[News] Haiti: Stop the new wave of violent repression

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Mon Oct 4 15:43:41 EDT 2004

URGENT ACTION ALERT: October 4, 2004

A massive, violent upsurge in repression has occured in Haiti during the 
past four days, aimed at silencing the Lavalas movement and supporters of 
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti.  On Thursday September 30, 
Haitian police fired upon thousands of unarmed demonstrators who called for 
the return of constitutional order.  On Saturday, police surrounded a 
private radio station where three leading Lavalas parliamentarians had 
denounced the violence on the air.  After a six hour standoff police 
stormed the building and arrested them without warrant.   Dozens of other 
Lavalas activists have been illegally arrested in the past few days, and 
the police have conducted raids on the populous neighborhoods of 
Port-au-Prince, which are the backbone of the Lavalas movement.  Bel Air 
(-- located in the center of the city) is under virtual siege.

The human rights report below from the Institute for Justice and Democracy 
in Haiti provides further details.

We urge you to call, fax, and write the US and UN officials listed below. 
Demand that they stop this wave of violent repression and protect the 
rights of Haitian citizens.

FAX OR CALL Ambassador James Foley and UN Officials in Haiti!

U.S. Ambassador to Haiti: James B. Foley
PHONE: 011.222.0200 OR 011.222.0354
FAX: 011.509.223-9038 OR 011.509.223.1641

UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)
PHONE: 011.509.244.9650.9660
FAX: 011.509.244.9366/67
** Kofi Annan's Special UN Envoy to Haiti: Mr. Juan Gabriel Valdes
** UN Military Commander in Haiti: Lt. General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira
** UN Commissioner for Human Rights in Haiti

Please Fax the MINUSTAH office Attention to the 3 listed above. Better yet, 
send 3 separate letters addressing them individually.

Contact Haiti Action Committee for more information:
<mailto:haitiaction at yahoo.com>haitiaction at yahoo.com         510.483.7481

   _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
P.O. Box 745, Joseph, OR 97846
432-0597    <http://www.ijdh.org/>www.ijdh.org 
<mailto:info at ijdh.org>info at ijdh.org

Haiti Human Rights Alert:  Illegal Arrest of Political Leaders
October 2, 2004
On Saturday October 02, 2004, Haitian police forcibly entered Haiti's Radio 
Caraibe and arrested three former parliamentarians from the Fanmi Lavalas 
party who had criticized the Interim Government during a radio 
program.  They arrested a fourth former legislator who protested the 
arrests.  The warrantless arrests were illegal and a clear violation of the 
detainees' freedom of association and of expression.  They take place in 
the context of a wave of police persecution of human rights critics, and 
verbal attacks on critics by Haiti's Prime Minister.

The three arrested for criticizing the government were former Senators Yvon 
FeuillÈ and Gerard Gilles, and former Deputy Rudy HÈrivaux.  The three form 
the Communications Commission of the Fanmi Lavalas party, and all three are 
prominent critics of human rights violations carried out by Haiti's 
Transitional Government. Lawyer AxËne Joseph, also a former Deputy, was 
arrested when he protested the other arrests.

FeuillÈ, Gilles and HÈrivaux had gone to Radio Caraibe to participate on 
the station's 11AM "RanmasÈ" program, along with Evans Paul and Himmler 
RÈbu, both prominent critics of the Lavalas party.  The program's subject 
was violence accompanying recent anti-government demonstrations.  FeuillÈ, 
Gilles and HÈrivaux denounced the violence, and condemned the police for 
firing on unarmed demonstrators.  Before the program ended, heavily armed 
police officers from the Port-au-Prince police headquarters and specialized 
units surrounded the station and announced their intention to arrest the 
three parliamentarians.

Radio Caraibe's Station Manager, Patrick Mossignac, refused to allow the 
police entry into the station, citing the Haitian Constitution's protection 
of free speech.  Himmler RÈbu and Evens Paul remained in the station to 
protest the police action.  A standoff ensued, until just before 6 PM (the 
Constitution prohibits arrests, even with a warrant, after 6 PM).  At that 
point Judge Gabriel Amboise, a Justice of the Peace, instructed the police 
to cut the locks and make the arrests.  The three Parliamentarians did not 
resist arrest, and were taken by the police from the Station Manager's 
office to the Port-au-Prince police holding cells.  Lawyer AxËne Joseph, 
also a former Deputy, was arrested earlier in the day when he arrived to 
protest the other arrests.

Lawyers for the arrestees demanded that Judge Amboise produce a warrant, as 
required by Haiti's Constitution.  The Judge refused, claiming that a 
verbal order from the Commissaire du Gouvernement (Chief Prosecutor) gave 
him the authority to make the arrest.  He also refused to state the charge 
against the defendants. Throughout the day, however, government and police 
sources made announcements purporting to link FeuillÈ, Gilles and HÈrivaux 
to recent violence.  The police also claimed that a car belonging to one of 
the three contained automatic weapons, but dropped this claim when 
journalists and human rights observers on the scene insisted that the 
police, not the parliamentarians, had brought that car.

The October 2 arrests follow a sharp upturn in attacks against critics of 
the interim government's human rights policies.  On September 7, the 
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a statement expressing 
concern "over several key areas in which the basic rights and freedoms of 
Haitians remain weak and imperiled."  On September 16, Radio Caraibe aired 
an interview with Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, in which Latortue 
complained that human rights criticism was making his relations with donor 
countries difficult.  Later that day police officers raided the offices of 
the Confederation of Haitian Workers (CTH) labor union and arrested nine 
union members, all without a warrant. The official justification for the 
arrest was that the defendants  were "close to the Lavalas 
authorities."  Hours later, masked men in military attire attacked the 
office of the Committee for the Protection of the Rights of the Haitian 
People (CDPH).

The parliamentarians join many other officials of Haiti's Constitutional 
government in jail, including former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and former 
Minister  of the Interior Jocelerme Privert and former Delegate Jacques 
Mathelier.  All are held illegally: neither Prime Minister Neptune nor 
Minister Privert have ever been brought before the judge who issued their 
arrest warrant. Mr. Mathelier was brought before a judge, who ordered his 
liberation on July 12, but prison authorities transferred Mathelier out of 
that judge's jurisdiction.

On Thursday, police interrupted a legal demonstration commemorating the 
anniversary of Haiti's September 30, 1991 coup d'etat.  Human rights 
observers accompanying the demonstration reported that police fired on the 
march, after several attempts to disperse it failed. On the morning of 
October 1, interim Prime Minister Latortue conceded in a radio interview 
that the police had shot at protesters and individuals had been killed, and 
indicated that the authorities would take action against further protests.

Many media reports claim that demonstrators retaliated against the police 
on September 30, killing three.  But before the demonstration started, the 
police had reported three police officers had been attacked in a firefight 
with a crime gang early that morning, with one killed and two 
wounded.   The Interim Government claims to have recovered three bodies of 
decapitated officers, but did not announce their names and the 
Port-au-Prince morgue had not received the bodies of any of the three as of 
4 PM on Friday.  Media reports also say that the violence occurred when 
demonstrators tried to pass before the National Palace.  In fact, the 
unprovoked shooting happened several blocks beyond the Palace, at the Rue 
des Casernes.

The end of last week saw a sharp increase in warrantless arrests and 
shootings of Lavalas supporters by police and anti-Lavalas paramilitary 
groups.  IJDH has received reports from all over Port-au-Prince, especially 
in poor neighborhoods.  The cases that we have been able to confirm so far are:

September 30:

Marguerite Saint-Fils, 35, shot in her home by police from the CIMO unit 
during the course of an operation in La Saline
Accel Savain, age 23 a Lavalas leader.  Police searched his home without a 
warrant, and although they found no illegality, they arrested him after 
finding a T-shirt supporting President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Amel Prince, 25; Lamarre Prince, 21; Amboise Frantz, 20; Wilfred Amboise, 
32; Jean Noel, 14; Laurent Yves, 21; Johny Rudolph, 23; Sonel Laguerre, 26; 
Michelin Michelle, 26, all arrested on Boulevard LaSaline, on September 30, 
all without warrants.

October 1:  Wendy Manigat, age 15, shot and killed by police during an 
operation in Bel-Air

Roland Braneluce, 28, shot by police during a demonstration at Rue Tiremasse.

Lesly Gustave, a member of  the National Committee of Reflection of Famni 
Lavalas, was arrested at approximately 4 PM on October 1, without a 
warrant.  Police are reportedly searching for the remaining members of the 

In addition to police persecution, residents of Cite Soleil report that 
anti-Lavalas armed gangs have been targeting Lavalas supporters over the 
last few days.  Those killed include:

Maxo CassÈus, a leader of a grassroots organization in Cite Soleil, killed 
on September 30.

Piersine AdÈma,  a resident Soleil 9 in her sixties, killed while sitting 
in front of her house, reportedly by the same group that killed Maxo CassÈus.

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