Green Party Condemns Rwanda’s Arrest of Minnesota Attorney Peter Erlinder

As posted at by Ian Wilder:

Peter Erlinder

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 ( 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.”

15 thoughts on “Green Party Condemns Rwanda’s Arrest of Minnesota Attorney Peter Erlinder

  1. Kimberly Wilder Post author

    I am not the expert at international affairs…

    So, I was confused, because Erlinder seems to be accused of “genocide denial”, and I thought that people would want to acknowledge if a genocide happened.

    My husband says this is what is happening: Erlinder is like a 9-11 Truther who is demanding a genuine investigation into the genocide. The government is trying to stop the investigation, so they can blame who they want, and cover up for whom they want. And, so the government is trying to attack those calling for truth, and spin the story by pretending those people are denying the sad reality that a genocide has occurred.

    (Does that make sense? Anyone else know more or have a better explanation?)

  2. bob Kamo

    i thought denying genocide automatically shows that had you (negationists) been in Rwanda that time of massacre, you would have too fully participated because people like Peter Erlinder seem not bothered with the mankind which lost its life. well, i have heard that he attempted to commit sucide which to me is a shame he feels to have betrayed a million of victims of the 1994 genocide against Tutsis by denying it and corabollating genocidieres.

  3. Kim

    What strikes me the most in this case is the fact that the prosecutor is upset by the fact that the lawyer thinks differently or defends a different point. Normally, the lawyer contradicts the prosecutor, and that is his job. Erlinder’s points, all along the line, are his comments and analyses based on the UN tribunal’s verdicts. The military he defended were cleared on planning and no plan has so far been demonstrated. It is in this framework that he wondered if the notion itself of genocide should not be revisited if the alleged planners have been cleared of planning the genocide. I find his point rather strong and the prosecutor, instead of jailing him, should try and prove him wrong.

    They are now saying he is trying to commit suicide! The past has shown that Rwanda’s intelligence ‘suicides’ people [kills them and makes it up into a suicide].

    I hope Erlinder will survive this and, once back home, will take his jailers to court for trying to ‘suicide’ him.


  4. braink

    He hasn’t denied the genocide but has questioned the origins of it. Was it premeditated by the Hutus or was it spontaneous b/c the Hutu president’s plane was shot down, possibly by Kagame? This is what he has been asking, so the issue is not whether he has denied the genocide, which he hasn’t, but that the Rwandan government does not allow the denial of their official story on the foundations of the genocide. Erlinder is actually very concerned about those who lost their lives and wants to ensure that all people responsible (Hutu AND Tutsi) are brought to justice, even Kagame if he was responsible for setting the spark that ignited the nation.

  5. Michael Cavlan RN

    I know Peter Erlander personaly. He is a good, decent man. My/Our campaign for Congress released a Press Release immediately calling on my opponent, Keith Ellison as well as Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken to publicly pressure president Obama to take action.

    So far, nothing from Ellison, Klobuchar, Fanken or Obama. I am frigging furious.

    We are recieving reports of Peter “attempting” suicide and are obviously very very concerned.

    We are trying to figure out other ways to apply pressure.

  6. Michael Cavlan RN

    For the record, I just contacted Keith Ellison’s office and told them that if Ellison does not do something PUBLICLY to ppressure Obama to help Peter, then I have guarenteed that I will make it an issue. I told them that secret, behind the scenes stuff will not be acceptable.

    Like I said, we have already issued a Press Release calling for this.

    They had better take this seriously because i meant every damned word.

  7. Eugene

    I really don’t how an america so called prof of Genocide can just come to Rwanda and start his genocidal idiologies over a 1million dead bodies and be allowed to walk out freely as if we don’t have laws. I aplaud the Rwandan Govt for having arrested and now he is trying to commit sucuide. I tell you can not go over the blood of innocent people and start celebrating and thing you will just be fine, the blood of those innocent people will haut you and that is why he is commiting sucuid. I want also appreciated the Obama administration of its great understanding, they should not defend creminal simply because they are Americans?? they did not send him to commit those crimes at it is well know that denying Genocide is like denieing hollaucust which is serious crime.
    Lets Rwanda just take its course please.

  8. Nolan

    To: Kim and others

    I think you got the point. The current government in Kigali Rwanda uses the genocide ideology to send to hell whoever they want.

    1/ When you speak out about the reality and you are a Rwandan the current administration will charge you that you have genocidal ideology or diversionist and for that you go to jail to serve about 19 years.

    2/ What is happening to Prof. Peter Erlinder is because he was to defend a politician lady named Victoire Ingabire from opposition political party who some few months ago said that “Yes, there was a Tutsi genocide and those who committed crime in genocide should be brought to justice as well as those who committed mass murder on the Hutu tribe” This was not acceptable to the current regime.

    3/ Next, it appeared the arrest of Prof. Erlinder is the time for Rwandan president to revenge because Erlinder was in a group of lawyers and other panels that found out the fabrications and making ups in this tragedy.

    4/ It should also be noted that Professor Erlinder is one of the lawyers who deposited a case in federal district court in Oklahoma against Rwandan President Paul Kagame (former rebel leader now president) as he is the suspect of the shooting down the presidential plane with two presidents aboard – one from Rwanda and another from Burundi. It is said that the shooting down the plane was the trigger to the genocide.

    For more information, please go this links:

  9. Nolan

    Dear Eugene,
    Your lies are not constructive and do not make sense at all. I think you should find another forum.

    Hence Prof. Peter Erlinder is not a Rwandan, nor Hutu, nor Tutsi. He is only there to serve justice for those who are defenseless and voice of voiceless as you know it.
    There is a dictatorship and oligarchy rule in Rwanda. Prove me wrong, or you seem to know better than the general Kayumba Nyamwasa who was the chief of staff in Rwandan army.
    Prof. Erlinder is a hero to many and we thank him for his advocacy and invaluable valiancy.
    You know Prof. Erlinder is simply and purely in jail on political grounds – for more information follow this link for facts:

  10. Mukhtar Osman

    I am deeply sorry what happen to my lawyer Peter Elinder.. my prayers with him..he is so kindly person, i havent see someone like him as a lawyer, I hope Rwanda understands the humin right and hears the voices from the rest of the wold…

  11. Mukhtar Osman

    Eugene you are wrong 101 % and please stop non sense arguments.. you dont know him and you will never know him… because he has heart not like you.. who doesnt have any humin been feeling… go with kagme’s regim. untruthfuly words…

  12. Kimberly Wilder

    It is frightening for me to hear anyone, especially a quasi-anonymous poster, saying that someone in custody is trying to commit suicide. That is frightening and leads to a lot of conclusions.

    Also, the person that posted that initially, is posting from an ISP in Africa.

    I hope that people who care about justice are watching Peter Erlinder very closely, and making sure that the government of all countries has so much pressure, that no one could disappear him or “suicide him”. This is truly a frightening and startling situation.

  13. "What have you been smoking ????" ......... Don Lake

    11 responses so far ?

    *1 Kimberly Wilder // Jun 3, 2010:

    “I am not the expert at international affairs ….. So, I was confused, because Erlinder seems to be accused of “genocide denial”, and I thought that people would want to acknowledge if a genocide happened ……..”

    [a] remember, Africa is the home the ‘The Nile’

    [b] oh yeah, the Turks are lining up for details on their conduct against the Armenians and the first 20th century ‘concentration camps’

    [c] oh yeah, Europeans from Ireland to the Urals are comping at the bit to learn even more of WWII atrocities, and not just the 6M jews!

    [d] and in Cambodia ……..

    [e] I more than understand the frustration and up set the greenie Wilders have against the official and officious GP, but come on gang, let’s get real.

    [f] Not only is Kim and Ian “not expert at international affairs ” but they total flunk logic —– to the point of being on thin ice with ethics! (Unless they really are that dumb!)

  14. "What have you been smoking ????" ......... Don Lake

    When you come down (from your hazy buzz) could you plz answer the Citizens for A Better Veterans Home query of many weeks ago ?????????

    Or admit you are too ignorant to do so ??????????

    Or admit your ‘room temperature IQs’ ????????

    Or admit your lack of moral courage ????????

    The greenies, long on rhetoric, short on action!

  15. David Peterson

    For a short commentary on Peter Erlinder’s arrest and the politics behind it, see
    Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “Peter Erlinder Jailed by One of the Major Genocidaires of Our Era,” MRZine, May 29, 2010 ( ).

    For an impressive array of evidence in support of Erlinder’s critique of the standard model of the “Rwandan genocide,” see the many papers produced for the November 2009 conference in The Hague, “ICTR Legacy from the Defense Perspective” ( ), which includes one very good paper by Peter Erlinder (“Preventing the Falsification of History: An Unintended Consequence of ICTR Disclosure Requirements,” ).

    — David Peterson
    Chicago, USA

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