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Ingabire calls for an international investigation into the assassination attempt on Rwandan fugitive Kayumba Nyamwasa

by Victoire Ingabire.

Call for an International Investigation into the assasination attempt on the Rwandan General Kayumba Nyamwasa.

The lack of political space, the arrest of opposition leaders, lawyers and senior military officers, the use of violence and all kind of intimidation of dissenting voices are obvious signs of a country on the brink of chaos.”
Victoire Ingabire.

On 19th June 2010, General Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former Rwandan Army chief of staff and High Commissioner to India, survived a planned assassination attempt in Johannesburg, South Africa. This is not the first time, Rwandan opponents are executed inside or outside Rwanda, and until now the hand behind has never been named. There will be no reconciliation, no stability, and no relief as long as those crimes remain unpunished.

General Kayumba fled Rwanda in February 2010 and since then has been abused and demonised by the ruling party while he is publicly denouncing the dictatorship marred by corruption, intrigues, lack of justice, absence of the rule of law and a one-man rule.

According to eye witnesses the life attack was carried out by a professional hit man who shot him at close range and in a matter of seconds retreated to a waiting car. The General sustained serious injuries. The modus operandi revives the assassinations of other Rwandan opponents inside the country or in exile. All have in common the fall-out with the current regime and curiously they are killed by an invisible hand using unidentified professional gunmen in similar conditions. For example, the murder of Colonel Theoneste Lizinde in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1996 and the assassination of Mr. Seth Sendashonga, former Interior Minister in Nairobi on 16th May 1998 have never been thoroughly investigated.

This brings up a host of questions, a task for the investigators to pursue in coming months. It is the reason why we call upon an independent international inquiry into those extra-territorial executions of Rwandan opponents.
The international community and host governments have the responsibility to protect refugees and asylum seekers. This incident is a nefarious conspiracy for disruption of peace in Rwanda, a country sinking deeply into a political and military crisis.
The lack of political space, the arrest of opposition leaders, lawyers and senior military officers, the use of violence and all kind of intimidation of dissenting voices are obvious signs of a country on the brink of chaos.

Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza
FDU INKINGI, Chair.

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June 21, 2010   1 Comment

‘US Embassy didn’t help’ says US Lawyer Peter Erlinder after release from Rwanda jail

By JASON STRAZIUSO
Associated Press Writer

“My government insisted that I take my medications from my captors rather than bringing me medications directly”

… It wasn’t clear to him that “my own embassy was working in my interests.”

… Erlinder has said there are two sides of the story, and said Sunday that there may be enough evidence to show that more ethnic Hutus died than Tutsis.

… “What I did say is that the story that this terrible genocide occurred after the assassination of Habyarimana was not something that had been long planned before the assassination, not because I say so but because that was the finding of the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda),”
Peter Erlinder

A U.S. lawyer released from a Rwandan prison on medical grounds credited America’s Secretary of State with his release but said Sunday the U.S. Embassy did not help him secure food or medicine while in prison.

Peter Erlinder, 62, said he had to sleep on a concrete floor without a blanket and without assistance from the embassy after his May 28 arrest in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. The Minnesota law professor thanked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for saying Rwanda shouldn’t arrest lawyers but said embassy officials in Kigali and Nairobi have not helped much.

“My government insisted that I take my medications from my captors rather than bringing me medications directly,” Erlinder told a news conference in Nairobi, his first public comments since his arrest. “It was impossible for them to arrange a doctor whom I would pay so that I wouldn’t have to get my food and my medication from my captors.”

A spokesman in Kigali said the U.S. embassy there offered regular assistance to the imprisoned lawyer.

“Embassy officials visited Erlinder every day and were in a constant touch with his family,” embassy spokesman Edwina Sagitto said. “The Embassy also provided him food every day, and medicine from his doctors in the United States every day.”

Erlinder did not outright say that he feared taking food from Rwandan authorities, but that was the implication. He added that it wasn’t clear to him that “my own embassy was working in my interests.” He did not elaborate.

A Rwandan judge ruled Thursday that Erlinder, a lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda, should be freed from prison on medical grounds. Erlinder said he would soon go to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. He did not explain his health problems and declined to comment on his statements in a Rwandan court that he had attempted suicide in prison.

Rwanda’s top prosecutor said after the medical release that he would continue his investigation of Erlinder, who said Sunday he would return to Rwanda to face charges if called by the court to do so. Erlinder has not yet been charged, but Rwandan authorities detained Erlinder on suspicion of what it calls minimizing the country’s genocide.

That fact did not prevent Erlinder from making new statements that could anger the government of Rwanda, which has laws against minimizing the 1994 genocide in which hundreds of thousands of Rwandans, the vast majority of them ethnic Tutsis, were massacred by extremist Hutus over 100 days.

Erlinder’s Rwanda Web site: http://www.rwandadocumentsproject.net

International accounts of the violence say at least 500,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during Rwanda’s genocide, which began after President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was brought down in April 1994.

Erlinder has said there are two sides of the story, and said Sunday that there may be enough evidence to show that more ethnic Hutus died than Tutsis, a statement that could anger the government of President Paul Kagame.

“There is no question that there was a genocide in Rwanda. I’ve never denied it, and the prosecutors, after scouring all of my publications, were not able to find one time that I denied that there was a genocide against Tutsis,” said Erlinder, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.

“What I did say is that the story that this terrible genocide occurred after the assassination of Habyarimana was not something that had been long planned before the assassination, not because I say so but because that was the finding of the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda),” he said.

Erlinder was in Rwanda to help with the legal defense of opposition leader Victoire Ingabire. Ingabire, a Hutu, wants to run for president in Aug. 9 elections, challenging incumbent President Kagame, a Tutsi. But she was arrested in April and charged with promoting a genocidal ideology. She was freed on bail but her passport was seized and she cannot leave Kigali.

Erlinder said he does not believe the conventional story line of the Rwandan genocide based on documents from the U.S. and U.N. that have recently been made public. He said the U.S. government has “systematically suppressed” evidence of the genocide.

Erlinder also said he can no longer act as an attorney for Ingabire. Choking back tears, he thanked his two Kenyan lawyers for traveling to Rwanda to defend him even though they could have been arrested. He also complained that only one of his lawyers has been given a U.S. visa and said he will not leave Kenya until his other lawyer is also given a visa.

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/06/20/2030560_us-lawyer-jailed-in-rwanda-us.html#ixzz0rU3H2G3S

http://www.kansascity.com/2010/06/20/2030560_us-lawyer-jailed-in-rwanda-us.html

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June 21, 2010   1 Comment

Rwandan Genocide Survivor raises alarm

Thousands of anxious voices are now being raised around the world about the explosive situation in the Rwanda led by General Kagame and his party the Rwandan Patriotic Front.
In an article titled “Deadly Silence: Rwanda’s Never Again Is Once Again?”, a Rwandan genocide survivor writes:

People often say, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” As a Rwandan Genocide survivor, I would not be alive if not for good people who stood up, advocated for, and protected me, facilitating my ultimate survival amidst the deafening silence of the international community. I was nine-years-old when I found myself caught in a maelstrom of violence that threatened to destroy everything I knew and held dear. And in many ways, all of those things, including family, friends, neighbors, home, and communities were destroyed.

I remember having a group of men wrap me in a blanket and smuggling me to a safe house in a different neighborhood. Petrified, I watched as these men accosted and negotiated with my would-be killers on a daily basis to save my life. I watched in horror and helplessness as my mother and brother were taken from my sister, young cousin and I to be killed. My mother and brother were told they had reached the end of their lives, and were then given tools to dig their own graves. Through the intervention of old friends, strangers, and new allies, my mother and brother’s lives were spared, and our family was reunited.

With all that is taking place in Rwanda today, especially the present-day eerie similarities to the pre-1994 genocide period, will the international community intervene now?
Alice Gatebuke.

I cannot imagine how my life would have been different had these individuals not intervened. They placed themselves and their families in danger by advocating for us. In our darkest moments I witnessed the zenith of human compassion. I saw the beauty and potential of the human spirit when good people unite for a good cause. Farmers, street kids, courageous women with children raised their voices against a group of evil doers. Through their acts of solidarity, lives were spared. My faith in humanity was reassured even in the midst of so much violence, death, and destruction. Sadly though, the international community remained silent about what was taking place in my country.

As I watch today the increasingly disturbing downward spiral in my country of birth, I am once again reminded of the international community’s complicity and silence in the destruction of an entire nation. In recent times, when the first woman ever to run for president in my country was attacked by a mob, there was silence. While local newspapers were shut down, their writers exiled, and others incarcerated, I witnessed nothing but shrugs from the international community. When Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reported on the growing repression and jailing of an increasing number of people based on vague laws applied to political opponents of the ruling regime, I saw nothing but rationalization from the international community.

Recently, Peter Erlinder, an American lawyer and professor who is representing a hopeful presidential candidate, was jailed in Rwanda. His arrest and subsequent charges were based on his work as a defense lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. He stands accused of genocide ideology and negationism, the same crimes of which his client is also accused. As a genocide survivor, I take genocide crimes very seriously and strongly believe that each and every perpetrator of these crimes should be brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I also believe that each accused deserves and must be accorded a fair trial. The right to a fair trial and due process is a highly valued universal principle. Therefore I am perplexed by the silence around the professor’s arrest, and the length of time it took the international community to intervene.

Due to Rwanda’s economic progress, some of which is unfortunately derived from Congolese minerals and “supply side economics,” human rights abuses are mere inconveniences to those strictly focused on economic growth. While Rwanda has become one of the most praised and progressive economies in Africa, the international community has watched it ravage neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo with impunity. An estimated six million Congolese lives have been claimed, and tragically, half of those deaths are children under the age of five.

The Rwandan Genocide was catastrophic. I know… I was there. And I survived. However, it should not be used as a pretext for repressing freedom of others and destroying innocent lives. Although the international community still remains silent in the face of all these grotesque abuses and human rights violations within and outside of Rwanda, the potential positive impact the international community could have on the situation should not be underestimated.

I witnessed first hand the power of good people who cared for a frightened 9 year old girl and her family. Everyday people opened their mouths and raised their voices. My family, especially my mother and brother, was spared because of ordinary people’s courageous acts of generosity. I am eternally grateful to have lived to share my story. With all that is taking place in Rwanda today, especially the present-day eerie similarities to the pre-1994 genocide period, will the international community intervene now? One can only imagine the millions of lives that could be saved.

Alice Gatebuke.
Source: The Huffington Post.
Alice Gatebuke is a Rwandan Genocide and war survivor, Cornell University graduate, and a human rights activist. She can be reached at gatebuke.alice@gmail.com.

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June 21, 2010   1 Comment