Green Party Condemns Rwanda's Arrest of Minnesota Attorney Peter Erlinder
Distributed by the Green Party of the United States (http://www.gp.org).
See also a statement issued by the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda on the arrests (http://rwandagreendemocrats.org/spip.php?article65).
Green Party of Minnesota
For immediate release
Friday, June 4, 2010
Dave Bicking, Spokesperson, 612-276-1213 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 612-276-1213 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Rhoda Gilman, Spokesperson, 651-224-6383 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 651-224-6383 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
The Green Party of Minnesota joins human rights advocates and people of good will across the world to call on the U.S. government, the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations to prevail upon Rwanda to release Peter Erlinder immediately. We applaud his defense of the human and civil rights of Rwanda presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire, who was charged in April, 2010, with the same crime of which Erlinder is accused -- genocide denial.
Ingabire's party, the United Democratic Front (FDU), works closely with the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, within the Consultative Council of Opposition Parties. Both parties have suffered governmental persecution and severe limitations on their ability to organize.
Rwandan president Paul Kagame seeks to silence Erlinder's efforts to expose the facts surrounding the 1994 Rwandan genocide (http://www.rwandadocumentsproject.net). His arrest was politically motivated and effectively punishes him for fulfilling his responsibilities as a vigorous and conscientious legal advocate for his client. "For decades Professor Erlinder has sought justice for his clients in the face of political repression," says Gena Berglund, Associate Director, International Humanitarian Law Institute of Minnesota and a member of the Green Party. "I am very skeptical of a government that locks up lawyers for speech crimes."
Peter Erlinder is a professor of law at William Mitchell College in St. Paul. In addition to his position as executive director of the Humanitarian Law Institute of Minnesota, he is Lead Counsel for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Defense Lawyers Association, past president of the National Lawyers Guild, and a practicing attorney. In an email sent to Berglund shortly before his arrest he wrote: "Victoire Ingabire, Rwandan Presidential Candidate, is like Mandela and I am very honored to be defending her."
"Rwanda remains one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign assistance in Africa," says Berglund. "Given the U.S. government's expressed commitment to democracy and the rule of law, it is critical that the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress uphold these values in Rwanda and demand the immediate release of Peter Erlinder.