University of Pittsburgh
November 21, 2005

Pitt Hosts Hero Depicted in Film Hotel Rwanda Nov. 30

Paul Rusesabagina's actions saved hundreds from massacre; Rusesabagina awarded U. S. Presidential Medal of Freedom Nov. 9
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-During the spring and summer of 1994, nearly 800,000 Rwandans-mostly belonging to the Tutsi ethnic group-were slaughtered in one of the world's most horrific examples of ethnic violence. Amid the genocide, one man, Paul Rusesabagina, protected an estimated 1,200 Rwandans in the Mille Collines Hotel in Kilgali.

On Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. in Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, four University of Pittsburgh student groups and the Ford Institute for Human Security in Pitt's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs will host Rusesabagina, the hotel manager whose courage, strength, and shrewd negotiating skills saved his guests' lives. The lecture, titled "Hotel Rwanda: A Lesson Yet to Be Learned," is free, but a reception following the lecture requires a $10 donation. RSVP for the reception at 860-490-7808 or

The student groups leading the effort-Hillel Jewish University Center, African Students Organization, Amnesty International Student Affiliates, and the Black Action Society-are framing Rusesabagina's presentation in context of opportunities for global activism and involvement in Pittsburgh.

Adam Donnell, education chair of Hillel and a lead coordinator of the event, emphasizes the potential power of such a speaker on a university campus, "It is easy to watch Hotel Rwanda or read books on the Holocaust without taking action because they seemingly happened years ago. However, genocide is not history, it is as current as ever, and Paul will inspire students to take action against this very real problem."

Rusesabagina, whose heroics were detailed in the Academy Award-nominated film Hotel Rwanda, was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, this country's highest civilian honor, at the White House Nov. 9.

In honoring Rusesabagina, President George W. Bush said, "That hotel soon became a haven amid the carnage, with Paul, his family, and more than a thousand other men, women, and children inside the compound. Without that shelter, every one of them would have almost surely been killed during those weeks and months of merciless terror. This good man saved them by holding off the enemy with his commanding presence, his shrewd manner of negotiating, and his incredible calm amid the crisis and chaos."

Prior to the speech and in literature available that evening, the coordinating groups will promote global political activism, particularly to call on the U.S. government to end genocide in Darfur.