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Criminal defense lawyers dispute Rwanda’s genocide history

May 23, 2010

by Ann Garrison

Rwandan Chief Prosecutor Martin Ngoga threatened Rwandan presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza with arrest if she keeps talking to the press and accused the international criminal lawyers at the Second International Criminal Defense Conference in Brussels of genocide denial.
The ad hoc organizing committee of the Second International Criminal Defense Conference being held in Brussels on May 21-23 thanked Rwandan Chief Prosecutor Martin Ngoga and Kigali’s New Times for publicizing their efforts.

This week, as the conference dates approached, The New Times published several articles condemning it and quoting Ngoga saying, “For a few years now, some defense lawyers at the ICTR have badly deviated from their professional duties and turned into activists and advocates of genocide denial.”

Ngoga and The New Times thus drew international attention to the significance of the conference to the ongoing struggle over disputed histories of Rwanda’s 1994 tragedy and related violence in Central Africa, both before and since.

Last week Ngoga warned leading opposition presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire that she might be jailed once again if she continues speaking to the press. The election is scheduled for Aug. 9. Ingabire has not been allowed to register to formally run against Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

The ad hoc conference organizing committee also said that they are defending the right to freedom of speech and thought and expect the conference to be a non-disruptive exchange of ideas that would be subjected to public critique and historical and scientific evaluation, as the ideas exchanged at the November 2009 Hague Conference on the Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda were.

Cover of the Human Rights Watch publication, "Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity: A Digest of the Case Law of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda," issued in January 2010
They said that Rwanda Chief Prosecutor Ngoga had mischaracterized the historic Military-1 Trial Judgment of February 2009 in the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, which completely rejects the theory that what the world has come to know as the Rwanda Genocide was the result of a longstanding conspiracy planned well in advance of April 1994, as the Nazi death camps were planned by the Third Reich.

They reaffirmed that the judgment had:

  • Acquitted all four defendants of “planning or conspiracy” to commit genocide or other crimes, either before or after April 6, 1994;
  • Acquitted the highest ranking officer to be tried at the ICTR, Gen. Gratien Kabiligi, of all charges; and
  • Acquitted Col. Bagosora (who is represented by Rafael Constant of Paris, not Professor Erlinder) of all charges that occurred before April 6 and after April 8, 1994.

The committee also said, “Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s regime habitually calls its political opponents ‘criminals’ as has been demonstrated in the arrest and prosecution of Madame Victoire Inagabire and others in the run-up to the August presidential elections,” and “Kagame used the same tactic to virtually eliminate political opposition in the 2003 sham presidential election that formalized his monolithic regime.”

The conference organizing committee rejected the Kagame government’s efforts to make it illegal to question the role of Kagame’s ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front Party (RPF) in crimes that the RPF instead accuses its opponents of.

They said that Kagame and the RPF’s responsibility for the assassinations of the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda is the subject of French and Spanish indictments and of a wrongful death civil case in U.S. federal court and that RPF responsibility for these crimes has been confirmed by former Chief ICTR Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte and others from ICTR Prosecutor’s Office.

Members of the ad hoc organizing committee of this week’s International Criminal Defense Conference in Brussels were Professor Peter Erlinder, Beth Lyons, Ken Ogetto, John Philpot and Andre Tremblay.

Kagame threatens challenger with prison for talking to press

President Kagame’s chief opponent in the Aug. 9 election, Victoire Ingabire, is now facing criminal charges brought against her for challenging Kagame and his ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front Party government. According to Ngoga:

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, presidential candidate of Rwanda’s FDU-Inkingi Party, has been warned that she will be arrested again if she continues to speak to the international press. – Photo: FDU-Inkingi Party
“The prosecution is more specifically concerned with the continued posting of declarations and newspaper interviews she has been doing. The case against her is not one of robbery in which restraining physical movement would be enough to contain further damage. It is a case of destructive and divisive ideology whose damage does not require physical proximity of the offender.”

Law Professor Peter Erlinder, the U.S. attorney and lead defense counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, who has been retained to defend Ingabire, said:

“Ngoga’s threats reveal that the real purpose of the criminal charges against Madame Ingabire is to serve notice that no political opposition will be tolerated in Rwanda. And that the 2003 ‘sham elections,’ as reported by EU election monitors and other outside human rights observers, will be repeated in 2010, unless the Rwandan government completely changes its policies to permit a functioning democracy.”

Ingabire is charged with associating with terrorists and violations of the “genocide ideology” statutes creating speech and thought crimes unique to Rwanda, which Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and even the U.S. State Department have denounced.

Professor Erlinder will appear at Ingabire’s next hearing, on May 24 in Kigali, to insist on her continued release on bail, return of her computers and property, an end to the state’s interference with her presidential campaign and the full disclosure of prosecution evidence and witnesses.

Erlinder has said he intends to argue that Ingabire’s internationally recognized rights to free speech have been violated and that she is being denied due process.

He has also submitted letters to his Minnesota senators and congressional representative and to the U.S. State Department to request protection, stating that he has reason to believe that his own life could be in danger while he is in Rwanda because of leaked memos identifying him as a foreign enemy of the government and target for assassination.

The Human Rights Committee of the EU Parliament has written to Rwanda’s Ambassador to Belgium Gérard Ntwari objecting to Ingabire’s arrest and to ongoing repression of political and civil rights, including the right to free speech.

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in San Francisco, a regular contributor to the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper, Global Research and Digital Journal and a news producer for KPFA Radio, Berkeley. This story combines two stories that first appeared on Digital Journal, at http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/292310 and http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/292033.

Preventing the Falsification of History from TPIR heritage on Vimeo.

Plus d’ information sur: www.tpirheritagedefense.org

28 thoughts on “Criminal defense lawyers dispute Rwanda’s genocide history

  1. Edmund

    Thanks for this one again!!!Now where is your bunch of genocide deniers to comment??Have you not alerted them that you have a new article on Rwanda??

    Reply
  2. Jacques

    This whole thing is nonsense! Ingabire dealt with FDLR, a terrorist organization named as such by the US Government. It is not Kagame or Ngoga who told Victoire Ingabire to deal with the killers when she had the ambition to run for presidency. Let her face the fire she ignited.
    Many folks agree with me that, if it was someone from USA who in his or her background ever dealt with Al Qaeda, nobody would even be talking about it. This is hypocricy of the highest degree.
    Jacques

    Reply
    1. Jobu

      Jacques, in this century the world will not allow Kagame's genocidal politics. Demonization has become the culture of the Rwandan Nazi Tutsi regime. Stop demonizing Ingabire she is a hero the Rwanda has ever had. We are at the end of the RPF genocidal regime, it is just a matter of time for Rwandans to become free! Peace! Jobu

      Reply
    2. John

      Ingabire never dealt with FDRL. That is sheer lies. She stands for peace and as she said, she has no army. You guys are so stupid. If she had an army, she be in the bushes planning military operations. She is all for peaceful transition of power so quit spreading lies aimed at discrediting her name.

      Reply
  3. Erick

    1993, 1994: Georges Ruggiu = 2010: Ann Garrison

    Fascinating how she has become the mouthpiece of "Genocide Sceptics/Deniers/Relativists/Etc". Was she ever in Rwanda? How come she suddenly began to publish so massively about Rwanda? Fishy, fishy…

    Who is the Hassan Ngeze of 2010 behind Ann?

    Reply
    1. Kuri

      Eric, asking justice for every Rwandan does not mean to deny genocide! The RPF and Dictatorial regime of Paul Kagame is now quite exposed by a Rwandan hero Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza!

      Reply
    2. John

      She is Rwandan and know the issue. She also offers the best solutions. She is the hope for many. She speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves. Those silenced by Kagame's dictatorship.

      Reply
  4. Karim

    Peter Erlinder's agenda will be exposed soon! crying foul is a way of covering his ill motives. Shame on him. His efforts to undermine Rwanda's reconciliation shall be in vain. Rwandans are determined and their resolve is unbreakable!!

    Reply
    1. Kassimu

      Under the Kagame's ruthless dictatorial regime reconciliation is far than the moon. Tutsi killers can not reconcile Rwandans as Hutu killers could not but the new generation of people who have no blood on their hands like Ingabire, Ntaganda and Frank.

      Reply
      1. John

        Yes, there is a new movement that does not believe in violence headed by Ingabire. The struggle is going to be long though because warmongers like Kagame are standing in the way. Facing them is like moving a mountain but we must not loose hope. Freedom is coming tomorrow.

        Reply
    2. John

      What reconciliation are you talking about? There is no reconciliation in Rwanda. Having the country and all it's resources in the hands of Tutsis excursively, you call that reconciliation? Demonizing Hutus when in fact war crimes were committed by hutus but also buy Tutsis as well, you call that reconciliation?
      It is time for us Rwandan to seat down and work together for a true, genuine reconciliation. But , that cannot be achieved as long as extremist Tutsis abuse their power and oppress Hutus. Ingabire should be allowed to freely campaign/ Peter Erlinder cause is noble and is out in the open. Now, you and your chief criminal, liar, manipulative, bandit, murder, I am talking about Kagame is the one that is being exposed thanks to the work of noble people such as Peter Erlinder.

      Reply
      1. Kazitunga

        Although building a new Rwanda would be a long process, Rwandans are moving forward John. The hutus who survived Interahamwe compaign because they didn't want to kill tutsi or were protecting tutsi; those who were not involved in genocide, despite the then government's intimidation, and the thousands that the so called RPF dominated government released from prisons after trails or after accepting/apologizing for their acts are now living in Rwanda by millions. Like their tutsi countrymates, these hutu are involved in politics, government, army and police; others are doing businesses and many are farming their lands —-, and all (Rwandans) together, strieving to overcome the legacy of genocide and build a strong Rwanda (saved from genocide evil). If you are Rwandan, you should instead help defeat this genocide evil by Interahamwe/FDLR and its recruited international arms such as Brugiere, Peter, and others.

        Reply
  5. Nshimiye

    Keep it up Ngoga! When one million was being slaughtered Peter Erlinder and others were eating their Burgers and enjoying life! He has no any moral authority to shape Rwanda's destiny!
    Your friend and client will be imprisoned, that is for sure. Before you even think of defending her, go to YOU TUBE and listen to her divisive messages! She has no place in today's Rwandan politics
    Nshimiye

    Reply
    1. Ngoga

      Nshimiye, Lies can last longer but not forever! The Kagame's evil regime mislead the whole world and now it is the time to expose their lies. Peter Erlinder is the voice of truth.

      Reply
      1. John

        I agree with you. "Intebe y'ikinyoma ntawuyicaraho kabiri". Those who know Lingala told me that Koffi Olomide, in one of his song he says that "Lies take the elevator, the truth takes stairs. So lies arrive first, but they get confused when the truth finally shows up.

        Reply
    2. John

      Ingabire wants genuine reconciliation (like they did in South Africa) not fake and manipulative political propaganda kagame uses to lies to whites who do not take the time to double check his lies. You lie that we are all Rwandans. No Hutus or Tutsis. There are Hutus and Tutsis. It's a fact. Now the question is how do we cohabit peacefully in our small but enough for all of us country? Pretending that there are no more races, when in fact we were butchering each other based on races not to long ago , is the most stupid thing I have ever heard in my entire life. Ingabire is being lied upon in order to keep him from defeating Kagame in the upcoming election. Kagame and you all know that Ingabire is the choice of the people. All allegations are fabricated for the purpose of sabotaging her electoral campaign.

      Reply
      1. Kazitunga

        Every rwandan has a constitutional right to challenge government's vision and policies for building a strong and prosperous Rwanda; and propose alternatives, for Rwandans to choose. The politics of genocide's denial is not among the constitutional rights, nor a development policy. The question should be: what is Ingabire's development agenda? what is her vision for Rwanda's future? does she have the required temparement and skills to lead Rwandans in overcoming the legacy of genocide and eradicate poverty and be prosperous? The answer is a big NO; she has no development agenda, except being genocide denier and supporting FDLR/Interahamwe. She has no political skills except the illusion of being nyamwinshi and belief of external influence.

        Be sure that her and her networks' evil fight, which is a continuation of genocidaires' fight, will also be defeated. Just watch.

        Reply
  6. John

    Victoire Ingabire, Peter Erlinder, Ann Garison, you guys are brave soldiers. Keep up the good fight and don't let anyone discourage you. Kagame and his supporters will come here and write nasty comments, that is not surprising in anyway. Always remember, you represent the voice of the 97% of Rwandans who have no access to the internet, who are left out by Kagame and his akazu. Most of the negative comments are just rubbish, nothing but sheer lies. Again, guys you are making history by uncovering Kagame's true nature.

    Reply
    1. Kazitunga

      You are right John, these guys are soldiers, but on the wrong side and for an evil cause. They are a prolongation of the genocidaire fight, which, after being defeated by RPF arms, has now shifted to using legal arguments — recall Judge Bourgiere, the Spanish guy,… and now Peter Erlinder. This is the same fight Rwanda is facing — it only changes players and venue. This is not about politics, this is about the truth and truth's denial, it's about building a Rwanda without genocide's evil. The Ingabire case is not politics or democracy; because politics and democracy should aim at constructing a strong Rwanda, not destroy it again. She is using political process like the CDR, Bagosora and the likes, to advance Interahamwe (and now FDLR) agenda. She supported, financed … FDLR in DR Congo. She, her group and other associated networks, after failing to use western courts/diplomacy (Bourgiere, french diplomacy, —), have now recruited people like Peter Erlinder. But unfortunate for them, this time the fight is on Rwanda soil; and fortunately for Rwanda, it gives occasion to show the world that Interahamwe are not less evil than the terrosts the world is fighting.

      Reply
  7. Edmund

    Aimable, John, Jobu, Kuri etal….Same old faces of Genocidaires siding with a racist white woman to go against their own country and blood…you are all up to nothing.You are fighting a losing battle!!We are here to stay…this is a new Rwanda..deal with it!!

    Reply
  8. jon

    The only way to deal with these bloodthirsity killers hutu extremist/FDLR and their likes is by GUNS…prisons and GUNS is the only languages they deserve and understand,we know their mission is to kill anything Tutsi or anyone who doesnt share their idealogue,John dont fool anybody here…your intention is obvious!

    Reply
  9. therisingcontinent

    There are those who use force and violence to get change. This has been the chosen option by Paul Kagame and his RPF since day one when they were still in Uganda.

    We have seen now and then such option being applied from 1990 until today. When he said last month he was going to give a fight to people like Victoire Ingabire, it's because he doesn't know any other alternative.

    How do you tell someone who is asking for more democracy that you are going to give them a fight they will never forget. It looks like asking for democracy in Rwanda is calling for trouble.

    What surprise then is this: why go all that trouble telling the world that you are organizing elections, knowing beforehand who will win and how? I find it to be irrational.

    Reply
  10. Aimable

    Starting January 28, 1993, the extremist Tutsis in RPF started talking about "genocide" in all their documents, speeches and interviews.

    Yet, eleven days later on February 8, 1993 these same extremist Tutsis in the RPF massacred 40,000 unarmed Hutu civilians in just one day in Ruhengeri and Byumba. It appears that they were in their final phase of provoking the Hutu extremists.

    The period of January 1993 to April 1994 was marked by escalating attacks by extremist Tutsis in the RPF against the Hutu population, attacks that were clearly geared to incite revenge attacks. 14 months later, this would eventually lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of the "genocide" claimed by the extremist Tutsis in RPF back in January 1993.

    The escalating attacks by Tutsi extremists in the RPF seem to have reached their desired goal on April 6, 1994 when the Tutsi extremists' killing of Hutu President Habyarimana and Hutu President Ntaryamira finally evoked the desired response of mass revenge killings by extremist Hutus against Tutsi civilians.

    This begs the question of who actually planned these mass massacres of 1994? Is it really the extremist Hutus? Or is it the extremist Tutsis who started talking about them in January 1993 and since then took every imaginable action to provoke the extremist Hutus?

    Any reasonable evaluation of the facts leads to the extremist Tutsis in the RPF provoking the extremist Hutus as much as possible until the extremist Tutsis reached their desired goal of ruling over the majority population ONCE AGAIN, after the monarchy was toppled 50 years ago. The extremist Tutsis in the RPF have a lot to answer about the events that took place in Rwanda since 1990 until today.

    Reply
    1. Kazitunga

      Peter Erlinder and the likes such this Aimable are the legal dishonest. First, to show "fairness/equity/neutrality", call what interahamwe and its government did to tutsi as "massacres of innocent tutsi and so called moderates hutu"; then equate that to what they pretend to have been "RPF massacres" and logic conclusion, ethnic massacres as it always happen in African civil unrest, or double/Rwandan genocides; in all cases provoked by RPF which " … triggered those mass killings by shooting down the Falcon 50 carrying two Heads of States and their suites".

      Reply
      1. Kazitunga

        What happened to Tutsi in 1994 was not a "massacre", but a "genocide". The two concepts are totally and legally different. Tutsi were killed because they were tutsi, not RPF combattants; these tutsi,including women and babies, who were butchered in churches, in district offices and on street did not shoot down the Falcon 50. They were citizens who needed their government's protection, but were purposedly massacred by it with no crime, just because of being tutsi. It wasn't a spontaneous acts, as a consequence of shooting of Habyarimana's airplane or RPF fights for their rights to come back to Rwanda, but a well planned (through listing …) and intentional (arming militia with machetties …) to kill a well known and identifiable group(tutsi — well mentioned on national identy).

        Reply
  11. the hunter

    if ingabire nver delat with FDLR and she and Peter Erlinder are not a genocide deniers, then Joseph Ntawangundi is not guilty of genocide!

    Reply
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