experts of the police stand near the site where a shooter, believed to have a personal motive, launched an assault on January 24, 2020 in the town of Rot am See in southwestern Germany. Marijan Murat / DPA / AFP
Forensic experts of the police stand near the site where a shooter, believed to have a personal motive, launched an assault on January 24, 2020 in the town of Rot am See in southwestern Germany. Marijan Murat / DPA / AFP.

 

Uganda and Rwanda have taken delivery of two mobile diagnostic labs to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, the first in a network of German-funded units for East Africa, public investment bank KfW said Thursday.

While the project to procure the labs and train staff has been underway since 2018, “they’re arriving at exactly the right moment to help with fighting,” the virus, KfW board member Joachim Nagel said in a statement.

More of the mobile units “for speedy and modern diagnosis of infectious disease” will arrive in the six countries of the East African Community (EAC) region in the coming days, KfW said, for a total of nine in the first phase.

Under contract from the Development Ministry in Berlin, KfW has pumped 27 million euros ($29.1 million) into the project.

Lab staff from EAC countries Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda have undergone training at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for tropical medicine in Hamburg and in Tanzanian city Arusha.

Across Africa, only 25,461 people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus by 1900 GMT Wednesday, according to an AFP tally from official sources.

READ ALSO: WHO Warns Malaria Deaths Could Double Amid COVID Pandemic 

But the pandemic is still in its early stages on the continent, with fears the virus could spread quickly through densely populated cities and refugee camps.

German Development Minister Gerd Mueller urged Berlin to invest a further three billion euros in battling the pandemic in poorer countries, on top of just over one billion already earmarked.

Wealthy nations must help prevent “first hospitals and then entire states collapsing,” Mueller told the Funke newspaper group.

“Hunger, unrest and, in the end, uncontrollable refugee movements” could result otherwise, he warned.

Germany has begun easing curbs on public life after ministers said the contagion had been brought under control.

Rapid and widespread testing of the population for cases has been at the centre of Berlin’s containment strategy.

AFP

Rwanda Confirms First Coronavirus Case

 

Rwanda on Saturday confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus — an Indian citizen who arrived last week from Mumbai, the health ministry said.

“He is currently under treatment in stable condition, isolated from other patients. The tracing of all contacts has been conducted for further management,” the ministry added.

Rwanda is the third East African nation to confirm a case in the past two days after Kenya and Ethiopia reported their first infections on Friday.

The region had remained unscathed until now, but Rwanda has stepped up preparation, placing washbasins with soap and sanitiser around the capital Kigali.wandAir has cancelled flights to China, Israel and India, while concerts, rallies, trade fairs and sports events have been cancelled.

AFP

Rwanda Scraps Tax On Sanitary Pads To Make Them Cheaper

(PHOTO USED TO DEPICT THE STORY) In this file photo taken on April 10, 2018 Indian employees at the Myna Mahila Foundation prepare sanitary pads at their office in Mumbai.PHOTO: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP

 

Rwanda announced on Wednesday it was scrapping an 18 percent value added tax on sanitary pads to make them cheaper for girls who are often forced to skip school during their periods.

The country becomes the latest to drop the controversial tax which has increasingly infuriated women around the globe who argue tampons and pads are basic necessities and should not be subject to taxes.

“The Government of Rwanda has added Sanitary Pads to a list of goods that are VAT exempted in a bid to ease their affordability,” the ministry of gender and family promotion announced on its website and on Twitter Wednesday.

The move came after fierce lobbying from feminist groups and NGOs urging government to act to reduce the price of sanitary pads in the country.

“This is a step in the right direction but not the ultimate solution. It is a shame that girls have to drop out of school just because of a biological process, so it is a good step what government is trying to do,” Annette Mukiga, a feminist activist in Rwanda told AFP.

“Our target is to make sure that sanitary pads are free, not just cheap but free in all schools, so that girls do not have to worry about this challenge anymore.”

In 2017 a study conduction by the education ministry showed that girls aged 16 and above were eight percent more likely to drop out of school than boys, especially in rural areas.

The report cited lack of access to sanitary pads during menstruation as one of the reasons for this.

Kenya is credited with being the first country to abolish taxes on menstrual products in 2005, and in recent years many have followed suit.

However Tanzania in June decided to re-introduce the tax after having done away with it in 2018, arguing it was counterproductive as retailers had not lowered their prices.

AFP

Rwandan Cycling Boss Resigns Over Corruption, Sexual Harassment Allegations

Cycling is a much-loved sport in the country, and President Kagame once considered making it the national sport.

 

The president of the Rwanda Cycling Federation, Aimable Bayingana, has resigned following multiple allegations of corruption and sexually abusing female riders.

Bayingana stood down together with his entire executive committee including two vice-presidents, advisors, secretary general and treasurer.

He is also the spokesperson of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), which has ruled Rwanda since 1994 under strongman President Paul Kagame.

The federation authorities declined to comment on the development.

The Rwanda Investigative Bureau announced that they had received “the case and it is under investigation” and were not willing to comment further.

The sports ministry is also investigating the allegations.

“The resignations by the cycling federation officials happened last evening and we are also investigating the allegations. But since these are crimes, we cannot comment any further; we will leave it to Rwanda Investigative Bureau to do its work,” Shema Maboko, Permanent Secretary at the sports ministry, told AFP.

Following the scandal, the ministry of sports is now planning to introduce a policy against sexual abuse that will govern all sports federations and activities in the country.

The scandal rocking the federation unfolded after the former national team coach Jonathan ‘Jock’ Boyer and Kimberly Coats, also founders of the Africa Rising Cycling Centre in Rwanda’s Northern Province, fell out with Bayingana and exposed the goings-on in the cycling federation.

The duo, credited for the success of the national team, left Rwanda after disagreeing with Bayingana on several issues affecting cycling.

In an open letter addressed to Bayingana, published by a local publication, American Boyer accused the cycling federation boss of frustrating efforts to develop the sport, arrogance, having excessive power, mistreating cyclists and sexual harassment among other accusations.

“We are aware that sexual assault and corruption happens and it is our prerogative to fight it. We are strong on it. We have been using the national policies against sexual exploitation,” Maboko added.

Investigations into Bayingana began shortly after local media reported that he was allegedly sexually exploiting female riders –- most of whom are poor and uneducated.

Cycling is a much loved sport in the country, and President Kagame once considered making it the national sport.

 

AFP

Rwanda Parades Five Suspects Linked To Militia Attack

 

Rwandan authorities have paraded five suspects in a deadly weekend attack who told journalists they were from the FDLR Hutu militia based in neighbouring DR Congo.

The attack, in which 14 civilians were killed, took place near the Volcanoes National Park, which is famous for its mountain gorilla sanctuary.

It is an area repeatedly targeted by Rwandan rebels operating from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

One such group is the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), created by Rwandan Hutu refugees in eastern DRC after the 1994 genocide of Tutsis by majority Hutus in Rwanda.

The five rebels allegedly captured in an operation in which police said 19 “terrorists” were killed, were paraded in front of the media on Sunday night, answering direct questions from journalists.

They said their aim was — as long stated by the FDLR — to “overthrow the government” in comments whose veracity could not be independently confirmed.

“We came to kill soldiers but our commanders started killing civilians and ordered us to do the same,” said Emmanuel Hakizimana, 27, who said he joined the FDLR in 2018 in Uganda.

Another member of the group Theoneste Habumukiza said he was a student in Uganda when he went to the DRC and was “asked to join FDLR and to liberate Rwanda from tyranny.”

“After entering Rwanda and shooting some people, we faced fire from Rwandan soldiers and we tried to escape but we could not. So we surrendered and gave up our arms to the soldiers.”

Aside from the 14 killed, another 14 residents of the Musanze district, which borders DRC, are still in hospital.

The Congolese army announced last month it had shot dead FDLR commander Sylvestre Mudacumura who was wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crime charges.

The last attack by rebels in this region happened in December and resulted in the deaths of two Rwandan soldiers.

AFP