A certain American gentleman, Jeffrey Smith of a group called Vanguard Africa, terms himself a “supporter of pro-democracy initiatives in Africa”. But once again – with an article he’s published on Rwanda in The Washington Post, a major US newspaper – Smith only reveals himself to be nothing but a highly partisan actor.
Reading through the article, which was published on Tuesday this week, anyone that knows Smith’s social media activities will once again see that not only is he a man of biases, he also is someone most driven by vendettas. Nowhere is this more apparent than his strange fixation with the Rwandan administration, which he will bad-mouth with abandon at the slightest opportunity.
The man immediately presses forward with his agenda, writing: “When the world-famous activist (Rusesabagina) was paraded into a courtroom, cameras from state-run media were ‘conveniently documenting his every step.’”
But no one “paraded” Rusesabagina in a courtroom. He was shown to the media in the offices of Rwanda Investigation Bureau, all in the interest of transparency. To misrepresent the situation, Smith probably wants to tell the world that state cameras were intruding on “the world famous hero”, in a court, where they should not be, you know?
With mention of the phrase “world-famous activist”, now Smith – or any number of Americans or Europeans with something to say about Rusesabagina – trots out a myth that’s also become a weapon against Rwanda. It means that to dare touch, arrest, or prosecute this man is to commit sacrilege.
The myth of Rusesabagina is one created out of the fantasy peddled by the Hollywood movie, Hotel Rwanda. It created Rusesabagina, “the brave”, “good” man that “saved thousands from massacres.” And over time the myth became entrenched, such is the power of Hollywood. It drowned out the facts. The main one being that Rusesabagina was a callous profiteer that charged desperate, terrified people – fleeing government army, and Interahamwe militia massacres – money to enter the gates of the Mille Collines.
Researchers such as Jonathan R. Beloff who conducted several on-ground inquiries have revealed that Rusesabagina calculated that when time came and the massacres were over everywhere else, he would abandon the refugees to the Interahamwe.
Genocide survivors that were at the hotel, most notably Edouard Kayihura who co-authored (with Kerry Zukus) a book, Inside the Hotel Rwanda, have described Rusesabagina as “a politically ambitious ‘Hutu Power’ sympathizer who extorted money from those who sought refuge, threatening to send those who did not pay to the genocidaires.”
So no one that knew Rusesabagina ever was surprised when this man later on was reported to have startedterrorist groups. He did it under cover of his fake “heroic” Hollywood image – by astutely hoodwinking important Western audiences into giving him several awards – while adopting the cloak of “democracy activist”.
So another narrative was born. The hero of Hotel Rwanda was a good man that also was “fighting for democracy” in his country of birth!
Rusesabagina’s so-called political groups, entities that he either founded or co-founded, however had their roots in the ideology of negationism of the 94 Genocide Against the Tutsi. The wider goal behind the of MRCD-Ubumwe, PDR-Ubumwe – entities he founded, led, and sponsored with funds raised in the West – is the same with all others started by former officials, members, or sympathizers of the defeated genocidal regimes. To try to make the RPF administration lose legitimacy through propaganda such as that “RPF too committed genocide,” or that “there is no democracy in Rwanda.”
Such discredited propaganda – promoted ardently by the likes of Jeffrey Smith – is the strategy through which Rusesabagina (and others) attempt to justify terrorism.
The terrorism perpetrated by militias of the FLN, the “armed wing” of Rusesabagina groups, has been extensively reported on. Captured suspects – for instance Callixte Nsabimana who is in prison on charges of terrorism – have confessed to working with Rusesabagina.
Their crimes included an attack in the nigh of 19 June 2018 in the Nyabimata Sector of Nyaruguru District that killed two people and injured three. They burnt the car of the executive secretary of Nyabimata Sector, Vincent Nsengiyunva, and tried to break into a SACCO savings bank. The attackers were repulsed and fled into the Nyungwe Forest.
The next day Callixte Nsabimana was on Facebook, bragging about “a raging battle against government forces” in Nyungwe. This left no one with any doubts about what the intentions of FLN, and its overall boss Paul Rusesabagina were: violent upheaval in Rwanda.In December of the same year FLN militias perpetrated another similar attack – this one in Nyamagabe District.
Again this attack – in which two civilians were killed, eight injured, and three passenger vehicles set alight – was traced to FLN. Again “Maj.” Callixte Nsabimana, the FLN spokesperson, was on Facebook boasting about it. Rwandan media widely exposed the parties behind these outrages. Yet Rusesabagina remains “a hero” in most of the eyes of the West. No crime he perpetrates will change that.
Rusesabagina himself is on video, and audio declaring his terrorist intentions. None in the West has condemned him. It is as if the lives of Africans matter very little, and however many will die nothing must be allowed to tarnish the image of the Western-created “hero”.
What other reason explains the fact The Washington Post can publish an article as shoddy, and as full of glaring falsehoods as Smith’s? If the paper’s fact checkers bothered to do their job even a little, they in fact would find out Smith is a friend of Rusesabagina’s having attended several of the latter’s meetings in which he boasted of “the strength” of FLN.
Instead Smith is given column space to level whatever accusations he pleases, many long-discredited, many simply tendentious, against Rwanda – which has only acted in the interests of protecting its people from terrorism.