Rwanda: The Rusesabagina affair, a weapon of deterrence!

By The Rwandan Lawyer

The Rusesabagina affair is and will remain more than ever the one that held the breath of the international community, the one that aroused so much turmoil, so much suspense, so much questioning because the Hollywood star is no longer an actor, he is no longer that the actor, he is the theme, the script … which has caused a lot of ink and saliva to flow since his kidnapping at the end of August 2020. His Kidnapping, financed by the government of Kigali, his trial, the diplomatic relations which adjust to the extent of this affair, everything gives reason to think. Why did Paul KAGAME, the strong man of Africa, take this high-risk choice, without consultations with his old friends, whom he, on the contrary, calls fools? Without claiming to be exhaustive, we will try to analyze this affair. It’s actually about drawing an ocean with a tiny glass.

¨At the beginning: a hateful jealousy

The Rusesabagina case did not start suddenly on August 31, 2020, when it was presented to the public after three days of kidnapping. Long before even his political commitment as a fierce critic of the Kagame regime and founder of MRCD (Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change which rhymes well as the Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le développement et la Démocratie (MRNDD) of Juvénal HABYARIMANA), Rusesabagima was in the crosshairs of Kagame. On several occasions, Kagame has attacked Rusesabagina, showing him to be the star of a movie, a fictional one but not a star of a real story like him. A hateful jealousy of Kagame towards Rusesabagina, because the latter has been rewarded as the savior of more than 1200 Tutsis, while he Kagame is still considered a great criminal in Africa. Rusesabagina has become an international figure by his natural greatness in love of others, compassion and not by the greatness of the war conquest by Kalashnikov like Kagame.

In the eyes of someone who knows how to gauge reality, Rusesabagina is far from the sky in front of a Kagame who has started to lose control! Either way, narcissistic self-esteem people like Kagame never want to hear about someone else’s successes – they are woefully selfish and paranoid! It is this hatred that will format the Rwandan public, who instead of seeing Rusesabagina, who saved more than 1,200 Tutsi, as a true national hero recognized by the international community and the powerful of the world, will rather see him as a simple actor or clown of a film which nevertheless relates a fatal reality. Kagame does not want to share his title of savior of the Tutsi with anyone! Rusesabagina has thus become, certainly without knowing it, Kagame’s rival in an affair that the latter considers as his preserve. By analyzing “Hotel Rwanda” of which he is the hero, we find that Rusesabagina has become, since 2004, the figurehead of the questioning of the thesis of the preparation of the Tutsi massacres as well as all the literature relating to it. To question the preparation for the massacres of the Tutsis is to question the motives put forward by the RPF-Inkotanyi to break the Arusha Peace Accords in August 1993, it is intending to shake the foundation on which the regime of Kagame is built. This is a putsch by the pen and not by the Kalashnikov! A coup that everyone can admire because it spills little or no blood! But Kagame said it well “We are still the same [the rebels], we are ready to return to the bivouacs”, and human madness has clearly demonstrated “He who reigns by the sword, will perish by the ‘sword! “.

Because in fact the film reveals that certain personalities, both political and military, accused of having prepared the massacres of the Tutsi, directly helped Rusesabagina in his determination to save the Tutsi from the Hôtel des Milles Collines, in the heart of Kigali. A testimony, which I will one day be able to share with readers of The Rwandan, indicates that the Tutsis were seeking refuge in the Hotel des Milles Collines, with the help of Rusesabagina. All he had to do was to phone him and indicate the location, he managed to finally get the person in distress to the hotel! In order to get to the Hôtel de Milles Collines, there was always the intervention of senior officers. Among these military personalities are the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR), General Bizimungu Augustin, then occupied by the battles going on, but who, one day, responding to a sort of SOS message sent to him by Paul Rusesabagina, will move away or better dislodge the Interahamwe militia which was lurking around the hotel to assault it. It should be noted that talking about the civil war between Hutu and Tutsi in unprecedented inter-ethnic massacres is a taboo subject in Rwanda. There is a red line drawn by the Kigali regime which wants to hide the other side of the “Tutsi genocide”, the large-scale massacres of the Hutus.

¨False accusations

Rusesabagina’s trial has been nothing but a farce since his kidnapping, which is a violation of the most blatant human rights. Whether it is his family, his lawyers including the Belgian Vincent Leurquin, the HRW, the House External Relations Committee in Belgium, the Lantos Foundation, all qualify the arrest of Paul Rusesabagina as a kidnapping. Thus, in the resolution of the aforementioned House Relations Committee, addressed to the Belgian Government, Ms. Els Van Hoof talked of this arrest that “It is a flagrant violation of the international convention on protection against enforced disappearances. Rights have been systematically violated”.

He added “If Rwanda is not able to provide for the minimum conditions for a fair trial, Belgium must take action to allow a fair trial in our country”.

In fact, everyone agrees that the Rusesabagina trial is a highly political trial for strategic interests that we will analyze below. But it should be noted that the nine charges brought against him, including that of terrorism following his alleged support for the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), a rebel group accused of having carried out deadly attacks in Rwanda, are false. The indisputable facts show that Rusesabagina no longer participated in the activities of the MRCD, even though he founded it. In addition to that two co-defendants Herman Nsengimana and Marc Nizeyimana gave testimonies according to which Paul Rusesabagina no longer participated in the activities of the FLN, supposedly armed wing of the MRCD. Instead of weighing the testimonies, Jean Pierre Habarurema, one of the prosecutors declared, during the hearing on Thursday, June 17, 2021: “found out that each act of Rusesabagina was of a criminal nature, with the intention to commit acts of terrorism and headed that as a leader, supporter and partisan of the MRCD / FLN, he encouraged and allowed combatants to commit these terrorist acts against Rwanda. Even though he was not actively involved in these attacks, he is seen as someone who played a role simply by supporting these fighters. ” “He was the chairman of the MRCD / FLN when they attacked and killed in Nyaruguru in 2019, the person who gave the orders,” another prosecutor Bonaventure Ruberwa said. Thus, a life sentence was requested, this June 17, 2021, against Rusesabagina, hero of the film which was awarded of Oscar and honored with the Presidential Medal for Freedom, that the American President George W. Bush, has delivered to him.

A politically strategic trial

When you talk about Rusesebagina in front of Kagame, you have to expect a pamphlet that suggests a subjugated justice. Because it is Kagame’s word, as Chief, that initiates the proceedings and orders the version of the verdict. Paul Kagame initially points out this for the Rusesabagina case “So I don’t see why people are making all this noise. He is in court, he is not in hiding somewhere, he is in court like many others “.

The arrest of Paul Rusesabagina is the result of fine-tuning by the Kagame regime. In fact not in good relationships with its neighbors and close friends like the United States, the Kagame regime sought an alibi to try to resuscitate its card of victim of the genocide. This is how he chooses to catch the big fish that is Paul Rusesabagina, a stone that he will throw against the United States, Belgium and the international community but which will not fail to mar him with some splashing.

Kigali then cracked the door before being thrown out the window, because the Kigali regime is just sadly illustrated by the flagrant violation of human rights, through targeted assassinations like that of Kizito Mihigo, the arrests of politicians and journalists, in a nutshell the reign of terror. The Rusesabagina case, which should be a drop of water that broke the camel’s back, constitutes on the contrary an escape route: resuscitating passions at half-mast to cover up the shame! The Arrest, which even many friends of Kigali did not tolerate because they consider it a kidnapping, which therefore constitutes a violation of human rights and a serious breach of criminal procedure, will begin an exhausting but sure odyssey of good fruits for Kigali. This kidnapping, is an open letter addressed to the United States, hosts of Rusesabagina, which, for their part, execute the terrorists without any judgment, iniquitous be it. With arrogance Kagame said: “How is it evil to trap a criminal? When you find such a criminal, what do you do with him? You just take him to court, isn’t that okay? “

As for the fair trial, which the international community does not see for Rusesabagina, considering his kidnapping and the Rwandan jurisprudence in the matter especially the case of Kizito Mihigo, Kagame replied “Of course, I call for a fair trial of my side. It’s not the UK or the US, or the European Union. No, I want to see a fair trial too. Why? Yeah, you know, that’s how people say crazy things and end up being racist. It’s like saying, the only way to be fair in Africa or Rwanda is for that to be monitored by Europe, the United States, or some other country. Not at all “.

In the interview with Jeune Afrique on 05/25/2021, here is Kagame’s response to the international community who say that Rusesabagina has been kidnapped: “There are two very distinct aspects to this affair. The first is the process that brought Rusesabagina to Kigali. The second is whether Rusesabagina is guilty or not. We must stop mixing both. If it is established that he was illegally arrested, then it would be possible to argue about it, make it a separate procedure and debate it. But if, on the other hand, someone tells you that this same Rusesabagina has belonged for several years to a terrorist group that is attacking Rwanda. That this is supported by evidence that is being presented right now in a court of law cannot be ignored. There are even statements where he boasts of being the leader of one of these groups operating in the DRC or Burundi. If the United States or Belgium, where he had lived for several years, had wanted to prosecute for these facts, we would have provided them with the same evidence”

“Because he was allegedly arrested in an ‘illegal’ manner, he should be freed, when his terrorist group has killed people in Rwanda? I would prefer the two cases to be dealt with separately. For those who pretend that he was illegally arrested and provide proofs for that, let the trial there on be open, and from our side we will present our defence argumentations. But he must also be judged for what he is suspected for crimes he has committed in Rwanda. If he is innocent, he will be released. If he is guilty, he will be convicted. If people think he was arrested because he was a hero, a status he was given thanks to a film that was originally supposed to be a fictional film, it shows their level of laziness, “Kagame says.

Kagame’s words simply prove his refusal to reconsider Rusesabagina’s arrest process even though he seems to understand that it should constitute judicial deliberation. He brushes aside his reasoning and locks himself in the logic of incriminating Rusesabagina.

So, if we look at it carefully, we find the fate of this Rusesabagina case taking shape. Kagame found a good way to divorce with the United States which were beginning to ogle in the wrong clothes and fully understand his totalitarian regime and to withdraw gradually. So, despite a few easy-to-wash splash with cash, Kigali will emerge from the Rusesabagina affair doubly comforted.

At first glance, the Kigali regime will be comforted before the Rwandan public by the Tutsi who see in Kagame an intransigence with anyone who crosses the red line of genocide against the Tutsi, to deny its preparation. The Hutus, victims of the Nyaruguru attacks, will feel satisfied with the prosecution of Rusesabagina, especially since they are betting heavily on the compensation of the civil party in the trial, valued at more than 2 billion. One of the victims of these attacks of which Rusesabagina is accused, has requested 150 million in compensation! Note that some do not hesitate to say that the attacks in southern Rwanda are just scenarios well hatched by Kagame to become a victim and continue to accuse Burundi. From now on, like Israel and of course with the help of this Hebrew-American state, the entire southern border of Rwanda will be monitored by powerful cameras!

Kigali will come out comforted before the international opinion because, he  will have defied the international opinion by hunting, in the American way, a terrorist. A detective novel like the SAS by Gérard de Villiers. It is a great success for Kagame, ephemeral though it is, in front of his African counterparts at odds with the West and its democracy.

All in all, the Rusesabagina affair is indeed a subtle exercise by Paul Kagame in defying international opinion, a case of demonstration of force. The case is undoubtedly a weapon of deterrence that Kagame has brilliantly chosen. To dissuade the international community and force it to close its eyes when  Kigali speaks. Because Kigali is special. Kigali was the victim of the Tutsi genocide that the international community could not stop. A weapon of dissuasion to any dissenting voice because if Kigali has succeeded in arresting Rusesabagina, a Belgian-American, who is ipso facto a big fish, and that Kagame has succeeded in silencing the international community by qualifying it, above all, as  “insane”, it is very easy to pick up small eels which hide in African ponds or in the tight Mediterranean waters. Kagame recently showed that it suffices to only take a small hook to catch a certain Ntamuhanga! And everyone can wonder the outcome of this drama in which our hero of “Hotel Rwanda” finds himself stuck. Will there be this “Deus ex machina” which will change the inexorable course of the affair towards the lifeless in a Hollywood “happy end”, to finally see Paul Rusesabagina released? Or by a presidential pardon or by an amnesty! Acta est fabula!