Rusesabagina: False “humanitarian” and a leader of a terrorist movement

Some of the militiamen captured in combat in eastern DR Congo. Rusesabagina has been collecting money through his foundation and channelling it towards supporting anti-Rwanda militia groups. /File.

Recently, I visited the Lantos Foundation website, where Paul Rusesabagina is on their list of their Human Rights prize recipients. This leads me to believe that the

President of the Lantos Foundation, Katrina Lantos Swett, and Lantos’ board members, do not follow developments in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. 

 

Their 2011 award recipient Rusesabagina currently leads a terrorist coalition movement largely made up of fugitives of the Genocide against Tutsi and Genocide deniers under the name MRCD (Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change).

 

The movement also has a paramilitary wing known as the FLN (National Liberation Front) that has made incursions into Rwanda, killing and abducting people and looting property.

 

Basically, Rusesabagina’s biography on the Lantos Foundation website is incomplete, as it lacks updates of his recent political and terrorist activities in Rwanda and the DRC.

Rusesabagina is not the man the Lantos Foundation proclaims he is. For example, the MRCD website has a welcome message video where Rusesabagina presents himself as the group’s leader, inviting people around the world to join the FLN in DRC jungles in an effort to overthrow the legitimate government of Rwanda. 

The website also reports terror activities carried out by FLN on Rwandan territory (south-west) which took the lives of four Rwandans and 14 others were injured between August and November 2018. On 27 June 2020, a similar attack was carried out in the same region by an identified group but believed to be the one led by Rusesabagina. 

Here are some updates the Lantos Foundation needs to address. As of now, the FLN has largely been defeated, but many of its officers killed others in the process. Two FLN spokespersons, “Maj’’ Callixte Nsabimana and “Capt” Herman Nsengimana were handed to Rwanda by the DRC military (FARDC) in effort to uproot armed groups unleashing terror in eastern DRC. 

By January 2020, more than 300 hundred of Rusesabagina’s terrorists were deported to Rwanda. 

The Lantos Foundation gives awards to people with outstanding activities in defending human rights, and was founded by Tom and Annette Lantos, who were both Holocaust survivors.

They each worked for more than 30 years in the US Congress, fighting for human rights and the dignity of people across the globe. 

When the Lantos Foundation nominated Rusesabagina as the 2011 Human Rights prize recipient, many journalists, scholars, and Genocide survivors, including those who were in the Hôtel des Mille Collines with Rusesabagina during the Genocide (the story of which is the source of Rusesabagina’s “acclaim”), protested the proposal.

The Lantos Foundation insisted, however, and validated the long-debunked narrative that Rusesabagina saved 1,200 Tutsi.

The Lantos Foundation was inspired by the fictional story that portrays Rusesabagina in the movie Hotel Rwanda.

They gave Rusesabagina the prize thinking they were awarding a Rwandan “Oskar Schindler.”

Schindler was a Nazi Party member who saved 1,200 Jews in the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories in occupied Poland. After the Second World War, Schindler got financial and other forms of support from people he saved.

When he died in Germany in 1974, his body was brought to and buried on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem. Many streets in the United States and Israel are named after Schindler to honour his courageous actions. 

During the Genocide against Tutsi, there were other heroes who saved Tutsi. Besides the RPA soldiers, who fought to stop the genocide, some Rwandans sacrificed their lives or took life-threating risks to protect and hide Tutsi. 

When Rusesabagina received his Lantos Foundation award, he did not wait long to spew venom against the government of Rwanda and the RPF in general, which, in his acceptance speech, he compared to the genocidal regime which organised and executed the Genocide against Tutsi.

He said, “Dancers have gone but the music remains the same.” In the same speech, he also revealed his terror activity plans and veiled it by saying that he was the only one that could unite Rwandans and recreate the country as he inherited it from his father.

On Voice of America (VOA), while defending Rusesabagina, Katrina qualified the testimonies of Genocide survivors by labeling them as ridiculous accusations, and falsely asserted that Rusesabagina wanted a peaceful Rwanda, and was only interested in bringing issues of peace and reconciliation to the table for discussion.

Katrina said this in 2011, when the Rwandan prosecution issued an arrest warrant against Rusesabagina for financing the FDLR.

The prosecution had the dates of transactions, and traced how he sent money from Texas, received it in different banks in Bujumbura and Dar es Salaam, and subsequently received by FDLR to fund their activities.

The people who received this money spoke to prosecution as it was confirmed by the then Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga.

The same modus operandi of terrorism continued, as Rusesabagina took the lead. Along with financing terrorist activities, he also mobilized and conscripted rebels, including children, to his terror group based in the DRC. 

Rusesabagina, Faustin Twagiramungu, and Wilson Irategeka of the FDLR established the MRCD, and carried out three different attacks in Rwanda, which they confirmed in the media. The spokesperson of FLN, Callixte Nsabimana, has since been deported to Rwanda and pleaded guilty to all 16 charges brought against him, including his involvement in terror activities in the movement led by Rusesabagina.

Through his personal foundation, known as Rusesabagina Foundation which hoodwinks people into thinking they are donating money to support “survivors of the Genocide,” Rusesabagina has travelled the world and organised conferences with entrance fees that actually go toward supporting his terror movement. 

Rusesabagina considers himself both a rescuer and survivor, depending on the targeted audience, provided that he gets money. He is none of these.

The Lantos Foundation and others, who praised Rusasabagina, indirectly supported (and continue to support) terrorist activities by paving the way for Rusesabagina to brand himself and get financial support. Rwandans and Congolese, who are the victims of the FLN and Rusesabagina, have paid the price.

Rusesabagina’s Lantos Foundation award blinded the world and does not acknowledge his subsequent terror-embedded actions. He has been to Israel, spoken at Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Universities, and even at the Knesset, or Israeli Parliament. 

He did the same in Australia, the United States, and Belgium, all under the pretext of rescuer or survivor.

Rusesabagina, who has Belgian Citizenship, lives in total impunity from his terror activities in the DRC and Rwanda. Rwandans and Congolese thank the Congolese army, who conducted military operations to stop FLN activities in DRC territory and repatriate soldiers and commanders to Rwanda. 

Justice is waiting for Rusesabagina and Twagiramungu, who continue to lead the terror movement from Europe.  

It is not too late for the Lantos Foundation to clear its name and revoke Rusesabagina’s recognition as a Human Rights award recipient, and begin the long road of bringing him to justice.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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