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Erlinder released as Kagame cracks down on his own

June 27, 2010

by Ann Garrison

American law professor Peter Erlinder returns

Peter Erlinder’s Kenyan lawyer Otachi Gershom, who, like Erlinder, is a defense lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda and opposition politician Victoire Ingabire left a Kigali courtroom relieved after a Rwandan judge agreed to release Erlinder on medical grounds.
U.S. law professor Peter Erlinder returned from three weeks imprisonment, from May 28 to June 17, in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, where he had traveled to act as defense counsel for embattled presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Ingabire remains under house arrest, unable to leave the country, and faces a possible 20-year prison sentence. Both she and Erlinder are still accused of violating Rwanda’s unique “genocide ideology” speech crime, which means disagreeing with the official history of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.

A Rwandan judge agreed to release Erlinder but only on medical grounds, not in response to the argument that his free speech rights and thus, by extension, the free speech rights of Victoire Ingabire and other Rwandans are guaranteed by the international human rights covenants that Rwanda has signed or by Rwanda’s membership in the British Commonwealth.

In his press conference at William and Mitchell College of Law in Minneapolis-St. Paul on Wednesday, June 23, following his return, Professor Erlinder thanked all the people around the world who had called for his release, and said that he owed his life to them and to the Internet. He called it a triumph for people power, but he also said that it would not have occurred if he had not been a white American lawyer with friends, family and allies capable of organizing and lobbying relentlessly for his release.

In Kigali, Ingabire said that Professor Erlinder’s arrest demonstrated the nature of the Rwandan regime. She called on all those who supported him to support Rwandans now.

She said, as Sen. Russ Feingold, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Africa, has in the Feingold Statement on the Fragility of Democracy in Africa, that the U.S should insist on democracy in Rwanda as a condition of its donor nation support.

However, with Rwanda’s 2010 election now only seven weeks away, and neither the FDU-Inkingi nor the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda allowed to contest the election, more and more Rwandans are losing hope and some have even concluded that only military invasion could unseat the Kagame regime, a possibility that President Kagame has attempted to circumvent by force repatriating refugees who might join a rebel army.

Assassins go after Rwandan exile Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa

On Saturday, June 25, an unidentified gunman attempted to assassinate Rwandan exile Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, an outspoken critic of President Kagame and a potential leader of a rebel army invading to overthrow him. The gunman opened fire on Kayumba as he returned home from a grocery store in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Rwandan police arrested P.S. Imberakuri presidential candidate Bernard Ntaganda in his home on the morning of Thursday, June 24, to prevent him from leaving for a protest he had called at the National Electoral Commission. Meanwhile, Rwandan President Paul Kagame was registering his “candidacy” in the faux election that Ntaganda and the other viable candidates have been excluded from.
Ingabire condemned the assassination attempt as another example of Kagame’s favored method of eliminating exiled dissidents and called once again for nonviolent political, not military, solutions.

Rwandan exile and Ingabire supporter Jean Manirarora, now a microbiological research scientist in Louisville, Kentucky, also called for political solutions but said that Gen. Kayumba has become the greatest threat to President Kagame because he is a Tutsi general popular with both Rwandan Hutus and Tutsis and could thus lead a Hutu and Tutsi army into Rwanda, with credible claim to being a national liberation army, not an army of genocidaires.

“There is no sign of an army organizing to invade Rwanda,” Manirarora said, but if there were and if Kayumba were to lead it, no one could say that he had come to finish off the Tutsi because he himself is a Tutsi.

On Thursday, June 24, hundreds of Rwandan opposition leaders and members, including P.S. Imberakuri Party leader and presidential candidate Bernard Ntaganda, were assaulted and arrested because of a protest planned at Rwanda’s National Electoral Commission that morning, as President Paul Kagame registered his candidacy and all the viable opposition was excluded. On the same day, the deputy editor of Rwanda’s Umuvugizi newspaper, Jean Leonard Rugambage, was shot dead on the way into his home in Kigali.

Shocked and grief stricken, Umuvugizi editor Jean Bosco Gasasiras, now in exile in Uganda, accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame of ordering his security operatives to assassinate Rugambage. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa’s wife Rosette continues to accuse Kagame of sending operatives to assassinate her husband, and Rwandan journalist Godwin Agaba, also in exile in Uganda, said that Rugambage had just written a story revealing a plot to poison Kayumba in his sickbed in South Africa, where he is recovering from last week’s attempt on his life.

In the shadow of AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command

Africa’s oil rich Gulf of Guinea
These arrests and intrigue in Rwanda create urgencies that distract from an AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command) conference that concluded in Kigali at the same time Professor Erlinder was being released. The conference was called to plan an August military “exercise” in Accra, Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea, which is critical to the control of West African oil and gas and oil and gas transport corridors in the Gulf of Guinea and the rivers flowing into it.

On May 16, 2001, the Office of Vice President Richard Cheney produced a document titled “West African Oil: a Priority for U.S. National Security and African Development,” a “National Energy Policy Report.” For whatever reason, the policy report’s Web URL is http://www.israeleconomy.org/strategic/africawhitepaper/pdf.

The Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported on the conclusion of the AFRICOM conference in a story with the headline “U.S. military not intending to control Africa” – says Army chief.” The RNA report quoted a senior Rwandan military chief saying, “A new U.S. military program training African armies including Rwanda is not a U.S. move to dominate the African continent.”

Many Africans, not only Rwandan and Congolese, and Americans, especially African Americans, seemed to believe that this statement reduced the credibility of the Kagame government, which also insists that it had nothing to do with the latest round of assassinations and assassination attempts in Rwanda and surrounding nations.

San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Digital Journal, Examiner.com, OpEdNews, Global Research, Colored Opinions and her blog, Plutocracy Now. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com.

KPFA News broadcast June 26

Pirate Cat Radio broadcast June 19

21 thoughts on “Erlinder released as Kagame cracks down on his own

  1. therisingcontinent

    Some voices are calling for Kayumba Nyamwasa to play a certain role in the critically needed change that most Rwandans aspire to after 16 years of Kagame's dictatorship. As for any Rwanda, we all have that moral duty. But there are certain limitations on who could be of some assistance and how they could contribute. I think Nyamwasa could be most helpful in first clearing his name by responding to the Spanish and French international warrants in his involvement in the assassination of Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira and their advisory teams on April 6th 1994 and his role in the crimes committed in Rwanda and Congo in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. Once cleared, he could then participate in other areas where his experience and skills would be needed.

    Reply
  2. Jeremie

    We need change in Rwanda. As a rwandan,I am very ashamed to have a criminal as my president.
    Rwandans are tired with the killing machine of kagame` s political system.

    Reply
    1. Kenzo

      That is what you think. We, Rwandan adore him and consider him our savior. He saved us from butchers (Interahamwe), he saved us from ignorance, now all our children go to school with no discrimination, he saved women from social exploitation they used to go through … who are you to call him names? If you have nothing to do, go find someone else to talk about. Forget about Kagame, because you will not succeed in tarnishing his name …

      Reply
  3. rwandainfo

    And what skills does Kayumba posess that would make him a better leader than Kagame? Well, perhaps he knows swimming – he swam across River Umuvumba when he was escaping. He is a coward. I can assure you that a dictatorial Kagame is better than a million ingabires, Kayumbas, ntaganda and Habineza. To lead Rwanda is not just everyone's piece of cake. We need a strong and strict leader

    Reply
      1. Prime

        afrodude what do you gain by abusing people. if you cannot respect the President because he leads close to 11 million people, you should respect him because of his age. Come on, what happened to social values?

        Reply
  4. liliane mukazi

    You people are just mad and uninformed. Do you know how much Rwandese People love their leader. Go to the grassroots and talk to the normal citizen and see how much they are more educated that you the so called educated people. The President of Rwanda is the best Rwanda can dream of. I can bet none of you can even measure to him. Look at his track record. He's built the country from ashes and has made it what it is today. he feels for the people he leads and work hard to make sure all Rwandans have equal opportunities.

    Reply
    1. afrodude

      I m not sure how old you are, but what do you mean "he's built the country from ashes"?

      1) First he burned it to ashes by refusing to share power according to 1993 Arusha accords and launching a military campaign after shooting down a presidential jet he knew very well would cause deaths of thousands of innocent people!
      2) He made more orphans in human history than any other single president in exercice both in Rwanda and Congo
      3) Today he calls his opponents "trash" "flies" "cowards", . . . .if he ain't a coward, why doesn't he treat those who fought alongside him like real heros? I hope Fred Rwigema's widow's not reading this.

      Get your records right. Kagame's someone else. Than the hero you and other illuded pple think he is. Look at the crackdown on opposition today and try to remember Germany in 1935+ . Any similarities? The man in power then was Hitler. Regarded by some of his closest as some god. He turned out to be a demon. What am insinuating? Use your brain

      Reply
      1. liliane

        Can u instead use your brain too. I meant all that i said and you do not need to remind me of using my head. Did i use your head when i was writing. Whatever you say, you will not change a dime to the development Rwanda is enjoying. The whole world sees this except from some blind people like you who've been blinded by i do not know what. Are you the one who was leading Rwanda when it became the number one country for doing business (World bank)? hahahaha, i can see the successes of our president rub you wrongly. Whatever you say, we are behind our man.

        Reply
  5. Prime

    Your title says it all. You are negationists who do not want to see Rwanda develop. Whoever came up with this title is the one cracking down. History will tell, the writers of this article need to go and visit a psychologist before it is late.

    Reply
  6. Ann_Garrison

    I am just listening to all these remarks about Kayumba now, and noting, with some alarm, the Rwandan troops building on the Ugandan border, http://goo.gl/Bnpq. Yesterday I received reports that Mr. Ntaganda had gone on a hunger strike in prison and that two of the party's officers have been disappeared, that four members of the FDU-Inkingi are still in prison, and that another Rwandan journalist has been kidnapped and disappeared in Uganda.

    Reply
    1. Claire

      Why do you people believe in all that you hear. Let me talk about the troop building i see in the media. I leave close to the border and there is no such thing. I haven't seen any solider actually from morning. If what you say is correct, i could have seen at least one or two. We are going about business as usual, actually the villagers are laughing at this because they heard it on radio. Research before you propagate these news. Ask people living at the border, ask around …

      Reply
  7. Jeremie

    Ann Garrison,

    The former rwandan journalist(Dominic Makeri) who was kidnapped in Uganda by Kagame`s agents has been left on a road far from Kampala . He is now back in hishome safe and sound but traumatised. He talked to BBC Great Lakes in our native language about what happened to him and said that those criminals told him that they always track him and will come back to take him to Rwanda.

    Reply
  8. Cristi

    Don't you have any other thing to do except from talking about Kagame? Your hatred keeps you from seeing the development path Rwanda is on, under the leadership of President Kagame. Stop making up stories which do not add up. U will never measure (not even 1/10th) to Kagame. he is a hero to Rwandans. Go look for other people to tarnish. You will not succeed.

    Reply
  9. Jeremie Musonera

    Thank you Afrodude !!! You make a good point. Thank you !!!You know what ?… You have to be brainwashed to take Kagome as a hero !

    Reply
  10. Aimable

    It is interesting how some Kagame lovers claim that a majority of the population likes Kagame. This is hilarious. If a majority of the population really liked Kagame, then he would not be a coward who is so scared of putting Ingabire's, or Frank Habineza's or Ntaganda's names on the ballot. If Kagame was really that popular, then he would still win the elections. But no, the coward is scared of any of these people and is doing everything he can to prevent their names from being on the ballot. But Kagame needs to know that eventually, Hitler and Saddam Hussein were defeated too. Kagame's time of defeat is coming.

    Reply
  11. Jean Nepo

    As far as Rwandan genocide is concerned, there is a number of documents from reliable sources that clearly show that there are good and bad guys from Hutus and Tutsis. As long as we do not clearly and publicly denounce these bad guys they may continue to have the upper hand in fueling Rwanda’s sufferings.
    In our struggle for democracy and human rights protection in Rwanda I only see two myths that need to be tackled with our strongest energy: the myth on “Rwanda’s economic prosperity” and the myth on “good guys versus bad guys” in the Rwandan genocide.

    Reply
  12. Champ

    I wonder if people who continue to claim economic prosperity know anything about the human life that was lost in Rwanda? Would you replace any of your relatives with economic development? I am sorry but the myth of economic development cannot erase the millions of people Kagame has a hand in across Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. He has at least 6 million people's blood on his hands, hundreds of thousands of women raped, and has stolen so much of Congo's resources to build this "economic prosperity". It is laughable to claim economic development. It's like a robber boasting about wealth acquired from killing his neighbors and taking their property (that's Kagame for you) and then turning around and killing the remaining of his children.

    As for saving Rwandans from Interahamwe, he seems to be working with some of those Interahamwe today including General Marcel Gatzinzi (chief of staff of Ex-FAR during the genocide) and General Rwarakabije of FDLR (EX Leader of the FDLR).

    Reply

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