Update: Ask President Joe Biden to #FreeTheHero
May 4, 2021 —
Your assistance is desperately needed to help bring an international hero home to his family. There are contacts for you to reach out to at the end of this message, as well as information for social media. Please send this out to your network - we need all the support we can get to help #FreeRusesabagina.
Paul Rusesabagina is an internationally revered humanitarian hero whose bravery saved 1,268 people during the Rwandan Genocide, as depicted in the movie Hotel Rwanda. He is a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, a devoted advocate for peace and human rights, and a critic of authoritarianism.
In August 2020, Paul was kidnapped, blindfolded, tied up, and illegally taken across borders to Rwanda. When he arrived he was tortured for three days and he has been detained on false terrorism charges ever since.
Paul Rusesabagina is now a victim of the Kagame regime, only the most recent of many. He was kidnapped, subjected to torture on his arrival in Rwanda, and is now under what Human Rights Watch and others refer to as arbitrary detention in Rwanda. He was subjected to a Show Trial where he was regularly denied all of his fair trial rights, including access to counsel, illegal arrest, illegal conditions of detention, and an inability to access the documents needed to prepare. Paul has stepped away from the Show Trial being held by the Rwandan government because his rights have been ignored or stomped on at every step of his detention and trial.
Paul was a regular humanitarian critic of the human rights violations of President Kagame’s regime and is now effectively a political prisoner, held on false charges. Human rights groups around the world have decried his detention and groups like the American Bar Association have reported on all of the illegalities around this that show there is no chance of a “fair” trial for Paul in Rwanda.
What’s more, since Paul is a Belgian citizen and US permanent resident who did not voluntarily come to Rwanda and no extradition process was followed, any legal proceedings he’s subjected to in Rwanda would be illegal. If there is evidence of the charges against him, why did Rwanda not try to extradite Paul from the US or Belgium? The fact that Rwandan resorted to kidnapping Paul speaks volumes for this case.
Paul’s family is extremely concerned for his well-being and are pleading with the international community to get involved. Paul is a cancer survivor and heart patient who requires daily medication. We only have limited contact with him since his disappearance. Paul’s blood pressure has reportedly been high for months now, and he is suffering from dizziness and headaches. In a recent conversation he expressed concern that he might have a stroke in prison.
We understand that the United States of America is a beacon for human rights around the world. The US stands for rule of law, human rights and democracy. We also understand that Rwanda places high value on its relationship with the United States.
With those two facts in mind, we urge President Biden to please directly contact Rwandan President Paul Kagame and urge him to make a renewed commitment to international human rights values by immediately releasing Paul Rusesabagina and other prisoners of political conscience on compassionate grounds. We believe that President Kagame will listen to the President of the United States.
Thank you for your support.
Whether you are in the US, Europe or anywhere in the world, you can help. Signing this petition is the first step - it shows that the international community is united in our outrage over Paul Rusesabagina’s capture and our desire to have him compassionately released. After you’ve signed this petition, please contact your government, the UN Human Rights High Commissioner, and the Rwandan Ambassador in your country.
If you are in the US, you can begin by calling/emailing your Senators and Congressional Representative, then if you have time go through the following contacts:
Your Congressman: Use LOOKUP to find your Representative: https://www.house.gov/representatives
Your Senators: SORT BY STATE to find your Senators: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact
White House switchboard: 202-456-1414 - Call them and tell President Trump to call the Rwandan government
Rwandan Ambassador to the United States Professor Mathilde Mukantabana - Ph: (202) 232-2882 // E: firstname.lastname@example.org
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet - email@example.com
If you’re in Europe and especially Belgium (where Paul is a citizen), please contact:
Ms. Luisa Ragher, Head of Division, EU Office of Human Rights - Ph: +32-2564-4954 // E: Luisa.firstname.lastname@example.org
Belgian Foreign Minister Philippe Goffin - Ph: +32-2501-8111 // email@example.com
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