Rwanda is speaking – is Lantos Foundation listening?

An American human rights organisation, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, is set to recognise Paul Rusesabagina this month for having been “his brothers’ keeper” during the 1994 genocide.It will be recalled that the brothers in question were 1,268 men, women and children who were holed up in Hôtel des Mille Collines.

An American human rights organisation, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, is set to recognise Paul Rusesabagina this month for having been “his brothers’ keeper” during the 1994 genocide.

It will be recalled that the brothers in question were 1,268 men, women and children who were holed up in Hôtel des Mille Collines.

The hotel was besieged by murderers who were waiting impatiently to add 1,268 bodies onto the heap of more than a million Rwandans already butchered. For being in that hotel, all of the 1,268 “brothers” survived.

A miracle, if ever there was one. So, on hearing news of the intended 2011 Lantos Prize, a number of those “brothers”, on behalf of every one of them, wrote to the Lantos Foundation. 

None of them was happy to be associated with Rusesabagina’s name. In other words, they wrote to express their displeasure; like saying he is not our “brother” in the sense of saving us, because actually he did not.

And the foundation wrote back to acknowledge receipt of their protest. Its response: “Hi everyone. We appreciate you taking an interest in the 2011 Lantos Prize, but our decision stands.  We are proud to be presenting

…..Rusesabagina with this award and consider his actions to be truly heroic……Thanks again for your interest……”

And that was it. Yes, “Hi everyone”!

You may think that I talk in jest but, as the internet is my witness, that comical farce took place and, in fact, it is still going on as I write this.

The foundation’s response is not even communicated specifically to those saved occupants of the hotel, or the organisation of the 1994 genocide survivors. No, it is on the public arena that Facebook is today.

“Hi everyone……Rusesabagina.…..truly……saved……” Who? The ways of America are truly amazing! (The ways of only a few Americans, I must hasten to clarify.)

You and I, what would we expect any other mortal to do, if they were going to honour somebody that a film portrayed as the saviour of a group of people?

It would be to confirm the veracity of the story, no doubt. Personally, I’d expect that the people at Lantos would have combed the internet for anything that was associated with the name of that “saviour”.

In which case, they’d have discovered that the name Rusesabagina triggers nothing but controversy in the country of his “truly heroic and historic actions”.

Let’s assume that Lantos Foundation gives their prize great value and, therefore, the respect it deserves. They are not giving the prize simply to be seen to be serving a good cause, by the many Americans who’ve viewed that film.

They are not seeking legitimacy approval through convincing their fellow Americans that they are rewarding a good deed to the people of Rwanda.

They are committed to rewarding a human rights action because they are truly convinced that, in that hotel, the right to life was actually rescued.

To be convinced, what would they need?

They’d need to go to the root of that controversy around Rusesabagina’s name. This they’d do by, for instance, asking at least one of the saved hotel occupants to corroborate the story, if asking more is expending too much energy.

That one survivor – or many if the energy is there! – would be in USA, or anywhere else in the Diaspora, if they believe that survivors in Rwanda are “gagged”.

Of course, apart from listening to the 1994 genocide survivors, there are many other ways to establish that Rusesabagina as a hero is a creature of Hollywood.

Today, facts on his conduct and actions in Hotel des Mille Collines (not to be confused with the fictional film, Hotel Rwanda) are there for any interested party to see.

The reasons for taking over the hotel are known; reasons for charging rooms; confiscating keys to the stores for food and drinks; cutting telephone lines; refusing entry to some of those pursued; communicating with and entertaining génocidaires; et al.

And if those reasons were for self-enrichment, today that goal has been attained, thanks to the timely intervention of Hollywood and the largesse of innocent American citizens, and Rusesabagina must embark on accomplishing another.

So, he is pleading the cause of those who maimed and murdered, that they may complete their murderous mission, with him to thank for it.

To thank, yes, maybe with the juicy post of their leader – and leader of survivors of another round of slaughter and mayhem.

Again, the facts are there for all to see as, in only one example, messages between him and the terrorist organisation, FDLR, can attest.

Darkest of dark days this coming November 16th is going to be! To think that the Tom Lantos Foundation is in memory of the sagacious Tom Lantos, who survived the Holocaust in one of the notorious Raoul Wallenberg’s safe-houses to become the first Jewish congressman in USA.

If anybody has ever turned in their grave, our venerable Tom Lantos is going to spin in his, come this Sunday!

Said Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation: “I was raised on the idea that we are all our brothers’ keepers.” So were we, Katrina, so were we – at least most of us Rwandans.

Hi, everyone! Were we not shocked that some of our very kin could turn Cain?

E-mail:butapa@gmail.com  
Blog:butamire.wordpress.com  
Twitter: @butamire

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