[News] Haiti unrest reminded me of apartheid - Tutu

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 17 14:18:12 EST 2006

From: zili danto <erzilidanto at yahoo.com>

  Haiti unrest reminded me of apartheid - Tutu
  February 17 2006 at 05:50AM

  By Dominique Herman

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has described 
how "apprehensive" he was as he faced down an 
angry crowd of over 5 000 Haitian demonstrators, 
saying it reminded him of "the bad old days of apartheid".

Tutu was airlifted from Haiti by military pilots 
from the Dominican Republic on Tuesday night - an 
evacuation he described as "uneventful".

And he revealed on Thursday that the United 
Nations had sent a helicopter to evacuate him on 
Monday after rumours swept the Haitian capital of 
Port-au-Prince that he had suffered a heart attack.

"It was insane because I was as hale and hearty 
as you can be at 74," Tutu said from a seminary 
in Virginia, in the United States.
"I said, 'No, I'm not going away,'" upon being offered a ride out of Haiti.

Instead he stood on the balcony of the luxury 
Montana hotel and spoke to the crowd, and, 
according to international reports, his address visibly calmed the protesters.

"It resembled some of the times back in the bad 
old days but one was able to address them," he said.

The only difficulties were that he did not speak 
French and he did not have a loud hailer to make himself heard.

"You are apprehensive," he said, about the 
experience of confronting thousands of angry 
protesters, but he said many people were praying 
and "God looks after those doing good work".

"What was fantastic, what I can't get over, was 
that with over 5 000 people - and some stormed 
the hotel looking for members of the electoral 
commission - they didn't break or steal a single article.

"The people are good. They were angry and they 
could have gone on the rampage, but they left peacefully."

He said he sympathised with their anger as they 
had been waiting a long time for the election results.

"I'm feeling very sad just now that leaders can 
let their people be done by so badly," he said.

Protests in support of presidential candidate 
René Préval paralysed the city of Port-au-Prince 
on Tuesday. Angered by a slow vote count and 
indications that Préval had not gained enough 
votes for an outright win, his supporters took to the streets.

The mass unrest caused the cancellation of all 
commercial flights, which is why Tutu had to be 
airlifted out - an experience he described as "totally uneventful".

Blocking roads with car wrecks, rocks and flaming 
tires, Préval's supporters had stormed the gates 
of the Montana hotel where Tutu was staying.

Tutu remarked on the differences between the two 
countries that exist "cheek by jowl" on the 
island of Hispaniola - on Haiti's poverty and 
squalor and the prosperity of the Dominican Republic.

Tutu said he spoke to Préval on the phone and was 
very impressed that despite his overwhelming 
support in Haiti and in the international 
community, he was willing to go though with the 
process of the commission to look at the results.

"He could have dug his heels in," said Tutu.

Préval was declared the country's next president 
on Thursday after a deal was reached following 
charges of vote fraud. The deal gives Préval 50.9 
percent of the vote and averts a run-off, which was scheduled for March.

Tutu arrived in Haiti on Saturday to urge 
reconciliation between the country's tiny elite 
and its mass of marginalised poor.

He said the Dominican Republic's President Leonel 
Fernandez had initially requested a meeting with 
him, but he had replied that he could not fit it in on this trip.

"But God has his own plans," Tutu said. Upon his 
arrival at 9pm on Tuesday after an 
hour-and-a-half flight, he did have an audience with Fernandez.

"He's a very impressive and good person," he said.

 From there he flew to Miami and on to 
Washington. Tutu will return to South Africa on March 1.

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