Rwanda: Who’s denying genocide?

by the International Humanitarian Law Institute (IHLI)

The 2010 U.N. Mapping Exercise Report, U.N. Prosecutor Del Ponte’s 2009 exposé of Rwandan Patriotic Front crimes, and the 2008 Spanish genocide indictment of President Paul Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front tell the real story.

St. Paul, Minn. – In a May 2 statement reported by the Associated Press, Rwandan Prosecutor Martin Ngoga renewed the false “genocide denial” charges against International Humanitarian Law Institute Director and William Mitchell College of Law Professor Peter Erlinder for his U.S.-authored academic writings, reporting evidence and documents in the record at the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, or ICTR.

Rwanda declared Erlinder “suicidal” while he was incarcerated in Rwanda, in May and June 2010, after he traveled there to consult with opposition leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, facing “genocide ideology” charges brought against her for challenging the official history of the Rwanda Genocide, which has been re-characterized as a “Tutsi genocide.” Upon her return to Rwanda in January 2010, Ingabire had gone to the genocide memorial in Kigali and asked why the Hutu people who died during the genocide were not commemorated as well as the Tutsis.

Erlinder was released for medical reasons after an international campaign to free him and intervention by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The International Humanitarian Law Institute (IHLI) is authorized to issue the following statement on Professor Erlinder’s behalf:

Professor Erlinder has publicly stated, on numerous occasions, that he does not deny that tens of thousands of Rwandan Tutsis perished between April and July 1994, in circumstances that fit the definition of the 1948 U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Nor does he deny U.N. reports that tens of thousands of Hutus were also victims, during and after April-July 1994. IHLI research notes this evidence in the public record:

• Former ICTR prosecution expert witnesses, Professor Allan Stam of the University of Michigan and Professor Christian Davenport of Notre Dame, analyzed all reports from the Rwandan government, NGOs and the U.N. and found twice as many Hutus were killed as Tutsis between April and July 1994, www.genodynamics.com;

• The ICTR Military-1 Judgment (full version: Feb. 8, 2009) found insufficient evidence to convict the former military leadership of a long-planned conspiracy to commit genocide against the Tutsis or a long-planned conspiracy to commit any other crimes;

• The U.S. ambassador to Rwanda and declassified U.S. documents from 1994 establish that: (a) the assassination of the President of Burundi in October 1993 triggered a “genocide of 150,000 Burundian Hutus;” (b) hundreds of thousands of Burundian Hutu refugees then poured into Rwanda; (c) Rwandan Patriotic Front military aggression displaced 1.5 million Rwandans in early 1993; and (d) the Rwandan Patriotic Front assassinated the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi in April 1994. And that these were the actual causes of the Rwanda Genocide. The U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda personally warned Kagame in November 1993 that, if he resumed the war, he would be responsible for mass violence in Rwanda in 1994 like that in Burundi in 1993. This was confirmed by cables from the State Department on April 7, 1994;

• U.N. documents show that the RPF was militarily dominant as of February 1993 and, according to U.N. Gen. Dallaire’s cables to the U.N. in April-June 1994, Kagame refused to stop the violence because he was winning;

• Former ICTR Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte’s 2009 memoirs document then-Gen. Kagame’s culpability for the assassination of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi of April 6, 1994, that began the Rwandan Genocide, as does the 2008 indictment issued by Spanish Judge Fernando Abreu Merelles and the 2006 indictment of French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière;

• The Spanish indictment also describes, prefecture-by-prefecture, 325,000 murders of Hutus and Tutsis for which Kagame and the RPF are responsible, not including the massive killing after 1994, in both Rwanda and neighboring Congo;

• Shortly after Erlinder’s release, the U.N. issued the 600-page “Mapping Report” documenting the Rwandan Patriotic Army’s genocidal massacres, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993 and 2003. U.N. Security Council Reports document RPF resource rape of the Congo in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2008 of at least $250 million per year, resulting in millions of deaths.

In October 2010, President Kagame issued orders to RPF leaders for Professor Erlinder’s return to Rwanda “dead or alive.” Given the hundreds if not thousands of assassinations and disappearances of his opponents, there is little doubt Kagame would add his name to that list if he could.

Professor Erlinder has been under medical treatment for post-traumatic stress syndrome since he returned from detention, and this is a matter of record in the ICTR, although the Appeal Chamber chose to ignore his medical condition. His doctors and lawyers will determine the proper response, should he be summoned to return as Ngoga threatened.

Click here to download Professor Peter Erlinder’s analysis and documentation published in the DePaul University Law School Journal of Justice: “The United Nations Ad Hoc Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR-TPIR): International justice or judicially-constructed victors’ impunity?