Rwanda arrests Victoire Ingabire’s American lawyer, Peter Erlinder, in Kigali

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Rwanda arrests Victoire Ingabire’s American lawyer, Peter Erlinder, in Kigali

May 28, 2010

by Ann Garrison


Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is the leading presidential candidate challenging Rwandan President Paul Kagame – if he allows her to run.

Rwandan police have arrested Peter Erlinder, the American lawyer who traveled to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, on Monday, May 23, to join the defense team of Rwandan presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. (Scroll down to watch the video interview recorded by Olivier Nyirubugara on May 23 at the end of this post.)

Ingabire was released after being summoned to a Rwandan police station yesterday, much to the relief of her supporters, but this morning both she and the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported that Erlinder had been arrested and charged with “genocide ideology,” a crime unique to Rwanda which Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and even the U.S. State Department have denounced as a tool of political repression.

Erlinder, a prominent critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s regime and of the received history of the Rwanda Genocide, had traveled to Kigali after attending the Second International Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Conference in Brussels.

State run Rwandan media have attacked Erlinder since his arrival and the Rwandan News Agency reports that he is now in custody and being interrogated at the Rwandan Police Force’s Kacyiru headquarters.

The RNA also reports that the American embassy in Kigali has taken up the matter, but it is not yet clear in what form. The embassy is located just meters away from the police headquarters.

Before leaving for Brussels and then Kigali, Erlinder notified the U.S. State Department, his Minnesota Congressional Rep. Betty McCollum and his friend in the neighboring district, Rep. Keith Ellison, and Minnesota Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar.

Erlinder bases his critique of the Kagame regime and the received history of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide on the evidence collected in his Rwanda Documents Project.

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. This story originally appeared in Digital Journal.

Call script and list of people to call to get Professor Erlinder released from Kigali jail

by Kambale Musavuli

Kambale Musavuli, spokesperson and student coordinator for Friends of the Congo, breaks the silence at the Congo in Harlem Film Festival. His T-shirt, designed by Congolese artist Shako Oteka, depicts assassinated Congolese President Patrice Lumumba. – Photo: Shako Oteka
This is a call script to use – or compose your own – when calling in support of Professor Erlinder’s release from jail in Kigali:

Hello, __________________

My name is __________________.

I am calling as a concerned [citizen/student/constituent] to inform you that an American lawyer, Professor Peter Erlinder, was arrested in Rwanda while there to defend a pro-democracy opposition leader currently on trial. In recent months, opposition party candidates have been intimidated, physically attacked and arrested. Some were denied proper due process, and Professor Peter Erlinder was there to aid Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza in this regard.

I am calling therefore to ask that you take the necessary steps to secure his immediate release and demand that Rwanda allow him to continue his human rights work. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have reported on Rwanda’s ongoing gross disregard for human rights. Obstructing free and fair trials for the accused as in this case is a prime example such violations.

The arrest of Professor Peter Erlinder is a tragic occurrence in the ongoing struggle for justice, human rights and democracy in Rwanda. Therefore I am asking that you do all you can to help restore some semblance of justice and human rights by asking for the release of Professor Peter Erlinder, which will allow him to continue his human rights work.

Thank you.

Please contact these decision makers

State Department Bureau of African Affairs, (202) 647-4440 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 647-4440      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, fax (202) 647-6301

Johnny Carson, Africa Foreign Relations Committee, (202) 647-2530 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 647-2530      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, fax (202) 647-0838

Stephen J. Rapp, war crimes ambassador, (202) 647-6051 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 647-6051      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, fax (202) 736-4495

State Department’s Rwandan Desk Officer Marlaina Casey, (202) 647-3138 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 647-3138      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice – Accredited Journalists Line (212) 415-4050 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (212) 415-4050      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, Opinion and Comment Line (212) 415-4062 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (212) 415-4062      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, fax (212) 415-4053

Rwanda Mission to the U.N. in USA (212) 679-9010 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (212) 679-9010      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or (212) 679-9023 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (212) 679-9023      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, fax (212) 679-9133

Rwanda Embassy, (202) 232-2882 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 232-2882      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, New York, NY 10017 USA, (212) 963-5012 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (212) 963-5012      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, fax (212) 963-7055, ecu@un.org

On Capitol Hill

Sen. Al Franken, (202) 224-5641 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 224-5641      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, (202) 224-3244 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 224-3244      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Peter Erlinder’s Congressional Rep. Betty McCollum, (202) 225-6631 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 225-6631      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota 5th, (202) 224-4755 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 224-4755      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or his aide, Zahir Jan Mohamed, zahir@mail.house.gov

Members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs:

  • Rep. Donald Payne, Chair, (202) 225-3436 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 225-3436      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
  • Rep. Chris Smith, Ranking Member, (202)-225-3765 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202)-225-3765      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
  • Rep. Ed Royce, (202) 225-4111 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 225-4111      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota 6th, (202) 225-2331 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 225-2331      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Rep. John Kline, Minnesota 2nd, (202) 225-2271 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 225-2271      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Rep. James L. Oberstar, Minnesota 8th, (202) 225-6211 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 225-6211      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Rep. Erik Paulsen, Minnesota 3rd, (202) 225-2871 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 225-2871      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Rep. Collin C. Peterson, Minnesota 7th, (202) 225-2165 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 225-2165      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Rep. Timothy J. Walz, Minnesota 1st, (202) 225-2472 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (202) 225-2472      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Public Affairs Section, 2657 Avenue de la Gendarmerie (Kacyiru District), P.O. Box 28, Kigali, Rwanda, (250) 596-400, Ext. 2553, fax; (250) 596-771 or 596-591, KigaliEmbassy@state.gov

Human rights organizations

secretary-general@commonwealth.int

info@humanrightsinitiative.org

chri_info@yahoo.com.au

chri@sas.co.uk

amnesty@amnesty.dk

amnesty@amnesty.fr

amnesty@amnesty.nl

amnestyalgeria@hotmail.com

info@amnesty.at

info@amnesty.ca

rwanda@amnesty.nl

amnesty@aivl.be

webmestre@amnesty.fr

info@amnesty.de

sct@amnesty.org.uk

afjn@ajfn.org

hrwnyc@hrw.org

lindek@hrw.org

berlin@hrw.org

hrwbe@hrw.org

hrwgva@hrw.org

hrwuk@hrw.org

paris@hrw.org

hrwlasb@hrw.org

hrwsf@hrw.org

toronto@hrw.org

hrwdc@hrw.org

secretariat@eurac-network.org

info@hrrfoundation.org

Press

info@demorgen.be

paris@lemonde.fr

cbrooks@dailyherald.com

worldnewsplan@bbc.co.uk

christophe.deroubaix@humanite.presse.fr

cmi-france-paris-contact@lists.indymedia.org

etranger@liberation.fr

direction-redaction@figaro.fr

forum@lexpress.fr

afp@afpemv1.com

info@hirondelle.org

news@eux.tv

contact@africatime.com

info@worldvision.de

info@hbg.dpa.de

nairobi.newsroom@reuters.com

Comments@csmonitor.com

lepotentiel@lepotientiel.com

For anyone not familiar with Prof Erlinder, he is amongst the three lawyers taking Kagame to court here for the crimes he has committed in the region as well as the theft of Congo’s minerals.

For an official copy of the case – Kagame is being sued on eight counts; Count 6 is for looting Congo’s minerals – visit http://www.kambale.com/pdf/kagame_lawsuit_april29th_2010.pdf.

Kambale Musavuli is spokesperson and student coordinator for Friends of the Congo. He can be reached at Kambale@friendsofthecongo.org.

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