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Peter Erlinder returns home

By Sarah Martin

Minneapolis, MN – After 21 days in a Rwanda jail, lawyer Peter Erlinder returned home today. He was met by 20 supporters and as many reporters. After hugging his wife, Masako Usui, he said, “Unlike Mark Twain, the reports of my demise were only slightly exaggerated.”

Erlinder was arrested and jailed for breaking the Rwandan genocide ideology law – which prohibits anyone from questioning the official Rwandan account of the killings in 1984. He had gone to Rwanda to defend Victoire Ingabire, an opposition candidate for president in the upcoming August election, who is also charged with genocide ideology denial. Erlinder is a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and is an outspoken critic of U.S. policy.

Peter Erlinder credited his release to the worldwide movement organized on his behalf which made governments do what they didn’t want to do. This was his first trip to Kigali, Rwanda since 1994 and although he saw great improvement in the way the city looks, Erlinder says there is another reality, though our government has led us to believe that Rwanda has become an open country. “I am privileged to have experienced and seen the other side of Rwanda,” Erlinder said. Despite the repression of the government, he thanked individual Rwandans, including guards who treated him well and brought him food while he was in jail.

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