Rwandan Police have arrested Peter Erlinder, the American lawyer who traveled to Rwanda's capitol, Kigali, on Monday, May 23rd, to join the defense team of Rwandan presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza.
Ingabire was released after being summoned to a Rwandan police station yesterday, much to the relief of her supporters, but this morning both she and the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported that Erlinder had been arrested and charged with "genocide ideology," a speech crime unique to Rwanda which Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and even the U.S. State Department have denounced as a tool of political repression.
Erlinder, a prominent critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame's regime, and of the received history of the Rwanda Genocide, had traveled to Kigali after attending the Second Intetnational Criminal Defense Lawyers' Conference in Brussels.
State run Rwandan media have attacked Erlinder since his arrival and the Rwandan News Agency report that he is now in custody and being interrogated at the Rwandan Police Force’s Kacyiru headquarters.
The RNA also reports that the American embassy in Kigali have taken up the matter, but it is not yet clear in what form. The Embassy is located just meters away from the police headquarters.
Before leaving for Bruxelles and then Kigali, Erlinder notified the U.S. State Department, his Minnesota Congressional Representative Keith Ellison, and Minnesota Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar.
Erlinder bases his critique of the Kagame regime and the received history of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide on the evidence collected in his Rwanda Documents Project.