[News] Haiti - Thousands of Bel-Air activists march in solidarity to Cit é Soleil - Yvon Neptune says he is now on total hunger strike

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Fri Apr 22 08:39:19 EDT 2005

AHP News - April 20, 2005  - English translation (Unofficial)

Thousands of Lavalas activists march from Bel-Air to Cité Soleil as an act 
of solidarity with the inhabitants of the  shantytown

Port-au-Prince, April 20, 2005  (AHP)- More than 10,000 Lavalas activists 
demonstrated this Wednesday in Port-au-Prince to show solidarity with the 
inhabitants of Cité Soleil, where more than 20 people were killed during 
joint operations conducted by MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police.
Organized at the initiative of the activists of Bel-Air, the demonstration 
started out in front of the Church of Notre Dame du Perpétuel Secours and 
concluded in Cité Soleil by way of the districts of Tokio and Lasaline.

Throughout their route, the protestors chanted slogans critical of the 
interim authorities whom they accused of doing nothing to relieve the 
misery of the population and of wishing to isolate the residents of poor 
neighborhoods, notably Cité Soleil.
They also called for "an end to political persecution, the release of all 
political prisoners and the return of constitutional order".
In Cité Soleil, the marchers from Bel-Air were welcomed by a crowd of 
people who were given bags of food.
"We have made this gesture to show our solidarity with our brothers in Cité 
Soleil who are currently suffering great hardships", said a demonstrator.

The march received protection from MINUSTAH soldiers. It proceeded into all 
neighborhoods of  Cité Soleil including  Boston, which was until recently 
under the control of Robenson Thomas, known as Labanyè, who had a 
reputation for being strongly opposed to Lavalas.
The demonstration was momentarily dispersed as UN soldiers fired their 
guns. They appeared to be overtaken by events.
The Cité Soleil residents welcomed the humanitarian initiative of the 
Bel-Air activists who showed, they said, "that they sympathize with our 
suffering by bringing us food and uniting their voices with ours to demand 
an end to exclusion and suffering".

A spokesperson for the Lavalas activists of Cité Soleil, John Joël Joseph, 
denounced what he viewed as strong-arm tactics employed by UN soldiers in 
their operations that have resulted in the deaths, he said, of several 
dozens of Lavalas activists in the Cité.
John Joël Joseph appealed to MINUSTAH to put an end to the repression 
inflicted upon the people Cité Soleil since the death of  Labanyè.
He saw the operations conducted in the Cité as revenge for the former 
opposition to Aristide for whom Labanyè, worked, he said.

MINUSTAH spokespeople affirmed this week that the more than 20 people 
killed in Cité Soleil were all gang members working to thwart the UN 
peacekeeping mission who were killed during armed clashes.
School children followed along from Bel-Air to Cité Soleil. The 
demonstration proceeded peacefully and without incident
The spokesperson for the Bel-Air activists, Samba Boukman, offered a 
positive assessment of the march and announced plans for another 
demonstration on Friday April 22 to press for the release of all political 
prisoners in Haiti.
He accused the interim authorities of wishing to transform the populist 
districts into “Bantustans”,  as part of what Mr. Boukman called an 
apartheid action by the government.

AHP  April 20, 2005 1:25 PM

Yvon Neptune resumes his hunger strike at the Argentine hospital and 
affirms his desire to continue the strike until the de facto authorities 
and the UN either release him unconditionally or play a direct role in his 
Port-au-Prince, April 20, 2005  (AHP)- Former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune 
announced Wednesday that as of Sunday April 17 he resumed the hunger strike 
he had begun at the National Penitentiary to obtain his release.
Yvon Neptune was incarcerated for many months at the National Penitentiary 
before being transferred to MINUSTAH's Argentine hospital to receive 
Mr. Neptune turned himself in to justice officials following accusations 
brought against him by the organizations NCHR and RAMICOSM relating to an 
alleged massacre said to have been perpetrated in mid-February 2004 at La 
Scierie, a Saint-Marc community.

In a news release dated April 20, Yvon Neptune said that this time he is 
waging a total hunger strike.
"I will consume neither food nor liquid. I will continue the strike until 
the de facto authorities proceed either to release me unconditionally or 
participate directly in my death," said Mr. Neptune.
The former Prime Minister denounced what he called “the mental torture that 
APENA officers continue to inflict” upon him as they constantly lurk near 
him at the Argentine hospital.
According to Mr. Neptune, the de facto authorities have been doing 
everything they can to humiliate him as they seek to keep him in prison as 
long as possible or to send him to St-Marc regardless of the conditions.

AHP  April 20, 2005 12:45 PM

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