The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jon Katz
Ph: 301-495-7755.

The DC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild Protests the Detention of Attorney Peter Erlinder by Rwanda

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 5 - 6:30 PM


The DC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild Protests the Detention
of Attorney
Peter Erlinder by Rwanda:

Please join the DC National
Lawyers Guild in front of the Rwandan Embassy this
evening to call for the release of attorney Peter Erlinder.

Protest to Free Peter Erlinder

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

5 - 6:30 PM

In front of the Embassy of Rwanda

1714 New Hampshire Ave, NW

American law professor and former president of the
Lawyers Guild Peter Erlinder was recently arrested by Rwandan
authorities and
charged with "genocide negationism", a speech crime that could carry
a sentence of 25 years in prison. He traveled to Rwanda on May 23 to
aid in
the defense of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, a leading opposition figure
and presidential
candidate. The DC chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (DC-NLG)
strongly condemns
this politically motivated prosecution of an attorney for vigorously
his client and will protest outside the Rwandan Embassy (1714 New
Avenue NW) today at 5:30 pm.

President of the DC-NLG, Turna Lewis said, "Professor Erlinder
to Rwanda to provide representation in a legal proceeding. The rule of
law requires
that defendants be permitted to obtain legal counsel that will
advocate for
their interests. Any country that prosecutes attorneys for defending
their clients
cannot claim to respect democracy or human rights."

The crime that Professor Erlinder has been accused of, "genocide
requires no proof of participation in genocidal acts and criminalizes
protected by international humans rights law as codified in the
Genocide Convention
of 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1966. According
to Human Rights Watch, the Rwandan government regularly uses
prosecutions or
threats of prosecution under this law to stifle legitimate dissent.

Yesterday, Professor Erlinder was denied bail and was transferred
from the
jail where he had been held to the general prison in Kigali. He could
be held
for another month until his appeal is heard.

Professor Erlinder is a professor of law at the William Mitchell
College of
Law. He is a frequent litigator and consultant, often pro bono, in
cases involving
the death penalty, civil rights, claims of government and police
and criminal defense of political activists. Erlinder was president of
the National
Lawyers Guild from 1993-1997. He has been a defense attorney at the UN
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since 2003.

The DC-NLG will protest today outside the Rwandan Embassy to demand
the Rwandan
government immediately release Professor Erlinder

Remain abreast of latest updates via Free
Professor Erlinder Now
on Facebook.

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) works to promote human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interests. It was founded in 1937 as the first national, racially-integrated bar association in the U.S.

(212) 679-5100