A Rwandan Speaks Out on Darfur

Mon Apr. 24, 2006 2:13 PM PDT

Paul Rusesabagina wants to make sure we pay attention to history so that we do not repeat our mistakes. The Rwandan hotel manager—whose actions during the 1994 genocide saved the lives of 1,268 refugees and inspired the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda—is using his book tour not only to promote his recently released autobiography An Ordinary Man but to also call attention to the devastating slaughter in Darfur, as well as to continuing human rights abuses in Rwanda.

This past Friday evening in San Francisco, Rusesabagina spoke about his ordeal, recounting intense moments of sadness, terror, and heartbreak. The 51-year-old who now lives in exile in Belgium expressed frustration with the ongoing political situation in his homeland, noting, "There are no free elections in Rwanda."

Rusesabagina also challenged his audience to confront the situation in Sudan, comparing the crisis there to Rwanda during the early 1990s. He said the United States needs to send a clear message to the Sudanese government that they are not "untouchable." His recommended action of choice? Begin by freezing the assets of those in power.

As he noted in a recent fundraising letter on behalf of the Save Darfur Coalition, "I see what is going on in Darfur right now and I wonder how the world can let it happen again. This is a shame to mankind."

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