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

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