Rwanda Information Portal

Call to get Professor Erlinder released from Kigali jail

by Kambale Musavuli.
Friends of the Congo urges you to break the silence and request the release of Ingabire’s lawyer Peter Erlinder.

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

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, fax (202) 647-6301

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

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

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

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

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

Rwanda Embassy, (202) 232-2882

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, New York, NY 10017 USA, (212) 963-5012, fax (212) 963-7055,

On Capitol Hill

Senator Al Franken, (202) 224-5641

Senator Amy Klobuchar, (202) 224-3244

Peter Erlinder’s Congressional Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota 5th, (202) 224-4755 or email his aide, Zahir Jan Mohamed,

Members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs:

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

Michele Bachmann, Minnesota 6th, (202) 225-2331

John Kline, Minnesota 2nd, (202) 225-2271

McCollum, Betty, Minnesota 4th, (202) 225-6631

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

Erik Paulsen, Minnesota 3rd, (202) 225-2871

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

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

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,

Human rights organizations


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

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

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May 29, 2010   No Comments

Open Letter sent by Lawyer Peter Erlinder to Canadian Prime Minister about Kagame and RPF

Here is the open letter addressed in April 2006 by Peter Erlinder, Lead Counsel before the ICTR (Arusha, Tanzania), to Canadian PM Harper re State Visit of Rwandan President Kagame.
This open letter is referred to by the Rwandan authorities to label Peter Erlinder as a “self-proclaimed genocide denier” (see article American Lawyer Peter Erlinder not accredited to defend Ingabire in Rwandan courts).
Peter Erlinder was arrested in Kigali this Friday 28th May by Rwandan Police for genocide denial.

Hon. Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
Government of Canada

April 6, 2006

Regarding State Visit of Current President of Rwanda

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I am writing from the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, TZ on this, the 12th Anniversary of the assassination of President Habyarimana of Rwanda, which preceded the terrible massacres that occurred after the April 6 assassination. I have learned that your Government has agreed to host a state visit by the current President of Rwanda, Mr. Paul Kagame. To prevent future embarrassment to you and your Government, and to comply with the ethical principles to which I am bound as an Officer of the Court of the ICTR, I am obligated to bring recent developments at the ICTR to your attention.

By way of background, please note that the March/April 2004 issue of the UK Economist reported on the 10th Anniversary of the horrific events in Rwanda by noting that the Kagame Regime is the most repressive military dictatorship in Africa. At that time, the identity of those who carried out the “assassination by missile” of former President Habyarimana by shooting down the presidential plane on April 6, 1994 (which all agree touched off the massive civilian killings in April-July 1994) was not known.

However, this circumstance changed during the past month at the ICTR which saw multiple witnesses, including: an “Africanist” Belgian Catholic Priest and Historian, who lived in Rwanda for 18 years; former RPF/RPA officers who were either present when the missiles were fired, or present at RPF/RPA Headquarters during 1993-94; as well as, numerous never-before-public UN documents which confirm the following:

1. The RPF/Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) had a 3-4/1 military- force advantage, which was known to then-General Kagame at least as of February 1993 when the RPF/RPA broke the Arusha ceasefire and nearly captured the capital, that the RPF/RPA had the military power to take power in Rwanda at will. It was the 1,000,000-plus displaced, brutalized refugees became an ungovernable force that later engaged in civilian-civilian massacres.

2. Between February 1993 and April 1994, while pretending to negotiate a power-sharing agreement set out in the Arusha Accords, Gen. Kagame openly declared to RPA troops that they should prepare for war and he also threatened war repeatedly when speaking with UN and international delegations in early 1994, as reflected in contemporary UN documents.

3. During this same period, hundreds of tons of weaponry and ammunition were illegally brought into Rwanda in preparation for the final assault to seize power and stored in numerous “weapons caches” around the country.

4. By March 1994, UN documents show that the Rwandan Government Forces (RGF) had been decimated by the four-year war of invasion by elements of the Ugandan military, supported by the Ugandan government and military, and lacked the military capacity to fight an invading army AND use military force to stop civilian massacres by other civilians.

5. The former U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda, Hon. Robert Flaten, testified in June 2005 that he personally warned Gen. Kagame and Pres. Habyarimana that if either resumed war by breaking the Arusha Accords cease fire, they would be responsible for thousands of civilian casualties from retaliatory killings that U.S. State Department documents predicted should the war resume…similar to killings that swept Burundi/Rwanda in 1988.

6. On March 9-10, 2006 and again on April 3-6, 2006 the President of the ICTR heard testimony, with supporting U.N. and other documents, that Gen. Kagame ordered the assassination of President Habyarimana to de-stabilize his enemy, and that he ordered the final assault within minutes after learning of the successful missile attack….long BEFORE any retaliatory, civilian killings had occurred anywhere in Rwanda.

7. The evidence, confirmed in original UN documents, also shows that, between April 6, 1994 and the RPF military victory in mid-July 1994, the Rwandan Government and the RGF repeatedly asked for an unconditional cease-fire to permit its few, battle-hardened troops to use force to stop the massacres. When the RGF stated that it lacked the means to stop the massacres without a ceasefire, UN documents confirmed that this was known to be true by Gen. Dallaire and Gen. Kagame in March 1994, before the assassination of President Habyarimana.

8. Canadian General Dallaire testified in January 2004 that: (a) there were only about 5,000 dependable RGF troops; (b) the first obligation of all armies, including the Canadian Army and the RGF, is to defend the “security of the homeland;” (c) and, it was militarily impossible for the RGF/Gendarmes to fight a war of invasion AND stop long-predicted, retaliatory, civilian-civilian massacres.
9. Between April 1994 and July 1994, the RPF was the only military force in Rwanda which was militarily capable of stopping the massacres, with or without a cease-fire, however, on numerous occasions Gen. Kagame specifically ordered field officers NOT to use troops “to save civilians while RPF soldiers are dying” and, as Gen. Dallaire testified under oath, Gen. Kagame told him that civilian killings as “collateral damage” for his war plan.

10. According to sworn ICTR testimony, Gen. Kagame specifically ordered the creation of particular units responsible for “cleansing” civilians from areas controlled by the RPF and was personally present as tens of thousands of civilians were lured to Byumba Stadium in late April 1994 and massacred by RPF troops under his command, among other atrocities.

11. Much of this information can be found in: The Secret History of Rwanda by former RPF Officer Abdul Joshua Ruzibiza, recently published in Paris; the Report of Serge Desouter to the ICTR, an historian of the Belgian “White Fathers” century-old mission in Rwanda; the public and closed transcripts at the ICTR; and, original UN documents introduced as exhibits in the Military 1 case (Bagasora et al) at the ICTR.

12. In July 2003, then-ICTR Prosecutor Carla del Ponte announced that she had discovered enough evidence to prosecute BOTH sides in the Rwandan War. However, shortly thereafter, Pres. Kagame called for her resignation, as did Colin Powell and Kofi Annan. She was replaced two months later and, to this date, not ONE person associated with Gen. Kagame’s successful seizure of power has been called to account at the ICTR (unlike the ICTY in which leaders associated with all major actors have been indicted).

13. In light of the evidence now in the public record of the Tribunal, a formal Motion is being prepared which requests the President of the Tribunal, and the Office of the Prosecutor, to draft the Indictment of Paul Kagame for Murder, Conspiracy to Commit Murder, various War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity and Conspiracy to commit such crimes, all committed by him, and the troops he commanded in Rwanda in 1994.

14. Motions to dismiss charges presently pending against former RGF Officers for actions properly attributed to the victors of the 1994 RPF War of Accession to Power.

Since the ICTR has not been well-covered in the western media, I have no doubt that you and your advisors have not been made aware of the above before issuing the invitation to the current Rwandan President. However, since this information is already in the public record, and more is being accumulated daily, I could not permit an accused war-criminal, on the same order as the recently arrested former-president Charles Taylor, to receive the endorsement of the Canadian Government, without putting the record straight….and putting the matter before your Government for evaluation.

I would be pleased direct your staff to relevant materials in the public record at the ICTR, if that would be convenient to the Canadian Government.


Prof. Peter Erlinder, ICTR Lead Defence Counsel
Past-President, National Lawyers Guild, N.Y.C. USA
Wm. Mitchell College of Law
875 Summit Av.
St. Paul, MN 55105
(651) 290-6384
U.N. No. (212) 963-2850 (ext. 5073)

Source: cirqueminime.

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May 29, 2010   1 Comment

“Your model of democracy, why should it be suitable for me?” says Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame: "Your model of democracy, why should it be suitable for me?"

On the day the Rwandan authorities have arrested american lawyer Professor Peter Erlinder who was in Kigali to assist opposition leader Victoire Ingabire in her judicial case,
Guardian’s journalist Sarah Boseley writes about the way Kagame sees democracy.

Here is what she writes in her article “Rwanda: Kagame stands firm. Rights? Yes, but put food on the table first”.

Sixteen years on from the genocide, Rwanda is thriving and prosperous, beloved of donor nations but its president is accused of stifling dissent

Paul Kagame sits at the head of a vast polished oval table in his lush presidential compound in Kigali, an apparently fragile figure, rake-thin, his dark suit hanging loose. The wire-framed glasses above jutting cheekbones give him an austerely academic look.

Rwanda’s president is a thoughtful man, who listens attentively and speaks slowly with an occasional almost self-deprecatory half-laugh, but the steel in the former general who brought genocide to an end 16 years ago is evident in his words.

“Democracy is good music but you need somebody with ears to listen to that music,” he says, leaning across the table. “It doesn’t matter how much you talk about democracy or human rights. Tell me about a family who spend the whole night looking at each other and wondering whether they will have something to eat. Are they thinking about anything else? They are just not listening.”

We can all agree on the substance of democracy, he says, but the form it takes will be different even between European countries, the US and Japan.

“Your model of democracy, why should it be suitable for me?” he says.

Kagame has enjoyed the admiration of the west for establishing a peaceful, orderly and increasingly prosperous-looking Rwanda since the genocide of 1994. The country is now the darling of donor nations, with Kigali a striking contrast to the noisy, litter-strewn capitals of neighbouring African states.

Kagame’s model of development, he unhesitatingly says, is South Korea or Singapore. Plastic bags are banned. Dilapidated houses bear a large red cross, a warning that they must be renovated or face demolition within six months. But to Kagame’s irritation, outsiders have begun to question the tight control he exercises over this model African state. In recent months, two independent newspapers have been closed, and two generals have been arrested. Most controversially, Victoire Ingabire, leader of the Hutu opposition United Democratic Forces Party (FDU), has been placed under house arrest following her return from the Netherlands.

Kagame, leader of the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front, is being accused of suppressing dissent and subverting the democratic process ahead of the presidential elections in August. But he argues that criticism from outside is unfair and ill-informed.

“Why should the outside world judge Rwanda, judge Kagame, based on the views of two or three people or papers and not based on the views of Rwandans? If you ask people how they feel about government and the leadership, they give an entirely different view from what outsiders think,” he says.

Kagame’s view is that the media high council had to act against the newspapers, which were libellous, irresponsible and inciting ethnic violence, and his government had to move against the generals, one of whom was accused of corruption and the other of immorality. Ingabire, he claims, has links to rebel Hutus. The timing of events was coincidental; his government could not delay taking action just because the presidential election was imminent.

“The west has democracy because it has institutions that hold people accountable. What has killed Rwanda and Africa is that people are not held accountable,” he says. “So the question is, how do you want us to live? By allowing ministers or generals or mayors to run the show without accountability? Is that the form of democracy you want for us? We are saying no.”

Years on from the genocide of the minority dominant Tutsis and moderate Hutus, initiated by Hutu militia and politicians, no one believes that the two groups now live in universal harmony – even though ethnic identity is suppressed with an end to identity cards showing a person’s group, and children competing in school exams under a number, not a name.

But Kagame’s priority is food on the table. He hopes the next generation will be too busy making money to fight. Change is embraced. Things get done. The agriculture minister, a woman, is driving through potentially unpopular reforms of land use, persuading farmers to concentrate on the crops that grow best in their region against the tradition of subsistence farming.

Landlocked Rwanda is in discussions with its neighbours about lowering tariff barriers and forming an east African union. There are incentives for businesses to start up. And Kagame is rare among African leaders in his condemnation of dependence on foreign aid, which, he says, risks “depriving people of their dignity and not pushing them to work and uplift themselves, because that is what makes it sustainable”. He says: “I refuse to belong to the side that would accept to perpetuate that dependency on others”.

He puts a shot across the donors’ bows. “If it were entirely altruistic, why would the west be more interested in giving aid than in opening up for fair trade?”

Just a couple of miles away, Ingabire sits in state in a half-furnished bungalow. The houses, leafy gardens and wide, paved, streets of the 2020 Vision estate all look the same, but it’s impossible to mistake her house. On the pavement facing the high locked gate sits an armed guard on a wooden chair. Another is half-hidden by a hedge, talking on a mobile phone.

Ingabire cannot leave her house. She came back to stand against Kagame in the August election, but cannot get past the first hurdle. In order to register her party she must hold a rally of at least 200 supporters.

She says she has come to champion democracy because Kagame’s ruling party has failed to do so. “Sixteen years after the genocide we think it is time to move to the democratic system,” she says. “You can’t say because of the genocide that people can’t be free. I don’t agree with this.”

It is put to her that most people outside Rwanda think the country has made great progress in the past 16 years. “The problem with Kagame is that he says we have stability and development and we don’t need more,” she says. “My answer is that the stability we have in Rwanda is stability based on pressure. We have development in the hands of a little group.” Outside of the Kigali region, she says, poverty is unchanged.

Kagame insists that there is “concrete evidence” that Ingabire supported and helped finance the Hutu rebels of the Democratic Liberation Front (FDLR) in the Congo.

His foreign minister, the formidable and highly articulate Louise Mushikiwabo, who spent 20 years in the US and is married to an American, thinks Ingabire’s arrival is a threat to the hard-won truce between Tutsi and Hutu. She characterises Ingabire’s challenge as “very deliberate, controversial ethnic politics, this woman really has a genocidal ideology”.

Ingabire threw down the gauntlet on the day of her arrival, maintains Mushikiwabo. She went straight to the genocide memorial museum in Kigali, looked around and questioned why it did not commemorate the deaths of any Hutus who died in the violence. “That in Rwanda is revisionism,” she says. “We know that there were Hutus killed in the context of the genocide, but they weren’t targeted. The more you blur the lines, the more you think it was a free-for-all. To us it is so clear cut. The dynamics are not understood abroad. It is maybe because things look too normal in this country. But when you allow people to go out into the villages and start that sort of rhetoric, you are really walking into trouble.”

The opposition leader rejects the allegations made against her of support and funding for rebel Hutus in the Congo. She admits she went to Kinshasa twice, but not at the times alleged by the government. “They say I was in Kinshasa and met members of the FDLR in March and September 2008. I was not there in March but in February, not in September but October. I can prove it with my passport.” She went to ask the Congolese government for support for her political party, she says, just as she has visited many countries looking for backing.

Ingabire does not dispute the genocide of 1994, but her concern is clearly with what she thinks is the airbrushing of violence against Hutus.

“Before the genocide and after the genocide there was killing against the Hutu and against the Tutsis. Now the government of Kagame authorises only to talk about genocide against the Tutsis. They don’t accept that we talk about the crime against humanity committed before the genocide. That is the big problem we have. If we need to reconcile the Rwandan people we have to talk also about this killing before and after the genocide.”

She claims that the apparent reconciliation of Tutsi and Hutu is only surface deep. “They say don’t talk about Hutu or Tutsi, but we know that the problem we had in our country is based on the differences between the two groups. The thing we can do is to take our courage and talk about the problem. You can’t say, don’t talk about the problem and in time people will forget it. It is not true.”

She dismissed the hearings of the traditional gacaca courts, set up all over Rwanda to try cases against thousands of those involved in genocide, alleging that the RPF took control and that people did not dare speak their minds. “It is not a place where the victims meet the killers to talk about what happened.” Is it possible that violence could return? “Yes, of course,” she says.

Ingabire, whose husband and three children are still in the Netherlands, says she is back in Rwanda to stay. “I still believe that we will participate in the election, but if they go ahead and do everything to stop us, we will still be a political party,” she says. “I will stay here. Even if they put me in jail, I will stay here. One day I believe we will achieve what we want.”

About 45 minutes’ drive from Kigali there is a church where the sun shines through bullet holes in the wooden roof on to thousands of pieces of soiled and rotting clothing on the wooden benches below. They – and the shelves of skulls and arm and leg bones in an underground crypt – are all that remain of some 10,000 massacred Tutsis.

You can still distinguish children’s dresses and women’s skirts here. Machetes and knives lie on the bloodsoaked altar cloth. A young woman tells you calmly that the weapons were used to rip the unborn baby out of the womb of a Hutu woman who refused to kill her Tutsi husband. As you walk away, shaken, the question of democracy takes on a new relevance. Just 16 years on, is Rwanda ready?


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May 29, 2010   4 Comments