KIGALI - Hundreds of Genocide survivors and activists, yesterday, braved the scotching mid morning sun to march in protest against Peter Erlinder’s presence in the country.
The survivors, under their umbrella association Ibuka, marched from the KBC Roundabout to the Ministry of Justice, carrying placards denouncing Erlinder and his revisionist views.
“Erlinder, get out of Rwanda”, “The Genocide was planned and carried out in Rwanda”, “Erlinder you are not welcome”, read some the placards carried by the survivors as they marched to the American Embassy and then to Police Headquarters in Kacyiru.
The demonstrators condemned his presence in the country which they said was “disrespectful” following his widely publicised rhetoric denying that there was genocide in Rwanda.
According to Theodore Simburudari, the Ibuka President, Erlinder, who was the lead counsel for Major Aloys Ntabakuze in the infamous Military 1 trial at the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR), should not be on Rwandan soil.
“What we want is the government to arrest this individual who deliberately denies the genocide and says that the convicts in Arusha are innocent and the current leadership, that put an end to the Genocide, should instead face charges of war crimes,” Simburudari said.
“We see his presence in the country as a mockery of the Genocide and total disrespect for the country. His association with genocidaires, and his revisionist stance, qualifies him to be a genocidaire.
“His presence in the country is very disturbing to the Genocide survivors. He has said on many occasions that the Genocide was never planned and that what happened was a war just like any other war---this is quite upsetting,” Simburudari continued.
The demonstrators were unaware that Erlinder had been arrested, just before they hit the streets.
Demonstrators speak out
A day before the 12th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide, Erlinder wrote to Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, requesting that President Kagame shouldn’t be allowed into Canada.
“I am here because I read the letter that Peter Erlinder wrote to the Prime Minister of my country, Canada. I don’t support the contents of that letter. He does not agree that the government at the time had anything to do with the Genocide,” Maggie Ziegler said.
“As a Canadian citizen, I am here to stand with the people of Rwanda and the people who acknowledge that what happened here was Genocide”.
“It is very sad. He insists that there was no Genocide, yet the international community and his country of origin, accept that there was Genocide,” said another demonstrator Francois Ruzindaza, 79.
“We are not happy; our country cannot tolerate this kind of arrogance by people from the West. He is a sadist, he should go. He should be punished so that other people can learn from him,” said 22 year old Eve Mashyaka, a student at Kicukiro College of Technology.
In many of his publications and public statements, Peter Erlinder, denies the fact that Genocide took place in Rwanda.