Hotel Rwanda Just Beer Stop For Killers

Rwandan president Paul Kagame says the popular film “Hotel Rwanda” was a propaganda piece that got little right.

“Hotel Rwanda” stars Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina, the manager of a luxury hotel in the Rwandan capital Kigali who uses his position to help save more than 1,200 Tutsi refugees. Kagame said the movie’s portrayal of Rusesabagina as a hero during the genocide was false. “It has nothing to do with Rusesabagina,” Kagame told reporters during a visit to Washington. “He just happened to be there accidentally, and he happened to be surviving because he was not in the category of those being hunted.” Kagame said people in the hotel were saved in part because U.N. forces occupied the hotel and because the killers wanted to keep it as a place where they could drink beer after a long day of killing and discuss whom to kill the following day.

Kagame, a Tutsi, said another reason lives were spared is that talks had been underway between his rebel group and the then-interim government to exchange Tutsis in the hotel for Hutu soldiers captured by his group. “Someone is trying to rewrite the history of Rwanda, and we cannot accept it,” he said.

Some survivors of the genocide also have been critical of movies about the slaughter, saying Hollywood got their story wrong.

Amid international inaction, the genocide was finally ended by Kagame, who led a rebel army from Uganda to seize power.

Rusesabagina, awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom last year, has recently been critical of the Kigali government, accusing it of continued human rights violations and oppression of political opponents.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    Of course Kagame is mad at Rusesabagina because of criticism from him. Kagame is in no small part also responsible for the continuing Congolese Civil War.

  2. I regard President Kagame’s claims in this article with a substantial degree of skepticism. Since Kagame’s rose to leadership as the hero who led the RFP to end the genocide, he has a vested interested in discrediting anyone else who might become a competing hero.

    I wouldn’t accept Kagame’s testimony without some sort of independent confirmation of his claims.