For Immediate Release
Contact: Kitty Kurth
May 28, 2010
American Law Professor Arrested in Kigali
The Rwanda News Agency reported today that American law professor C. Peter Erlinder (William and Mitchell College of Law – Minnesota) was arrested over accusations related to negating the Rwandan genocide. The Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation deplores this clearly politically motivated arrest, and implores the international community to act quickly and decisively to demand Professor Erlinder’s immediate release from custody.
Erlinder, an outspoken critic of the Kagame regime, is frequently criticized by the Rwandan government. His name recently appeared on a publicized list of foreigners who the Rwandan government allegedly wants silenced for their views. Erlinder traveled to Rwanda last week to defend presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire on the charges brought against her by the Rwandan government. Mrs. Ingabire, a political opponent of current President Kagame, was jailed recently and is currently under house arrest for expressing her political views, which are in opposition to official government policies. Erlinder is also a defense lawyer and leader of the association of defense attorneys defending Rwandan genocide suspects at the International Criminal Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. His current trip to Rwanda was intended to provide defense counsel in a peaceful legal process, but with this arrest his human rights, liberty and possibly his person safety are in danger.
Professor Erlinder was reportedly arrested on charges of “genocide negationism,” which means that he disagrees with the official version of the 1994 genocide perpetuated by the current Rwandan regime. This law is frequently applied to silence critics of the regime, including in the past Mrs. Ingabire, Human Rights Watch investigators, and even the BBC.
Immediate action is needed to free Professor Erlinder and guarantee his human rights and personal safety.