Rwanda, a close American ally that has received hundreds of millions of dollars of American aid, is tightening restrictions on political opponents and critics of the government in the months leading up to elections in August, several human rights groups have said. No subject seems to be touchier than the genocide in 1994, in which hundreds of thousands of minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred by government-backed death squads. In recent years, thousands of Rwandans have been charged with genocide ideology, an Orwellian-sounding and vaguely defined crime often leveled against anyone who challenges the government’s version of events in 1994.
But Mr. Erlinder’s case is the first time Rwanda has leveled such charges against a Westerner. And the charges against [American law professor Peter Erlinder], 62, seem to have nothing to do with what he may have said or done in Rwanda, but more with his earlier work as a defense lawyer at a United Nations-backed tribunal in Tanzania.
At that tribunal, Mr. Erlinder, who represented a top genocide suspect, disputed the standard characterization of the bloodshed in Rwanda as Hutu victimizers slaughtering innocent Tutsis. Instead, he said that the violence was more spontaneous and possibly the result of Tutsi rebels killing Hutu civilians. He even went as far as to say that the Tutsi rebels, who now rule Rwanda, assassinated Rwanda’s president in 1994, the event that set off the widespread murder.
June 2, 2010
"The American lawyer jailed by the authorities in Rwanda last week on accusations of denying the nation’s genocide..."
"... tried to kill himself with a pill overdose in his cell, officials there said Wednesday, and he now may face a new charge under Rwandan law: attempted suicide...."