By Tom Ndahiro

Brian Endless is a political science professor at Loyola University Chicago and the senior adviser to the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation (HRRF).

Endless claims to be an expert on genocide issues and to have worked with Rusesabagina on human rights issues in Rwanda.

He doesn’t agree with everything shown in the movie Hotel Rwanda, which made Rusesabagina a hero. The movie is accurate in its portrayal of the Genocide against the Tutsi, in which Rwandans identifying as Tutsi were targeted by militias, by the army, and even by ordinary citizens simply because of their group membership. It is also accurate in exposing the failure of the international community to help Rwanda, and in showing that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) finally managed to overthrow the genocidaires and restore peace in Rwanda.

The movie strays from reality, however, in its depiction of Rusesabagina. Endless says that, for example, the part of the movie showing Rusesabagina leaving the hotel to get supplies and encountering dead bodies in the streets could not have happened. “If Paul would have left the hotel,” Endless contends, “he probably would have been stopped at a roadblock and killed.”

“Roadblocks meant death for anyone who was a Tutsi or who was accused of being a Tutsi or of collaborating with Tutsis,” he insists. If the militia simply didn’t like the way you looked at the time, you could be killed.[1]

Rusesabagina’s testimony as a defence witness to the genocide suspect in the City of Westminster Magistrate’s Court, on April 3, 2008 contradicts Endless. The fugitives are Vincent Brown aka Vincent Bajinya, Charles Munyaneza, Emmanuel Nteziryayo and Celestin Ugirashebuja.

The answers he gave to some questions put to him during cross-examination were revealing.

Rusesabagina’s life was not threatened because of properly knit connections in the highest circles of genocidal machinery.

He acknowledged the he and top-most military chief, General Augustin Bizimungu, were “acquaintances,” and someone he would ask for favours. He said he “would ask many people for favours.”

The lawyer for the prosecution asked Rusesabagina whether he had seen General Bizimungu in April of 1994.

Rusesabagina responded as follows: “I’ll give you an example, we met on June 17th when militia men were killing people in a Church where Father Wenceslas was the leader. I met Bizimungu to give him supplies for the militiamen. As I have described I was stock piling favours. While I was out meeting with him I heard that militiamen had got into the Hotel with machetes. I told Bizimungu and he came back to the hotel and that day he saved lives. He chased the militiamen out and said anyone who is killing I will kill them.”

The prosecution pointed out to Rusesabagina that his response made Bizimungu sound like a good man. Rusesabagina responded, “To me, I was not moving with General Bizimungu 24 hours a day — but that time he saved our lives and removed the soldiers from in the hotel — the time I saw him he was as a good man, not a bad man.”

Rusesabagina and George Rutaganda, the Vice-president of the genocidaire militia, “were friends” and did business during the genocide because the latter supplied the hotel with toilet papers and “beers.”

It is not clear who lied to whom, but, the truth remains, Rusesabagina had no reason to fear the militias, who supplied him with whatever he wanted during the genocide. Militias he knew were busy committing genocide.

This relationship tells why he is associated with genocidaires and genocide deniers who spread the double-genocide theory. The theory holds that what happened in Rwanda in 1994 was not a Genocide against the Tutsi, but rather an inter-ethnic conflict in which Hutus were also victims of a genocide.

Rusesabagina is not the only genocidaire sympathizer to have had a reputation makeover in the West after the genocide. Keith Harmon Snow, a notorious Tutsi genocide denier, has published material portraying genocidaire Georges Rutaganda in a positive light. Rutaganda was vice president of the Hutu Interahamwe militia.

In his 2005 propaganda material titled “Hotel Rwanda: Hollywood and the Holocaust in Central Africa,”[2] Snow portrays Rutaganda as a powerless fellow and victim of machinations.

Rutaganda and Rusesabagina are both described as “vulnerable.” The genocidal militia leader is quoted by Snow saying: “Paul was a very simple man, like me, in front of the Interahamwe.”

Their said simplicity wasn’t so simple. Rusesabagina, according to Rutaganda, “was no disinterested, apolitical hotel manager, but an important activist member of a national political party.”

The respect he enjoyed amongst the militia and the army leadership during the genocide means a lot. After all, it is still the same relationship he maintains.

[1] Read a story: ‘Hotel Rwanda’ manager not a hero, associate tells Springfield audience. By BERNARD SCHOENBURG THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER May 12, 2010

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