Rwanda Information Portal

Posts from — June 2010

Rwandan police arrest presidential hopeful

Rwandan police arrested a prospective presidential candidate, Bernard Ntaganda, on Thursday, and searched his compound on suspicion of ethnic divisionism and attempted murder.

Police spokesman Eric Kayiranga said opposition presidential hopeful Bernard Ntaganda had been taken in for questioning.
“The charges are divisionism based on ethnicity, gathering people without permission, creating groups of people that are suspected of being criminals and attempted murder,” police spokesman Eric Kayiranga said.

Ntaganda is also suspected of being behind a plot to murder Christine Mukabunani, the leader of a splinter group in his PS Imberakuri party, earlier this year, said Kayiranga. “He has not been charged yet, we will continue working on it. We are still collecting evidence,” he added.

Police also rounded up opposition protesters as President Paul Kagame formally filed his papers at the National Election Commission.on Thursday for his candidacy for re-election.
Witnesses saw several Ingabire supporters arrested at the Justice Ministry as they unfurled party banners. “I think more than 100 were arrested,” said Ingabire, who is facing trial on charges of genocide denial and belonging to a terrorist organisation.

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June 25, 2010   2 Comments

Rwanda: Police arrest protestors

Kigali – Police officers on Thursday morning bundled up several people on police vans in front of the US embassy after it was learnt that they were intending to demonstrate, RNA reveals.

At around 8:30am a disorganized group of people started converging at the US embassy which is located in the upper class Kacyiru area – just a few yards from the Office of the President and the Police headquarters.

It is not clear why these people were trying to meet at the embassy, but RNA has been told there was planned to be an opposition demonstration.

Police spokesman Eric Kayiranga told RNA that information surfaced within the security agencies suggesting there was going to be an “illegal assembly”.

“We had information that some people were planning an unlawful gathering,” said Kayiranga. “We are interrogating them…we shall let you know who they are and what they were thinking.”

Among those rounded up by about a dozen Police officers included the embattled Green Party leader Frank Habineza and his deputy, but they were not part of the protestors. Instead the two were coincidentally at the US embassy. They were released later after about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, it emerged Thursday morning that troubled opposition faction of PS Imberakuri party controlled by Bernard Ntaganda was organizing a demonstration for Thursday but has not been seen since Wednesday night. The group sought permission from Kigali city, which did not reportedly respond to the letters written.

On Wednesday, Ntaganda informed coalition partners in the Green Party and FDU-Inkingi that “silence means acceptance” for the demonstration to continue. It had been planned to start from the Office of the Prime Minister, on to Parliament and later the Ministry of local government.

Available information indicates the protest was to be against the National Electoral Commission – which they accuse of being partisan. The three also claim they have been denied by government to register as political parties – and thereby blocking them from vying for the presidency.

The Commission starts to receive candidacy applications on Thursday for those who want to stand in the August elections.

By press time, Ntaganda had not returned our calls as the phone was off. Party colleagues say they have not heard from him since Wednesday night.

[ARI-RNA]

Related:
Rwandan opposition party FDU Inkingi protests against elections masquerade

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June 24, 2010   No Comments

Rwandan opposition party FDU Inkingi protests against elections masquerade

The FDU-Inkingi has decided to peacefully demonstrate today for the postponement of the presidential elections.
Here is the declaration of the FDU’s Secretary General Sylvain Habimana.

WE PROTEST AGAINST ELECTIONS MASQUERADE.

In a press conference held in Kigali yesterday by the Foreign Affairs Minister and the General Prosecutor, the public opinion was briefed on the reasons why Ms. Victoire Ingabire
Umuhoza and her political party, FDU INKINGI, were denied their rights to compete the presidential elections.

According to the Rwandan government, the court proceedings will not start before some countries cooperate with the investigations. This is another proof that the false charges, the arrest and intimidation were decided before any proper investigation.

There is no doubt anymore that those are delaying tactics in order to rig the presidential elections and to thwart the opposition.

Those manoeuvres to deprive the Rwandan people of the free and fair election of their President to which they are entitled are unacceptable. It is the reason why we have decided to peacefully demonstrate today in front of the Ministry of Justice for a due, prompt and fair process and for the postponement of the presidential elections. Rwandans will never accept the legitimacy of this kind of elections masquerade.

FDU INKINGI
Secretary General
Sylvain Sibomana.

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June 24, 2010   1 Comment

Peter Erlinder’s Arrival back to the USA after Rwanda nightmare

After a 21-day nightmare experience in Rwanda attorney and professor Peter Erlinder makes it back to the USA.
“I have no complaints at all with respect to the way individual Rwandans reacted to this situation, in spite the lies they have been told about how the genocide has happened.”

“I am a very privileged guy, because I have seen how it works. They have made the Stasi and the KGB look like amateurs.”

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June 24, 2010   1 Comment

Rwanda: Fear and unrest after failed assassination of fugitive Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa

by Frank Habineza.

Assassination attempt of Lt. Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa brings fear and unrest to Rwandans

Today there seems to be a deepening military crisis in the Rwandan Army.”

…The death threats suggested that Frank HABINEZA would be killed before the August 2010 presidential elections.

We now have army foot patrols in almost all small roads and paths in the City of Kigali. There are also road blocks in some places. The situation is indeed very scaring and alarming. It’s like we are living in a state of emergency…
Frank Habineza.

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, strongly condemns the assassination attempt of Lt. Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa that took place on 19th June 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The General is a former Army Chief of Staff of Rwandan Defense Forces and Ex-Ambassador to India. The sad news of his assassination attempt has caused a lot of fear and unrest to both the Rwandan politicians and the Rwandan Public in general.

This assassination attempt, as details get unveiled from the South African Police, seems to have been well-planned and coordinated. The question remains on who was behind it.

We call upon the South African Government to investigate thoroughly well this matter and bring to justice all those behind this killing mission. We would also like to call upon the International community and most especially the American Government to help with the services of the Federal Bureau of Investigation-FBI and take a special interest in this case, like it is doing in the assassination case of the Congolese Human Rights activist Floribert CHEBEYA, who was killed in Kinshasa on 1st June 2010.

Yesterday, 21st June 2010, in Gisenyi, Northern Rwanda (Bordering Goma-DRC), BBC Great Lakes reported the assassination of Denis Ntare Semadwinga, former Chief of Staff to General Laurent NKUNDA who is under house arrest in Rwanda for over a year and has never appeared in court despite several demands by his legal team and family.

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda is very concerned because even its Founding President, Frank HABINEZA has also received several death threats. Even though we reported the matter to the Rwandan Police and wrote to the Minister of Internal Security requesting for protection, we never received any response. The death threats suggested that Frank HABINEZA would be killed before the August 2010 presidential elections.

We are also very seriously concerned, since Lt.Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa was linked to the Green Party. Two Newspapers (UMUSESO and UMUVUGIZI) reported this matter in December 2009. The alleged leaked intelligence report indicated that Lt.Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa was among the many said to be behind the formation of the Green Party. We held a press conference on 24th December 2009 and published a Press Release on the same day, where we strongly denied all those allegations.

Today there seems to be a deepening military crisis in the Rwandan Army: three Generals are under house arrest but have not appeared in any court yet (Lt. Gen Charles Muhire, former Air force Chief of Staff and Ex-Commandant of the Reserve Forces, Maj. Gen Karenzi Karake -former Chief of Staff for Land Forces and of recent Brigadier General Jean Bosco Kazura –former Security Adviser to the President of the Republic and head of the Rwandese Football Federation).
All these details are happening after Lt.Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa went into exile in South Africa in February 2010.

We now have army foot patrols in almost all small roads and paths in the City of Kigali. There are also road blocks in some places. The situation is indeed very scaring and alarming. It’s like we are living in a state of emergency, though it has never been approved by Parliament.

This is indeed the time when the International Community should show its true friendship to the Rwandan people.
Before the 1994 Genocide, there were all signs and indications that Rwandan people were going to be killed, even the former Commander for the UN Mission to Rwanda (UNAMIR), Lt.Gen Romeo Dallaire, raised these concerns to the UN Security Council but instead of acting positively, they even took away the few soldiers that were present, and Rwandans cried for help but in vain. Over one million people were killed.

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, strongly believes that the timely intervention of the United Nations and the International Community will help in resolving this Rwandan crisis and help to reduce the political and military tension we are experiencing now, while we are preparing for the 9th August 2010 Presidential elections. Rwandans need to be assured that life will go on even after the Presidential elections. It’s your call.

Done at Kigali, 22nd June 2010.

Frank HABINEZA
Founding President
Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

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June 24, 2010   1 Comment

Coalition of Rwandan opposition parties calls for democracy and rule of law in Rwanda

PCC:RWANDA :

CALL FOR democracy and rule of law in Rwanda.

“We fear that the present management of the political system has the potential to lead to another cycle of violence.”

“We are very convinced that only a democratic system of government and rule of law can bring durable peace and development to Rwanda and to the Great Lakes Region at large.”

“We are determined to break the cycle of fear and mistrust.”

Victoire Ingabire, Bernard Ntaganda and Frank Habineza.

The Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties in Rwanda (PCC)
C/O. B.P. 6334 Kigali , Rwanda.
Tel : +250 788563039,+250 728636000, +250 788307145

Kigali, 21st June 2010

Open Letter to:
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission
H.E. Jean PING,
Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA

Subject : RWANDA : CALL FOR democracy and rule of law in Rwanda.

Your Excellency,

The Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties in Rwanda which brings together, the United Democratic Forces (FDU–Inkingi), the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, the Parti Social IMBERAKURI strongly believes that the Africa Union can help Rwanda to set the democracy process on track and diffuse tensions as the presidential elections loom as a military crisis deepens.

The cycle of political violence in Rwanda has been due to a lack of a system for a peaceful competition for and transfers of power between the political elites. The most tragic part of this political violence has been the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis. We must all take a commitment to make sure that it does not happen again.

The law on Genocide ideology of 2008 should be more clarified and fine-tuned so that it is not used by anyone to freeze political thoughts and descent voices on pretext that they have a genocide ideology. This would minimize the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of expression. The provisions of the current law of 2002 related to divisionism, which is contrary to article 9 of the international convention on civil and political rights and of 1966 to which Rwanda is party, must be reviewed.

To have sustainable peace in Rwanda, there is a strong need of creating political space that enables a peaceful process of transfer and competition for power.

During its political development Rwanda has had political refugees. Indeed this explains why when the RPF invaded Rwanda in 1990, it won the heart and minds of many people who thought that refugees had the right to come back home. The RPF leadership played on this sentiment and promised to end the problem of refugees and to bring a democratic system of government to underpin durable peace and development.

It is quite sad that the present government has failed on each of these promises. We have more political leaders in exile today than ever before : three former Prime Ministers, former Speaker of Parliament, three former Ministers of Foreign Affairs, one Minister of Defence, one Minister of Justice, one Minister of Home Affairs assassinated in Nairobi, Members of Parliament (one was assassinated in Nairobi), ambassadors, military officers including two Generals (one of them Lt.Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa who survived an assassination attempt on 19th June 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa), businessmen, journalists, human rights activists etc…
Many ordinary people are fleeing their country at a time that prominent members of the political elite are fleeing for their lives.
We fear therefore that the present management of the political system has the potential to lead to another cycle of violence.

In this respect, the members of the Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties in Rwanda, have decided to take part in a peaceful competition for power and hence consolidate democracy in Rwanda. We are determined to break the cycle of fear and mistrust.

We are very pleased that the African Union has clearly acknowledged that democracy, good governance and human rights are prerequisites to peace and development. The african charter on democracy, elections and good governance and the establishment of the African Peer Review mechanism are an eloquent testimony to this conviction.

Indeed the African Charter on democracy, elections and good governance states in article 2 that one of the objectives of member states is to :

• Nurture, support and consolidate good governance by promoting democratic culture and practice, building and strengthening governance institutions and inculcating political pluralism and tolerance ;
• Strengthen political pluralism and recognising the role, rights and responsibilities of legally constituted political parties, including opposition political parties, which should be given a status under national law.

NEPAD declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance also emphasizes a commitment by member states to ensure “individual and collective freedoms, including the right to form and join political parties and trade unions, in conformity with the constitution.

However all independent reports do indicate that the current Rwandan regime has failed to respect the commitment of the AU member states to democracy and good governance :

The Country Review Report of the Republic of Rwanda 2006 by African Peer Review mechanism pointed out the following in its report :

On the issue of Political competition it made the following observations :

In point 102, it points out that “conditions for a healthy competition for power including adequate guarantees of equity of access to the political space for all contending political organisations at all administrative levels and a political environment sufficiently liberal to afford equal chance for all individuals appropriately qualified, to compete for political office”, were lacking.

The report of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative 2009, also pointed out that : Rwanda gives a strong impression of a one party state” adding that the regime “uses the constitution opportunistically as a façade, which hides the exclusionary and repressive nature of the regime ; relies on power structures that sometimes run parallel to, and sometimes cross-cuts, the formal government ; and in which the army plays a central role. The report quotes some schools of thought that describe Rwanda as “an army with a state”,

The opposition in Rwanda has been subjected to verbal and physical intimidation and abuse. The legal framework has been used against us to stop United Democratic Forces (FDU–Inkingi), the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda from registering our political parties and exercising our political rights. The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda’s founding convention on 30th October 2009 was sabotaged violently, by people suspected to be connected to security organs and others to be working for the Government.

The only opposition party that had managed to get registered last year, PS Imberakuri of Maitre Bernard NTAGANDA, has now been divided into several factions, one illegal faction was recently recognised by the Government after its head was appointed Vice President of the Government’ Political Parties Forum. This division is believed to be done by the Ruling Party-RPF in order to weaken the real opposition and deny it a chance to participate in the upcoming August 2010 presidential elections.

An independent press has almost completely disappeared. The papers that are critical of government have been forced to close down (UMUSESO and UMUVUGIZI Newspapers) and their owners forced to flee the country, because their lives were in danger. Others exercise self-censorship in order to survive. Civil society organisations are forced to take the official Government line in order to operate.

We are very convinced that only a democratic system of government and rule of law can bring durable peace and development to Rwanda and to the Great Lakes Region at large.

This is why we are appealing to you to do everything in your power to bring the Rwandan Government to respect the African Union and the United Nations conventions it has signed including the UN convention on political and civil rights and the African Charter on democracy, elections and good governance.

We are convinced that the only solution in the growing social and political tension in Rwanda depend more on the resolution of the internal political problems, it is why we request you to ask the Rwandan government to postpone elections until the political situation is conducive enough to holding free, transparent elections and all political parties are given the right to exercise their civil and political rights fully.

In particular, we request you to impress upon the President of Rwanda to allow political parties that are critical of the regime ( the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and FDU-Inkingi) to register and exercise their full political rights and let the legally recognised leader of PS Imberakuri, Maitre Bernard NTAGANDA, manage his party without Government interference.

Sincerely yours ,

Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza
Chairperson, United Democratic Forces

Mr. Frank Habineza
Chairman, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

Me. Bernard Ntaganda
Chairman, Parti Social IMBERAKURI

CC :

• Excellencies Heads of State,
• Excellencies Heads of Government

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June 23, 2010   No Comments

American lawyer Peter Erlinder back home recounts his ordeal in Rwanda

Erlinder feared for his life ‘the whole time’

In his first detailed account of his 21-day Rwanda imprisonment, Peter Erlinder said he felt his life was in peril. He’s on his way back to a homecoming with family in Minnesota.

Peter Erlinder said he feared for his life from the first moments after his arrest in a Rwanda hotel where he was alone having a breakfast of croissants and coffee.

Taken away by “six burly guys,” the St. Paul law professor recalled, “My conclusion was their intent was to disappear me, not arrest me.”

“For five days, I didn’t have any food coming from the embassy or anywhere else. I was dependent on guards going out in the street and buying me a banana… By Rwandan standards, I was treated pretty well.”
Peter Erlinder

Giving the first personal account of his 21-day prison ordeal in Rwanda after stepping onto U.S. soil Tuesday at Washington’s Dulles Airport – on his way back to a homecoming with his family in Minnesota – Erlinder told the Star Tribune that he is convinced he might not be alive but for his insistence on contacting the U.S. Embassy in Kigali during a search of his hotel room.

“I think that what happened was that when I had the presence of mind to demand that the embassy come to observe the search, it was at that moment that the disappearance fell apart,” he said.

The 62-year-old human rights lawyer said he had known he could be a marked man in Rwanda, where questioning the Tutsi government’s account of the 1994 genocide at the hands of the Hutu majority is a crime punishable by more than 10 years in prison.

Erlinder cited a recent press report chronicling a Rwandan government “hit list” naming opponents of Rwanda President Paul Kagame, a U.S.-trained Tutsi military officer.

“I was one of the people on this list,” Erlinder said.

A Rwandan government spokesperson did not respond to an email from the Star Tribune Tuesday seeking comment.

Erlinder, who has raised questions about Kagame’s alleged war crimes in proceedings before the United Nation’s International Criminal Tribunal, said he felt safe returning to Rwanda, a country that was reportedly healing from the massacres that took an estimated 800,000 of its citizens.

He said he had notified both U.S. and Rwandan authorities of his intention to return last month to help Victoire Ingabire, a Hutu leader who is challenging Kagame in the nation’s Aug. 9 elections.

“Not once did anyone in an official capacity say this was not a wise idea,” said Erlinder, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law.

But on the morning of May 28, he found out otherwise.

Though he had rebooked his return trip airline ticket to leave a day later, an a Kenya Air official told him they thought he had already left the country. “The records showed that I had departed Kigali on the morning of the 27th,” he said.

He got the same story from U.S. officials in Rwanda after his arrest:

“The first time the embassy knew that I was in trouble was at that moment, because when I talked to this desk officer, this consular officer, he said, ‘Oh, we didn’t know you were still in Rwanda. We thought you had left yesterday.'”

Erlinder recounted being interrogated for several hours, then cuffed in a hotel hallway while authorities searched his room, than being interrogated again with a U.S. Embassy official present.

His original holding cell was a bare room with a cement floor, no bed, and only a bucket for personal hygiene. Although he was suffering from stress and high blood pressure, he said it could have been worse.

“The individuals I interacted with in the police station, including the supervisors, the guards in the prison, were very helpful,” he said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have survived, because for five days, I didn’t have any food coming from the embassy or anywhere else. I was dependent on guards going out in the street and buying me a banana… By Rwandan standards, I was treated pretty well.”

Though Erlinder acknowledged suffering from “emotional and psychological issues,” he declined to discuss Rwandan government reports that he tried to commit suicide in jail by taking an overdose of anti-depressants and other drugs he keeps for high-blood pressure and other ailments.

His family in the U.S. has suggested it was a hoax to get out of prison and into the more humane conditions of a modern hospital. It would be one of four hospitalizations during his incarceration.

At one point, Erlinder said, he met with a State Department psychiatrist flown in from Ghana. He said he is not sure what the purpose of the visit is.

“One of the things that that was disconcerting is you never knew what was going to happen from one moment to the next,” Erlinder said.

Initially denied bail, Erlinder was eventually transferred to a former Belgian fortress prison. Though it was “notorious as being a terrible place,” he said, it proved to be an upgrade. It had a bed, and a cellmate shared his family’s food when Erlinder’s own family supplies delivered through the U.S. Embassy didn’t show up.

The prison, it turned out, was where Rwanda held its accused Hutu war criminals for trial before the International Tribunal, where Erlinder was a defense lawyer. “There are ironies within ironies,” he said.

Erlinder was in the hospital last Thursday when a Rwandan judge finally released him out of concern for his “physical and mental health.”

He left Saturday after some bureaucratic scuffles with Rwandan authorities, who expect him to return to face charges once they’re filed.

Erlinder said he doesn’t believe he will be formally charged, because the accusations against him are largely based on his work before the International Tribunal, for which he says he has immunity.

But he didn’t rule out a return trip if the Rwandans press their case.

“I promised the court I would do what the court required of me, and I of course will do that” Erlinder said. “I’m a lawyer, I’m not a person who skips their responsibilities. But we’ll have to let some time pass to see what those responsibilities actually are.”

For now, though, it’s all been like a bad dream: “It’s one of those nightmares that people who travel overseas have.”

Source: Star Tribune – Kevin Diaz and Jeremy Herb.

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June 22, 2010   No Comments

Rwandan General Kazura allegedly implicated in assassination attempt on fugitive Nyamwasa in South Africa

by David O’Brian

The saga of the assassination attempt on the exiled Rwandan General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa may have taken another twist, according to sources in South Africa and Rwanda. These sources told AfroAmerica Network that the South African police has already the group of six suspects, mostly ex Rwandan Patriotic Army officers, talking. The suspects are allegedly implicating General Jean Bosco Kazura as the ring leader of the conspiracy to assassinate the Rwandan General Kayumba Nyamwasa.

According to the same sources, it appears that General Jean Bosco Kazura was sent on a mission by the Rwandan Government to travel to South Africa and organize the assassination while the South African police was busy with the opening of the FIFA Soccer World Cup.

After the death squad was put in place, General Jean Bosco Kazura quickly returned to Rwanda, leaving the squad under the command of Francis Gakwerere. To divert the attention, the Rwandan Department of Military Intelligence arrested General Jean Bosco Kazura upon his return. The motive of the arrest was to be able to deny the involvement of the Rwandan government in case the assassination attempt was discovered by the South African security services.

Contrary to the usually secrecy within the RPF, the arrest of General Kazura, under the pretext of unauthorized trip outside the county by a high ranking military officer, was publicized allegedly to create a smokescreen.

If these allegations turn out to be true, the South African and Rwandan Government may be facing a serious diplomatic row.

[AfroAmerica Network]

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June 22, 2010   10 Comments

Peter Erlinder to hold a press conference to discuss his ordeal in Rwanda

Peter Erlinder is scheduled to return to Minnesota on Tuesday, June 22. He will have his first formal media availability at a press conference in the Conservatory at William Mitchell College of Law at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 23.

In addition to taking questions about and discussing his experience in Rwanda, he will talk about his work as a defense attorney for the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR). His wife, Masako Usui, and his daughter, Sarah Erlinder, will also be available at the press conference.

For more information, contact:

• Gena Berglund, International Humanitarian Law Institute of Minnesota, +1-651-208-7964

• Bruce Nestor, Attorney, +1-612-991-9488

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June 22, 2010   No Comments

US State Department denies visa to Kenyan lawyer who helped secure Erlinder’s release from Rwandan prison

Nairobi – Professor Peter Erlinder, the American attorney charged in Rwanda of denying the “Tutsi Genocide”, told a press conference Sunday in Nairobi that Mr Kennedy Ogetto, one of his two Kenyan defense attorneys, has been refused a visa to travel to the U.S. with his client.

Another Kenyan lawyer, Gershom Otachi, will travel with him following a visa grant in Kigali, the Rwandan capital. The two Kenyans represented Erlinder during his three-week captivity in Rwanda’s jails.

Prof. Erlinder and the two Kenyans are defence lawyers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, formed in 1995 to try key suspects from the genocide and civil war that rocked Rwanda in the mid 1990s.

Erlinder was arrested in Kigali when he went to represent Rwandan political opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, who is also accused of denying genocide. He insisted it was time to revise the Rwanda genocide history from the one presented by President Paul Kagame and his Western backers.

“My special request to Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton is to let my lawyers to travel to the US to help me explain to the world what happened,” Erlinder told the press, at which he also attacked the US embassy in Kigali.
Related:
‘US Embassy didn’t help’ says US Lawyer Peter Erlinder after release from Rwanda jail.
U.S. lawyer Peter Erlinder fears for his life after Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa shooting

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June 22, 2010   No Comments