[News] Haiti Update
News at freedomarchives.org
Mon Aug 15 12:39:45 EDT 2005
Haitian police provide machetes for attacks, UN bears
responsibility by Ben Terral | 8/14/05
Reports continue to come in of UN and Haitian police attacks on
civilians; go to http://www.indybay.org/news/2005/08/1758961.php for an
August 10 alert from the Haiti Action Committee, which includes
chilling details of paramilitary thugs attacking unarmed civilians with
machetes. Haitian media outlets report that the machetes were
distributed out of a National Police car. The attack described in said
alert took place in Solino, a neighborhood which was under siege when I
arrived in Haiti last month (see my post from Friday, July 22, 2005 :
quick note on Friday).
The action alert quotes a community leader: "They are trying to
dismantle the grassroots leadership of Lavalas by killing them -- in
one neighborhood after another. This is all in preparation for the sham
elections they have cooked up for this fall to try and legitimize the
February 29, 2004 coup d'etat and the coup regime. By 'they' I mean the
death-squad government and their US, UN, French and Canadian backers."
On our July visit to Haiti, my colleague Doug Spalding and I spoke to a
community-based journalist who has been documenting UN and Haitian
police attacks in popular (i.e. pro-Lavalas) neighborhoods during the
current coup period.
The journalist, who I will call Pierre (for security reasons I prefer
not to risk using his real name) has been denouncing massacres on radio
stations in Miami and on MegaStar in Haiti. Pierre was told by a friend
with the Haitian Police that certain police will kill him if they see
him, as a special death squad called "Zero Tolerance" is after him.
Already, police have shot at Pierre.
Pierre describes himself as "the human rights guy in the popular
neighborhoods," which is why he's being hunted. He has been in hiding
for several months but continues to risk his life by documenting human
rights abuses committed by police and UN peacekeepers.
Pierre showed us video footage of a July 11 police operation, where
about 15 people were killed on Rue Tiremase downtown, near Bel Air.
He also showed us footage of the aftermath of a July 5 combined
operation between Haitian police and UN peacekeepers. It included
images of a Bel Air resident named William St. Mercy, who was in a
wheelchair in the courtyard in front of his residence when UN troops
burst through the courtyard's gate and blew the top of his head off.
William's sister testified on camera that Brazilian UN troops fired gas
and came into courtyard with no provocation.
After the operation, a UN spokesperson said that "peacekeepers" killed
seven "bandits", which included William in his wheel chair and a
cobbler at work in his second floor residence. Pierre witnessed eight
people shot in the operation, four of whom let him film their injuries.
The survivors testified that UN soldiers were shooting "without any
Pierre explained the situation: "Right now there is a campaign in the
media to describe popular neighborhoods as unsafe, which keeps
journalists from going into area to see what¹s really going on there.
There is no justice for the people in this country, one day the
situation will be different, that's why I'm risking my life to document
that the coup government is shedding Haitian people's blood. So that
one day, even if I'm not alive, there can be justice for these crimes.
It doesn't make sense that the international community maintains
silence. People just want access to food, education, health care,
justice, but it's still a situation where a wealthy few control the
society. People are really suffering in the popular neighborhoods.
People are shot in the head so that others will be terrorized and won't
come out in the streets. I have footage of a massacre at Fort Damanche,
where a resident was hiding under a bed, and got shot multiple times at
close range - these are summary executions.
"In the poorest neighborhoods people don't have anything, and often
can't survive. The government has excluded them from economic
decisions. The government also created conditions where armed actions
taken for survival."
Good luck finding such analysis in the mainstream. Typically, the
emphasis is on violence attributed to the sectors who have been under
attack since the February 29,2004 coup which ousted not only President
Aristide but also his entire government. A good example of such
accepted framing can be found in a May 16, 2005 letter from Human
Rights Watch to the UN Security Council on the Renewal of the Mandate
of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The
Washington-based NGO writes, "During a recent mission to Haiti, Human
Rights Watch documented daily acts of violence in Port-au-Prince. We
found that much of the violence is perpetrated by armed gangs claiming
affiliation with former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Despite security operations carried out jointly by MINUSTAH and the
Haitian National Police (HNP), neighborhoods such as Cite Soleil remain
paralyzed by violence."
Whether or not the UN participates in attacks on civilians (sometimes
they are joint operations, sometimes just the Haitian police), under
its new mandate, the UN has responsibility for oversight of police. But
the UN's approach is to not acknowledge the realities of repression it is
in Haiti to support. In response to demands for an investigation of July 6
Cite Soleil attacks in which UN forces killed women, children and men,
a UN press release claimed, "MINUSTAH forces take all possible measures
to reduce the risk of civilian casualties in their operations. MINUSTAH
forces did not target civilians in the operation on 6 July, but the
nature of such missions in densely populated urban areas is such that
there is always a risk of civilian casualties. MINUSTAH deeply regrets
any injuries or loss of life during its security operation."
For another example of MINUSTAH's slippery approach to the truth, see
photos of holes blown in roof of Cite Soleil dweller's home by
a helicopter which the UN denies fired any weapons:
U.S. envoy criticizes release of Haiti rebel
By Joseph Guyler Delva Fri Aug 12, 7:20 PM ET
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to Haiti on Friday
called the release from jail of a former death squad leader "a scandal" and
criticized the detention of former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune as a human
U.S. Ambassador James Foley said the release on Thursday of Louis Jodel
Chamblain, who helped lead the armed rebellion that drove president
Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power last year, was proof that Haiti's
judicial system was not working.
Chamblain is a former army officer who was one of the leaders of the
paramilitary group Front for the Advancement of Progress of the Haitian
People, which was blamed for some 3,000 deaths after a military coup ousted
Aristide in 1991 during his first presidency.
"The release of Chamblain is a scandal for the country and for its image
around the world," said Foley, who is about to leave his post in Haiti.
Chamblain was convicted of the 1993 murder of a Haitian businessman and for
the 1994 killings of more than two dozen people in the northern city of
He surrendered in April 2004 under international pressure. His convictions
were overturned but Haitian authorities continued to detain him on other
Chamblain was released on Thursday after judicial authorities decided there
was no evidence to hold him.
"We know that he is a man who had been found guilty on several occasions of
horrible crimes," Foley said. "Imagine, one moment, the tarnished image of
Haiti today, with Chamblain being released and a former prime minister who
continues to stagnate in prison."
Neptune, who served as prime minister under Aristide, was arrested in June
2004 on allegations he masterminded killings in the village of La Syrie in
Neptune has denied the accusations and has accused the U.S.-backed interim
government of holding him for political reasons. Human rights groups have
criticized the government for jailing hundreds of Aristide supporters.
Foley said Neptune's detention was a violation of human rights and
questioned whether he was involved in the deaths in La Syrie.
"Was he part of it, did he give any order?" Foley said. "No one has ever
provided the least evidence, the least clue, the least testimony about
Neptune's involvement ... They bear a grudge against him for Aristide's
Aristide left Haiti on February 29, 2004, in the face of an armed rebellion
and under pressure from Washington and Paris. He is living in exile in
Haiti: 29 Members of Congress pressure Bush for the release of political
prisoner Father Gerard Jean-Juste
August 12, 2005
Washington, D.C. -- Today, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) sent a letter to
President Bush, urging him to take action to obtain the release of Father
Gerard Jean-Juste from prison in Haiti. A total of 29 Members of Congress
signed the Congresswoman's letter. Copies of the letter were sent to
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Special Representative
Juan Gabriel Valdés, and Ambassador James Foley, the U.S. Ambassador to
Haiti. The text of the letter follows:
We write to express our profound concerns about the unjust imprisonment of
Father Gerard Jean-Juste in Haiti. We urge you to take action at once to
seek his immediate and unconditional release from prison.
Father Jean-Juste is a widely-respected Catholic priest and a courageous
advocate for peace and human rights in Haiti. During the 1970's, he founded
the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami, Florida, where he worked to provide
assistance to refugees who were fleeing persecution under the Duvalier
regime. He returned to Haiti in 1991 and currently serves as the pastor of
Saint Claire Church in Port-au-Prince and runs a soup kitchen for
impoverished children in his parish. Fr. Jean-Juste has always spoken out
forcefully against all forms of violence.
Father Jean-Juste was arrested on July 21, 2005, while attending the
funeral for Jacques Roche, a Haitian journalist who was kidnapped, held for
ransom and then murdered. Haitian police claimed he was arrested because a
"public clamor" at the funeral accused him of murdering Jacques Roche,
although he was in Miami at the time of the murder. He currently is being
detained in the Haitian National Penitentiary.
Amnesty International has determined that Father Jean-Juste is a prisoner
of conscience, who is detained solely because he has peacefully exercised
his right to freedom of expression. Amnesty International has urged that he
be immediately and unconditionally released.
We respectfully request that you urge the Interim Government of Haiti to
release Father Jean-Juste immediately and unconditionally. We appreciate
your attention to our concerns.
Maxine Waters Jan Schakowsky Barbara Lee
John Conyers Charles Rangel Barney Frank
Lynn Woolsey Sherrod Brown Maurice Hinchey
Sheila Jackson-Lee Corrine Brown Earl Blumenauer
Eleanor Holmes Norton Edolphus Towns Melvin L. Watt
Tammy Baldwin Kendrick B. Meek Raúl Grijalva
Donna Christensen Al Green Julia Carson
Carolyn Kilpatrick Gregory Meeks Dennis Kucinich
Donald Payne James P. McGovern Robert Wexler
Major R. Owens Bob Filner
Haiti's leading political party condemns "sham" elections, proposes censure
of former Lavalas representatives
Yon sèl randevou: randevou bò tab la
Fanmi Lavalas asks its members not to stand in line to be assassinated once
more, as has occurred in Solino, Bel-Air, Cite Soleil, Grand Ravines, La
Saline, Barriere Bouteille, etc.
Fanmi Lavalas Press Release:
Whereas President Jean Bertrand Aristide was elected National
Representative at the last convention of Fanmi Lavalas.
Whereas Article 29 of the Fanmi Lavalas Charter states: "The National
Representative is the chief executive of the Organization and must ensure
that the organization is run effectively. The National Representative is
obligated to protect and defend the organization and its rights and to
promote its work. The National Representative executes all tasks as
described in the statutes."
Whereas the April 19th 2005 press release by the National Representative of
Fanmi Lavalas, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, stated: "Today in 2005,
who can expect free, fair and democratic elections in Haiti while thousands
of Lavalas members and supporters are in jail, exile and hiding?"
Whereas the May 14th 2005 New York Resolution of Fanmi Lavalas, delegates
from Haiti, the 11th department, militants in exile, representatives from
Haitian peasant, trade union organizations and grassroots organizations
issued the clear position of the Organization regarding the next elections.
Whereas the July 28th 2005 press release by President Aristide's
spokeswoman denounced the allegations made by some sectors that they had
reached agreement with President Aristide to participate in the upcoming
Whereas the August 4th 2005 press release by the interim representative of
Fanmi Lavalas reiterated once more, to whomever would listen, that Fanmi
Lavalas will neither participate nor send anyone to participate in the sham
elections organized by the February 29, 2004 Coup d'État regime.
* The Political Organization Fanmi Lavalas denounces and strongly
condemns the behavior of Senators Yvon Feuille and Louis-Gerard Gilles, and
Congressman Rudy Heriveaux and others who have neither the authority nor
the mandate to register the Organization into the next elections. To
register Fanmi Lavalas into these sham elections is a demagogic maneuver
and will not succeed.
* The Political Organization Fanmi Lavalas will take the legal and
disciplinary measures that are appropriate in this case.
Because the people refuse to follow the de facto government's logic of
"election-by-selection", Fanmi Lavalas is asking the people not to stand in
line for the rigged electoral card.
Furthermore, Fanmi Lavalas asks its members not to stand in line to be
assassinated once more, as has occurred in Solino, Bel-Air, Cite Soleil,
Grand Ravines, La Saline, Barriere Bouteille, etc. People will not bring
themselves to the butchers. Remember November 29th, 1987 in Ruelle
Vaillant; remember September 11th, 1988 in Saint Jean Bosco.
Remember, the one causing the pain may forget, but the one who bares the
scar always remembers.
Fanmi Lavalas asks the people to redouble their efforts to relentlessly
reinforce their mobilization and non-violent resistance until the return of
constitutional order and the hoisting of the people's flag of dignity.
With continuous mobilization and peaceful resistance, our liberation and
deliverance will come very soon. LIBERATION AND NON-VIOLENT MOBILIZATION GO
HAND IN HAND.
Fanmi Lavalas Communication's Commission
Mr. Angelot Bell
Mr. Mario Dupuy
Dr. Maryse Narcisse
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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