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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 17:37 GMT
Why 'never again' is not enough
As the world remembers the Holocaust, the inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film Hotel Rwanda says he doubts whether the lessons of the past have really been learnt.

Former Rwandan hotelier Paul Rusesabagina
Hotel Rwanda was based on former Rwandan hotelier Paul Rusesabagina

Paul Rusesabagina, who now runs a taxi firm in Belgium, saved the lives of more than 1,000 Tutsis and Hutus who had taken refuge at the hotel he managed in the capital, Kigali during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

He used his influence as a prominent Hutu businessman to shelter people, contacting dignitaries including Bill Clinton, the King of Belgium as well as the French foreign ministry.

Having just returned from a trip to Darfur in Sudan, where some 70,000 people have died in the two-year conflict, he says he saw evidence of the mistakes being repeated.

"I feel bitter because the international community and mankind as a whole - we see, we look and we never learn from the past in order to plan for a better future for the next generation," he told the BBC's World Today programme.

Warning

He says what is happening in Darfur is exactly what happened in Rwanda in the years running up the 100-day massacre of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Refugees in Darfur
What is happening in Darfur - according to the definition - is genocide
Paul Rusesabagina

Some 200,000 black Africans from Darfur fleeing attacks from pro-government Africa militia have sought refuge in Chad.

While more than 2m have fled their homes within Darfur.

Mr Rusesabagina warns that during the Rwandan rebellion in the early 1990s, many people fled from war zones to impoverished camps around the capital, similar to the displaced people who have lost.

"These people are the ones who once given machetes started killing innocent civilians."

Abused words

In his opinion, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's call for the world to make sure the evils of holocausts are not repeated is really a message for the world's leaders and MPs.

Actors Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo starring in Hotel Rwanda
Hotel Rwanda as been nominated for two Oscars

"What is happening in Darfur - according to the definition - is genocide."

But, he says, in 1994 many people delayed intervention because they were questioning whether the killing in Rwanda was genocide.

The most abused words are "never again", he says.

"When they were saying that in 1994, it was happening again and again and again and again.

"So 'never again' to me is not enough."


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