Urgent need for a high profile international campaign to release Professor Peter Erlinder, an eminent voice for international peace who stands uncompromisingly for justice for all
The jailing in Rwanda of attorney Peter Erlinder, who went there to represent Victoire Ingabire, President Kagame’s leading opponent in the August presidential election, has sparked debates about the credibility of the Rwandan government. Here, Cynthia McKinney is writing to fellow associates of the Brussels War Crimes Tribunal in response to a message from Christian Scherrer, who describes himself as a genocide scholar, has investigated genocide in Rwanda and is a professor of peace studies at the Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University in Japan. Scroll down for more appeals to free Erlinder, from the National Lawyers Guild and the Africa Faith and Justice Network and recommendations on how you can help.
by Cynthia McKinney
I am sorry to have to take time away from caring for my father to deal with this, but I will. For reference, I have included the most knowledgeable non-Great Lakes residents on this planet about Mr. Kagame and the Rwandan regime and the case of Mr. Erlinder. I would like to beg your pardon in advance for what I am about to say and how I will say it. However, since Mr. Scherrer started it by calling my name out publicly, I will now set the record straight: Sadly, Christian Scherrer has taken on the sounds of a two-bit shill rather than those of a truth seeker and truth teller.
As for the truth, there are none more knowledgeable on this subject than Charles Onana, Wayne Madsen, Keith Harmon Snow, and lawyers Jordi Palau and Michael Hourigan.
Let me begin with Charles Onana: Charles has written the essential book on the act of terror that resulted in the downing of a plane containing the democratically elected presidents of both Rwanda and Burundi. In that book, Charles named Kagame as the mastermind and organizer on the ground, in conjunction with non-African powers (as is usually the case on The Continent) of the terrorist act that resulted in what has become known as the “Rwandan Genocide.” Kagame sued Charles in French court for defamation and lost the case. I worked closely with Charles during my days in Congress and during the time of his book and the case in France. It was through Charles that I met Victoire (Ingabire), the presidential candidate jailed by Kagame and who was represented by Erlinder.
Wayne Madsen also wrote a book about the U.S. use of proxies in Africa, of which Kagame is the most important now that Jonas Savimbi is dead. Wayne testified for me in Congress on the situation in the Great Lakes and is extremely knowledgeable about the nature of the Kagame regime.
Keith Harmon Snow travels to the region often and testified for me in Congress at the most comprehensive Congressional briefing ever held on Capitol Hill and one that is well known to region watchers. Keith has written extensively on the Kagame regime and its ties to the U.S.
Jodi Palou is a Spanish attorney who secured justice in Spain’s courts by pleading for and getting an indictment for genocide against 40 of Kagame’s soldiers. The case is ongoing and the consideration of corporate complicity in genocide is next. I served as a witness in this case.
Michael Hourigan was a United Nations investigator charged with investigating the Rwandan Genocide. However, when he touched upon Paul Kagame’s role in sparking that very tragic event, he was asked to ignore critical evidence implicating certain “foreign powers” and Paul Kagame, himself. Hourigan resigned instead. He came to work on the issue with me in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill.
Some of us also gave testimony to Judge Bruguiere, who was France’s terrorism judge at the time. Judge Bruguiere’s report traces in exacting detail the chain of possession of the missile used to kill the two African presidents that sparked the “Rwandan Genocide.”
Sadly, Christian has only discredited himself by unnecessarily singling me out in such an unprofessional, unfounded and insolent manner. Peter Erlinder is in need of all assistance the international organization for human rights lawyers can muster. He is in the hands of a murderous, brutal regime.
The message from Christian Scherrer
Please be careful. Rwanda is not a rogue state but a country which has suffered a tremendous genocide and they have been left to be slaughtered by a fascist-communalist government while the international community was watching!
Please get more on what you say in the end, “I need a few more details on his arrest,” before you alert the network into action.
Leave Cynthia out; she is accused (with some reason) to have denied genocide in Rwanda.
In short: As you know, I was there right after the genocide in the first U.N. Human Rights field operation. I have designed Rwanda’s response to genocide 1994-95, discussed it with the first post-genocide government and was supported by all U.N. orgs (organizations) in Rwanda – about seven – except one. Three years later the Rwandans started to implement my three-point proposal for re-establishing justice and accountability. The government did a huge and excellent job.
They will surely listen to me.
My advice for now: Put the international campaign on hold until we know the facts.
If you want me to find out what happened, I can find out.
And tell Cynthia (we love her) to stay out. She surely misinterprets Rwandan-U.S. relations and she knows nothing about Rwanda.
The message from Niloufer Bhagwat, leading constitutional lawyer and vice president of the Indian Association of Lawyers, to which Scherrer is responding
I am back and extremely anxious about Professor Peter Erlinder. It is very important that this (his jailing) be immediately brought to the notice of the highest (officials) at the U.N. Human Rights Council and name the government of Rwanda and its illegal activities.
As you are wholly aware, Professor Peter Erlinder is a highly respected lawyer and professor well known and well thought of within the United States, in Japan and internationally and an eminent former president of the National Lawyers Guild. Even the secretary general of the United Nations (should) be officially informed, as there is a threat to his life and this has arisen because they had sought the assistance of lawyers as volunteers for the pro bono defense of accused persons before the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda), which has led to the illegal arrest and detention of Professor Peter Erlinder.
I am aware that they requested for volunteers as I was also requested at the relevant time, but declined as I did not approve of the manner in which the Security Council was arbitrarily appointing these Special Tribunals. The arrest and intimidation of Professor Peter Erlinder and his medical condition further exposes the Security Council Tribunals as kangaroo courts witnessed by the intimidation and death of former President Milosevic to better devour the economic space of former Yugoslavia.
You are aware of the shenanigans of some of the permanent members of the Security Council both in Rwanda and in former Yugoslavia, among other regions, which led to the genocide and civil strife respectively, to camouflage the sordid reality of the interventions (for which) the so called special tribunals were established. Some of the lawyers who were requested to volunteer learned first hand as to what had happened. Peter Erlinder among others was one of them and wrote extensively on the issue; therefore the mistreatment and arrest which has led to the deterioration of his medical condition. We cannot afford to lose Peter Osamu. …
Cynthia McKinney could advise us on who would be the best person to intervene from the United States. I am sure she will advise us and assist in raising the issue in Washington. Her voice, which is respected even among her worst critics, cannot be ignored. …
The prosecutors and defense counsel at the Security Council appointed tribunals should boycott the tribunals and/or lodge a serious protest with the Security Council until Professor Peter Erlinder is released.
For news from, by and about Cynthia McKinney, former Georgia congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, check these websites: http://dignity.ning.com/, http://www.enduswars.org, http://www.livestream.com/dignity, http://www.twitter.com/dignityaction, http://www.myspace.com/dignityaction, http://www.myspace.com/runcynthiarun, http://www.twitter.com/cynthiamckinney, http://www.facebook.com/CynthiaMcKinney and http://www.youtube.com/runcynthiarun.
The DC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild protests the detention of attorney Peter Erlinder by Rwanda
Washington, D.C. – American law professor and former president of the National Lawyers Guild Peter Erlinder was recently arrested by Rwandan authorities and charged with “genocide negationism,” a speech crime that could carry a sentence of 25 years in prison. He traveled to Rwanda on May 23 to aid in the defense of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, a leading opposition figure and presidential candidate. The DC chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (DC-NLG) strongly condemns this politically motivated prosecution of an attorney for vigorously defending his client and protested outside the Rwandan Embassy Tuesday, June 8.
President Turna Lewis of the DC-NLG said, “Professor Erlinder traveled to Rwanda to provide representation in a legal proceeding. The rule of law requires that defendants be permitted to obtain legal counsel that will advocate for their interests. Any country that prosecutes attorneys for defending their clients cannot claim to respect democracy or human rights.”
The crime that Professor Erlinder has been accused of, “genocide ideology,” requires no proof of participation in genocidal acts and criminalizes speech protected by international human rights law as codified in the Genocide Convention of 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966. According to Human Rights Watch, the Rwandan government regularly uses prosecutions or threats of prosecution under this law to stifle legitimate dissent.
Yesterday, Professor Erlinder was denied bail and was transferred from the jail where he had been held to the general prison in Kigali. He could be held for another month until his appeal is heard.
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. Erlinder was president of the National Lawyers Guild from 1993-1997. He has been a defense attorney at the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since 2003.
Remain abreast of latest updates via Free Professor Erlinder Now on Facebook.
This statement was forwarded by Friends of the Congo.
Call for the release of human rights lawyer Peter Erlinder
by the Africa Faith and Justice Network
On May 27, the Rwandan government arrested Professor Peter Erlinder and falsely charged him with genocide ideology. Mr. Erlinder, an international human rights lawyer, traveled to Rwanda to represent his client, Mrs. Victore Ingabire, a presidential candidate also accused of genocide ideology for daring to call on the Rwandan government to remember all victims of the Rwandan war.
Erlinder’s arrest is the latest of Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s actions undermining free speech and rule of law, actions that have become more frequent in the run up to the August 2010 elections. Act now on behalf of free speech and human rights: Call for Erlinder’s release!
AFJN has long been concerned about the political climate in Rwanda and Kagame’s heavy-handed leadership. Our members have helped to sound the alarm on political repressions and violence in the run-up to the August 2010 elections, including the expulsion of a Human Rights Watch worker, the closure of independent newspapers and the harassment of opposition candidates like Ingabire.
Furthermore, Kagame’s invasion and ongoing destabilization of neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo has been a focal point of AFJN’s DRC campaign. This conflict has cost over 5.4 million lives, yet the world remains silent.
Instead, Rwanda has been considered a “success story” in the eyes of the U.S. Just last year over $178 million in U.S. taxpayer dollars were sent to President Kagame in aid. This level of support, nominally to promote democracy, healing and recovery after the genocide, has been consistent despite evidence of Kagame’s dictatorial behavior.
Now, by putting his hands on a human rights advocate, President Kagame has clearly shown to the world who he really is. The U.S. Department of State has only timidly asked for the release of Mr. Erlinder, acting as if he has done something wrong. Please join us in the call for Erlinder’s release!
Erlinder’s arrest is in part a retaliation by the President Paul Kagame for his extensive work at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Also, on April 30, 2010, Mr. Erlinder and his colleagues filed a lawsuit in a court in Oklahoma against President Paul Kagame regarding events surrounding the triggering of the 1994 genocide. President Paul Kagame wants to prevent Mr. Erlinder from representing his client, Mrs. Inagbire, who needs to be cleared of the charges to be able to campaign freely for the presidency of Rwanda in 2010.
Peter Erlinder’s wife, Masako Usui, writes in a press release: “The offense Peter is charged with is not based on facts, but on the suppression of free speech in his representation of clients, which undermines the rule of law. His family knows he stands with people who are oppressed by those in power and he encourages people to stand up for justice.”
Take action today for Mr. Erlinder’s immediate release. Call President Barack Obama at (202) 456-1111 and your Congressional representatives (look up their contact info here) and urge them to personally tell the Rwandan government that Mr. Erlinder’s release is long overdue!
Hello, my name is ______ and I am calling President Obama/Senator/Representative _____ to ask him/her personally get involved in the effort to bring Professor Peter Erlinder back home to his family. He has been in a Rwandan jail since May 28, falsely charged with genocide ideology while doing his duty as an international and human rights lawyer. Please ask that all his charges be dropped and he be set free. In addition, please do what you can to ensure that my tax dollars do not go to support the Rwandan regime.
To learn more, contact the Africa Faith and Justice Network, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017, (202) 884-9780, fax (202) 884-9774, firstname.lastname@example.org.