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Republic of Rwanda Statement on the Arrest of C. Peter Erlinder


US Attorney, C. Peter Erlinder, claiming to be a lawyer representing Victoire Ingabire, entered Rwanda on 27 May 2010, and was arrested by authorities under the country's genocide ideology laws the following day, on 28 May. Ingabire stands accused of having ties to FDLR, a UN-listed terrorist group that advocates the resumption of the Rwandan genocide that was brought to an end in 1994.

According to Rwanda's Prosecutor General, Martin Ngoga, "Mr. Erlinder's unapologetic violation of these laws is self-evident. He has continually engaged in conspiracy theories and denial surrounding the circumstances of the genocide. He has promulgated this dangerous and distorted fiction over many years. Entering Rwanda was a brazen act of provocation, since Erlinder must clearly understand he is in breach of the laws of our country."

"Mr. Erlinder and Ms. Ingabire claim their intention is to support her opposition candidacy for President," said Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Government Spokesperson. "However, Ms. Ingabire is not registered as a candidate. Moreover, the provocative actions and statements of she and Mr. Erlinder seem more a naked public relations ploy than a serious effort to engage in an election or a debate on democracy. This would be upsetting in and of itself, but is particularly disturbing because it has the potential to undercut the legitimacy of Rwanda's electoral process."

Rwanda experienced a bloody genocide in the 1990s. Part of the country's enormously successful recovery has included ensuring that the kinds of propaganda and reckless innuendo that helped to cause the genocide can never be repeated. Like its counterparts in Europe, who adopted legal principles to ensure no repeat of the holocaust, Rwanda has adopted similar laws.

"Unfortunately, reckless publicity seekers and genocide deniers are using the upcoming election process to further their agendas with little attention to the great harm they are causing." continued Ms. Mushikiwabo. "Our goal is not to tamp down opposing viewpoints and freedom of speech. It is to protect the safety, security and integrity of Rwanda's democratic electoral process. Publicity seekers and genocide deniers engaged in publicity stunts do nothing to promote Rwandan stability but instead seek to destabilize the country for personal gain. We believe the actions of Mr. Erlinder could have precisely that effect. Rather than letting the world witness the progress of Rwanda, they are instead treated to a smokescreen that is not remotely rooted in the reality of Rwanda and the daily lives of its citizens."

"Mr. Erlinder's claims that he is here to represent Victoire Ingabire do not stand up to scrutiny", said Ms. Mushikiwabo. "He is not registered to practice law in Rwanda, and has made no attempts to do so. It is clear to any observer that he is not here to practice law at all, but to promote himself and his dangerous causes. In our opinion, Mr. Erlinder is a conspiracy theorist who seeks to willfully promote his extremist views on Rwandan soil -- and we will not permit this. We understand that human rights activists schooled in the US Bill of Rights may find this objectionable. But for Rwandans -- schooled in the tragedy of the 1994 genocide and who long for peace - Mr. Erlinder's arrest is an act of justice."

Republic of Rwanda
Louise Mushikiwabo, +250 78830 5218
Office of the Government Spokesperson

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