Green Party Condemns Rwanda's Arrest of Minnesota Attorney Peter Erlinder
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."
Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch
Welcome to Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:http://www.rwandadocumentsproject.net/gsdl/cgi-bin/library