[News] Stop The Attacks On Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Lavalas Movement
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 14 11:04:07 EDT 2014
*/Stop The Attacks On Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
and the Lavalas Movement/*
*An Urgent Call from Haiti Action Committee*
On August 13, the Haitian government summoned former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide to court on corruption charges.This summons is
part of a chilling pattern of repression aimed at destroying Aristide’s
political party, Fanmi Lavalas, as the country approaches new
legislative elections. We denounce it in the strongest possible terms.
On March 18, 2011, tens of thousands of people followed President
Aristide’s car as it drove from the airport to his home, following his
return from seven years of forced exile.They then climbed over the walls
into the courtyard of the Aristides’ residence to continue an emotional
and heart-felt greeting for Haiti’s first democratically elected
president, overthrown in a U.S.-orchestrated coup in 2004.In his speech
at the airport, President Aristide focused on education and the
importance of inclusion for all Haitians in the process of restoring
Since his return, President Aristide has done exactly what he promised
to do – reopen the University of the Aristide Foundation (UNIFA). On
September 26, 2011 the Medical School once again opened its doors.Today,
there are over 900 students studying medicine, nursing and law at a
University whose mission is to provide higher education to all sectors
of Haitian society, not just the children of the rich.
And yet, in spite of this powerful and important work, Aristide and
other Lavalas leaders and activists remain the target of government
harassment and attack. This is not surprising; after all, the Haitian
government of Michel Martelly came to power after elections with a
historically low turnout in which Fanmi Lavalas, Haiti’s most popular
political party, was banned from participation.
Martelly has embraced Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the former
Haitian dictator. Human rights organizations estimate that the Duvaliers
– “Papa Doc” and “Baby Doc” – were responsible for the deaths of over
30,000 Haitian citizens during their 29-year rule. While Duvalier now
lives freely in Haiti and was honored by Martelly at the January 1^st
2014 Haitian Independence Day celebrations, President Aristide and the
democratic movement are under assault.
For over a decade, U.S. and Haitian authorities have periodically
threatened President Aristide with indictment and “tried” him in the
pages of a compliant media. None of these charges has stuck, for the
simple reason that they are all lies. This is the third time since his
return in 2011 that Haitian authorities have trumpeted charges against
President Aristide. Each time, after sensational headlines, the cases
were unceremoniously shelved after an initial hearing and interview,
before President Aristide could even challenge the accusations.
The politicized nature of the charges is further evidenced by the
history of the judge in the case, Lamarre Bélizaire. The Port-au-Prince
Bar Association has suspended Bélizaire for ten years from the practice
of law (the suspension to begin once he steps down as judge) for using
the court to persecute opponents of the Martelly regime.This latest
summons is one more example of a government determined to derail any
Each time these charges are trotted out, the goal is to defame Aristide,
weaken Lavalas and endanger the vital educational work that he has led
since his return. Haiti’s grassroots movement knows that each new
rumored indictment is part of a campaign to intimidate and silence them.
When President Aristide was last called to court, thousands of people
surrounded the courthouse, chanting: “If they call our brother, they
call all of us.” Yesterday, once again, people took to the streets to
show him their support.
We echo their voices. Enough is enough. It is time for education, health
care, and democratic development in Haiti, not a resurgence of political
repression.We call on the Haitian government to withdraw this warrant.
/Sent by Haiti Action Committee/
/www.haitisolidarity.net <http://www.haitisolidarity.net> and on FACEBOOK/
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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