The Crescent Report

June 3, 2010

MAS Freedom Calls for Release of Imprisoned Human Rights Attorney Peter Erlinder in Rwanda

Filed under: From the Desk of Imam Mahdi Bray — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 12:41 pm

MAS Freedom Calls for Release of Imprisoned Human Rights Attorney Peter Erlinder in Rwanda

International human rights attorney Peter Erlinder, Professor of Law at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, was arrested last week in Kigali, Rwanda on charges of “denying the genocide” that took place in Rwanda in 1994, and which resulted in the killing of more than 800,000 people, mostly members of the Tutsi ethnic group

But many people believe that Professor Erlinder’s real “crime” was his defense, before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), of a political opponent of the current Rwandan president, Paul Kagame.  Peter Erlinder has also called for the vigorous investigation of President Kagame and members of his Rwandan Patriotic Front for their alleged involvement in the cover-up of their involvement in the genocide.

It was also alleged by Rwandan news sources that Erlinder attempted suicide while in the custody of authorities in Kigali, but this assertion has been vigorously challenged by some of Erlinder’s associates in Minnesota, who assert that Erlinder is not suffering from “depression” as his Rwandan captors allege.

“I know of no one who knows Peter who believes that he would do such a thing,” stated a colleague, Professor Douglas R. Heidenreich.

MAS Freedom is sending a communication to the Rwandan Embassy here in Washington, D.C. to voice our grave concern over the arrest of Professor Erlinder and our call for his release.  We believe that justice for the people of Rwanda can only be served if those who are part of the justice system are free to represent defendants before the ICTR, without regard to the political affiliation or popularity of any defendant.

Mahdi Bray, the MAS Freedom Executive Director, commented that “Peter Erlinder has been instrumental in the defense of Dr. Sami Al-Arian and other Muslims prosecuted unfairly here in the United States.  He is not a denier of the tragic genocide of 1994.  Rather, he is a true champion of justice both here in the United States and in Rwanda, and we call on the government of Rwanda to release him in the interest of both justice and respect for judicial integrity.

In addition, we ask that you communicate with the office of Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton and request that the government of the United States intervene with Rwandan authorities to ensure the speedy release of Attorney Peter Erlinder from custody.  The telephone number to the State Department is: (202) 647-4000.

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