Tuesday, June 29, 2010

As Congo Marks 50th Anniversary of Independence, Human Rights Abuses Rise in Congo and Neighboring Rwanda

Kagame media reports arrest of "suspect" who confesses to murdering journalist to avenge 1994 genocide crime

Slain Rwandan journalist John Leonard Rugambage.

The self-described "Government Supporting Daily, The New Times," a.k.a. Kagame Media, reports that an unnamed suspect has confessed to murdering journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage, after Rugambage reported that Rwandan President Paul Kagame had ordered the assassination attempt on exile Rwandan General Kayumba Nyamwasa in South Africa on June 19th.

The New Times reports that the suspect "told Police that he was avenging the death of a family member, who was allegedly killed by Rugambage during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi."   I imagine the "suspect"---if he exists---will enjoy a very comfortable early retirement.

If a C02 explosion from Lake Kivu kills everyone on both the Rwanda and Congo sides, thanks to Kagame's careless natural gas drilling, he and his "Government Supporting Daily," The New Times, will no doubt say that the lake finally blew to avenge 1994 genocide crime against the Tutsi.

Here's the news, in Rwanda's "Government Supporting Daily, The New Times,"  dutifully reproduced on AllAfrica.com, headquartered in Washington D.C.:

Government Supporting Daily

Man confesses to killing journalist
By Our reporter

Internal Security Minister, Fazil Musa Harelimana
KIGALI - One of the suspects arrested in connection with the Thursday night killing of Jean Leonard Rugambage, a local Journalist, has confessed to committing the crime, Internal Security Minister, Musa Fazil Harelimana, said yesterday.

Speaking at the monthly Presidential news conference, Harelimana said that the suspect told Police that he was avenging the death of a family member, who was allegedly killed by Rugambage during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The suspect, who also led investigators to the scene where he buried the pistol allegedly used in the murder, accused Rugambage of killing his brother who used to work for Banque Populaire in Kamonyi, Southern Rwanda, before the Genocide.

According to a Police statement released Sunday, Rugambage was once charged by Gacaca courts, was imprisoned for a period of three years, but later released in 2007.

Investigations into the case continue.


The Arrogance Of Ignorance

Richard Jonhson, a retired US diplomat living in Kigali writes in Christian Science Monitor:
"Arrogance, ignorance, and indifference to African victims of genocide have long been hallmarks of Western treatment of Rwanda."
This is nonsense, and the Christian Science Monitor knows it is. I challenge Richard Johnson to give one example of this in mainstream US press over the last two decades. In reality mainstream press in the US has been focusing on Rwanda and writing about the genocide non-stop, while ignoring the massive killings by  Paul Kagame's RPF inside Rwanda and Congo.

The fact that Richard Johnson's  mudslinging "article" got into the Christian Science Monitor, reveals that mainstream US press still thinks it can get away with calling Peter Erlinder a "conspiracy theorist" and "genocide denier" without getting into the nitty-gritty of the UN-documents and ICTR rulings that are the basis for Erlinder's claims.

Christian Science Monitor's still seems to think there can be a middle ground in the debate concerning Rwanda while ignoring  (talking about ignorance) the crimes committed by Paul Kagame's RPF. That middle ground no longer exist. These crimes have been committed, overwhelming evidence points that out. US and European mainstream media has failed us during the last two decades by refusing to show us the total picture of the war in the great lakes region, and thereby lost their credibility. In that context (of obvious ignorance) calling Peter Erlinder a "genocide denier"  or "conspiracy theorist" demonstrates that the Christian Science Monitor is still not ready to engage in a serious discussion of this topic. In other words, this is no longer journalism, but pure propaganda by the CSM, even though they will blame it on Richard Johnson.

The rest of the article by this  retired "diplomat" (a disgrace to the profession I would say) is a one-sided collection of half truths corning Victoire Ingabire  Umuhoza's political party. Ignorance often serves as a basis for arrogance, and in this article the Christian Science Monitor demonstrates, once again, how these two communicate.

It's a rare achievement by the ONE campaign to be able to capture both arrogance and ignorance, the main ingredients of US policy towards the great lakes region, in  ONE picture  (taken in Kigali yesterday).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Erlinder released as Kagame cracks down hard on his own

Rwandan Umuvugizi journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage was assassinated in Kigali Rwanda on June 24, 2010, after publishing a report that Rwandan President Paul Kagame had ordered the attempted assassination of General Kayumba Nyamwasa in South Africa.

As U.S. Law Professor Peter Erlinder was released, after three weeks incarceration in Rwanda, Kagame cracked down hard on his own.   Read at San Francisco Bay View, National Black Newspaper, http://goo.gl/CSdo.

Rwanda: arrests, assassinations, and Pentagon intervention

Saturday, June 26th, 2010, memorial service for Rwandan journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage, assassinated in Kigali, Rwanda on Thursday, June 24th.

KPFA News on Rwanda and Africa, 06.26.2010: 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jussi-Pekka Heikkilä And Revolution In Music

As Adam Singer of Online Marketing Blog writes on futurebuzz power in music is now to the people. Let's put that in practice!! I went through several youtube versions of Chopin's revolutionary etudes, you will notice how the big names like Sviatoslav Richter, Stanislav Bunin and  Vladmir Ashkenazy get hundreds of thousands of hits, but Jussi-Pekka Heikkilä has just 4000 sofar. But when you listen, you will notice Jussi-Pekka Heikkilä has done an extraordinary job. I prefer his randition by far. He stands out. He understands the melody, he understands the piano. It's right to the heart. An honest craftsman. I hope someday I will enjoy listening to him at Henry LeBoeuf , the beautiful concert hall in Brussels.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kagame arrests Rwandan presidential candidate Bernard Ntaganda

Bernard Ntaganda, presidential candidate of Rwanda's P.S. Imberakuri Party before it broke into two factions, and still the presidential candidate of one wing.  He has called for postponement of the elections until all viable candidates can register, and today he called for protest as President Paul Kagame registered his candidacy with the National Electoral Commission, saying "Silence is acceptance."   He was arrested at his home this morning, 06.24.2010, before he could leave to attend the protest.

Bernard Ntaganda, Rwandan opposition presidential candidate, and Didas Gasana, Editor of Rwanda's banned newspaper, Umuseso, spoke to KMEC Radio on April 18th. Gasana has since fled to Uganda and Ntaganda was arrested in Kigali this morning.

Last night Ntaganda put out an urgent message that his assistant, Mr. Sibomana Rusangwa Aimable, had disappeared at 8 p.m., after a meeting held at the head office of P.S.Imberakuri in which the Party had decided to organize demonstrations today, June 24th, 2010.

Read more at Digital Journal: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/293800.

Migranten Spelen Rol In Democratische Ontwikkeling

Ik voel altijd plaatsvervangende schaamte opkomen als de selectieve verontwaardiging bij Europese en Amerikaanse politici en het westerse journaille bovenkomt wanneer in Uganda een wet wordt aangenomen tegen homo's, of wanneer in Marokko een Christen wordt opgepakt en uitgezet. De rest van de tijd heeft men kennelijk zitten slapen (of knijpt men in het belang van stabiliteit en ontwikkeling bewust een oogje toe voor dubieuze regimes). En de aandacht zal ongetwijfeld net zo snel wegebben als dat ze opkwam.

Joël Voordewind grijpt het geval van het uit Marokko uitgezette pleegouder gezin Boonstra aan om een zware verdachtmaking te uiten in de richting van de Marokkaanse gemeenschap in Nederland in zijn geheel.

Ongetwijfeld heeft hij die stelling "Marokkaanse gemeenschap meet met twee maten" prikkelend opgezet om eigen publiciteit te garanderen. Dat kun je een korte termijn succes voor een politicus vinden (hoewel, welke verkiezingen probeert hij te winnen en welke kiezers probeert hij te werven?). De werkelijke vraag is natuurlijk in hoeverre dit op lange termijn bijdraagt aan de verbetering van de positie van christenen in Marokko.

Wat mij echter aanspreekt in het artikel is de onbewuste erkenning dat migranten een steeds belangrijker rol spelen in democratische ontwikkeling in de landen van herkomst.

Online wordt zichtbaar dat migranten groepen in Amerika en Europa steeds sterkere banden aangaan met Europese en Amerikaanse mensenrechten activisten. Via facebook is Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, de Icoon van de Rwandese oppositie die 16 jaar lang als migrant in Nederland woonde, in staat gebleken een politiek debat van de grond te tillen dat uitstijgt boven de karikaturen die westerse media de afgelopen 15 jaar van het grote meren gebied geschetst hebben (de Koert Lindijers van deze wereld hebben heel wat uit te leggen). Ook migranten uit moslimlanden zijn in snel tempo het internet aan het ontdekken als medium bij uitstek om volop deel te nemen aan het politieke debat, zowel in land van herkomst als in land van oorsprong. Denk aan de in Nederland woonachtige blogger Sami Ben Gharbia, direkteur Advocacy van globalvoices.

Hoewel Mary-Joyce vooral sceptsich is over de successen van digitaal activisme, denk ik dat succes toch vooral een kwestie van consistentie en lange adem is. De korte termijn successen, zoals de twitter acties in Iran kregen veel aandacht, maar werkelijk succes is "sustained on- and offline collaboration", zegt Gaurav Mishra, en zo is het.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pirate Cat Radio: Rwanda, Congo, and Professor Peter Erlinder's arrest

U.S. Law Professor Peter Erlinder and Rwandan presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza in a Kigali, Rwanda courtroom.  Professor Erlinder wore one of Rwanda's pink prison uniforms.

On Friday evening, June 19th, San Francisco's Pirate Cat Radio's League of Pissed Off Voters Show invited me on to talk about U.S. Law Professor Peter Erlinder's arrest in Kigali, Rwanda and its context, including:

---Reverend Rick Warren on Trial in the Court of Public Opinion

--Rwanda's 2010 presidential election, with August 9th polls, which will be no more than a charade, because none of the viable candidates have been allowed to register and freely campaign,

--AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command, which was meeting in Kigali, to plan an August "exercise" in Accra, Ghana, to watchdog West African oil and gas and oil and gas transport corridors while Professor Peter Erlinder sat in a Rwanda prison, 

--Rwandan prisons, some of the world's most crowded, with the second highest per capita prison population in the world.  

--Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza's appeal to the world to stand with Rwanda now, as they stood with Professor Erlinder.

(And we actually finished up there, for now, because the next Pirate Cat programmer came in.  Pirate Cat Radio is a fairly informal operation, and, as League of Pissed Off Voters Radio host Andy Blue said, "It is no longer broadcasting on 87.9FM," not to the knowledge of anyone there.)

In his press conference at William and Mitchell College of Law in Minneapolis/St. Paul on Wednesday, 05.23.2010, following his return, Professor Erlinder thanked all the people around the world who had called for his release, and said that he owed his life to them and to the Internet.  His release was, he said, a triumph for people power, but he also said that it would not have occurred if he had not been a white American lawyer with friends, family, and allies capable of organizing and lobbying relentlessly for his release.

He also said that he would have been disappeared if he hadn't sat down in a Kigali hotel hallway and started making noise, refusing to cooperate, demanding to speak to his Embassy till the police called them. Airline records, and the U.S. Embassy's records, on the day of his arrest, said that he'd already flown out of Kigali to Nairobi the previous morning.

He appeared at the press conference in a suit and tie, but held up a replica of the pink Rwandan prison costume he had worn in Kigali and promised to wear it in future appearances, in solidarity with the Rwandan people and prisoners, though he had promised his family not to wear it on Wednesday.  

Video of Peter Erlinder's 06.23 press conference at William and Mitchell Law College in Minneapolis is not available yet, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune made this video of his homecoming available on the Youtube:

--Ann Garrison

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hirsch Ballin's Timing

Radio Netherlands WorldWide asked Hirsch Ballin , Dutch Minister of Justice, after his return to the Netherlands: 
"You were holding talks in Rwanda on an extradition treaty and suddenly a Rwandan genocide suspect was arrested in the south of the Netherlands. Was that just a coincidence?"
Hirsch Ballin answers:
"That arrest was not the result of my visit to Kigali. Our policy has been in place since 2008. We want people who come to the Netherlands with the intention of staying here – and who are suspected of crimes against humanity or against international law – to be brought to trial here, before an international tribunal or in the country where the crimes were allegedly committed."
Obviously the arrest was not the result of his vist. The real question is however, why did the arrest occur DURING the visit, and why was the visit planned BEFORE the August elections in Rwanda.

Hirsch Ballin   (pathetic) statements concerning the "democratic process" in Rwanda confirm my observations earlier today:
  • "Firstly, I’d like to say that the Rwandan government was democratically chosen and is legitimate."
  • "We anticipate no problems with the country’s democratic process."
  • "we’ll continue to work with the democratically elected government. "
On Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza:

You will extradite future suspects despite the case of Victoire Ingabire? (RNWW)

Hirsch Ballin:
"The case you’re referring to has nothing to do with extradition. It concerns someone who travelled to Rwanda herself. It’s not my place to comment on the case. We intend to carry on working towards a treaty because of the exceptional co-operation in the field of justice between our two countries."
Referring to her as "a case", as if she doesn't have family living in the Netherlands that live in fear every day. As if Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza has not been part of Dutch society for 17 years.

His claims that "the case has nothing to do with extradition" is, in the context of Erlinder's and Ingabire's treatment in Rwanda, premature and a clear threat to Rwandan immigrants living in the Netherlands. It's a statement that potentially influences decisions by Dutch judges in extradition cases.When he said "It’s not my place to comment on the case" he in fact just realized he had said too much and allready had commented on these potential "extradition cases". The minister of Justicle knows he has to refrain from commenting on ongoing jucidial extradition procedings against Rwandans accused of genocide.

His lack of compassion with Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and his eager comments concerning the relationship between "the case" and "extradition cases" reveals bias, deep hatred and contempt for this former "asylumseeker" who thinks she can run for President in Rwanda. An illustration of the lack of respect for immigrants displayed in Dutch society in general throughout the last decade. It's symptomatic of the typical Dutch "no we can't mentality", a society divided in "classes". Suddenly I understand why Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza wanted to return.

Protestors block an Israeli ship from unloading in Oakland, California

Protestors blocked an Israeli ship from unloading in the Port of Oakland for 24 hours on Sunday, June 20, 2010.   The International Longshore and Warehouse Union supported the blockade: 

Oakland, CA Boycott of Israeli Ship: June 20, 2010 from Oriana Bolden on Vimeo.

Hirsch Ballin's " Realpolitik"

The NRC published an article by Koert Lindijer  on Pierre-Claver K april 24th which is a collection of unsubstantiated allegations, mostly Koert's own little view of reality. April 27th Pierre-Claver K reacted in the same newspaper. Koert Lindijer over the years has portrayed himself as the Dutch pope on how we should view Rwanda, Congo and other parts of Africa. It seems likely that politicians in Dutch parliament base their views concerning Rwanda on these kind of articles, thinking it might be the safe thing to do. Lindijer's articles are, at the least, a good contextualisation of Hirsch Ballin's current visit to Rwanda.

Edmund Kagire writes :
"Netherlands — Authorities in the Netherlands yesterday arrested a woman in a village south of the country on suspicion of involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Yvonne Ntacyobatabara, 63, married to Augustin Basebya is said to have led a group of militias who killed Tutsis in Gikondo, Nyenyeri area in the Genocide. She was a member of the extremist political party, Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR).Ntacyobatabara was sentenced in absentia to life by a Gacaca Court in Gikondo. She moved to the Netherlands in 1998 to reunite with her family and has held Dutch citizenship since 2004."
 Hirsch Ballin, Dutch Justice Minister apparently thinks it's necessary to "coincidentally" arrest this Rwandan lady with a Dutch passport during his visit to Rwanda. Allthough the Dutch government continuously suggests it does not want to get involved in Rwandan politics, the timing of the visit and the context of the arrest are obviously aiming to stress that the current Dutch Government wants to be good friends with Paul Kagame, who is expected to "win" the next elections.The following statement shows the context of Yvonne Ntacyobatabara arrest:
"The Kingdom of Netherlands and the Government of Rwanda have embarked on a process that will eventually see the two countries sign an extradition treaty. Once signed, Genocide fugitives, who had found a safe haven in the Netherlands, will be extradited to Rwanda. This was revealed by the Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, and his Dutch counterpart, Dr. Ernst Hirsch Ballin, during a press conference on Saturday."

Since having been forced to suspend budgetsupport in 2009 based on a UN report (the Minister of development cooperation didn't have another option), the Dutch government has been saying very nice things about Paul Kagame, in order to restore the relationship.  In order to do this the President of the foreign affairs committee, Henk Jan Ormel (CDA just as Hirsch Ballin), arranged a visit to Rwanda in january 2010 and said the following:
"The Netherlands are an important donor, so this decision had quite some impact. I can understand that Rwandese people are angry about that, and they rightly confronted us with that. We had a lot of talks and I’ve come to understand that next time, in a similar situation, it’s much better to travel to the country concerned and take enough time to hear both sides of the story.”
And after having tea with the Rwandan President he said:

"In just this hour and a half, it became obvious that president Kagame is one of the main African leaders of the moment. He’s a promoter of a green economy, he wants to modernise the country, unify people. And that, I think, is indeed the only way forward for Rwanda.”
It's great to go after those who have perpetrated crimes and genocide in the Great Lakes Region, but what we see here is  a political calculation based on the (desired) outcome of the august elections in Rwanda. Hirsch Ballin's couldn't wait till september to visit Rwanda, after elections had taken place. Hirsch Ballin had  to arrest Yvonne Ntacyobatabara during his visit  to symbolize the restored ties with Rwanda.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nyamwasa Assassination Attempt Timeline

Source du Nil, a valuable Rwandan blog, wrote about Nyamwasa very early on (february 27) claiming he might be of crucial importance to the trials against the RPF leadership in France and Spain.

At the end of march it became clear that former Rwandan Army Chief Nyamwasa would not be extradited to Rwanda by South Africa after President Jacob Zuma said his country is obliged to follow international laws on asylum.

Half of april Paul Kagame compared Nyamwasa to "execreted human waste" in a speech at the Rwandan parliament.

At the end of May General Nyamwasa responded to Paul Kagame accusations, Alex Engwete wrote about it that day.

Dr Tito Rutaremara (head of RPF information), June 5th wrote an answer to that response in the Ugandan Daily Monitor.

Jean-Marie Vianney Ndagijimana wrote on his great Rwandan diaspora blog June 9th:
"Kayumba Nyamwasa souhaite se rendre en Espagne le plus tôt possible"
"Certains milieux bien informés affirment qu’un budget de 15 millions de dollars vient d'être  été alloué à l’opération  UMUSAMBI  « Grue couronnée ».  Comprenne qui pourra ou plutôt qui voudra. Mais, Kayumba le sait.C'est pourquoi il veut se rendre en Espagne. Mais Kagame refuse. Un bras de fer entre L'Espagne, Kayumba et surtout Paul Kagame. Qui en sortira vainqueur?  Qui des trois protagonistes risque-t-il d'attendre la semaine des quatre jeudis? A suivre! "
For now this seems to mean that 15 million has been paid for the Umusambi project
, an instrument?, a song for the king??? and a bird??, what is this riddle about, and who apart from Kagame and Kayumba is the third protagonist that is reaching for the impossible?

Alexandre Kimneyi writes umusambi 'crested crane' for Abanyiginya/Abasindi/Abatsobe
which is the tribe totum for Kayumba's tribe according to mugisha abdul 
 "kagame is from the clan of ABEEGA.This clan from time immemorial, has been fighting the ABANYIGINYA, from which the Royals to be kings etc are choosen from.Abanyiginya live in Nyanza which is the next town to Gitarama, but in Butare province.in otherwards its like mukono district boardering Jinja.". 
 June 11th Jean Bosco Kazura, a Rwandan General was arrested for traveling to South Africa without asking first:
"The spokesman added that the detention of the general, was not connected to an ongoing extradition plea for two other senior officers currently in exile in South Africa."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Peter Erlinder's release and Victoire Ingabire's appeal

U.S. Law Professor Peter Erlinder's lawyer Otachi Gershom and presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza left a Kigali, Rwanda courtroom, on Jun 17th, where a Rwandan judge had just handed down a decision to release Erlinder on medical grounds.  Erlinder remained in Kigali's King Faisal Hospital during yesterday's courtroom proceedings. 

On June 17, a Rwanda judge released U.S. Law Professor and international criminal defense attorney Peter Erlinder from a Rwandan Prison, on medical grounds.

Erlinder has been imprisoned since May 28th, several days after traveling to Rwanda to defend presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza against the same "genocide ideology" charges he now faces in Rwanda. Erlinder, however, will be allowed to return to the United States, unlike Ingabire, who remains under house arrest in Rwanda.

Ingabire appealed to the international community to stand, now, with Rwanda, as they have with Professor Peter Erlinder.

Read at Digital Journal:

Kagame releases Professor Erlinder on medical grounds

Ingabire's appeal: Stand with Rwanda, as with Professor Peter Erlinder

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Radio Uganda USA - Frank Mugisha debates Pastor Godfrey Oklori

Peter Zaduk On Peter Erlinder

Peter Zaduk says :
"I was a lawyer at the ICTR where my client Protais Zigiranyirazo was acquitted. I got to know Peter Erlinder quite well.

Unfortunately many of the above comments are misconceived. I do not think Peter has ever denied that there were mass killings of Tutsi that can be encompassed by the legal defition of genocide. He makes two broader points, which are shared I may say, by almost all of the defence lawyers who have practiced before the ICTR:
1. There were mass killings of Hutus as well, by the Tutsi RPF. These equally constitute genocide but have been overlooked by the ICTR which has never prosecuted a single Tutsi. The ICTR often trumpets the "end of impunity" but in fact has institutionalized impunity with respect to RPR crimes.
2. There has never been proven a broad conspiract by the Hutu led government or military to commit genocide. The prosecution has never established this. The accused in the miltary trial, which Peter defended, were acquitted on this allegation. So was my client Mr Zigiranyirazo.
This is not to say that a genocide of Tutsi did not ocurr, only that it was not a genocide coordinated and planned by the government or the miltary.
Peter is being prosecuted in Rwanda for having said these things in court in the defence of his client. The judges who accepted his arguments could equally be subject to Rwandan "justice" for having agreed with him."

Looking to the future, remembering the past

I get the feeling the underlying message Patrick Karuretwa seems to want to get across in his article "Not up for debate: Rwanda cannot excuse Peter Erlinder's genocide denial" is that debate on Rwanda's history jeopardizes Rwanda's achievements today:
"They will not manage to derail a country that in less than two decades has moved from the verge of disintegration to becoming a regional model in areas as critical and wide-ranging as healthcare, anti-corruption, environmental policies, business climate, contribution to peacekeeping, women empowerment, access to education, etc. All they will achieve is to make Rwandans - and, indeed, all Africans - stronger, wiser, and more assertive in their claim for fairness and respect."

In other words, even if the RPF committed these crimes, let's not talk about them, it might destabilize Rwanda and it's achievements today. Alan J. Kuperman, who recently weighed in on the Erlinder case , offers an alternative prescription:
"golden parachutes for departing authoritarian leaders in cases in which forgiving past crimes is the price of preventing future ones."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ogetto warns of dangerous international legal precedent in Rwanda

Kenyan Lawyer Kennedy Ogetto with his client American Law Professor Peter Erlinder on June 14th, outside a Rwandan courtroom, where Erlinder appealed a Rwandan judge's decision denying him bail on June 7th.

Kennedy Ogetto, Kenyan lawyer and Defense Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda warned that Rwanda's arrest of American Law Professor Peter Erlinder sets a very dangerous international legal precedent.

Ogetto, is now in Rwanda's capitol, Kigali, defending Erlinder, who was arrested on May 28th, for speech crime, in Rwanda. He said that the prosecution's use of statements Erlinder made as a defense lawyer at the ICTR as evidence against him will make it impossible for defense lawyers to safely defend anyone in international courts, and called on the international community to insist more adamantly on Erlinder's release.

Read/listen at Digital Journal, http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/293386.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Erlinder's Homerun

Ethan Zuckerman, closely following Erlinder's case and cofounder of globalvoices, recently asked "Texasinafrica" on twitter, after she had given him feedback on his blogging:

@texasinafrica media narrative currently ignoring what Erlinder believes, advocates for. Hoping someone smarter than me - (con't)

@texasinafrica point of my piece was that Erlinder believes a counternarrative and point out that the facts are very tricky. 
Today  "Texasinafrica" writes "Erlinder certainly has some off-base views about the genocide" . Laura Seay twittered Ethan Zuckerman at the end of may  saying:
@texasinafrica @Katrinskaya @EthanZ Available evidence strongly suggests Hutu extremists shot down the plane, only ones to ever claim responsibility.
 In the context of France President Sarkozy's recent visit  to the genocide memorial in Kigali, Bernard Lugan explains that investigations are still ongoing, in France, in Spain and at the ICTR. Available evidence has sofar suggested to the French anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguière that Paul Kagame is behind the downing. Both widows agree with this version. The Mutsinzi report by Rwanda's government, only written after Bruguera had finished his investigation, probably suggests otherwise. I am not aware of others having weighed the evidence in this case sofar.

Rather then being off-base, Peter Erlinder is making a home-run in defense for the clients he is defending at the ICTR as Kevin Jon Heller points out here  "Two Thoughts on Peter Erlinder's Arrest in Rwanda"   and as Eleneus Akanga writes here "Erlinder's Arrest":Blessing Or Curse"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tijd Voor Grondige Bezinning ChristenUnie

Remco van Mulligen herhaalde in zijn eerste reactie op de verkiezingsnederlaag van de ChristenUnie nog eens wat volgens hem de kracht van de ChristenUnie is:
"Het bestaansrecht van de ChristenUnie bestaat uit haar combinatie van een sociaal-economisch centrum-links en een ethisch conservatief program."
Een hardnekkig misverstand wat mij betreft, waar ik in een eerdere discussie op zijn blog al over schreef:

"Zoals Harinck aangeeft in het RD: “de ChristenUnie legt weinig nadruk op de uitgangspunten van de partij en en zoekt kiezers op basis van haar politieke programma”. Een understatement dat precies de koers van de partij typeert. Vooral binnen het voormalige RPF deel van de partij zul je mensen daar niet over horen klagen. Programmatisch samenwerken en dingen voor elkaar boxen, daar gaat het om in de politiek zie je ze denken. Ingewikkelde discussies over de uitgangspunten van de partij zijn niet sexy. De koers van de partij lijkt dan ook een vlucht naar voren die ofwel gebrek aan inhoud, ofwel enorme interne spanningen verraden."
 Het is in dat verband opvallend dat Roel Kuiper in een eerste reactie op de nederlaag van de ChristenUnie vervolgens suggereert dat de ChristenUnie kiezers heeft geprobeerd te trekken op basis van haar uitgangspunten, het ND schrijft: "ChristenUnie-senator Roel Kuiper ziet twee patronen bij de christelijke kiezer":
,,Er is een groep die trouw blijft aan een partij die het christelijk geloof als uitgangspunt neemt. Die groep bleek woensdag kleiner te zijn dan we dachten. Daarnaast is er een groep christenen die zich verdeelt over het hele politieke spectrum. Zij bepalen hun stem aan de hand van de Stemwijzer of een enkel issue zoals duurzaamheid.''
Hij weet zelf terdege dat dit een miskenning is van de complexe interne discussie en interne spanning op dit punt. Denk alleen al aan de manier waarop de partijtop met de kritiek van Ad de Bruijne en  George (link voor de luie lezer, google zelf de rest bijelkaar zou ik zeggen) Harinck omgegaan is. Maar vergeet vooral ook niet hoe de voorzichtige kritiek in dezen van Gert Schutte  (zie comment section onder dat artikel) en Kars Veling volledig genegeerd werden.

In dezelfde ("steek je kop vooral in het zand") categorie past wat mij betreft de reactie van ChristenUnie- senator Egbert Schuurman (ND):  ,heel somber',
"Het gaat met Nederland in moreel opzicht helemaal fout',  burgers kiezen voor de machten van materialisme en verabsoluteerde vrijheid, en dat gaat ook onze eigen kring niet voorbij."
Het is teleurstellend dat partijbaronnen op die manier hun eigen straatje proberen schoon te vegen en daarmee interne factoren die tot deze verkiezingsnederlaag geleid hebben miskennen.

Ewout Klei gaf ons allen in januari een  advies:
"Omdat de partij graag aan de macht wil blijven vasthouden, zonder meteen een groot deel van haar leden te verliezen, zal de partij zich denk ik langzaam in ‘progressievere’ richting ontwikkelen, zonder dit te verantwoorden want het laatste geeft alleen maar gedoe. Het gaat nu goed, waarom dit nu verpesten door ingewikkelde interne discussies? De ChristenUnie gaat pas over dit soort dingen nadenken als ze weer in de oppositie zitten. Volgens jaar dus. ;)"
De tijd is nu aangebroken om dit advies op te volgen (Een broodnodige herbronning van christelijke politiek waarbij meer dan alleen de aanhangers van de WDW aan hun trekken komen),  en dat is winst!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

U.S. House Resolution to urge Rwanda to free Professor Peter Erlinder

Congresswoman Betty McCollum represents Professor Peter Erlinder in Minnesota's 4th District.

Congressman Keith Ellison, D-MN, represents Minnesota's 5th District and is a personal friend of Professor Peter Erlinder. 

Congresswoman Betty McCollum, D-MN, and Congressman Keith Ellis, D-MN, have introduced this resolution urging the Government of Rwanda to free Professor Peter Erlinder, who was arrested by the government of Rwanda on May 28th, 2010, and now remains in a Rwandan prison, denied bail.  U.S. citizens can find  telephone #s to call their House Reps and ask them to support the resolution on this Africa Faith and Justice Network page:  http://goo.gl/Wgf2.


HRES 1426 IH

2d Session

H. RES. 1426
Urging the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and President Paul Kagame to immediately release human rights lawyer Professor Peter Erlinder from jail and allow him to return to the United States.

June 8, 2010

Ms. MCCOLLUM (for herself and Mr. ELLISON) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs:

Urging the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and President Paul Kagame to immediately release human rights lawyer Professor Peter Erlinder from jail and allow him to return to the United States.

Whereas the Constitution of Rwanda, adopted on May 26, 2003, states that Rwanda is `Resolved to build a State governed by the rule of law, based on respect for fundamental human rights, pluralistic democracy, equitable power sharing, tolerance and resolution of issues through dialogue';

Whereas there is an increasing pattern of restrictions of free expression in Rwanda ahead of the August presidential elections, including the denial of a work visa to a senior Human Rights Watch researcher and the crackdown of opposition members and journalists;

Whereas the United States Government has provided over $1,034,000,000 billion in United States taxpayer-funded foreign assistance to Rwanda since 2000, and an additional $240,200,000 is proposed in the President's fiscal year 2011 budget;

Whereas Peter Erlinder is a law professor at William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and has served as a lead defense attorney for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania;

Whereas Peter Erlinder was arrested on May 28, 2010, in Kigali, Rwanda, and is currently being detained at Kicukiro Prison on charges of `genocide ideology' based in part upon legal arguments made during his work as a defense attorney at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; and

Whereas United States Department of State Spokesman P.J. Crowley announced on June 3, 2010, that the United States Government was pressing the Government of Rwanda to `resolve this case quickly' and that the Department of State hoped for Peter Erlinder's release on `compassionate grounds': Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives urges the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and President Paul Kagame to immediately release Professor Peter Erlinder from jail and allow him to return to the United States.

Thursday Is Also Sad

  Followed the Dutch election night, bad idea. Christian conservative Balkenende won't come back as prime-minister after his party lost half of it's seats. Liberal conservative Mark Rutte beat  Labour Parties Job Cohen by one seat. Anti-Islam and Anti-immigrant Geert Wilders (PVV)  is off course eager to join the next government.

Allthough I am not really worried that Geert Wilders will join a coalition government  (considering the fact that parts of the CDA won´t go along with that and that VVD, CDA, PVV have just 76 seats alltogheter on a total of 150), it´s clear that his simplistic views concerning immigrants and Islam are far from healthy. The reason for his 24 seat victory lies with the large political families that refused to engage Geert Wilders on the content. Balkenende´s only response was to further limit immigration. The ChristenUnie, also a conservative/christian party made right turn and started to sing the same `western values are superior to immigrant values` song.

Cynthia Ortega, candidate from a minority background from the Antilles (ChristenUnie), still sees Ed Anker in her rearview mirror. It's quite remarkable that she still hangs on after party leadership and selection committee had placed her much lower on the list (How can you talk about integration of immigrants without actively working on their integration within your party  ). The members of the party decided contrary to party leadership and decided to vote on the list, which resulted in her being place in no. 5. position. Today the preferential votes will be counted which will decide the final order on the electoral list. Let's wait and see.

I like this song `Call it stormy monday` , it´s like the Jazz version of Genesis 1  (The Bible for starters ) . Wikipidea claims that it´s by  T-Bone Walker and written in 1947. I have listend to a version by a pianist called Joe Turner which I find even better, just can´t find it online.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Professor Erlinder asks uncomfortable questions

Let me remind the readers of the Minneapolis StarTribune that Ward Brehm, as former chairman of the United States African Development Foundation (Yesterday he got appointed as member of the board of directors of this organisation by President Barack Obama), has long been part of the US political establishment which has been maintaining very close ties with the current Rwandan leadership. Influential politicians call Kagame their `personal friend`. In mainstream press the current President of Rwanda has been compared to George Washington. Ward Brehm himself wrote in the Minnesota Startribune, january 5th 2008, that 
"The "cure" for all of Africa, is to democratically elect leaders with good hearts. There are wonderful bastions of both hope and promise in Africa. Rwanda..."
Who said Rwanda's current regime didn't receive credit? The uncomfortable question Professor Erlinder's research has tossed on the table is whether this credit is deserved. This, rather then "caring deeply about Rwanda" explains Ward Brehm's venomous attack on the quality of Professor Erlinder's work and honorable intententions. Hard questions raised by Professor Erlinder won't go away by mischaracterizing his statements and ignoring his research. Citizens across the US deserve real answers to these undoubtedly hard questions concerning the longtime uncritical US support of the current Rwandan regime. Superficial sentimental stories of great visits to Rwanda, which is off course a beautiful country and a beautiful people, just are not good enough.

Let´s start by strongly denouncing Louise Mushikiwabo´s smear campaign

Kagame´s regime´s  smear campaign, run by it´s  information minister (now minister of foreign affairs) Louise Mushikiwabo, against it´s critics like Paul Rusesabagina has been going on for years. Read what Louise Mushikiwabo said in  03/06/2007 (she was information minister at the time and has been responsable for closing down free press in Rwanda during the last couple of years)
`For those who do not know much about Rwanda's history of the last 40 years, it is the likes of Rusesabagina who brought Rwanda close to extinction --men/women who talk from both sides of their mouthes, political opportunists whose ambition comes before the lives of their countrypeople. Rusesabagina must be stopped.`
In order to  `stop him´ and other critics  the Rwandan ambassador to the US accused Paul Rusesabagina and former Senator (D) from Texas (and former ambassador to Burundi), Robert Krueger in 2008, of buying arms to send to the FDLR.  Claims that since have (off course) not been substantiated. Listen here.

Let Louise Mushikiwabo  (as information minister at the time she bares full responsability for this character assasination campaign) publicly come out with a statement expressing regret  and apologize for these unsubstantiated and baseless allegations against a respected member of the Rwandan diaspora and against the respected gentleman from Texas (Senator Robert Krueger) preferrably written by her ´house journalist´ Edmund Kagire.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fox News confuses Rwanda's presidential election with the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda

Rwandan presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza.   Professor Peter Erlinder went to Rwanda to defend her, but Fox News seems to think he went to defend alleged perpetrators of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.

Fox News reached new extremes of irresponsibility today by reporting thatProfessor Peter Erlinder is in Kigali, Rwanda, to defend “the alleged perpetrators of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.”  Professor Erlinder is in Rwanda to defend opposition presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza against charges of genocide ideology, a speech crime unique to Rwanda which means challenging the received history of the Rwanda Genocide, a crime he himself was arrested for within days of arriving in Rwanda to defend Ingabire.

Fox News, in its own words:

Erlinder, who has not spoken to friends or family since being detained, was in Rwanda defending alleged leaders of the country’s 1994 genocide, but Friday the judge charged him with denying genocide and with publishing articles threatening the country’s security.”

Read more, http://goo.gl/MqhN.