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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.
UN and masked Hatian Police working together.
UN and masked Hatian Police working together.
UN soldier threatens journalist Kevin Pina.
UN soldier threatens journalist Kevin Pina.
Mother and her two children allegedly shot by UN troops.
Mother and her two children allegedly shot by UN troops.
Resident of Cite Soleil after the operation.
Resident of Cite Soleil after the operation.
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.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
>
>Call and write the United Nations: 212-963-4879,  presidentga58@un.org
>*
>UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)
>PHONE: 011.509.244.9650.9660
>FAX: 011.509.244.9366/67
>Or, Fax, Office of General Secretary (New York) - 212.963.4879
>Hon. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General
>United Nations
>United Nations Headquarters
>First Avenue at 46th Street
>New York, NY 10017
> inquiries@un.org; 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:  kerryp@state.gov


More UN Contact Information Lt. General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira, UN Military Commander in Haiti: 011-509-554-8074,  pereira17@un.org. 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,  kongo-doudou@un.org. David Beer, Commissioner of CIVPOL, the UN Civilian Police in Haiti: 011-509-525-5279  beer@un.org, 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?)

Thanks 19.Jul.2005 09:25

regular reader

for the excellent report. i've been following events in Haiti somewhat, but did not know the extent of the abuses being committed by the UN forces there. it's amazing (well, not really i guess) that the corporate media is ignoring this story. thanks for posting your findings here.

A Few Questions 19.Jul.2005 13:33

Kid Akai

Just a few questions, I am somewhat familiar with the situation but not as to the motives on the coup de ta of Aristide. Do you know why Aristide was taken out of power? If history repeats itself, which it does, Aristide was probably taken out of power for promoting peace in a time where he could have helped the U.S take advantage of the population by promoting "free trade agreements." I don't really know. All I have is one of Democracy Now!'s interviews with Aristide, it wasn't that informative.

What are the initial reasons for the U.N ocupation and how does the U.S come into play?



-B.

Haitian story 19.Jul.2005 19:43

Kreyol

"Aristide was probably taken out of power for promoting peace in a time where he could have helped the U.S take advantage of the population by promoting "free trade agreements.""

No. I was in Cap Haitien, in northern Haiti, when Aristdide's rule began to crumble.

First of all, he was never really the president outside of Port-au-Prince. He used his chimere gangs to committ violence against political enemies and ordinary people in cities like St. Marc, Gonaives, Cap Haitien, Hinche, as well as the capital. I myself saw his chimeres lynch a young man with petrol and a tyre - this is called "necklacing," and Aristdide's thugs made it popular.

So when Guy Philippe came into the north and began to challenge Aristdide in the north, of course the people responded. The outrage against Aristdide in Gonaives especially was deep and bitter; the government forces were driven out and pushed back to Port-au-Prince. Cap Haitien fell next, then St. Marc. Aristdide had to barricade himself in the presidential palace to stay alive.

So the enemies of Aristdide began to plot an assault on Port-au-Prince, to eliminate Aristdide and his chimeres for good. But then the US and France came and took Aristdide to Bangui, and then to South Africa.

But there was no final battle, so the chimeres just went back to their neighborhoods and formed criminal gangs. The HNP (National Police) was disbanded. There was lawlessness everywhere. MINUSTAH failed to control it.

Now when they try to crack down on the criminals, they have to go into Cite Soliel or La Saline or Bel Aire, in the chimere strongholds, and it causes deaths, because the chimeres fire from behind civilians, or because criminal gangs try to exploit the situation.

Now there is a kidnapping crisis, and guess where the victims or the bodies of the victims are discovered - in Bel Aire, or Cite Soleil, etc. The airport road is no longer secure due to banditry from Cite Soleil. When I am in downtown Port-au-Prince it is sad, because I have to travel with an assault rifle and with my friends who also have assault rifles. This is because unarmed people are kidnapped and tortured. I returned from PAP in July 15, and the situation is very dire.

So, if the UN leaves, I can tell you what will happen - Guy Philippe and others men who overthrew Aristdide will get ready again for their assault on the capital, and then no one will complain of 23 dead in a raid, because there will be 23,000 dead.

Info for Kid Akai 20.Jul.2005 16:32

Paul Reineke

To find out more about the U.S. role in Haiti there are several sources I can recommend. Paul Farmer's book "The Uses of Haiti" discusses Haiti's political history (including US involvement) from independence through the end of 1994 (the first coup). For websites, I recommend ijdh.org or haitiaction.net which have many more recent stories and links to other good websites.

Response to Kreyol's article 21.Jul.2005 12:46

Jason Miller jasondavidmiller@yahoo.com

It is so difficult to figure out what is factual. I don't believe Aristide is a saint. But I do believe him to be better than the ILLEGAL gov't in place now. AND HE WAS DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED. He built more schools in his oft-interrupted presidency (interrupted by American-sponsored rich opposition) than in the 200 (TWO HUNDRED!) YEARS BEFORE HE CAME TO POWER. AND HE WAS DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED!!! AND HE WAS DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED!!! AND HE WAS DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED!!!!! And not by the rich, either.

I do not doubt that some violence has been committed by Aristide's thugs. I DO doubt how unpopular you say Aristide was. (You say he was only really President in Port-au-Prince, or was it Cap Haïtien?) But then you say that they, the chimères, are forced to run for cover in the strongholds of Cité Soleil. Now WHY would they find safety in Cité Soleil? WHY would these "thugs" that you claim worked for an unpopular Aristide find safety in a poor neighborhood of the capital? WHY wouldn't the poor residents of Cité Soleil turn in those dastardly criminals? Especially now that the enemies of Aristide are in power and in the streets (the HNP) of the city around them?

Also, where are you writing from? How come you write fluent English, when the poor majority of Haitiens (the same majority who elected Aristide democratically, foiling the wealthy!) can't even read or write in Kreyol! How can you afford an assault rifle? Who gave it to you? How much did it cost?

Expliquez-moi tout s'il vous plaît.

Jason Miller
 jasondavidmiller@yahoo.com

503-231-9146

Haiti situation 21.Jul.2005 18:47

Kreyol

I will not lie about my background. I am a Haitian businessman. I have lived in Miami and Santo Domingo and Portland. I have also donated to many programs in Haiti that help the poor; I am involved with the reforestation effort, because deforestation is the root of Haiti's problems. Of course when I travel to Haiti I am a target for predators and kidnappers, so I travel with security. I am only relaxed in Cap Haitien, not the crazy city of Port-au-Prince, or the airport road which comes near Cite Soleil.

Aristdide began democratically. In fact I voted for him before the first coup. And maybe you will remember that the US restored him to power in 1994. Those days were not so bad, because there was hope. But the structure never changed. Aristdide was too thirsty for power. After Preval was finished, he ran again, and this time, he used violence and intimidation, especially in the north. In the north there was great violence during the "democratic" election. Many were murdered by the chimeres. This is not true democracy, but it was the beginning of Aristdide's end.

So in Cap Haitien and Gonaives and St. March, Aristdide's thugs were rampant, but they created hatred among the people. That is why the uprising in 2004 was so fast and so popular in the north. You say this was a US coup, but how? Where is the evidence? How could the US create such hatred in the hearts of the northerners? Titide's mercenaries already killed so many, he made his own downfall. Like every thug before him, he came with a private army of thugs. Just like the tonton macoutes.

If Aristdide is popular, where are his strongholds in the north? Even among the poor, there is no love for Titide! Did you visit Cap Haitien? Maybe you can go and ask these questions for yourself.

Aristdide's strongholds are the places where his thugs come from, from the poor slums that surround Port-au-Prince. This is a human tragedy in those neighborhoods, but there is nothing the govenment can do, because these areas are controlled by different gangs. If the government or the UN wants to restore order, they will have to enter these areas and kill the gang members, the kidnappers, the chimeres, and the others who cause disorder.

So, I will ask, why do you think Aristdide should be put back into power, after the people of the north have already rejected him? If you put Aristdide in power again, the northerners will fight him again. There will be no peace until he is gone from the north along with his thugs and his Fanmi Lavalas. Do you also want Yvonne Neptune in power again?

The situation is bad now, but imagine how much worse it will be if Aristdide returns!

I have visited Cap Haitien and have a different perception 26.Jul.2005 00:04

Haiti Action

I have visited Cap Haitien three times in the past year. I have monitored massive demonstrations calling for the return of Aristide (you can see video footage of a demonstration in December below),I have visited community schools built by Lavalas administrations , I have witnessed the love that many people in poor communities in northern Haiti have for Aristide and for their locally elected leaders.

Please take a moment to read some of the many articles posted at this site specifically about continuing support for Aristide and resistance to the unelected government in Cap Haitien.

Peaceful Demonstration in Cap Haitien a Success despite Ongoing Repression
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/12/306668.shtml

Community Schools in Northern Haiti: A plea to the international community
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/12/306719.shtml)

Walking a Tightrope Between Hope and Fear: Northern Haiti One Year after the Coup
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/03/313583.shtml

Clearly you and I have a very different perception of the political climate in northern Haiti. I do not question your experience, I can only assume that we are interacting with very different communities. I would be happy to continue this dialogue.

Demonstration in Cap Haitien August 2004, calling for the return of Aristide
Demonstration in Cap Haitien August 2004, calling for the return of Aristide
Demonstration in Cap Haitien February 2005, calling for the return of Aristide
Demonstration in Cap Haitien February 2005, calling for the return of Aristide
Demonstration in Cap Haitien December 2004, calling for return of Aristide
Demonstration in Cap Haitien December 2004, calling for return of Aristide

Neither thugs nor bandits 26.Jul.2005 00:56

Haiti Action

Furthermore I have NEVER seen a firearm in the hands of a Lavalas demonstrator in Cap Haitien. The people I have observed at demonstrations are not thugs or bandits, they are courageous men and women struggling to survive and still risking their lives to defend the ideals of a democracy that many of their loved ones have died for.


evading the hard questions 02.Aug.2005 21:50

serge

Dont you just love the anti-Aristide side sidestepping the part about BEING ELECTED DEMOCRATICALLY?
Dont you just love the idea that a you can overthrow a government whenever you dont like it as see in 4 out of 5 eastern european countries?

Now, tell me what would happen in the US or other western countries if people
decided they had enough of their leaders and decided to take arms?

Goose meet gander.

We train and aid the people in these cases since it fits our needs but god knows that we would never allow the same thing to take place here.

Our business friend wont mention who armed the 'heroes' he adores.
He also wont tell you of their past deeds. No, that of course wouldnt fit into his reality.

Ask him if he is friends with Andy Aptaid and the other haitian businessmen who have been F**king his own people for profit? Every colony has to have a certain elite who will trade privilege and profit for their own gain. And these same facilitators dont need an educated population apart from their kind. They need un-educated cheap labor who will be grateful to have any job to survive. It makes for great exploitation conditions. increase the education and standards of living for too many and then the cheap labour haven moves on elsewhere were people are poor and willing to accept worse conditions.

We've seen in Venezuela how the business community and the media conglomerates have been attacking Chavez (its considered ok to call the dark skinned president 'a monkey' in the media) so all the US gets is bias reports. The millions spent on the health and education of the poor masses (dark and indians) IS his big crime. The racism and class struggles are not just a domain for the latins.
Haiti's ruling elite has always been in it for themselves, above the peasant riff-raff.

Our business friend reminds me of the US contractors who get convoyed through Iraq and who come back and tell us how they 'visited' the country.

Find a man in a poor country who wants to educate the poor and give them medical assistance and I guaranteed you that he will have his detractors. Not from the poor as much as from the rich.

Hell, I remember one anti-aristide retard who claimed that Aristide wanted to turn Haiti into a communist countryt. As poor as Cuba is, its heaven compared with Haiti. Heaven.
They have one of the highest literacy rates in the world, Haiti is among the worst.
Cuba can send 10-20,000 doctors, technicians and medical personnel to Venezuela, Haiti doesnt have a medical school (unless its not occupied by the armed forces anymore)

Sure, no one is perfect but Haiti and Cuba are galaxies away.


serge
(I've taught english and french in Cuba, South Korea, Venezuela and Haiti)