By, Taciana Rusesabagina
My name is Taciana Rusesabagina. I wanted to share some of my thoughts from a recent press conference regarding my husband Paul’s ongoing detention.
First of all, I want to thank all the people who have supported my family in our struggle against the profound injustice and accompanying sadness that we have been coping with for the last 3 months. I will be grateful to every person who has supported us in this ordeal for the rest of my life.
It’s been already 111 days since my husband Paul Rusesabagina — my confidant, the father of my children, and the hero of Hotel Rwanda — was kidnapped by criminals and forcibly taken to Rwanda, a country he fled in 1996 to escape from persecution targeted at him and other dissidents. I appeal to all the countries of the world, both their leaders and their citizens, to come aid us in our campaign to bring my husband home safely and to put an end to this harrowing treatment of human rights activists across the globe.
My husband, my hero, is a man of principles and integrity. He is a man who has always fought against injustice — both in his humanitarian work across the world and in his private life. He has always been the voice of the voiceless. He has always passionately fought for fairness, justice, and democratic values.
His brave advocacy has had an incredible impact on the lives of countless people, but it has also attracted the scorn of dictators and oppressors. In an attempt to protect ourselves, we left Rwanda in 1996 and Paul was granted political asylum in Belgium. But since 2005, we have been subject to threats, intimidation, and even murder attempts. Our home was ransacked, the Belgian government is a witness to this. Because of his bravery and pursuit of human rights, my husband and I have faced many difficulties together. I can tell you that what is happening right now is the hardest challenge yet, because we are not side by side to face it together.
Today, my husband is facing false allegations pertaining to crimes that he has always spoken out against. His motto has always been truth, justice, and reconciliation for lasting peace in Rwanda and the Great Lakes region of Africa.
In conclusion, I ask for help, for assistance, and for your prayers. I ask the Belgian government to bring my husband — their citizen — home from his unjust detention in Rwanda as soon as possible. It was a grave violation of international law and justice when my husband was kidnapped, tortured, and taken against his will to Rwanda without any due process. As Martin Luther King said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Humanitarians and dissidents all over the world could be the next target — if a person can be kidnapped from a country they’re visiting by a country that wants to torture them, where does it stop? I pray that we don’t have to find out what that future looks like.
So finally, I ask the religious community around the world to pray for us that my husband, the father of my children, will come home safe and sound. We miss him dearly.