On 11 January 2018, The Northwestern University Community for Human Rights (NUCHR), in partnership with its department of African Studies, organized the 15th annual conference on Human Rights entitled “Do You Remember? Deconstructing Memory within Human Rights.” The conference was attended by more than 300 people, mostly young students.
The keynote speaker at this conference was the prominent denier of the Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in 1994 in Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina.
During his address, Rusesabagina continued to spread his genocide denial and double genocide theories.He said that the Genocide was not planned and executed. He also said the “Tutsi invasion” on October 1, 1990 was what led to the Genocide. Rusesabagina dared to deny the role of Gacaca courts in fighting impunity and reconciling the post-genocide Rwandan society. He misrepresented Rwanda in so many ways! He said that Rwanda is not a democratic state. He perceived the genocide as a war, a war between Hutu and Tutsi, which Tutsi won. All these false statements are repeated in most of his speeches at conferences.
Paul Rusesabagina is in no legitimate manner, a symbol of heroism, despite his popularized role in the Genocide, represented in the film “Hotel Rwanda.” Instead, he is a liar, a genocide denier and a promoter of hate speech based on ethnicity. While the movie correctly captures the idea that there was a Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda, the movie is, in itself, full of countless falsehoods and should never be used as representation of what happened inside The Mille Collines Hotel, which came to be famously known as Hotel Rwanda. Paul Rusesabagina did not save anyone during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. He only accepted refugees who had money to pay their way into the hotel. In addition of making people pay for rooms they were hiding in at The Mille Collines, he sold them Red Cross food at unbelievably higher prices. He never risked his life to provide any food or security for the refugees in the Hotel.
Paul Rusesabagina has changed the narrative of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi and has, instead termed it a war by saying both the Tutsi and Hutu killed one another. As Rwandans, we find this a total disrespect to Genocide victims and survivors and a straight up insult to our nation’s history. Once again, let this be clear: The Hutu extremists perpetrated the killings of more than a million Tutsi and few moderate Hutu who risked their lives to save the Tutsi or who opposed the regime’s genocidal plans to exterminate the Tutsi. This is the Genocide, not a War.
Paul Rusesabagina’s speech was full of lies. No one can explain the Rwanda’s Genocide against Tutsi without any mention of colonization. Rwanda was colonized by Germany in 1894 and when German lost the First World War, Belgium took over in 1926. It is in 1932, that Belgians established ID card that differentiated the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa; before this point, these groups lived together peacefully. As a result of the colonial regimes, differences between the ethnic groups were emphasized as a tool for their “divide and rule” policy.
The genocide against Tutsi started in 1959 during the period of Independence. During that time, countless Tutsi civilians fled the country into neighbouring countries like Uganda, Burundi, the former Zaire (now DRC) and Tanzania and stayed for more than three decades because they were denied any sort of entrance back in the country and Tutsi who were inside were also being killed and their houses being burned down.
In 1990, because they were denied any return to their home country, the Tutsi who left the country in 1959 organized themselves and decided to come back with hope to put an end to the killings and discrimination against Tutsi that had been going on for decades.
So, it is not the Ugandan government which attacked Rwanda in 1990 as Paul Rusesabagina lied at this conference; Rwandans fought their way back into their mother country. We don’t know where Paul Rusesabagina gets his information but anyone who has heard about Rwanda’s journey of liberation knows that it was led by Rwigema Gisa Fred assisted by Kagame Paul, and none of those names are Ugandan.
Lastly, we cannot let this man continue to discredit the achievements of our nation for his own personal and evil benefits. Anyone who says that in Rwanda, Tutsi are killing Hutu or Hutu are killing Tutsi clearly does not know what they are talking about, and they are trying (with no chances to succeed) to divert Rwanda from the remarkable progress it has made in the 24 years since the Genocide.
All the statements of this so called heroic humanitarian activist prove sufficiently that he has a clear denial agenda. The objective of such denial ideas is to destroy the truth and hide his responsibilities during the Genocide against the Tutsi. The CNLG commends efforts of Rwandan students at Northwestern University who denounced Rusesabagina’s lies during and after the conference. That’s the way to go for Rwandans and friends of Rwanda to denounce whoever distorts the Rwanda’s history and tries to tarnish our country’s real image and achievements!