A Rwandan judge has charged an American lawyer with denying Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and publishing articles that threaten the country’s security, in a case critics see as the latest sign of increasing repression before national elections in August.
The lawyer, Peter Erlinder, pleaded not guilty to the charges during a five-hour court hearing late Friday in the capital, Kigali.
“It is the first time I have come to know that my obscure publications back in America were that bad and could amount to genocide denial,” Mr. Erlinder told the court. He suggested that it might be a case of misinterpretation or misunderstanding.
If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison. Judge Maurice Mbishibishi said he would decide on Monday whether to grant bail.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
I guess if you are a conventional western Leftist, then it's easy for you to, say, take the side of Hamas against Israel or the GITMO inmates against the US. But, if you want to be on the cutting edge of progressive foreign policy, then of course you have to take the side of genocidal maniacs in Rwanda: Rwanda Charges American Over Articles
Erlinder is not just a lawyer, and author of "obscure publications." He is a law professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn., and is a past president of the National Lawyers Guild. He is also one of a group of lawyers serving as defense counsel for for Rwandan Hutus on trial at The Hague. And, among other things, his "obscure publications" have claimed that the plane crash that set off the genocide was orchestrated by the current regime, the equivalent of claiming that George Bush planned 9/11 or FDR allowed Pearl Harbor to happen.
In other words, Erlinder is a well-connected member of the International Left who thinks nothing of going to a foreign country and challenging the basic facts of a genocide that happened just 15 years ago. Whether it's deciding when Israel should defend itself, or when Columbia should be able to wage war against FARC, or parsing the details of a horrifying genocide, the sophisticated leftist always manages to use his wealth and education to choose the absolute wrong side. Naturally, only those who are past winners of the Free Will Nobels are accorded this sort of despicable treatment.
It's an odd fixation, this desire among the legal Left to intervene on behalf of the forces of darkness against the desperate remnants of civil society. Human Rights Watch, for one, thinks that the UN should pursue war crime charges against Paul Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front for its own actions during the genocide. Yeah, all they did was invade Rwanda to stop the damn genocide. Pardon their dust.
Erlinder is apparently in ill health and has had his request for bail denied. There is also word of a faked suicide attempt, but who knows. The fact is that Erlinder picked the wrong place to play-act at Idealistic Rebel. His trial starts in 30 days.