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Lawyers Who Reveal the Truth: The Arrest and Threats to the Life of Attorney Professor Peter Erlinder

by Niloufer Bhagwat

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The arrest of   attorney  Professor Peter Erlinder by the government of Rwanda headed by President  Paul Kagame, his deteriorating medical condition and the false information given by the Chief of Police Rwanda  that Professor Peter Erlinder, 

Lead Defense Counsel before the Security Council appointed Special International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, President of the  Association  des Avocats de La Defense  before the ICTR,  earlier a Judge  of  the International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan at Tokyo, attempted to commit suicide while in jail, by taking  50 tablets of prescribed blood pressure tablets and tranquilizers  which his daughter Sarah Erlinder,  an attorney in Arizona has described as an attempt on his life, by laying the ground work to kill him and pass it off as suicide.

This has outraged  prominent associations of Lawyers the world over including  Counsel for Defense at the ICTR and the ICC, many of whom are considering withdrawing from all proceedings of the Security Council appointed Special Tribunals,  in view of the which hunt to which Professor Peter Erlinder is being subjected for bringing forth documentary evidence from UN and US records during the course of the trials that exposed the Rwanda Patriotic Front of President Paul Kagame, a military officer trained at Fort  Leavenworth in the United States, for being responsible  for the special military operation against the then  Rwandan government and  a major role in the  killings  in Rwanda, of both Tutsis and Hutus, in which the RPF was a key  player which was subsequently passed off  by international propaganda through the  global media  as a genocide only against one group, the Tutsis, to camouflage the role of  the RPF led by President Kagame in the assassinations of then President of Rwanda  Habyarimana and  the President of Burundi  for the take over of Rwanda and the subsequent aggression into Central Africa for  the control of the region for the  "blood diamonds", " blood casserite ( tin) and "blood colten"(cellphones) of the Eastern Congo in which already 6 million have been killed, with  the government of Rwanda acting  as a surrogate for outside powers,  in the  "Great Game " for Africa.

The Special Tribunal for Rwanda was  established by a Security Council influenced overwhelmingly by two members of the Security Council , to camouflage the developments in the region, the military backing to the  Ugandan -RPF  invasion  and subject to trials  only the political  opponents of the Rwanda Patriotic Force of Paul Kagame .


The tepid response of the government of the United States to  the arrest and continuing detention of Professor Peter Erlinder  who was arrested at Kigali on 28th May when he arrived to appear as one of the Defense Counsel for a leading Opposition candidate of the United Democratic Forces , also charged with genocide denial,  despite the deterioration of his medical condition and the  US  government's  diplomatic clout in Kigali,  having trained  70, 000    Rwandan troops and given President Kagame  substantial military aid while camouflaging his role in the tragedy of Rwanda,  investigated by the well and respected Australian QC Michael Hourigan  who recommended to the then Chief Prosecutor Lousie Arbor that Paul Kagame be prosecuted ,  has resulted in more questions than answers all over the world  on the shenanigans behind the appointment of these Security Council Special Tribunals and the approach of their Chief Prosecutors  who were hired, fired and replaced by more convenient appointees  . Equally  exposed is the  stand of the government of the  United States of America   in Rwanda and Eastern Congo along with the  government of the UK , both  prime movers in the appointment by  the Security Council of specially constituted  International Criminal Tribunals  for Yugoslavia and Rwanda among others,  now being seen as an effort  to camouflage military and political  interventions,  to take over the economic space of the former Republic of Yugoslavia and a resource rich region of Africa , among other regions  ,by selective use of the charge of  ethnic cleansing and genocide, to protect  surrogate governments , while dooming its opponents.

The death of former President Milosevic came as a relief to the prime movers behind the  ICTY,  in view of the overwhelming evidence available, produced  before the ICTY that the Serbs were equally victims of attacks as were the Bosnian Muslims, that these  attacks were being carried out between various ethnic and religious groups of former Yugoslavia  despite UN forces being in absolute  control in certain  areas  and that the invesigation revealed that Croats had earlier  targeted the Serbs  and  the Kosovo Liberation Army comprising  of  rogue and criminal elements were also  used as an instrument for the restructuring of former Yugoslavia , to justify the bombing which killed more people than  Serbian military forces in Kosovo. From one region to another targeted for occupation and economic control,  the world  is witness to collective killings , sectarian strife and death squads,  of which Iraq is another example .


It is established from the nature of evidence  now before the ICTR, produced from the records of the UN by Professor Peter Erlinder as Defense Counsel  ,  that the real reason for the illegal arrest of Professor Peter Erlinder and the threat to his life from the government of Rwanda which is a surrogate of  other governments, is the painstaking documentation of this thoroughly professional and competent  Lead Counsel who  established the truth behind the tragedy of Rwanda , the killings of both Tutsis and Hutus and the role of the Rwanda Patriotic Front led by President Paul Kagame .


 Lawyers at the ICTR have expressed their desire to withdraw from all proceedings in view of the intimidation and threat to Professor Peter Erlinder .The International Criminal Defense Attorney's Association ( ICDAA) at the recent conference held in the first week of June at Kampala in Uganda , among other associations and individual lawyers all over the world have condemned and protested Professor Erlinder's arrest and continuing detention as ' an attack on the right to Counsel and independence of Counsel and an attack on the independence of the ICTR for Rwanda " . The   Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by  UN General Assembly Resolution   in  1990 at  paragraphs 16 and 17 mandates that Governments shall ensure that lawyers are not threatened or intimidated and that their security is adequately safeguarded  while discharging their functions . It cannot be denied either by the government of Rwanda or the United State government that Professor Peter Erlinder was in Rwanda only to perform a professional duty as requested by the Opposition candidate who had appointed him as a Defense Counsel against similar charges levied to deter by the government of Rwanda .


 Professor Christopher Black of Toronto , Canada , who is a  Barrister and another Lead Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda,  has stated that -" The real reason for the arrest and detention is that Professor Peter Erlinder has written and spoken of overwhelming evidence from UN records produced before the Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal that it was the RPF( the present government of Rwanda ) that started the war which resulted in the deaths of Tutsis and Hutus and the killings in the Congo . This is not even debatable in the true sense . The alleged law under which he is charged is designed to suppress the truth  about the war in Rwanda in order for a brutal regime to maintain its totalitarian control of a tragic country . The US government's tepid response to his arrest no doubt springs from the of this regime and their desire to maintain the three military bases to control the resources of Central Africa . Professor Peter Erlinder is in jail simply for informing the world of the facts . A thought crime . This is a complete suppression of free speech and historical  records . It is fascism pure and simple ".


The Security Council having constituted the ICTR before whom the truth has emerged of the reality of the tragedy of Rwanda , is now duty bound through the Secretary General and the UN Human Rights Council to ensure the safety and liberty of Professor Peter Erlinder who as pro bono Counsel who had volunteered for the ICTR , in the course of his research into UN records along with other Counsel placed the records before the ICTR along with the oral evidence available from diplomatic chanceries including of the United States . Public opinion  had already earlier  learnt that international warrants had been issued by Courts in Spain and France to members of the Kagame government for war crimes , crimes against humanity amounting to genocide, to which President  Kagame's government has not responded .Would that amount to denial of genocide: not appearing before the Spanish and French Courts?


This is a new phase which we are witnessing, with governments collaborating in the arrest, detention and assassination of those lawyers who simply reveal the truth available  in  documentary and other  records in defense of their clients. As I write, it has been reported that bail was denied by the Court in Rwanda on 7th June despite the Counsel for Professor Peter Erlinder submitting to the Court in Rwanda that Professor Erlinder was in urgent need of medical treatment for which he desired to return to the United States .It is necessary to maintain a daily vigil for Professor Peter Erlinder 's  release, even while contrasting what he faces to the impunity granted to those who invade and attack countries, bomb civilian populations and continue the illegal blockade of Gaza who never face a single Security Council constituted Tribunal . It is necessary for lawyers associations in all affected countries to be vigilant against attacks on their professional colleagues and protect the democratic rights and civil liberties of citizens .