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Haiti: nothing to see here, says AP

Posted by Charles II on February 9, 2007

Massive demonstrations in seven Haitian cities

 As censored by the Associated Press (but reported by that Haiti Information Project):

 Challenging recent assertions made by the United Nations that the Lavalas movement is dead, crowds estimated at well over 100,000 took to the streets of seven major cities throughout Haiti on February 7 to demand an end to the UN occupation, freedom for political prisoners and the return of exiled president Aristide. Lavalas is the political movement of Haiti’s desperately poor majority and the political party of president Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was ousted on February 29, 2004 in a coup reportedly backed by the United States, France and Canada.

Although the largest demonstrations took place in the capital of Port-au-Prince and Haiti’s second largest city Cap Haitien, thousands were reported to have joined similar actions in Port de Paix, Hinche, La Kay, St. Marc and Miragoane. Smaller actions were also reported in the towns of Jacmel, Leogane and Gonaives.

…”Down with the UN!” was the common chant as the demonstration passed by without incident.

4 Responses to “Haiti: nothing to see here, says AP”

  1. Of course, unless someone was following the reports from the Haiti Information Project, one would likely not know WHY the Haitians were protesting the UN presence there. (Namely, the UN’s backing — with bullets — of the thugs who overthrew Aristide.)

  2. Charles said

    Yup. All these funny little brown people all over the world, getting riled over no reason whatsoever.

    That’s how our useless press sounds, if they even bother to report it.

  3. jh said

    Haiti Information Project (HIP) and Kevin Pina honored with Project Censored award.

    (HIP story among Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008 recognized by Project Censored): http://www.projectcensored.org

    # 12 Another Massacre in Haiti by UN Troops
    Sources:
    HaitiAction.net, January 21, 2007
    Title: “UN in Haiti: Accused of Second Massacre”
    Authors: Haiti Information Project
    http://www.haitiaction.net

    Inter Press Service
    Title: “Haiti: Poor Residents of Capital Describe a State of Siege”
    Authors: Wadner Pierre and Jeb Sprague
    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=36772

    Student Researcher: William Leeming
    Faculty Evaluator: Dianne Parness

    Eyewitness testimony confirms indiscriminate killings by UN forces in Haiti’s Cité Soleil community on December 22, 2006, reportedly as collective punishment against the community for a massive demonstration of Lavalas supporters in which about ten thousand people rallied for the return of President Aristide in clear condemnation of the foreign military occupation of their country. According to residents, UN forces attacked their neighborhood in the early morning, killing more than thirty people, including women and children. Footage taken by Haiti Information Project (HIP) videographers shows unarmed civilians dying as they tell of extensive gunfire from UN peacekeeping forces (MINUSTAH).

    A hardened UN strategy became apparent days after the demonstration, when UN officials stated they were entering Cité Soleil to capture or kill gangsters and kidnappers. While officials of MINUSTAH have admitted to “collateral damage,” in the raids of December 2006, they say they are there to fight gangsters at the request of the René Préval government.

    But many residents and local human rights activists say that scores of people having no involvement with gangs were killed, wounded, and arrested in the raids.

    Although MINUSTAH denied firing from helicopter gunships, HIP captured more than three hours of video footage and a large selection of digital photos, illustrating the UN’s behavior in Haiti.

    An unidentified twenty-eight-year-old man, filmed by HIP, can be seen dying as he testifies that he was shot from a circling UN helicopter that rained gunfire on those below. HIP film also shows a sixteen-year-old, dying just after being shot by UN forces. Before dying he describes details of the UN opening fire on unarmed civilians in his neighborhood. The wounded and dying, filmed by HIP, all express horror and confusion.

    IPS observed that buildings throughout Cité Soleil were pockmarked by bullets; many showing huge holes made by heavy caliber UN weapons, as residents attest. Often pipes that brought in water to the slum community now lay shattered.

    A recently declassified document from the US embassy in Port-au-Prince reveals that during a similar operation carried out in July 2005, MINUSTAH expended 22,000 bullets over several hours. In the report, an official from MINUSTAH acknowledged, “given the flimsy construction of homes in Cité Soleil and the large quantity of ammunition expended, it is likely that rounds penetrated many buildings, striking unintended targets.”

    Frantz Michel Guerrier, spokesman for the Committee of Notables for the Development of Cité Soleil based in the Bois Neuf zone, said, “It is very difficult for me to explain to you what the people of Bois Neuf went through on Dec. 22, 2006—almost unexplainable. It was a true massacre. We counted more than sixty wounded and more than twenty-five dead, among [them] infants, children, and young people.”

    “We saw helicopters shoot at us, our houses broken by the tanks,” Guerrier told IPS. “We heard detonations of the heavy weapons. Many of the dead and wounded were found inside their houses. I must tell you that nobody had been saved, not even the babies. The Red Cross was not allowed to help people. The soldiers had refused to let the Red Cross in categorically, in violation of the Geneva Convention.” Several residents told IPS that MINUSTAH, after conducting its operations, evacuated without checking for wounded.

    Following the removal of Haiti’s elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide government (see Censored 2005, story #12), up to one thousand Lavalas political activists were imprisoned under the US-backed interim government, according to a Miami University Human Rights study.

    A study released by the Lancet Journal of Medicine in August 2006 estimates that 8,000 were killed and 35,000 sexually assaulted in the greater Port-au-Prince area during the time of the interim government (2004-2006). The study attributed human rights abuses to purported “criminals,” police, anti-Lavalas gangs, and UN peacekeepers.

    HIP Founding Editor Kevin Pina commented, “It is clear that this represents an act of terror against the community. This video evidence shows clearly that the UN stands accused, once again, of targeting unarmed civilians in Cité Soleil. There can be no justification for using this level of force in the close quarters of those neighborhoods. It is clear that the UN views the killing of these innocents as somehow acceptable to their goal of pacifying this community. Every demonstration, no matter how peaceful, is seen as a threat to their control if it includes demands for the return of Aristide to Haiti. In that context it is difficult to continue to view the UN mission as an independent and neutral force in Haiti. They apparently decided sometime ago it was acceptable to use military force to alter Haiti’s political landscape to match their strategic goals for the Haitian people.”

    Update by Kevin Pina

    Since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Lavalas political party were ousted from power on February 29, 2004, accusations of gross human rights violations have persisted in Haiti. While the Haitian National Police (HNP) received training and assistance from the UN following Aristide’s ouster, they were also accused of summary executions, arbitrary arrests, and the killing of unarmed demonstrators. The actions of the Haitian police became so egregious that even UN police trainers (CIVPOL) began to question the motives of their commanders and the mission’s objectives. The Haiti Information Project (HIP) received the following correspondence in response to a May 8, 2005 article “UN accommodates Human Rights Abuses by police in Haiti.”1 This is the first publication of that correspondence:

    “Just want to reinforce your observations as all being accurate.

    I am one of the 25 US CIVPOL here on the ground in Haiti, having arrived last November. As a group we are frustrated by the UN’s and CIVPOL’s unwillingness to interpret their mandate aggressively. I have been pushing them to conduct investigations into all the shootings and other significant Human Rights violations with no success. The Police Commissioner and command staff shows little interest and claim the mandate does not allow them to do this. Unfortunately I have countless examples.

    The corruption in the HNP is massive with little interest in addressing the problem. Just keep up the pressure, I don’t know what else to do.”

    Stephen MacKinnon
    Chief, Strategic Planning Unit
    CIVPOL-MINUSTAH

    Chief MacKinnon provided HIP with information and documents that painted a disturbing picture of a UN operation more obsessed with political embarrassment caused by mounting demonstrations for Aristide’s return than interest in reigning in human rights abuses committed by the HNP.2

    The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) now stands accused of having itself committed several massacres in the seaside shantytown of Cité Soleil. This area of the capital served as a launching site for massive demonstrations demanding the return of President Aristide and for an end to what they called the foreign occupation of their country.
    The Brazilian military has responsibility for leadership of the UN military forces in Haiti and is authorized to use deadly force. They are at the top of the command structure and their influence on the overall mission should not be understated. More importantly, there is a direct parallel between Brazilian military tactics utilized by UN forces in Haiti and similar military-style assaults used by the police in their own country.

    The Brazilian military police have been accused of firing indiscriminately in the poor slums of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro called favelas. This was highlighted in an Amnesty International report “Brazil: ‘They come in Shooting’: Policing socially excluded communities,” released on December 2, 2005.3
    This is similar to the tactics authorized by the Brazilian generals in Haiti. It has resulted in several high-profile massacres committed in the poor slum of Cité Soleil where protestors challenged the UN’s authority by continuing to launch massive demonstrations demanding Aristide’s return and condemning the UN’s presence in Haiti. In each instance, the UN and the elite-run Haitian press demonized the entire community as being criminals and gangsters and/or collaborators of criminals and gangsters. While it is true that armed “gangs” operated in the neighborhood and a few claimed they were aligned with Aristide’s Lavalas movement, these military raids had a clear correlation to the ongoing demonstrations and opposition to the UN presence in Haiti.

    Cité Soleil was terrorized on July 6, 2005 when Brazilian commanders authorized a raid by UN forces with the stated aim of routing gangs in the area.4 For Aristide supporters, the raid was a preemptive strike by the UN to dampen the impact of protests on Aristide’s birthday, planned to take place only nine days later on July 15. It also represented the first time UN forces purposely sought to assassinate the leadership of armed groups claiming allegiance to Aristide’s Lavalas movement.5 By the time UN guns stopped firing, countless unarmed civilians lay dead with many having been killed by a single high-powered rifle shot to the head. Since then, documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the US Embassy and various intelligence agencies, were aware of the excessive use of force by UN forces in Haiti on July 6, 2005.6 Despite being heavily censored by US officials, what emerges is clear evidence of the disproportionate use of force by UN troops in Cité Soleil.

    December 16, 2006 saw another large demonstration for Aristide that began in Cite Soleil and only six days later on December 22, Brazilian commanders would authorize a second deadly raid that residents and human rights groups say resulted in the wholesale slaughter of innocent victims. The unspoken parallel of Brazil’s role in leading the UN’s military strategy in Haiti is the fact that terror tactics such as these have been their modus operandi in their own country.

    In the early morning hours of Feb. 2, UN forces entered Cité Soleil firing indiscriminately and their victims were two young girls killed as they slept in their own home.7 Massive demonstrations were scheduled to take place five days later demanding the return of Aristide throughout Haiti on Feb. 7. While these demonstrations went largely unreported by the international corporate media, this stood in contrast, to the avalanche of news stories filed two days later on Feb. 9, when UN forces launched yet another deadly military operation in Cité Soleil.8

    Although these raids were ostensibly to rid the neighborhood of gangs, they followed the same pattern and relationship to demonstrations for Aristide’s return and military tactics used by Brazilian commanders in previous UN operations.
    The only rights organizations documenting the loss of life and destruction of property resulting from the UN raid on December 22, 2006, as well as previous and subsequent UN military operations, were the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI).9 HIP, the organization originally authoring the article being recognized by Project Censored, is a news agency that has extensive video evidence and interviews from Cité Soleil taken the same day these attacks by UN forces were executed. HIP offers any human rights organization the opportunity to view the documentary footage and evidence supporting the claims of Cité Soleil residents that massacres by UN forces have been committed against them. Unfortunately, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States have remained conspicuously disinterested and silent about this evidence.

    For further information and updates about Haiti, please visit http://www.haitiaction.net, http://www.ijdh.org, http://www.HaitiInformationProject.net, http://www.haitianalysis.com, http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca, and http://www.ahphaiti.org.

    Notes

    1. Haiti Information Project,”UN accommodates Human Rights Abuses by police in Haiti,” May 8, 2005. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/5_8_5/5_8_5.html.

    2. Internet correspondence received from Steve McKinnon to HIP May 12, 2005.

    3. Amnesty International Report, “Brazil: ‘They come in Shooting’: Policing socially excluded communities” December 2, 2005. See http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e &id=ENGAMR190252005

    4. Haiti Information Project, “Evidence mounts of a UN massacre in Haiti,” July 12, 2005. See http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/7_12_5.html.

    5. Haiti Information Project,”The UN’s disconnect with the poor in Haiti,” December 25, 2005. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/12_25_5/12_25a_5.html.

    6. Haiti Information Project, “US Embassy in Haiti acknowledges excessive force by UN,” January 24, 2007. Article based on FOIA documents obtained by College of DuPage Geography Professor Keith Yearman. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/1_23_7/1_23_7.html.

    7. Haiti Information Project—February 2, 2007. UN terror kills Haiti’s children at night http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_2_7a/2_2_7a.html.

    8. Haiti Information Project, “Massive demonstrations in Haiti catch UN by surprise,” February 9, 2007. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_9_7/2_9_7.html.

    9. Haiti Information Project,”The UNspoken truth about gangs in Haiti,” February 15, 2007. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_15_7/2_15_7.html.

    10. Video images documenting UN military operations on July 6, 2005 and December 22, 2006 were taken by HIP videographer Jean-Baptiste Ristil.

    [Edited by siteowner to fix breaking tag]

  4. Charles said

    jh, I’m sorry your post was spamboxed. I have attempted to get it back out. Akismet rejects posts with certain characteristics and yours met the profile.

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