Rwandan survivors of the genocide are calling for the immediate withdrawal of the proposed award of the Lantos Prize to Paul Rusesabagina.
In a letter to Annette Lantos, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Lantos Prize for Human Rights and Justice, Professor Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, President of IBUKA (National Association of Genocide Survivor’s Organisations) and Chantal Kabasinga, President of AVEGA Agahozo (Association of Widows of the Genocide) write:
We request the immediate withdrawal of this nomination as it is an unforgivable insult to the honour of the victims of the genocide of the Tutsis, and an affront to the memory and dignity of survivors.
The survivors of the Hotel des Milles Collines (“Hotel Rwanda” in the film) have repeatedly testified that Rusesabagina did nothing to save their lives…Ruseseabagina did not selflessly offer a safe refuge for refugees fleeing the genocide but demanded payment for rooms at the hotel.
Rusesabagina has and continues to enjoy the success of the film Hotel Rwanda to enrich himself and his family. He claims to have established a support fund for widows and orphans of the genocide in Rwanda, but neither IBUKA nor AVEGA are aware of a single beneficiary of this fund in Rwanda.
The campaign is being backed with an online petition launched by GAERG (National Survivor’s Association of Graduate Students).
The Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, of which Paul Rusesabagina is President, has has never made any grant to support survivors of the genocide. For an individual that purports to have been driven in his actions by the interests of survivors this raises serious questions. And such actions (or lack of actions) speak louder than words.