Paul Rusesabagina of ‘Lodge Rwanda’ fame and his daughter criticize the federal government : NPR

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By Calvin S. Nelson

Paul Rusesabagina, whose life impressed the film Lodge Rwanda, and his daughter, Anaise Kanimba, have been vocal critics of Rwanda’s present president, Paul Kagame.


From April to July 1994, the world watched as genocide unfolded in Rwanda. 1,000,000 folks died as neighbors brutally attacked their neighbors with golf equipment and machetes. Thirty years later, the horror of the Rwandan genocide endures, however so does the humanity and bravado of Paul Rusesabagina.

PAUL RUSESABAGINA: Properly, that may be a very – fairly an extended story.

SUMMERS: A narrative that was captured within the 2004 film “Lodge Rwanda,” starring Don Cheadle.


DON CHEADLE: (As Paul Rusesabagina) Welcome to the Mille Collines. I’m Paul Rusesabagina, the home supervisor.

SUMMERS: The true Paul Rusesabagina recounted a number of the particulars when he talked to me just lately from his residence in San Antonio.

RUSESABAGINA: I occurred to be a hotelier in 1994, and I had 1,268 individuals who occurred to return to cover into my lodge – Hutus and Tutsis. And none of them was killed. None of them was overwhelmed within the lodge from the start to the tip.

SUMMERS: From starting to finish, Rusesabagina is credited with preserving these 1,200-plus folks secure via weeks of violence.

RUSESABAGINA: After the film, “Lodge Rwanda,” I grew to become sort of well-known.

SUMMERS: Quick-forward to current day and Rusesabagina’s story has modified drastically. He hasn’t lived in Rwanda since 1996 however nonetheless cares about his nation and has spoken out in regards to the authorities there.

RUSESABAGINA: I grew to become an enemy. That have was similar to discovering oneself in a hell the place you might be tortured.

SUMMERS: Rusesabagina says he was kidnapped, tried and imprisoned in Rwanda for 2 years and 7 months. He was capable of speak to his household as soon as per week for 5 minutes.

RUSESABAGINA: They’d speak to me, however they might speak in proverbs.

ANAISE KANIMBA: We knew that these cellphone calls had been being listened to.

SUMMERS: That is Rusesabagina’s daughter, Anaise Kanimba. He and his spouse adopted her after her dad and mom had been believed to be killed within the genocide.

KANIMBA: So we needed to communicate in proverbs and in a manner that he may attempt to perceive.

SUMMERS: After intervention from the U.S. and different nations, Rusesabagina was finally launched. On the time, he says he electronically signed a letter promising to not criticize the federal government.

RUSESABAGINA: As soon as you might be in hell, what cannot you signal? You may signal something.

SUMMERS: The the reason why he is determined to ignore that promise had been a spotlight of my dialog with Rusesabagina and his daughter, Anaise Kanimba. And it started with a plea from his fellow prisoners.

RUSESABAGINA: They informed me that – pay attention, Mr. Rusesabagina, you’ve got been talking for us. You’ve been the voice for the unvoiced. Now you’ve got seen how now we have suffered, how we’re being tortured. Now you’re going out. Please be our voice. So I can not shut up since I’ve a mission.

SUMMERS: I do must ask for each of you, although, at this level, given what your loved ones has been via, Paul, given what you personally went via, how secure do you’re feeling right this moment talking out brazenly in regards to the Rwandan authorities, together with President Kagame himself?

RUSESABAGINA: What I’m going to let you know is what I used to be telling all these directorate of army intelligence guys who could be torturing me. The one factor I’m positive of is that in the future I’ll die. However when that is purported to occur, who is meant to do it? These are the issues I have no idea. However I consider that it’s going to by no means occur a day, a minute, a second earlier than the time decided by the Almighty God.

KANIMBA: And if I’ll add, I feel, sure, it is rather dangerous to talk up about what’s occurring in Rwanda as a result of Rwanda practices transnational repression. When my sister and I and our household had been advocating for our dad, my sister ended up having Pegasus on her cellphone. And this was researched via the Amnesty Worldwide staff and different reporters. And I feel it is a name to motion for the worldwide group to not let that occur, to guard those that are talking for others, those that are defending democracy and human rights.

SUMMERS: In the event you communicate to allies of President Kagame, lots of them would argue that he has been chargeable for shepherding an period of what they are saying is relative peace within the nation, of what they are saying is enchancment of financial development. How do you sq. these two issues?

RUSESABAGINA: I’d let you know that right this moment you’ve got two Rwandas. You’ve the Rwanda for the elite, the capital metropolis of Kigali, and the opposite Rwanda, the opposite Rwanda the place individuals are dying, being buried due to starvation. Within the jail the place I used to be, we had been 18,500 folks. Individuals would eat simply corn and beans and one meal which was simply provided day by day at 11 a.m. Is that growth?

KANIMBA: No. Sure, a few of Rwanda’s allies, and particularly President Kagame’s allies within the West, do speak in regards to the growth of the nation, however that’s at the price of the liberty of the folks of Rwanda. If folks can not communicate freely, all this work can’t be sustainable. And I’d additionally name these allies of Paul Kagame to not undermine the power of Rwandans to have the ability to select their very own rulers and nonetheless reside in security. And, you recognize, we should not consider that we have to have any individual like Kagame as a way to be secure. And I feel they’re taking away the company of the Rwandan folks to make that alternative for them.

SUMMERS: Recognizing that you just each are, in fact, outdoors the nation of Rwanda, do both of you see indicators that the nation is poised for change anytime quickly?

KANIMBA: I consider, sure, the nation is poised to vary as a result of the nation is made by very lively Rwandans who need to see a developed nation, who need to deliver the very best to their nation, who’re working onerous each single day. Our nation might be higher. And our individuals are there, they usually’re struggling right this moment below the dictatorship or the authoritarian regime of Paul Kagame. However that does not imply that they can’t take possession of their nation and transfer it ahead with out this sort of management. And so I feel, yeah, I imply, it is potential.

And I hope that I can go to Rwanda very quickly and never worry that if I am strolling within the streets of Kigali, I might be put in jail. That’s my dream and my dream to return to this nation that – the place I used to be born. However right this moment I can not. And so I’d love to have the ability to do this sooner or later and have the ability to let you know my perspective from inside Rwanda. However that is not potential. And I consider that my brothers and sisters who’re in Rwanda, my compatriots, will discover a strategy to let everyone else outdoors come again in the future.

RUSESABAGINA: Properly, I’ll let you know that Rwanda right this moment is kind of a boiling volcano which may erupt anytime. Rwanda has obtained hundreds of thousands of individuals outdoors that nation. That million or these hundreds of thousands of individuals are additionally prepared to return to their very own homeland, they usually cannot. And in Rwanda, you’ve got obtained some folks – many individuals who’ve been silenced and others who’re silencing them. So Rwanda is slightly a boiling volcano which could erupt anytime.

SUMMERS: Paul Rusesabagina and Anaise Kanimba, due to each of you.


KANIMBA: Thanks very a lot, Juana.

SUMMERS: After our interview, we reached out to the Rwandan authorities for remark. Yolande Makolo, the federal government spokesperson, despatched alongside this assertion, which I am studying in its entirety. “Rusesabagina lies constantly. He was by no means tortured. Everybody in Rwanda can say what they need, so long as it would not break the legal guidelines that govern all of us and that maintain Rwandans secure,” finish quote.


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