ICTR ADAD Demands Release of Peter Erlinder

ADAD
Press Release
28 May 2010

According to available information, Professor Peter Erlinder, a Defence attorney at the ICTR, and Professor of Law at William Mitchell College of Law in the United States, was arrested on 28 May in Kigali on the charge of “denying genocide” (genocidal ideology).

Professor Erlinder is in Kigali this week, acting on behalf of his client, Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who is trying to oppose President Kagame in the upcoming August presidential elections, and who has also been charged with “denying genocide.”

Professor Erlinder is Lead Counsel for Major Aloys Ntabakuze in the “Military I” case at the ICTR. He is also one of the organizers of the successful ICTR Defence Conference, held in Brussels, Belgium last weekend.

He is the current President of the ADAD, the ICTR Defense Counsel organization.

We urge all individuals and organizations to urgently contact the Rwandan government, the U.S. Government and others to:

a) Demand the immediate release of Professor Peter Erlinder;

b) Demand Professor Erlinder’s immediate access to counsel;

c) Urge the Rwandan government to drop these fabricated and baseless charges against Professor Erlinder.

Signed: Ad Hoc Organizing Committee for Brussels Conference

Statement from President and Dean Eric S. Janus on Prof. Peter Erlinder’s arrest in Rwanda

On Friday, May 28, we were notified that Professor Peter Erlinder was arrested in Rwanda. At this time, he has not been charged with any crime. Our primary concern is for Prof. Erlinder’s safety and we hope the situation is resolved both fairly and promptly.

William Mitchell is working with the United States Department of State, the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to monitor the situation and provide any assistance possible. In addition, we are in contact with representatives from the offices of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Betty McCollum, and Rep. Keith Ellison to make them aware of the situation and provide information about Prof. Erlinder’s work in Rwanda.

William Mitchell has a 110-year history of legal education that is engaged with the legal profession, and we support and encourage the legal pursuits of our faculty beyond the college. Prof. Erlinder is in Rwanda to represent Victoire Ingabire, an opposition candidate for President of Rwanda who was arrested over accusations of promoting genocide ideology. In traveling to Rwanda, Prof. Erlinder exemplifies the great tradition of lawyers who take on the representation of unpopular clients and causes. That Prof. Erlinder did so at great personal risk demonstrates the strength of his commitment to justice and due process. We support his commitment to justice, the rule of law, and public service, which are the core of the lawyer’s function in society and values Prof. Erlinder works to instill in the students he teaches at William Mitchell.

We look forward to Prof. Erlinder’s return to the college and will continue to monitor his situation and work with the United Nations and the United States government until the issue is resolved.

National Lawyers Guild Demands Immediate Release of Attorney Peter Erlinder Vigorous Legal Advocate Arrested in Rwanda

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 28, 2010
1:07 PM

CONTACT: National Lawyers Guild (NLG)
David Gespass, 205-566-2530

Heidi Boghosian, 917-239-4999

NEW YORK – May 28 – The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) demands the immediate release of its former president, Professor Peter Erlinder, whom Rwandan Police arrested early today on charges of “genocide ideology.” He had traveled to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, on May 23, to join the defense team of Rwandan presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Erlinder is reportedly being interrogated at the Rwandan Police Force’s Kacyiru headquarters.

“Professor Erlinder has been acting in the best tradition of the legal profession and has been a vigorous advocate in his representation of Umuhoza. There can be no justice for anyone if the state can silence lawyers for defendants whom it dislikes and a government that seeks to prevent lawyers from being vigorous advocates for their clients cannot be trusted. The entire National Lawyers Guild is honored by his membership and his courageous advocacy,” said David Gespass, the Guild’s president.

Erlinder traveled to Kigali after attending the Second International Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Conference in Brussels. Since his arrival in Kigali, the state-sponsored Rwandan media has been highly critical of Erlinder.

The Rwandan Parliament adopted the “Law Relating to the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Ideology” (Genocide Ideology Law), on July 23, 2008. It defines genocide ideology broadly, requires no link to any genocidal act, and can be used to include a wide range of legitimate forms of expression, prohibiting speech protected by international conventions such as the Genocide Convention of 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966.

Sarah Erlinder, Arizona attorney and NLG member said, “My father has made a career defending unpopular people and unpopular speech-and is now being held because of his representation of unpopular clients and analysis of an historical narrative that the Kagame regime considers inconvenient. We can help defend his rights now by drawing U.S. government and media attention to his situation and holding the Rwandan government accountable for his well-being.”

Before leaving for Brussels and then Kigali, Professor Erlinder notified the U.S. State Department, his Minnesota Congressional Representative Betty McCullom, Representative Keith Ellison, and Minnesota Senators Al Franken and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Professor Erlinder is a professor of law at the William Mitchell College of Law. He is a frequent litigator and consultant, often pro bono, in cases involving the death penalty, civil rights, claims of government and police misconduct, and criminal defense of political activists. He is also a frequent news commentator. Erlinder was president of the National Lawyers Guild from 1993-1997, and is a current board member of the NLG Foundation. He has been a defense attorney at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since 2003.

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The National Lawyers Guild is dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system. Through its members–lawyers, law students, jailhouse lawyers and legal workers united in chapters and committees–the Guild works locally, nationally and internationally as an effective political and social force in the service of the people.

Rwanda Arrests American Lawyer For Representing A Rwandan Arrested by Kagame

On May 28, 2010, Rwandan security forces arrested American Lawyer Peter Erlinder. Mr. Erlinder is a law professor at William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota. He is also a former president for the National Lawyer’s Guild. The Rwandan government led by dictator Paul Kagame arrested Erlinder on charges of “Genocide Denial”. Amazingly enough, this is a crime that was committed outside of Rwanda. Apparently, Rwanda has jurisdiction over the whole world. It gets even better. The Rwandan government’s charges are based on professor Erlinder’s questioning the official Rwandan government’s narative on the genocide of 1994 while defending his clients at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Basically, professor Erlinder’s crime was defending his clients.

Unsurprisingly, Erlinder traveled to Rwanda to defend a female opposition leader Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, an aspiring presidential candidate in the upcoming elections in August.  Mr. Ingabire has been physically attacked by president Kagame’s security operatives. She has been charged among other things with the same charges levied against her lawyer. For those who are familiar with Rwanda and Kagame’s modus operandi, it is not surprising that these individuals who hold differing views from his government have been arrested. Critical journalists have been arrested, beaten, forced to flee, deported and in some cases killed.  Local independent media has been shut down until after the election. In recent months, top government officials have been forced to flee, army generals arrested, and a number of media personalities are on the run.

In addition, the Rwandan government has been attempting to force a million refugees from Uganda back to Rwanda. This also is not unusual. Recently, dictator Paul Kagame admitted to killing refugees and forcing others back into the country. The Rwandan president confirmed an allegation that has been long dismissed about his genocide of Rwanda refugees in the Congo. Amazingly, Rwanda is still one of the largest recipients of aid from the US government.

The US embassy in Kigali said that they were not doing anything about Mr. Erlinder’s case as he is liable to Rwandan law. Give me a break. When have Americans become liable to laws of tyrants and systems similar to North Korea? Bill Clinton should be taking a trip to Rwanda as soon as possible to seek the release of professor Erlinder. The US government should also withhold aid from Rwanda for not only its abuses of human rights in Rwanda, but also for its role in the killing of over Five million (5 000 000) innocent Congolese over the last fourteen years as well as the systematic stealing of Congo’s resources. The Obama administration would do well to enforce its laws and withhold taxpayer’s money from going to this despotic government that is using our taxes to arrest our fellow citizens. For a start, the embassy as well as the State Department should get engaged and demand the release of professor Erlinder’s immediate release.

In Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide

By Eric Brown

The Rwandan Genocide was a terrible event beyond human imagination. The world stood by and watched it happen as over a million people were killed. The hostilities leading up to the carnage should have been sign enough for the world to step in before things got out of hand. Over a million people!!! It is unbelievable.

To all who died the brainless acts, the genocide of 1994 and the killings that took place in Rwanda since 1990 and afterwards, MAY YOU REST IN PEACE. For all the survivors who lost their loved ones, be strong. Everyone Tutsis, Hutus, Twas and foreigners who lost your loved ones our thoughts and prayers are with you. You give us reason to hope and to continue to support you through our work. We will forever continue to seek justice for you.

For all of the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes; we will forever seek to have you face justice for the sake of your victims. We want you to face justice that you denied your victims.

For the world that stood by and watched it happen, shame on us!!! Some of us have vowed to never again stand by and allow such atrocities to take place. Genocide is happening today in Congo, Darfur, Burma, and many other places. Let us not stand by and let this continue again. Let us give a meaning to the word “Never Again”.

To all my Rwandan friends, I salute you for your strength in spite of your country’s dark past.

Everyone, I wish you to remember and mourn your departed loved ones in peace, whatever ethnic group you hail from. YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.

Uganda’s Legalized Genocide

Although many governments around the world can be bold and in many cases delusional, the Ugandan government is taking audacity to a whole new level. The lawmakers in the East African country are drafting a law that according to Wikipedia:

If enacted, broaden the criminalisation of homosexuality by introducing the death penalty for people who have previous convictions, are HIV-positive, or engage in same sex acts with people under 18 years of age. The bill also includes provisions for Ugandans who engage in same-sex sexual relations outside of Uganda, asserting that they may be extradited for punishment back to Uganda, and includes penalties for individuals, companies, media organizations, or non-governmental organisations that support LGBT rights.

This law also has provisions that will produce a prison sentence for anyone found to have know about homosexual acts without reporting it. It will punish relatives and friends who are “accomplices” of homosexual activity.

While it is true that homosexuality is extremely unpopular in Uganda like the rest of the continent of Africa, lack of popularity has never been a reason for being subjected to the death penalty. If laws were made based on what is and what is not popular, the world would totally succumb to the elite, the crooks and the bully. There would be no room for cooler heads. You are wondering what does this have to do with genocide? Let us take a look at the definition of genocide:

Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The intent of this law can achieve any and everyone of the above except for D and E. Briefly, to be a genocide, one needs not have all of the above elements. In an inexplicable move, the Ugandan government is making strides to legalize of all things, genocide!

There is an estimated 500000 homosexuals in Uganda. Although much smaller than the number of people killed in the Congo genocide since the invasion of DR Congo by Uganda and Rwanda, it is still a large number. Even one homosexual killed for simply being homosexual is a crime of hate. When such crime is expanded to a whole group of people, it becomes genocide. While it is true that Ugandan governments have committed acts of genocide within Uganda, it has never been legalized. For much of president Museveni’s presidency, the Karamojong have been massacred and exterminated by government forces. However, this was done under cover of war and security.

President Museveni again with his student president Paul Kagame of Rwanda invaded Congo and committed genocide of at least five million (5 000 000) Congolese people and turned Congo into rape capital. Among the dead were over three million (3 000 000) children! In summary, president Museveni is accustomed to literally getting away with murder. He has gotten away with murder of thousands of Ugandans and millions of Congolese. It seems that it is now time to take it to the next level and legalize mass killings.

With Museveni’s history, political opponents will be accused of being homosexuals. This will make it legally easy to detain and kill homosexuals as well as political opponents. Therefore, such law should not be enacted. Thankfully, many people around the world have stood up and shown the folly of this law and will continue to protest its existence and application. This could also lead to raising the profile of the conflict in Congo and expose president Museveni along with his student Paul Kagame for who they really are, mass murderers.

Rwandan Genocide: Is Rwanda Gearing up for Another Genocide?

Hate media, violence, dehumanizing opponents, acts of terrorism, cynical apologies for violence, threats, and the quest to remain in power at all cost were some of the elements leading up to the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. Today, we are seeing similar behavior and talk coming from Rwanda. Politics have become interesting lately, to say the least. Since the return of Rwandan opposition leader Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza on January 16, 2010, a refugee for 16 years, the Rwandan government has found itself in unusual territory and an awkward situation. Constantly on the defensive, the government created a number of high profile blunders. The language coming out of Rwanda is eerily similar to that of pre-genocide Rwanda. Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail and that the end is the opposite of what we saw sixteen years ago.

Upon her return, Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza visited the genocide memorial at Gisozi and pronounced that the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis as well as the perpetrators of crimes against humanity against Hutus should all be brought to justice. This did not sit well with Rwanda’s elite of the ruling party, the RPF.  No Rwandans inside the country have ever so loudly demanded that crimes committed by the RPF and Rwandan president Paul Kagame’s troops be prosecuted. Make no mistake, the RPF committed major atrocities against both the Hutus and Tutsis of Rwanda. Anyone who does not believe this fact is either not informed enough, or a cynical RPF and Kagame apologist. This demand for justice by Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza infuriates the Rwanda government for many reasons.

One of the reasons this puts the Rwandan government in a quagmire is that not only did the RPF troops led by General Paul Kagame commit these crimes against humanity, they have also been able to keep Rwandans silent about this. In Rwanda, it is taboo to talk about ethnicity. Everyone is Munyarwanda or Rwandan. Ironically, the Rwandan government has changed the term “Rwandan Genocide” to “Genocide against the Tutsi’s”. On one hand Rwandans are supposed to be Rwandas only but the genocide was not committed against Rwandans, it was committed against Tutsis. However, no one in Rwanda can question such illogical tripe lest they are accused of being “genocidaires”, “genocide deniers”, “genocide negationists”, or “divisionists” or all of the above. When I visit Rwanda, people talk to me in whispers with much trepidation while continuously scanning their surroundings. However, Mrs. Ingabire Umuhoza’s remarks must hit home with the RPF officials. The truth hurts and if prosecutable, it makes them nervous. Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s comments, if echoed by millions of Rwandans will bring President Paul Kagame and his cronies to their knees.

Reason number two is that it threatens the Rwandan government’s biggest diplomatic tool: the Rwandan Genocide. Rwanda has continuously used the guilt of genocide to get their way with the international community. Anytime President Kagame is on the defensive, he goes on the attack and blames everyone for not doing anything during Rwanda’s dark hour. This method has proved successful because international community members are quickly silenced. In Rwanda, it has also proven to be a strong tool to silence opposition. When Rwandans makes a critical comment of the government, they are quickly blamed of taking part in the genocide and they are jailed. If not implicated directly in the genocide, they are punished using ambiguous laws related to the genocide. These include laws of “divisionism” and “genocide ideology”. Good luck figuring out what these laws mean and how they are defined or when they are applied. Anything that criticizes the government can be prosecuted under these laws.

Upon hearing the remarks by Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, government officials along with pro government media started a smear campaign against the first woman to announce her intentions to run for president. As usual with any critics of the government, she was accused of divisionism and genocide ideology. They called for her to be prosecuted. They sent people to follow her and monitor her every move. On February 3, she was summoned to the Kinyinya government office by Mr. Shema; the local government leader. She was called to receive official documents. Upon her arrival at the office with her assistant Mr. Joseph Ntawangundi they were attacked by a mob. Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza managed to escape unharmed, although her purse carrying her passport was stolen and returned by police days later. Mr. Joseph Ntawangundi was beaten by the mob for about 45 minutes, stripped of his clothes and his glasses stolen. He sustained injuries that required a visit to intensive care. The police on the scene did not intervene and Mr. Shema did not attempt to call for help for Mr. Ntawangundi. On February 5,The New Times,  a pro government newspaper reported that Mr. Ntawangundi had been sentence to Nineteen years of prison in absentia by a Gacaca court (courts where no one is trained in the area of laws that prosecute genocide). Go figure.

According to a statement from the FDU Inkingi, Mr. Ntawangundi left Rwanda in 1993 and never returned until 2010. This means he was not in Rwanda in 1994. However, Gacaca courts’ incompetence is a discussion for another day. A day after the report, Mr. Ntawangundi was seized and jailed. In the media, the Rwandan police first tried to justify the well coordinated mob attack by saying that the mob was angry about the victims’ politics. This would be a funny explanation if it wasn’t for the fact that an actual attack on real human beings occured. The police later changed their story saying that Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and Mr. Ntawangundi skipped the long line and angered the crowd.

As if it was not enough, the media preaching hate for Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza began to call her IVU (translated in English as ashes). The pro government New Times repeatedly called her IVU similar to the way the genocidaires called Tutsis INYENZI (cockroaches) in 1994 to dehumanize them. During the same period, President Kagame had a press conference where he threatened that laws will do their work after the honeymoon (referring to her recent return to Rwanda). Doing work is also a term that was used by the genocidaires in 1994 meaning to kill. In this case, there is no doubt that President Kagame was referring to the earlier mentioned ambiguous genocide laws. Sure enough, Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was summoned to the police to answer to charges of “divisionism” and “genocide ideology”.  Surprise surprise. She has been summoned a second time to answer to these charges again.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ntawangundi is in prison and the police continues to harass Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. The Green Party and other opposition has been denied official authorization to meet because the notary in the office is on maternity leave. This is awfully similar to the events leading up to the genocide when administrative unwillingness led to the transitional government forming. Meanwhile, the Rwandan senate continues to harrass Mr. Bernard Ntaganda of PS-Imberakuri with accusations of divisionism. In their desperate attempt to hold on to power, the Rwandan government is stopping at nothing out of all options.  Now, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty Internation and other human rights organizations are calling for it to loosen its tight grips on the freedom and rights of the citizens of the country.  Knowing that they have killed 5 million people in neighboring Congo it would not be surprising if they killed others in masses in their desperate attempt to hold on to power and avoid facing justice for their crimes.

On night of Friday January 20, three grenade explosions occured in Kigalin in three separate places. Various reports put the initial toll at one death and eighteen injured. The explosions were in public places including a building that houses several businesses, a bus station (such places are very crowded anywhere in African countries), and a restaurant. Indeed this act of terrorism is very cowardly but not unusual in Rwanda. In the period leading up to the genocide in 1994, there were deadly grenade and bomb blasts on a regular basis.  The Rwandan government must ensure security for all of its citizens. Recent events though tend to point at the government of Rwanda having a hand in this as in the previous incidents of violence against the opposition.  It is also curious that these events are taking place in the midst of political issues where the Rwandan government has found itself in the midst of politically motivated violence, imprisonment, and violence.

It appears to be a difficult period to be a Rwandan, especially a Rwandan who dares stand up against President Kagame. Let us hope those who stood by while a million were killed in Rwanda and while five million died in Congo will now rise to the occasion and make sure that it never happens again.  Is kagame and the rpf preparing a genocide?