As he announced on March 12, Paul Rusesabagina removed himself from his trial and is not in court today. In addition to the defendant, there were many things missing in court today. Decency. Fairness. Truth. Justice. The rule of law.
Rusesabagina sent a letter to the judges that “Informed the court that he will not come back to court because he will not find justice in these proceedings and his rights won’t be respected.” The court then decided that if Rusesabagina decides not to appear in court, the trial will not stop and he will be tried in absentia, which is allowed in Rwanda.
While the judges left the door open to Rusesabagina returning at any time, the reasons that he withdrew himself from the trial were not addressed. He has no access to private and confidential documents provided to him by his lawyers, as any files left with him are still confiscated when he goes back to his cell. He still does not have the freedom to contact his lawyers at any time, as visits are sometimes denied and he has no phone access to his lawyers. The court has not dealt with the key issue of his illegal kidnapping and subsequent illegal detention, both of which should bring an immediate end to the trial. These and many other legalities, as laid out by multiple international human rights reports, all remain.
The one concession provided by the court is that there is now a computer in Rusesabagina’s cell, which the government says fulfills his need to prepare. It is not connected to the internet, which is expected. So what’s the problem? He was told that the computer will be searched every week by the prison authorities. This effectively means that the computer is useless. Paul will not be able to make any private or confidential notes for his lawyers, since they will not be private. In addition, if he even uses the computer there is every chance that the Rwandan government will try to plant incriminating files on it during the time it is being searched. For a criminal defendant, having a computer that is not private is the equivalent of not having a computer at all. As the show trial commenced, the first witness was paid Rwanda agent Michelle Martin who gave no testimony relevant to the indictment against Paul. Martin holds a masters in social work and has served in academic roles around the Chicago area. She currently runs a blog called Aging Naked. More importantly, in 2010 she was briefly a volunteer with the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF). She attended one or two meetings and events, and was included in some email correspondence and some phone calls.HRRF leadership only found out many years later that she was a paid spy for the Rwandan government.
In addition to being a paid agent (check the FARA records) and to not reporting that she was a paid agent (according to governments sources, this has already caused her legal problems and may cause more with this testimony), Michelle’s statements clearly show that she has been working with the Rwandan government all along.
Martin attended a few HRRF planning meetings and was involved in some emails. She also had contact with other members of the Rwandan diaspora, one of whom had their computer hacked during that time. The hacker was never discovered. In Martin’s testimony today she mentions having access to “over 10,000 emails.” In fact, she was copied on a few dozen emails when volunteering with HRRF. She was never instrumental in any Rwandan diaspora group, but her access does suggest that she had access to someone(s) computer files. It is clear in hindsight that Martin used her relationships to collect information as a paid agent for the Rwandan government.
During her testimony, at several points Martin also accused Paul Rusesabagina of “genocide ideology,” “negationism” and “genocide denial.” She claimed that she realized he was guilty of these while working with him. Interestingly, these are terms that are only used by the Rwandan government. Anyone in Rwanda who claims that Hutus were killed during the genocide, or that the Rwandan government has committed human rights violations, or even speaks negatively about President Paul Kagame may be accused of these “crimes.” In fact, all of these terms are used by the Rwandan government to stifle free speech, and to impugn or arrest anyone who speaks out against that government. Martin’s use of these terms clearly shows her background and allegiances with the Rwandan government. We believe that she met Paul once. She did no actual work for the Foundation.
Since that time, Martin has acted as a Rwandan agent in a variety of ways, speaking publicly against Rwandans in the diaspora who oppose the human rights violations and abuses of President Paul Kagame. She also wrote a letter to the leader of a prominent US Foundation asking that Paul Rusesabagina not be honored by that group or allowed to speak, which is a standard tactic of Rwandan agents.
Martin later filed Foreign Agent Registration Act documents disclosing that she was paid $5000/month for her services. Her contract with Rwanda included mapping networks of Rwandans in the diaspora who were speaking out against the Kagame government, tracking their memberships and affiliations, researching policy responses to fight back against those in the diaspora who speak out against Kagame, and implementing a “pro-active response to the ‘Diaspora Effect,’” referring to anyone in the diaspora who speaks out against the Kagame government. These activities all amount to what can only be called spying for the Rwandan government on Rwandans in the diaspora. Kagame’s government has been engaged in this activity since at least 1998. Interestingly, Michelle Martin is a rare case in which Kagame’s use of paid agents, in this case an American citizen, can be clearly shown in the United States. Martin gathered information for the Kagame regime both on Americans and on US residents.
And today Michelle Martin took the stand in the trial of Paul Rusesabagina in an attempt to implicate him, the HRRF, and his PDR-Ihumure party. Martin brought up many of the false allegations already disproven against Rusesabagina, including a meeting in South Africa that never happened, along with Western Union receipts that were proven forged a decade ago. She mentioned many emails and documents that she supposedly found by accident. She also tried and failed in her testimony to once again falsely link Rusesabagina and the PDR to the FDLR group in the Congo. HRRF broke off contact with Martin because Martin kept suggesting that Paul should work with the FDLR.
Michelle Martin’s testimony today and story since 2010 is a classic example of the way the Rwandan government attempts to set up dissenters, including Paul Rusesabagina. She used half-truths, partial stories, lack of details, and fabricated information to tell a story intended to implicate Paul Rusesabagina and other Rwandans in actions against the Kagame government. The problem is, even with false and fabricated information, in several hours of testimony Martin’s information did nothing to provide any real evidence against Rusesabagina. What she proved is that Paul Rusesabagina and other Rwandans in the diaspora have been criticizing the human rights violations and illegal actions of the Rwandan government and Paul Kagame since 2010 and before. This is absolutely true and not in question. It also has nothing to do with even providing evidence toward the false charges against Paul Rusesabagina.
Additional details on Martin’s activities and background on Rwanda were reported in 2014 at: https://www.africaglobalvillage.com/is-depaul-university-the-best-cover-for-an-agent-of-the-rwandan-government/
So on Day 7 of the show trial of Paul Rusesabagina, everything remains the same. Paul continues to boycott the trial as his rights continue to be violated and the false testimony against him has begun.
Contact: Kitty KurthEmail: [email protected]Phone: 312-617-7288