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Rusesabagina Denies Supporting Rwanda Hutu Rebels

Rwandan peace activist Paul Rusesabagina inspired the film Hotel Rwanda (2008 file photo)

Paul Rusesabagina, the man who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda has described as “simple and pure lies” Rwanda government accusations that he financially supported the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel group.

The Hutu rebel group is accused of perpetrating Rwanda’s 1994 genocide in which hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were killed in a 100-day massacre spree.

“There has never been any link between myself and the FDLR. It is not because I condemned all the FDLR people because I know they are criminals, but there are also innocent people. I am a humanitarian and… I believe that the best and worse weapon in a human being’s arsenal is not a missile, it’s not a gun, but words,” said Rusesabagina.

Rwanda’s top prosecutor said Wednesday that Mr. Rusesabagina and jailed opposition figure Victoire Ingabire help finance the Hutu rebels.

The rebels are also accused of committing atrocities and crimes against humanity in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rusesabagina, who is globally hailed by many as a hero, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the highest civilian honor in the U.S. by former President George W. Bush.

Rusesabagina has been a harsh critic of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. He recently, condemned the jailing of leading opposition leader Victoire Ingabire who is accused of conspiring to form a terrorist group.

Rusesabagina said the accusations form part of President Paul Kagame’s plan to intimidate and harass any critic of his administration.

“My foundation has been advocating for truth, equal justice, equal rights and reconciliation commission not only for Rwanda, but also for the Great Lakes region of Africa. We want to solve our troubles around that table rather than with guns,” Rusesabagina said.

He further said that the last time he sent money to Rwanda was in 2002 to his family.

“My younger brother had a brain tumor then we had to hire a medical doctor from South Africa to Kigali. At that time I sent about $1,000 if not less to help. Because I had more money [in] my account in Kigali and I paid that medical doctor, I paid King Faisal hospital with money which was in Kigali,” he said.

Rusesabagina, who currently lives in Belgium also said President Kagame’s government is conducting a smear campaign against him.