April 10, 2024

Heroes Among Us: Insight Into The World Of Political Prisoners And Hostages

Event Details

Please join us for a special program on the evening of April 10, 2024 – “Heroes Among Us: Insight into the World of Political Prisoners and Hostages.” The program will take place at 5 p.m. at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. It will feature Paul Rusesabagina, the humanitarian hero whose story was told in the Oscar-winning film Hotel Rwanda, and Beth Cooper, former Senior Advisor to the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.

RSVP to attend and read more about the event below.

Paul Rusesabagina became a well-known international figure and humanitarian hero after the film Hotel Rwanda shared his story of saving 1,200 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He was celebrated around the world, including in Rwanda, and George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. As an advocate for human rights and reconciliation, Mr. Rusesabagina felt compelled to speak out as he watched his country descend into brutal dictatorship under the rule of President Paul Kagame. In August 2020, Mr. Rusesabagina was kidnapped by the Rwandan government, tortured, and forced to endure a sham trial that resulted in a 25-year sentence. Over the course of nearly three years, a coalition of human rights and hostage advocacy groups worked tirelessly to secure his freedom, in close coordination with the Rusesabagina family and the State Department’s Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. Mr. Rusesabagina was finally released in March 2023 and was able to reunite with his family in the United States.

At this special event, hosted jointly by four New Hampshire-based non-profit organizations, attendees will hear first-hand about Mr. Rusesabagina’s harrowing experiences as a political prisoner in Rwanda. They will also learn more about the powerful collaboration between civil society and government, which helped win his freedom. The event will provide greater insight into the world of political prisoners and hostages, with a focus on the advocacy work of New Hampshire organizations and how Granite Staters can help in the fight to free those who have been unjustly imprisoned around the world.   

Beth H. Cooper is a lawyer and leader with over 30 years of foreign policy experience in crisis management, external affairs, access to justice, and foreign policy related to hostage taking, unjust and arbitrary detention, the protection of U.S. citizens abroad, and international family law. Most recently, Beth was Senior Advisor to the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA) at the U.S. Department of State where she led strategic engagement with external constituencies, multilateral diplomatic initiatives, and was involved in hostage and wrongful detainee recoveries and related services from Russia, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, West Africa, Yemen, and Rwanda. Beth represented SPEHA at the interagency Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell (HRFC) at FBI Headquarters.  

Beth previously served as Branch Chief for the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues where she led a team implementing the Hague Abduction Convention and other programming for international child abduction cases and has represented the United States on several international delegations negotiating child abduction and adoption treaties.B eth has served in all branches of the U.S. government, including as a distinguished Brookings Fellow with the U.S. Congress, working on legislative policy and initiatives for the Senate Judiciary Committee. Earlier in her career, Beth clerked for judges on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and Superior Court.  

Her non-governmental work includes developing training programs for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and teaching high school students about democracy and the legislative process through the Close-Up Foundation. Beth is currently an Advisory Council member for the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. She has a law degree from New England School of Law, and an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from American University.

Event Details

When: Wednesday, April 10, 2024 — 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Where: New Hampshire Institute of Politics (map)

Event Agenda

Welcome – Guila Fakhoury, President, Amer Foundation

Fireside chat – Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President, Lantos Foundation, and Paul Rusesabagina

PanelCivil society and government working together to free hostages

  • Beth Cooper, Former Senior Advisor to the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs
  • Diane Foley, President, Foley Foundation
  • Zoya Fakhoury, Executive Director, Amer Foundation
  • Moderator: Tim Horgan, Executive Director, World Affairs Council NH


*Following the program, Diane Foley will be available to sign copies of her newly released book American Mother.

For more information click here: https://jamesfoleyfoundation.org/books/american-mother/

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