Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Kagame Regime: Myth versus Reality

By Peter Erlinder
Black Star News
October 22nd, 2010

Photo:Professor Peter Erlinder shown with Victoire Ingabire

[Global: Africa Commentary]

After arresting would-be Presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire six days ago, Rwanda’s Chief Prosecutor Martin Ngoga announced he intends to prosecute me for “genocide denial” based on articles written in the U.S. and published on the internet.

Rwanda authorities jailed me in May; I was released after an international campaign. Ingabire is now in the same cell.

I was Ingabire's lawyer and UN Rwanda Tribunal Defense Counsel. Before my arrest, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair helped create the myth that that the Kagame dictatorship had changed. Both Madame Ingabire and I were misled; reality of the situation in Rwanda has become clear.

After my release, the banning of all serious political opposition, the beheading of the vice-President of the Green Party, Madame Ingabire’s arrest, the assassination of journalists, the attempted assassination of Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, Mr. Kagame’s former Chief of Staff who defected to South Africa, the assassination of another ICTR defense counsel and Kagame’s “election” with 93% of the vote caused the Obama White House to question the state of democracy in Rwanda for the first time, issuing a statement which in part read:

"We remain concerned, however, about a series of disturbing events prior to the election, including the suspension of two newspapers, the expulsion of a human rights researcher, the barring of two opposition parties from taking part in the election, and the arrest of journalists...Democracy is about more than holding elections...A democracy reflects the will of the people, where minority voices are heard and respected, where opposition candidates run on the issues without threat or intimidation, where freedom of expression and freedom of the press are protected....stability and growing prosperity ... will be difficult to sustain in the absence of broad political debate and open political participation."

On August 28, LeMonde and The New York Times leaked a 600-page UN report detailing crimes of Kagame’s troops in the Congo between 1993-2003, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The same crimes Chief ICTR Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte’s says were committed by Kagame’s troops Rwanda in 1994. Her 2009 memoirs explain how she was fired by the State Department in 2003 when she refused to follow U.S. orders not to prosecute Kagame’s RPF, despite having evidence of their crimes, including the assassination of two presidents.

These UN documents also confirm that the evidence that acquitted my client of "conspiracy and planning to commit genocide" in a Feb. 2009 ICTR Judgment, described a much larger reality about the actual source of 30 years of violence in Central Africa. And, if there was no long-term planning and conspiracy, the victor’s story of the “Rwandan genocide” must be re-examined. This is my "crime."

But, my prosecution has larger implications, as well. If UN immunity does not apply to any prosecution of defense counsel by the Kagame government, a government the former Chief ICTR Prosecutor and the UN, itself, both confirm is led by criminals and has been committing mass crimes for decades, meaningful representation of any UN Tribunal defendants will be impossible.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."


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