UN "peacekeepers" step up the violence in Haiti
Violent repression of democracy has a new face in Haiti: the "Blue Helmets" of the United Nations multi-nation "stabilization" force in Haiti which goes by the acronym MINUSTAH. The UN mission took over "stabilization" responsibilities in June 2004 from the US-led forces which were deployed to Haiti since before the coup which overthrew President Jean Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004. Their operations since last year have acted to support the unconstitutional coup government of Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, principally by supporting the increasingly repressive Haitian National Police in their efforts to root out, imprison, murder and terrify the leadership and support base of the widely-popular political party Fanmi Lavalas.
The UN mission has violated many of its own mandates thus far- for example, those which demand UN protection of civilians from state or political violence and their right to due process of law. With estimates of 1,000 political prisoners languishing in Haitian jails since February 29, 2004, and the UN's role in putting many of them there, or at minimum doing nothing to secure their release or constitutional right to due process, any UN claim of "working for democracy and human rights" in Haiti rings hollow.
UN forces during pro-democracy demonstrations on February 28th and April 27th 2005 allowed masked Haitian Police to enter the demonstration area and sat by while the HNP fired on unarmed demonstrators, killing 11. No police were investigated or charged in the killings. UN head Kofi Annan called for the investigation of these killings, yet MINUSTAH has thus far done nothing. During another demonstration on May 18th, Brazilian UN troops tried to stop journalist Kevin Pina from filming the demonstration and the Haitian National Police officers who were again masked and aiming their rifles into the crowd. One Brazilian UN soldier had Pina photographed then proceeded to threaten to turn his picture over to the HNP saying "You are always making trouble for us. I have taken your picture and i am going to give it to the Haitian police. They will get you." From the mission's beginning, MINUSTAH forces have been taking center stage in the repression, laying aside any commitment to their own UN mandate to protect civilians and to prevent extra-judicial killings.
The most recent actions of the United Nations MINUSTAH forces, however, have taken on a new level of active violent repression of Haitians - particularly the poor and those supportive of Aristide or his party, Fanmi Lavalas. On July 6th, 2005 at about 4 a.m. UN forces surrounded two neighborhoods in the seaside shantytown of Cite Soleil, under the pretext of "cracking down" on alleged gang members residing there. These "crackdowns" have been common since the overthrow of Aristide and typically consist of the HNP and UN troops entering a neighborhood, firing indiscriminately and killing or maiming many innocents in the process. Usually the UN works in tandem with or as support for the Haitian National Police, but this was an operation of more 350 UN troops, several armored personnel carriers and a combat helicopter and no apparent participation of the HNP.
What occurred was a Fallujah-style military operation which put aside any protocol for protecting civilians (UN Resolution 1542 mandates UN troops to protect civilians from imminent violence) and, in fact, appears to have intended for civilians to be targets of the assault in which UN troops fired upon homes, a school, a church and individuals in the streets. At least 23 people were killed and dozens more injured. The hospital run by Doctors Without Borders received 26 seriously wounded people (20 women and children and 6 men) from Cite Soleil on the morning of the 6th. Among those killed, a mother and her two young children who were allegedly shot at close range by UN troops - hardly the "armed gangsters" who the UN claims were the only casualties and the reason for their assault.
Independent monitors who presented video footage of the carnage of the July 6th assault to Lt.General Augusto Heleno and Colonel Morneau of the UN Militiary Command were told that the dead civilians were likely killed by gang members who suspected them of being informants. They suggested a ballistics tests and autopsies could verify the manner of their deaths, but will they conduct these investigations? It's certainly within their mandate, which merits some examination, because critical elements are being ignored. Thus far, the UN has taken virtually no action to investigate the now hundreds of extra-judicial killings that have taken place in such raids, and it seems likely that without pressure, they will leave the victims of this most recent slaughter without justice as well.
Despite the brutalities, and in the face of continuing repression, the Haitian people bravely continue to manifest their demand for justice and a return to Constitutional order. On July 14, a week after the UN operation, thousands took to the streets in Cite Soleil to protest the July 6th killings and to demand the departure of the illegal government and the return of Aristide. We, here in the US and internationally must stand with the Haitian people in their struggle and put pressure on the UN and our own governments to stop these atrocities and to return justice and democracy to Haiti.
-Stay informed at haitiaction.net
-contact your representatives and these folks at the UN to demand justice for the July 6th killings and for the UN to follow their own mandate in Haiti.
>Call and write the United Nations: 212-963-4879, firstname.lastname@example.org
>UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)
>Or, Fax, Office of General Secretary (New York) - 212.963.4879
>Hon. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General
>United Nations Headquarters
>First Avenue at 46th Street
>New York, NY 10017
> email@example.com; press office: (509) 510-2563 ext. : 6343
>Ambassador Anne Patterson
>Acting Permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations:
>212-415-4050 or Peggy Kerry: firstname.lastname@example.org
More UN Contact Information Lt. General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira, UN Military Commander in Haiti: 011-509-554-8074, email@example.com. Damian Onses-Cardona, Spokesperson for Gen. Pereira: 011-509-527-5118 (cell), 011-509-510-2563, ext. 6303. Touissant Congo-Doudou, Head of Communications, MINUSTAH: 011-509-557-5906, firstname.lastname@example.org. David Beer, Commissioner of CIVPOL, the UN Civilian Police in Haiti: 011-509-525-5279 email@example.com, fax: 011-509-244-9366. Juan Gabriel Valdes, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Haiti: 011-509-244-9650 or 9660, fax 011-509 244 3512. (french only?)
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