|Haiti Archives 1995-1996|
|14/11/95||CPTNET November 14, 1995 Haiti: Reconciliation and Disarmament|
“UN resolution 940 calls for disarmament. If you are not interested in helping in this process you have no role here.”
– President Aristide, Nov. 11 at the funeral of Deputy Jean Feuille, killed by an assassin’s bullet Nov. 7.
Since the incursion of American troops into Haiti more than one year ago, popular organizations in Haiti have pled with the foreign forces now under UN command to help with “disarmament,” a t erm that implies the collection of weapons. A CPT team that visited Haiti Nov. 3 – 12 heard new pleas for help to confiscate more than 200,000 guns that are that are still in the hands of disbanded police and military personnel. Reports also indicate that former military leaders are smuggling new weapons into the country.
The CPT delegation was invited to meet with Senate President Gady Leblanc and Haitian parliamentarians on the first day of its visit. Several Congress members told the delegation, “This is very dang erous work for us. We may be shot down at any time.” Three days later one of their members, Jean Hubert Feuille (Port Salut, President Aristide’s hometown), was assassinated and another severely wo unded. One the day of the funeral, Nov. 11, CPT delegation members watched as Gady Leblanc sat silently in front of a coffin holding the remains of his murdered colleague.
In a highly critical speech at the funeral later in the day, President Aristide challenged the international community to a more aggressive posture with respect to collecting weapons. “People should not need to hide in their own country.” said President Aristide, a former priest.
Diplomats and UN officials have repeatedly emphasized reconciliation. Many Haitians cringe at the word because it means that vicious military officials who formerly ruled the country are allowed to get away with their crimes and abusive behavior without punishment or inconvenience. When asked about this by Haitian radio, Duane Ediger, (Dallas TX), a long term CPT worker in Haiti said, “When we hear of people discussing reconciliation as the non punishment of crimes, we as Christians are ashamed. For us, reconciliation really begins with the recognition of what was wrong, continues into a process of making things right and concludes with forgiveness and a new relationship.” Interviews with CPT personnel were rebroadcast several times on Haitian radio.
The CPT delegation spent several days in the Central Artibonite Valley, Haiti’s bread basket, where they observed a process of mediation over a painful land dispute. The team met with peasant leader s, church representatives and several judges, who all expressed concern over robberies carried out by gangs called zanglandos, armed and coordinated by former military leaders and their supporters.
CPT, a program of active peacemaking supported by Mennonite and Church of the Brethren congregations in North America, maintains a violence reduction team in the Artibonite Valley of Haiti. Team memb ers include Duane Ediger (Dallas TX) Lena Siegers (Hamilton ON) and Joel Klassen (Waterloo, ON). Members of the November 3-12 CPT delegation include: Merideth Ann (Denver, CO), Jean-Jaques Goulet (Ca mrose, AB), Arlene Kindy (North Manchester, IN), Sylvia Shirk Charles (Goshen, IN), Jan Hippensteel (Macy, IN) and Gene Stoltzfus (Chicago, IL).
Jim Lynch <written at Rochester, New York>