Thursday, February 23, 2006

Inside the Hotel Rwanda

The backdrop for the story is the Hotel Des Milles Collines (which shares its name with the nickname for Kigali, town of the thousand hills, as well as the virulent propagandist pro-Hutu Power radio station RTLMC – Radio Television Libre Mille Collines.)

There Paul Rusesabagina hides his Tutsi wife, their children and 800 refugees. He had to produce a fax from Belgian hotel management in Brussels to exert his authority among reluctant staff as the 100 day extermination campaign goes on outside the precariously protected walls of the hotel grounds.

At one point in the film, Rwandan army personnel arrive to demand the refugees. Rusesabagina rings up the boss of Sabena to tell him they will all be killed. The Sabena boss wants to know who is really pulling the strings. Rusesabagina thinks for a moment and then tells him that the French are arming the Hutus.

The Sabena honcho (Jean Reno in a cameo) pulls strings with the French government to get the potential killers to withdraw – for now. Luckily for the refugees, fear of European retribution is a strong motivating force.

In another episode, he confronts a Hutu general (Bizimungu) and tells him point blank that genocide investigators will come and they look for him because of "his two general’s stars". He persuades Bizimungu the general needs him alive in order to testify on his behalf.

This is Rusesabagina’s escape route. A UN delegation comes to the hotel to help the refugees flee to the airport. The refugees had alerted their friends and relatives abroad and many now had foreign passports and visas for international travel.

However news of the delegation’s departure from the hotel is leaked to the hate radio station RTLM. They in turn stir up the militia Interihamwe (Rwandan for ‘those who attack together’) to launch an ambush. This happened frequently during the genocide.

The UN managed to defuse the ambush. Finally the convoy arrived at the front line of the war where the oppositionist RPF (Rwanda Patriotic Front) kill the militia men and the refugees are ‘safe’ in rebel controlled territory.

The real-life Rusesabagina and family fled to Brussels where they still live. The Tutsi-led rebels overthrew the government in August 1994 and the genocide was over. The French also hypocritically sent in a relief force at the end of the war called Operation Turquoise well after most of the victims were killed. Estimates vary between 500,000 and 800,000 dead, all within three short months.

Hymn of Zoroaster

Beerbarn burning, lunatic churning
Fearing Druj and drudgery
Thus faked Zarathustra
Master of the house
In carnation enduring
Mazdamatters to the Bactrians
Who is the creator of Good Disposition?
Dreams of well induced laborious awakenings
Before this new crisis, consider again
Choosing one from twins
Isha, Asha we each fall found
Into the mudpool of the mind mound
All are punished in the garden
Assembled by justice, fused and wizened
Common mortals with a case of the mentals
Living in the desired abode of praise
Sincerity the key to its mystic word
Doors to the never ever eternal
Wellwishing in ruling deeds of life
Cows decide between noblemen and nomads
Spreading the gospel of twofold prosperity
Those who choose, convict
Subliminal issues from impudent voices
Lain low by lady luck or the law
Watch out for the troubled maw of ignorance
Mumbling mystic words of Druj and jury
Raise up their first amendments
And vindicate their tongues at will
Imprecations are what concern you
And the smell of lasting darkness
So that you are disposed well
let power in speech be yours to tell

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