The most dangerous day

Difficult days followed at the Hotel and as time passed, the attacks multiplied. Then, the 13th of May, a senior officer of the Rwandan army warns Rusesabagina that all refugees will be exterminated at 4 pm. Rusesabagina sends warning faxes all around the world, notably to Belgium and France. The good news comes from abroad: the killers ‘plan was foiled. Frustrated, they fired a cannonball at the Hotel around 10.30 pm, fortunately without any victims.

The 17th of June was the longest day and most difficult one for the Mille Collines. The militia, after having killed the refugees from the parish centre of Saint Paul situated at some meters, invaded the Hotel around 1pm, shouting. Armed with guns, machetes and clubs, they asked where the manager of the Hotel who protects the “cockroaches” is. The wife and children of Rusesabagina hide in the bath. He is not present; he is with the Chief of General Staff of the Rwandan Army at the Hôtel of Diplomates where there are still reserves of food and drinks. He learns of the attack of the Hôtel des Milles Collines by phone and begs for the help of the Chief. The Chief goes directly to the Hotel with his escort. Arriving, the Interahamwe are busy evacuating all the refugees and gathering them in the courtyard near the swimming pool. Some refugees are already on their knees, hands raised and waiting to die. The Chief asks one of his bodyguards to climb the hill and to shout loudly to the militia: “Immediately pull out of the Hotel! If a militiaman kills a refugee, I’ll shoot him at once! If he hits or wounds a refugee, I’ll shoot him at once! If after five minutes, there is still one militiaman in the Hotel, I’ll shoot him also”. The Chief goes into the Hotel running, his gun in his hand. The lifts didn’t work anymore; he quickly climbs the steps of the staircase shouting to the Interahamwe to leave. They accept but vow to kill Rusesabagina. They will bump into him outside, but won’t even recognize him.

This attacks attracts the attention of the international community; who increase the pressure on the belligerents, to allow the UNAMIR to continue the evacuation of all the refugees. That afternoon, an urgent meeting is held at the Hotel. The liaison officer of the Rwandan army, the interim Rwandan Army Chief of Staff and some people in charge of the UNAMIR are present. The meeting concludes that all the refugees of the Hotel must be evacuated that night. Informed of the decisions, Rusesabagina informs them of his fears of a night evacuation. Indeed, it’s already night at 6 pm, and the city of Kigali has no electricity. He reminds them of the refugees’ evacuation the night of the 3rd of May 1994 that turned into a nightmare. That day, the militia Interahamwe had blocked the UNAMIR convoy, got all the refugees out of the vehicle and violently hit and wounded them. The refugees had come back to the Hotel in horrendous circumstances. Finally, the evacuation will be delayed until the next morning, and the UNAMIR will authorise protection for the refugees. They deployed peacekeepers and armoured vehicles to the Hotel. The 18th of June, Rusesabagina is evacuated with his family to Kabuga, where he meets up with the refugees of the Hotel that had been evacuated before him. They all welcome him as a hero and pay him an enthusiastic tribute for everything he’s done to protect them.