News and opinions on situation in Haiti
HLLN Announcements 10/5/05
Daily news for HLLN’s KREYOL SPEAKERS on internet to www.lakounewyork.com & Raboteau verdict overturned, et al..
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HLLN Anouncements: May 10, 2005
FOR KREYOL SPEAKERS: Listen to Attorney Mario Joseph speak (May 10, 2005) from St. Marc on the latest update on Prime Minister Yvon Neptune’s case and about the U.S.-backed government’s overturning the convictions of 38 Haitian former military leaders convicted of atrocities in 1994 doing the first Bush-sponsored Coup d’etat against the people of Haiti. Among those eligible to be set free, death squad leader, Louis Jodel Chamblain, who helped lead last year’s coup. Criminals are being release, their verdicts overturned, while innocents and prisoners of conscience, such as, Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and Interior Minister Privert die in prison from a hunger strike protesting their illegal and indefinite incarceration. Kreyol Speakers listen: www.lakounewyork.com/koute.htm
Madi / Tuesday 5-10-05: EntËvyou ak Avoka Mario Joseph, responsab Biwo Avoka EntËnasyonal sou dosye Premye Minis Yvon Neptune nan epi sou desizyon yo bay gouvËnman restavËk la lÚd pou l aplike sou pwosË Raboto yo; Mobilizasyon pou 14 ak 18 Me
Hear the people of Cite Soleil call for help, in their own words – listen to the May 9, interview with “Jean” in Cite Soleil.
English speakers, go to: Cite Soleil under Seige www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/4_25_5.html
National Broadcast Exclusive: Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Speaks From Exile, May 10, 2005
To listen to segment, download the show or watch the vido, go to:
Buy SÚ Anne CD REZISTANS: Haitian Songs of Resistance” to help free grandmother, Annette “SÚ Anne” August, who has been in prison one year today (May 10, 2004)
COME OUT the HLLN on May 14th in New York to denouce visit to New York of Gwo Gerard Latortue and on May 18 in New York to protest the occupation of Haiti and demand the return of the Constitutional goverment. To listen to radio spot and for further information: www.margueritelaurent.com/photogallery/haitisolidarityday.html
IOL, South Africa
May 11, 2005
Haitian court overturns massacre convictions By Joseph Guyler Delva
Port-au-Prince, Haiti – Haiti’s Supreme Court has overturned the convictions of military leaders in a 1994 massacre of slum residents in Gonaives, reversing what human rights groups considered a victory for Haiti’s foundering justice system.
In a case known as “Raboteau” after the seaside slum where the killings took place, Haiti’s highest court voided murder convictions against dozens of military and paramilitary chiefs, many of whom had fled and were tried in absentia in 2000.
“The court… overturns the judgment without referring to another court and orders that all those accused be released if there are no further charges against them,” the Supreme Court said in a May 3 ruling made available to Reuters on Tuesday.
The Raboteau trial was considered a landmark for Haiti as a step in bringing to justice an elite group of military and paramilitary officers for human rights abuses committed during the violent military rule of the early 1990s that followed the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Gunmen attacked the pro-Aristide slum before sunrise on April 22, 1994, at a time when supporters of the exiled president were routinely jailed or killed in the troubled Caribbean nation, the poorest country in the Americas.
People ran into the sea, were shot at and beaten. Lawyers said up to 15 were killed.
Lawyers in the case said the high court ruled the trial court did not have the authority to try the 53 defendants. Mario Joseph, a victims’ lawyer, questioned that rationale.
“The Supreme Court had already visited the case prior to the trial and it had never said the criminal court in Gonaives was not competent to hear the case,” he said.
“Why is it only now, five years later, the Supreme Court has found the tribunal was not competent?”
Critics called the decision a severe setback for Haiti’s flailing judicial system and accused the US-backed interim government, appointed after the second ouster of Aristide last year, of meddling.
“I’m disappointed but not surprised,” said Brian Concannon, a US lawyer who helped prosecute the Raboteau case. “Judges that don’t do what the government says get fired or get intimidated.”
“The government had nothing to do with the decision of the Supreme Court, which is part of an independent power,” said Paul Gustave Magloire, an adviser to Prime Minister Gerard Latortue.
A Haitian court in November 2000 sentenced former coup leader Raoul Cedras and 36 high-ranking military officers and associates to life in prison for the massacre of slum dwellers.
A week earlier, 16 other soldiers and accomplices were found guilty for their roles.
The defendants included Cedras and Philippe Biamby, two leaders of the 1991 coup that deposed Aristide, ex-police chief Michel Francois, paramilitary commander Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, and Louis Chamblain, a former army leader who returned to Haiti last year to lead rebels against Aristide.
Lawyers in the case said the ruling appeared to apply to the defendants, including Chamblain, whose lawyer said he expected his client to be released from prison soon.
Concannon said the Raboteau case had been carefully scrutinised by international legal experts and had been upheld by Haitian appeals courts in the past. The new Supreme Court ruling does not reflect well on the country’s interim government, he said.
“It shows that they are afraid of the precedent of human rights violators being held accountable,” he said.
The interim government, headed by Latortue, was appointed by a council of elders after Aristide fled Haiti in 2004 following a bloody revolt of former soldiers led by Chamblain.
Copyright © 2005 Independent Online.
Haiti murder convictions quashed – BBC News (us.f800.mail.yahoo.com/ym/login?.rand=4d3p98s42p38f )
Louis-Jodel Chamblain could now be released from prison Haiti’s Supreme Court has overturned the convictions of dozens of military leaders found guilty in 2000 of murder and torture.
They were convicted of mass killings during an attack on supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the shanty town of Raboteau in 1994. The interim prime minister said earlier that the decision, if confirmed, showed the independence of the courts.
But Aristide supporters were outraged, calling it a “partisan” decision.
“The trial was annulled, we suppose it was on a technicality,” said Jean-Claude Bajeux from the Ecumenical Center for Human Rights.
The move will probably mean the imminent release of some of Haiti’s most controversial figures.
No orders were given, no instructions. If the results have been annulled, the judges have decided to annul them independently
Louis-Jodel Chamblain, one of the leaders of last year’s uprising against Mr Aristide, could be among them.
“The court… overturns the judgment without referring to another court and orders that all those accused be released if there are no further charges against them,” the Supreme Court said in a 3 May ruling released on Tuesday.
The trial was carried out in 2000 in the absence of most of the accused, many of whom were in exile. Some have since been jailed, but it is not clear exactly how many.
At least 15 people died in the brutal raid on Raboteau, a seaside shanty town in north-west Gonaives.
It targeted supporters of Mr Aristide, who was democratically elected president in 1991 but ousted the same year.
He was returned to power in 1994, with US support. Last year he was overturned for a second time.
Before reports on the court’s decision were confirmed, Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said that although he could not verify the ruling, it showed a separation between political leaders and judges.
“All our lives we have fought against the interference of the executive in judicial affairs,” he told the Associated Press news agency.
“No orders were given, no instructions. If the results have been annulled, the judges have decided to annul them independently.”
But Gerard Gilles, a former senator in Mr Aristide’s Lavalas Party, said it proved the opposite.
“This shows the current government is partisan, revengeful, hateful and not serious about justice,” he said.
The American lawyer who had helped to prepare the case against the convicted men, Brian Concannon, called the decision a complete reversal of the long effort to establish justice in Haiti.
“The trial… stood for the possibility of justice in Haiti. It was praised as a landmark in the fight against impunity,” he said.
Hard Beat News Daily Caribbean Diaspora News www.hardbeatnews.com/
May 11, 2005
Aristide Breaks Silence On Ailing Former PM
Hardbeatnews, NEW YORK, N.Y., Weds. May 11, 2005: Ousted President of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide, finally broke his silence on his former prime ministerís near death condition this week and urged ìeverybody who can do somethingî to help save his life.
Aristide made the call on a Democracy Now national broadcast exclusive interview with Amy Goodman yesterday, some 23 days after Yvon Neptune began his hunger strike, called the situation ìvery sad.î
ìHow long he will be able to survive, we don’t know. That’s why we grasp this opportunity to ask everybody who can do something to not hesitate, because it is a matter of life and death,î stated Aristide from South Africa where he has been granted asylum.
He urged for a global mobilization around those who seek life, peace and democracy in Haiti. ìWhoever can say something, Whoever can do something, please do it, because the Haitian people right now are waiting for your help,î said Aristide.
And he agreed with Thierry Fagart of the U.N. peacekeeping mission human rights division that Neptune’s treatment is illegal, stating that there is no legal basis for holding Neptune and hundreds in jail.
ìÖ the same way when last year they kidnapped me, it was illegal. The same way they keep our prime minister in jail, although he is close to death, it’s illegal,î said Aristide. ìBut they don’t pay attention to that. So I really think itís a matter of life and death. We need many voices to put that truth out and see finally if they can pay attention to that and save his life.î
Neptune has said heíll agree to be flown to neighboring Dominican Republic for medical treatment only if the government frees him unconditionally after 10 months’ detention without charge in connection with political killings during the 2004 rebellion. He enters day 24 of his hunger strike today and has said he is ìready to die.î ñ Hardbeatnews.com
Copyright © 2005 Hard Beat News
Hard Beat News.Com Contact the editor at 718-476-3616 and Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UN accommodates Human Rights Abuses by Haiti Police, May 8, 2005 www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/5_8_5/5_8_5.html Haiti Information Project
PHOTO: This is the deceitful image the Haitian police wanted the world to see after planting a handgun on the corpse of an unarmed demonstrator on April 27, 2005 (See pictures at www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/5_8_5/5_8_5.html )
PHOTO: Bodies of three victims gunned down by Haitian police on April 27, 2005. Note: there is no gun in the hand of demonstrator on right as a police vehicle enters the frame (Go to – Photo Gallery : view all 35 images for this story www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/5_8_5/out/index.htm
PHOTO: Nearly 10,000 demonstartors hit the streets on May 4 demanding the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and freedom for political prisoners.
PHOTO: This participant in the May 4 march was shot in the head by US Marines on March 12, 2004. When asked why he continued to protest he replied, “Because no matter how much they try to legimize this coup, we voted for our president and what they are doing is immoral and wrong. We will not stop until our elected president is returned!”
(HIP) Port au Prince ó The images of the killings by the U.S.-armed and U.N.-trained Police Nationale de Haiti (PNH) are stark and undeniable. Peaceful demonstrators slaughtered in cold-blood as the U.N. pontificates and postures to justify its role in legitimizing the coup in February 2004 against the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
On February 28, 2005, the first anniversary of the coup against the constitutional government, the PNH fired at unarmed demonstrators as the U.N. stood by. Video footage and photographs from that day show the U.N. was close enough to see the police open fire on peaceful demonstrators, yet unexplainably, not close enough to do anything about it.
Following the carnage of Feb. 28 the U.N. representatives from Chile and Brazil, Juan Gabriel Valdes and General Heleno Ribera, tell the world they will intervene to stop the police from shooting at peaceful demonstrations. The world believes the UN when they object to the killings by the police on Feb. 28 as the corporate media and their pundits begin to spin images of the impartial and dauntless humanitarian role the U.N. continues to play in Haiti. The UN bars the Haitian police from security duties during demonstrations the next week but finally cave in to objections raised by Justice Minister Bernard Gousse. Gousse claims that the limits placed on the police by the UN are illegal and usurp the rights of the Haitian state. The U.N.’s sound bites challenging the PNH for killings peaceful demonstrators were never taken seriously by the US-installed regime in Haiti. How could they be since the U.N. mission to “restore” democracy to Haiti has never resolved its own dysfunctions and contradictions? How can they move to challenge the brutality and abuses of the Haitian police when their mandate includes training and bolstering the very same forces? How could they challenge Gousse’s assertion of the right of the Haitian police to kill demonstrators when their mandate is to protect the unpopular US-installed regime at all costs?
Valdes and General Ribera’s promise to intervene to stop the PNH from killing unarmed demonstrators is tested when Lavalas organizes yet another massive demonstration on April 27, 2005. In the wake of the UN bowing down to Bernard Gousses’s intervention asserting the policing rights of the PNH, the force strikes again on cue. An innocent bystander’s leg was blown to bits by the PNH as he was leaving a local pharmacy in the vicinity of the demonstration after buying insulin for his ailing mother. After killing unarmed demonstrators the PNH then tries to plant guns in the hands of the corpses. An anonymous journalist declared, “I filmed the dead bodies of demonstrators killed by the police. The police put a gun in the left hand of one of the corpses. After they saw me filming they asked me to come and film the gun in his hand. I couldn’t believe it.” An anonymous source close to the UN mission commented, “The attempts to cover-up these killings and the feeble justifications of the Haitian police are unbelievably stupid and transparent. The UN mission is well aware of the unacceptable pace of recruitment of former military into the Haitian police, as well as the parallel emergence of death squads within the institution.”
Haitian police spokeswoman Gessy Cameau Coicou, who is by now widely ridiculed for always claiming that civilians killed by the Haitian police are all “bandits”, declared that “only 2 persons were seriously injured during a gun battle with a police patrol” on April 27. She added the laughable notion that Lavalas activists who were killed “were not shot during a demonstration since police authorities had received no notice of a demonstration.” Standing by her side to lend credence to the farce was Canadian UN-Civilian Police spokesperson Dan Moskaluk, who called the march an “unauthorized, illegal demonstration”. Moskaluk at least had the decency to admit to finding five corpses despite the corroboration of nine killed after UN peacekeepers finally showed up on the scene. The truth is the march was announced for several days before it took place on radio stations throughout the capital. What Coicou and Moskaluk failed to disclose was that the courier with the official request for the permit to demonstrate on April 27 was beaten and arrested by the Haitian police when he tried to deliver it.
All of this leads to May 4, 2005 when yet another large demonstration by Lavalas takes place. The leaders of the demonstration were photographed and videotaped by the U.N. and a Haitian police officer wearing a UN blue helmet before they left the Aristide stronghold of Bel Air. After a brief and symbolic protest in front of the U.N. headquarters on Rue Pan-Americain (Avenue John Brown), the demonstration continued down the same street. At a certain point the U.N. forces stop and allow the protestors to continue without them for about 100 yards. Suddenly, the PNH appears with M-14 and M-16 military weapons and points them towards the crowd. Without the presence of a few press cameras and journalists to dissuade them, it is clear the police would have opened fired on the crowd. When questioned on camera, the U.N. military officers on the scene refused to answer questions and later dismissed the incident as yet another coincidence.
After the Lavalas demonstration on May 4, U.N. troops drive by as sharpshooters of a Haitian SWAT unit enter Bel Air with high-powered telescopic rifles. The U.N. leaves the scene as if it is “business as usual” as Haitian police began pointing their weapons, meant to kill specific targets, at residents of the neighborhood. The presence of a news camera makes them angry but keeps them from shooting at the population. Given that the UN and the international community have tolerated the abuses of the Haitian police thus far, journalists and photographers have to wonder how long it will be before they become victims of trigger-happy Haitian policemen or made deliberate targets? The presence of journalists naturally places constraints upon the behavior of the police and, if their reactions on May 4 are any indicator, they are not happy about it.
To date, no serious investigation of the Haitian police for shooting unarmed demonstrations or well-documented cases of murder sprees into poor neighborhoods of the capital, has been undertaken. The UN has done little more than make noise while not one single name of a policeman or SWAT team member who committed these acts has been made public. This can only send a message to the Haitian police that they have free reign to commit murder and tell tall-tales about it. They now assume the UN will keep supporting them by remaining silent because no one in the Haitian police is being held accountable. For many observers on the ground this gives the appearance that the UN mandate to “restore democracy” to Haiti is providing the police with cover to commit murder with impunity. In the absence of any public investigation it can certainly be argued this has been the reality thus far.
The UN relationship to the US-installed Latortue regime and the human rights violations committed by the Haitian police has done little to inspire confidence for the much-touted elections scheduled to begin in October. Many people in Haiti are asking how the UN can seriously expect Lavalas candidates to participate in the next elections when they might expect the same treatment from the Haitian National Police during a campaign rally? How can the masses of poor Haitians who continue to support Lavalas despite more then 13 months of repression and brutality be expected to feel secure enough to register or cast their ballots in the next elections?
Putting the question of the legitimacy of the upcoming elections aside, the climate for change in coming years is bleak with a UN special mission that offers lofty words about elections and democracy but fails to hold the Haitian police accountable for documented human rights violations.
Photo Gallery : view all 35 images for this story
“Men anpil chay pa lou” is Kreyol for – “Many hands make light a heavy load.”
Join our International Solidarity Day with Haiti for May 18, 2005 and be on the ground floor to help launch the FREE HAITI MOVEMENT
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ìBandit King in Cite Soleilî
Action Requested from Haiti solidarity groups and activists for justice and democracy
Please circulate our mailings and posts to your mailing list and e-mail contacts. Subscribe by writing to: Erzilidanto@yahoo.com
Read, adopt and circulate the Haiti Resolution (see below) from the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network and/or the Porto Alegre Declarations on Haiti adopted at the World Social Forum in 2005: www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/declaration.html
Circulate the human rights reports, especially the latest Miami Law Center report: www.margueritelaurent.com/campaigns/campaignone/human_rights_reports/c1humanrightsreports.html
Do Press Work: Join our letter writing campaigns to help free the political prisoners in Haiti, stop the persecution of Haiti’s most popular political party and restore Constitutional rule. Write a letter, call the media, fax, – See our Press Work page for sample letters and contact information:
HLLN Networkers are urged, in addition to the general writing campaigns and e-mail circulations, to also consider volunteering as primary coordinators/contributors to one of our seven campaigns: www.margueritelaurent.com/campaigns/campaigns.html
Support our lawyers in Haiti and HLLN projects, such as, our partnership with AUMOHD, the young human rights lawyers in Haiti who are defending the defenseless poor whose only crime is that they voted for Lavalas, supported Constitutional rule or are resisting a return of the bloody U.S.-trained Haitian army and US-sponsored dictatorship. For information on AUMOHD, go to: www.april6vt.org/
Support the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Haiti Resolution:
1. Demand the return of constitutional rule to Haiti by restoring all elected officials of all parties to their offices throughout the country until the end of their mandates and another election is held, as mandated by Haiti’s Constitution;
2. Condemn the killings, illegal imprisonment and confiscation of the property of supporters of Haiti’s constitutional government and insist that Haiti’s illegitimate “interim government” immediately cease its persecution and put a stop to persecution by the thugs and murderers from sectors in their police force, from the paramilitaries, gangs and former soldiers;
3. Insist on the immediate release of all political prisoners in Haitian jails, including Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, Interior Minister Privert and other constitutional government officials and folksinger-activist SÚ Anne;
4. Insist on the disarmament of the thugs, death squad leaders and convicted human rights violators and their prosecution for all crimes committed during the attack on Haiti’s elected government and support the rebuilding of Haiti’s police force, ensuring that it excludes anyone who helped to overthrow the democratically elected government or who participated in other human rights violations;
5. Stop the indefinite detention and automatic repatriation of Haitian refugees and immediately grant Temporary Protected Status to all Haitian refugees presently in the United States until democracy is restored to Haiti; and
6. Support the calls by the OAS, CARICOM and the African Union for an investigation into the circumstances of President Aristide’s removal. Support the enactment of Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s T.R.U.T.H Act which calls for U.S. Congressional investigation of the forcible removal of the democratically elected President and government of Haiti.