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Former National Lawyers Guild president, Professor Peter Erlinder was arrested last week by Rwandan Police for allegedly denying the country’s 1994 genocide. He had traveled to Rwanda from Brussels on Sunday May 23, to join the defense team of Rwandan presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. He had recently attended a defense conference that they’d organized for the people working with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He arrived in Rwanda with the intention of defending aspiring presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire and joining her legal team. Ingabire is the opposition candidate who was recently arrested and accused of denying the Rwanda genocide. Prosecutors say Erlinder made statements in publication that there was no genocide in Rwanda. Under a 2003 law, persons condemned for denying or grossly minimizing genocide, attempting to justify genocide or destroy evidence related to it are liable to a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 20 in prison. Facebook Group – Free Professor Erlinder Now
Professor Erlinder is 62 a Chicago native and professor of law at the William Mitchell College of Law. He is a frequent litigator and consultant, often pro bono, in cases involving the death penalty, civil rights, claims of government and police misconduct, and criminal defense of political activists. He is also a frequent news commentator. Erlinder was president of the National Lawyers Guild from 1993-1997, and is a current board member of the NLG Foundation. He has been a defense attorney at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since 2003. National Lawyers Guild Page Updates
- He’s accused of revisionism, revising history. Peter Erlinder years before found mountains of documentation at the UN about Rwanda’s history. He read them and discovered that the history of Rwanda is the history that’s told in the documents.
- He actually found that there was a civil war going on there for 4 years preceding the last 3 months when the alleged genocide took place.
- The civil war was the causation of the genocide. By doing this work, he encountered the wrath of the Rwandan government.
- He was trying to help the defense of an opposition presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, who was arrested for “denying the genocide” and when Peter Erlinder arrived in Rwanda, he was arrested on the same charge.
- Rwanda President Paul Kagame has discredited presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza.
- We don’t know in the US, what’s really going on in Rwanda. The US is supporting Kagame’s war in the East Congo, the war is being fought over minerals and rights to minerals.
- Those minerals are used in cell phones.
- Help Peter Erlinder: Contact the US State Department and urge them to take an active role.
- Rwanda President Paul Kagame put 7 people on a list of those he would like to see assassinated, Peter Erlinder was on that list.
- My Dad is back in the hospital, the Rwandan government is claiming that he attempted suicide.
- Gena Berglund said in the press conference that taking the pills was a “strategy’ for Peter to escape the poor conditions in the cell where he is being held with seven or eight other inmates and handcuffed each time he is taken out of the cell.
- No one has been able to talk with him since he was arrested. Peter is in a private hospital, a shared unit with 8 other patients. Facebook Group – Free Professor Erlinder Now
Guest – Attorney Gena Berglund with the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and International Humanitarian Law Institute of Minnesota
Guest – Sarah Erlinder, Peter’s daughter, attorney and National Lawyers Guild member.
Israel Attacks on Aid Ships
International waves of protest continue over the lethal Israeli attack of 6 ships carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip. The shipd called the Freedom Flotilla, were carrying shipments of wheelchairs, prefabricated homes, crayons, raw construction supplies, dental surgery equipment and reams of paper in a relief effort to end the blockade in Gaza.
The Freedom Flotilla was an effort by a coalition of human rights and humanitarian organizations to nonviolently break through Israel’s illegal blockade, and deliver much needed humanitarian and developmental aid to the Palestinians of Gaza. Almost 700 passengers from 40 different countries joined the flotilla, including: human rights workers, humanitarian aid workers, Members of Parliament, doctors, nurses, teachers, community leaders, and international journalists.
The lead coalition partners included:
- Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), the largest coalition partner, contributing 2 Turkish-flagged cargo ships, the Turkish-flagged passenger ship “Mavi Marmara,” and 380 Turkish nationals to the effort. This was IHH’s first attempt to break the Gaza blockade.
- The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, contributing the Greek-flagged passenger ship “Sfendoni.” This was the European Campaign’s second mission to Gaza.
- The Free Gaza Movement, contributing the U.S.-flagged passenger ship “Challenger I.” This was Free Gaza’s ninth mission to Gaza.
- A Ship to Gaza, Sweden, and A Ship to Gaza, Greece, contributing the Greek-flagged cargo ship “Eleftheri Mesogeios.” This was the first voyage of A Ship to Gaza, Sweden, and the fourth of a Ship to Gaza, Greece.
The world watched in horror as Israeli commandos rappelled onto the ships from helicopters and opened fire. According to latest reports 19 people were killed and 60 wounded in the attack 75 miles off the coast of Israel and Gaza. The raid set off the strongest international condemnation of Israel since the 22-day military assault Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip 18 months ago.
- Legality of Israel continuing the blockage against Gaza: Israel disengaged from territorial occupation in 2005 but continues to control all the borders, airspace and sea entry.
- Israel completely controls what gets in and out of Gaza, including fuel and medicines so that it’s functionally occupied and legally considered to be occupied.
- Internationally, there are several provisions requiring you to protect the necessities of the civilians
- Hamas still considered terrorist government. A blockade is an act of war
- If Gaza is defined as occupied, it is collective punishement, if it not occupied it means this is an act of war
- The UN charter is clear that any use of force that is not legally justified as self defense against an armed attack is unlawful. The law is when you’re attacked on the high seas, you have a right to act in self defense.
- The Israeli attack was a violation of the freedom of the high seas and a criminal, unlawful use of force. As far as I know, these allegations about these terrorist ties and background are completely invented, completely contrived. The New York Times has given the Israeli disinfo campaign, credibility is doesn’t deserve.
- Under customary international law, you can’t do what Israel has been doing.
- It’s a vindictive treatment of the people, the family members weren’t told if their loved ones were alive.
- The Israelis can’t claim self defense. The Israeli use of force was excessive and disproportionate.
- Israel continues to enjoy US protection and impunity.
Guest – Richard Falk professor of international law emeritus, Princeton University and Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territories for the United Nations Human Rights Council. His book, The Great Terror War (2003), considers the American response to September 11, including its relationship to the patriotic duties of American citizens. He published Costs of War in 2008.