The world failed Rwanda in 1994, we can’t let history repeat itself with Paul Rusesabagina today

Alyson Chadwick
3 min readSep 7, 2020
From the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation Facebook page

While the world watched, at least 800,000 people in Rwanda were butchered in 1994. The Clinton Administration did nothing. The United Nations did nothing. The world did exactly what Joaquim Phoenix’s character said in Hotel Rwanda it would do. We looked at footage from the area, said, “That is dreadful,” and went back to our dinners.

We cannot stand by today. We cannot stay silent.

If you are not familiar with Rusesabagina's story, I’ll give you a brief recap. In 1994, Paul Rusesabagina was working at the Hotel des Mille Collines. As his luxury guests fled the country and the international community abandoned its core principles and the promise made after the Holocaust of Never Again, he worked to save 1,268 people.

Paul Kagame was instrumental in ending the bloodshed that spring. It made sense for him to take the helm of the nation. The problem is that he has not relinquished this control. He is often referred to as a “benevolent dictator.” I would bet any amount of money that King George III thought he was the same thing but that didn’t stop the colonists from kicking his nation out.

Dissent is not only frowned upon by Kagame, it is stamped out completely.

The continued silencing, deaths and disappearances of Kagame’s few remaining political opponents in Rwanda suggest that he has dug in his heels.

World Politics Review

Rusesabagina has been an outspoken critic of Kagame and has been living in exile because of it since the genocide ended. Late last month, Rusesabagina was either kidnapped or tricked and is now in a Kigali jail. It has been no secret that Kagame has had his heart on silencing Rusesbagina and now he has his chance. He even went as far as to say the plot to get Rusesbagina back to his homeland “went flawlessly.”

Since being taken into custody, the Kagame regime claims it has provided Rusesabagina legal representation and has even gone as far as to parade out someone claiming to be representing Rusesabagina but this is not tue. He has been denied access to the attorneys hired by his family. He has also been prevented from speaking to the Belgian consulate.

It is important to note there is a legal process countries need to follow when they want to prosecute someone not in their jurisdiction.

Paul Rusesabagina is a Belgian citizen who was brought illegally to Rwanda and is a victim of extraordinary rendition. Paul did not voluntarily come to Rwanda and no extradition process was followed…

Jared Genser, the newly-hired international pro bono counsel for Mr. Rusesagabina said that “They need to know that unlike US law, under international law, there is an “abuse of process” doctrine and legal precedent for requiring that a person who is kidnapped or brought involuntarily to a country should be released and his case dismissed.”

Rusesabagina is a hero. He stood up when the rest of us stood down. More than that, the rule of law means something. Or at least it should. We need to step up and demand he be returned to his family, who have already sacrificed and suffered too much. To do anything else is to repeat the crimes against humanity perpetrated back in 1994.



Alyson Chadwick

I am a sports and news junkie, writer and comedian. I spent at least one lifetime working in politics.