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Freed 'Hotel Rwanda' hero Rusesabagina arrives in US

Paul Rusesabagina

Paul Rusesabagina

The man who inspired the film "Hotel Rwanda" and was freed by Rwanda last week from a terrorism sentence returned Wednesday to the United States, where he will reunite with his family after being held for more than two years.

Paul Rusesabagina's arrival back in the US was announced Wednesday by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who wrote in a tweet that "we're glad to have him back on US soil."

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told journalists on Monday that Rusesabagina was in Doha, Qatar, and would be returning to the US.

Rusesabagina's plane touched down in Houston in the afternoon and the 68-year-old was to travel next to a military hospital in San Antonio, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning. The person said Rusesabagina was on the ground and in a car heading to reunite with his family.

"We're glad to have him back on U.S. soil & reunited with his family & friends who've long waited for this day to come," Sullivan wrote. "I'm grateful to those we worked closely with in the Rwandan Government to make this possible."

Rusesabagina, a US legal resident and Belgian citizen, was credited with sheltering more than 1,000 ethnic Tutsis at the hotel he managed during Rwanda's 1994 genocide, in which over 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus who tried to protect them were killed. He received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts.

Vanished in Dubai

Rusesabagina disappeared in 2020 during a visit to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and appeared days later in Rwanda in handcuffs. His family alleged he was kidnapped and taken to Rwanda against his will to stand trial.

In 2021, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted in Rwanda on eight charges, including membership in a terrorist group, murder and abduction, following the widely criticized trial. Last week, Rwanda's government commuted his sentence after diplomatic intervention on his behalf by the United States.

Rusesabagina had been accused of supporting the armed wing of his opposition political platform, the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change. The armed group claimed some responsibility for attacks in 2018 and 2019 in southern Rwanda in which nine Rwandans died.

Rusesabagina testified at trial that he helped to form the armed group to assist refugees but said he never supported violence — and sought to distance himself from its deadly attacks.

Rusesabagina has asserted that his arrest was in response to his criticism of longtime President Paul Kagame over alleged human rights abuses. Kagame's government has repeatedly denied targeting dissenting voices with arrests and extrajudicial killings.

Rusesabagina became a public critic of Kagame and left Rwanda in 1996, first living in Belgium and then the US. His arrest was a source of friction with the US and others at a time when Rwanda's government has also been under pressure over tensions with neighbouring Congo and Britain's plan to deport asylum-seekers to the small east African nation.

Rights activists and others had been urging Rwandan authorities to free him, saying his health was failing. In October, the ailing Rusesabagina signed a letter to Kagame that was posted on the Justice ministry's website, saying that if he was granted pardon and released to live in the US., he would hold no personal or political ambitions and "I will leave questions regarding Rwandan politics behind me."

Last year, US secretary of state Antony Blinken met with Kagame in Rwanda and discussed the case.

Comments

-2 #1 Lakwena 2023-03-30 13:46
In other words, Evil has prevailed.

If it has reached this level whereby regime critics like Paul Rusesabagina of Rwanda have been terrorized and muffled into backing off from human Rights concerns, so that Paul Rusesabaginahe would hold no " ...personal or political ambitions ... to leave questions regarding Rwandan politics behind ." who will prevail over the Kagame and other Problems of Africa?
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+2 #2 Kalibbala 2023-03-30 19:51
I am so Happy for You Paul, I read your Book! it is always Funny for Persons responsible for the demise of 1.000.000 Rwandese because of Power and Land grabbing to ever Accuse others of Terrorism!

They Started their Trade in Uganda where They are Still Holding Folks Hostage in their Own Country and Treating them as "Collateral Disposal " Filling them in Horror Houses and Killing them at Will! No Case to Answer! 18/19 Nov. 2022 Massacre that saw 200 Ugandans Shot in Cold Blood!

The Devil called it a Rehearsal of His Army!!..The Tables are bound to turn and All Eluwelu,Kanduho and Other Bloodhounds will be brought to Book.
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+1 #3 kabayekka 2023-03-31 23:32
Sorry observer editor if our comments do not match your opinions. Well then remove your social media formant for other peoples' comments!
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0 #4 Bowyer 2023-04-01 03:00
And why would anyone need to “tackle” Paul Kagame at this stage.

I think we have to understand that Rwanda was a deeply decided country when he took over. If he gave politicians free will to continue divisive politics(like always invariably happens), I can bet you Rwanda would not be where it is at the moment.

Let everyone first get prosperous-to a certain level, then democracy can be returned slowly, when most people appreciate the need to stay United and most have something to loose incase de-stabilising forces come into play.

Otherwise, destabilising forces prosper in countries where there is a large maligned section of the population. Kagame has tried to do away with the Hutu/Tutsi divide which many of his opponents have tried to use for selfish political gains. I am Ugandan but I love Kagame to death. I wish he was the Ugandan president.
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