|Law Professor Peter Erlinder speaking|
to the National Lawyers Guild, holding
a duplicate of the pink prison garb
he wore while incarcerated in Rwanda,
after traveling there in May of 2010
to defend opposition leader
Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza,
who is now in prison herself.
KPFA: What do you think Americans most need to understand about what happened in Rwanda, and then in Congo? What does this have to do with us?
Peter Erlinder: Well, I think that what this has to do with us I'd like to answer first. The United States has played an active role in destabilizing the Great Lakes Region of Africa for the last 25 years. It's a role that the American people, however, do not understand, and because they don't understand it, they're not able to take action to change it. But with respect to Rwanda, what the evidence in the files show, that have been kept secret until I was able to get them, is that actually it was the Pentagon that created the RPF, grew them from 2500 to 25,000 troops in a period of two years, provided the material and the support necessary for them to take over the country, that at the same time the State Department was attempting to get the RPF to agree to give up its power and to enter into a minority position in the government, the Pentagon was continuing to support them and make them an even larger military force, so there was no incentive for them to give up their militarily superior position.
It's also true that in 1996 and 1998, Rwanda and Uganda, both with the support of the US and UK, invaded the eastern Congo and have occupied the eastern Congo since that time. Reports to the UN Security Council from experts that were engaged by the Security Council have reported repeatedly, 2001, 2, 3, 2008, 2010, that the armies of Uganda and Rwanda are occupying the eastern Congo, killing millions of people, at least six million, and raping the resources of the Congo. But unfortunately, because both of these are proxy armies that are convenient for the United States, we don't hear about those crimes, and the perpetrators of the crimes are not called before the International Criminal Court, and the American people are in a position where they don't realize that their country is actually responsible for the massive crimes in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and we should care about that greatly because these crimes are being done in our name.
KPFA: Peter Erlinder, thank you for speaking to KPFA. For Pacifica, KPFA, and AfrobeatRadio, I'm Ann Garrison.