Will Paul Kagame, builder of ‘Africa’s Singapore,’ get away with this?
Paul Rusesabagina was found guilty of connections to terrorist organizations and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Rwandan court on September 20th. But it was his opposition to President Paul Kagame that was his true crime.
Mr Rusesabagina had been abducted in order to face trial in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, in a mockery of justice that had been highly criticized.
Many of those who have stood up to Mr Kagame has met with this fate, or worse. Mr Rusesabagina, on the other hand, is not your average Rwandan.
He earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush in 2005 for his bravery in saving hundreds of lives during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, which killed approximately 500,000 people.
“Hotel Rwanda,” a well-known film, was based on his life. Despite this, his heinous treatment and ridiculous sentencing have elicited little condemnation or outrage. Both the United States and Belgium voiced their “alarm.” That is all there is to it. Why?
Mr. Rusesabagina’s therapy is far from unique. The evidence of Rwanda’s regime’s brutality and merciless repression has grown.
Mr. Kagame was the country’s de facto leader from 1994 until 2000, when he was elected president. He extinguished all pretense of democracy in Rwanda long ago, and he is routinely re-elected with over 90% of the vote. Opponents have been shot or strangled to death in other countries.
Although none of the killings have been explicitly linked to Mr Kagame’s intelligence agencies, the president has said that the victims received exactly what they deserved.
Michela Wrong, a British journalist, just published a book detailing the assassination of Mr Kagame’s former intelligence director in South Africa, and she makes no bones about who she believes ordered the killing. Mr. Kagame has denied Rwanda’s involvement in the assassination.
Despite this, while other tyrants have been blacklisted and sanctioned, Mr Kagame has received enthusiastic support from Western politicians, including the generous assistance of their countries’ aid organizations. In comparison to other nations in the area, Rwanda has received approximately 50% more assistance per person.
Since 1994, the World Bank has invested almost $4 billion in Rwanda. He persuaded a generation of Western politicians, including Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, that he alone could heal Rwanda’s wounds and uplift its people by effectively masquerading as the man who rescued Rwanda from genocide (the reality is more complex).
Mr. Kagame also skillfully exploited Western remorse for the bloodshed. “The entire world wanted to believe in the miracle that was Rwanda—a nation created from the wreckage and destruction that intertribal warfare and ethnic cleansing had caused…,” wrote Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
To our sorrow, our want or capacity to see the price at which Rwanda’s success was purchased much outweighed our desire or ability to see the price at which that success was acquired.”
If Mr Kagame’s image is not tarnished by the arbitrary justice meted out to his opponents, maybe his record on development will. Rwanda’s administration has lately been accused of falsifying data to enhance the country’s apparent economic success, which was previously his best suit. Certainly, there is now widespread agreement that the preceding years’ fast development has slowed.
If Rwanda’s economic miracle turns out to be an illusion, maybe people will be less enamoured with Kigali’s strongman.