Rwanda: ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Icon Rusesabagina Says Prison Was ‘Hell’

Dissident Paul Rusesabagina thanked the US for its efforts to release him from prison earlier this year. His made new criticisms of the Rwandan government in a video to mark the 61st anniversary of Rwanda’s independence.

Rwandan government critic Paul Rusesabagina, who gained recognition after the 2004 US movie Hotel Rwanda depicted the role he played in saving lives during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, described his months long imprisonment as “hell.”

In a Youtube video released Saturday to mark Rwanda’s 61st anniversary of independence, Rusesabagina stressed the people of Rwanda were “prisoners in their own country.”

“Rwanda is an authoritarian government that has no rights for its citizens and doesn’t tolerate dissent for its citizens,” Rusesabagina said.

He was released on March 24, following months in prison after the Rwandan government slammed him with a 25-year sentence on terrorism charges in September 2021.

Rusesabagina spoke about his time in prison. He said he was “tortured, imprisoned and faced false charges that had nothing to do with me.”

What did Rusesabagina say about the US?

The Rwandan dissident, speaking from his home in San Antonio, Texas, thanked several players for advocating for his release. He named the European Union, NGOs, human rights groups and the press for keeping “my story alive.”

But Rusesabagina particularly singled out the US, for the role it played in securing his early release from prison.