February 13, 2021

Rwanda Parliament Accuses EU Parliament of Denying and Negating the 1994 Genocide

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Rwanda’s Parliament is no longer physically meeting in the chambers since last week. MPs attend sessions from home

Rwanda’s Parliament is preparing a resolution which will be sent to the European Parliament after the latter called for “international investigation” into the case of Paul Rusesabagina.

On Thursday, the EU Parliament unanimously adopted a damnig resolution over the plight of “Hotel Rwanda” movie personality Rusesabagina. Rwanda’s government has reacted angrily to the resolution.

The MEPs condemned what they described as “the enforced disappearance, illegal rendition and incommunicado detention of Rwandan human rights defender, government critic and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Paul Rusesabagina, whose story was recounted in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda.”

Rusesabagina, who is a Belgian citizen and a US resident, says the resolution, “was forcibly transferred from Dubai to Kigali under unclear circumstances on 27 August last year”.

“He only reappeared on 31 August at the headquarters of the Rwandan Investigation Bureau. He was initially charged with 13 offences, including financing terrorism, armed robbery and attempted murder. Some charges were later dropped, with those that remained relating to events that took place in the country’s Nyaruguru and Nyamagabe regions in 2018.”

The EU Parliament wants an international investigation into this matter and expresses its deep concern about the violation of Mr Rusesabagina’s rights”.

MEPs urge the Rwandan authorities to allow him to undergo a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal applying international human rights standards, and grant him legal counsel of his choosing.

“Given Mr Rusesabagina’s medical condition,” say the MEPs, demanding that the “Rwandan Government to guarantee, under all circumstances, his physical and psychological well-being and access to proper medication.”

Though the EU Parliament’s resolution is non-binding and EU government’s have no obligation to act on it, such public condemnation of Rwandan authorities on issue of Rusesabagina, give his family more public attention for their campaign for his freedom.

The EU Parliament’s action also comes after the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met the Rusesabagina family during his meeting with families of Americans who are missing or kidnapped.

The EU Parliament text was approved by 659 votes in favour, 1 against and 35 abstentions. This was indication of the importance the all the MEPs put on the Rusesabagina case.

The authorities in Kigali are furious. Justice Minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye said the EU Parliament was interfering in an ongoing judicial process.

On Friday, the Lower Chamber of Parliament, during its virtual session, released a short statement also condemning the EU Parliament.

The Rwandan MPs say the EU resolution is “full of lies”, “deliberately ignores the truth”, and “interferes in the internal affairs” of Rwanda and and its institutions.

Perhaps the most significant element of the Rwandan Parliament statement is that it accuses the EU Parliament of “denying and negating” the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

The foreign affairs committees of the Lower Chamber and the Senate have been asked to prepare a response which will be dispatched to the EU Parliament.

EU states like Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden and Germany are major financiers of the government of Rwanda. The European Commission also gives vast amounts of funding to government.

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