Hotel Rwanda hero kidnapped from Dubai, says daughter


Paul Rusesabagina is detained in front of media in handcuffs in Kigali, Rwanda.


Paul Rusesabagina, who appeared in handcuffs in Kigali on Monday, has been living outside Rwanda since 1996

The man portrayed in the film Hotel Rwanda as saving the lives of more than 1,200 people from genocide was “kidnapped” while in Dubai, his daughter has said.
The appearance of Paul Rusesabagina in handcuffs in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, on Monday prompted concern among some human rights activists who worried that the outspoken critic of Rwanda’s government was the latest example of officials targeting dissidents beyond the country’s borders. He had been living outside Rwanda since 1996, first in Belgium and then in Texas in the US.
Rwandan authorities have said they issued an arrest warrant for Rusesabagina to answer charges of serious crimes including terrorism, arson, kidnap, and murder, perpetrated against unarmed, innocent Rwandan civilians on Rwandan territory. The authorities cited “international cooperation” but gave no details. They did not say where or how he was apprehended.
Rusesabagina’s adopted daughter, Carine Kanimba, told the Associated Press she last spoke with him before he flew to Dubai last week but she didn’t know the exact nature of his trip. She didn’t provide evidence to support her claim that he had been kidnapped.
She said his family was informed early on Monday that he was being held in Rwanda but they have not been able to speak to him. They are worried the 66-year-old may not be getting his hypertension medication.
Rusesabagina is a Belgian citizen and a permanent resident of the US, Kanimba said. “We’re hoping to secure his release quickly and safely.”
She said her father has long been a target because of his criticism of the Rwandan government. “What they’re accusing him of is all made up. There is no evidence to what they’re claiming … We know this is a wrongful arrest.”
It was not clear when Rusesabagina would appear in court or what evidence Rwandan authorities have to support their charges. Police said Rusesabagina is “suspected to be the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits, including the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) operating out of various places in the region and abroad”.
The MRCD in a statement on Monday condemned the arrest of Rusesabagina, which it identified as one of its leaders. It describes itself as a political platform.
Interpol did not immediately respond to questions from the AP.
Police and authorities in Dubai, a city-state in the United Arab Emirates, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, maintains a close relationship with Dubai, turning up often to the World Government Summit it hosts and other events in which moderators largely avoid discussing his government’s targeting of dissidents.
The state-owned RwandAir has direct flights between Dubai and Kigali. While experts believe Dubai is one of the most surveilled cities in the world, state-organised kidnappings have happened there. Most recently, the family of an Iranian leader of a militant dissident group said Iran had kidnapped him from a Dubai airport hotel just weeks ago and brought him back to Tehran to face charges that carry the death penalty.
Rwanda’s government in the past has been accused of hunting down dissidents overseas. South African investigators have said the government was directly involved in the killingof Col Patrick Karegeya, an outspoken critic, in Johannesburg in 2014.
“Any person still alive who may be plotting against Rwanda, whoever they are, will pay the price,” Kagame said after the killing.
Rusesabagina has previously denied the Rwandan government’s charges that he financially supports Rwandan rebels. He has called Kagame’s government a dictatorship and urged western countries to press the government to respect human rights. Government supporters reject Rusesabagina’s criticism, saying Kagame’s leadership supports democracy and economic growth
Rusesabagina has won numerous international honours, including the US’s Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The 2004 Oscar-nominated film Hotel Rwanda showed Rusesabagina, a Hutu married to a Tutsi, as using his influence as a manager of the Hôtel des Mille Collines to allow more than 1,200 Tutsis to shelter in the hotel’s rooms. The Rwandan government disputes Rusesabagina’s story about saving people during the genocide, in which more than 800,000 Tutsis, and Hutus who tried to protect them, were killed by Hutus

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