‘It was a campaign of fear. Didn’t you hear the radio? They told people that if they left their homes they would be arrested by the police and the U.N.,’stated Jean Joseph Jorel, a representative of the National Commission of the Family Lavalas Cell of Reflection. Jorel made the comment from Cite Soleil on January 9, the same day the Haitian Chamber of Commerce had called a national strike to condemn insecurity in Haiti and a recent spate of kidnappings throughout the capital. Roadblocks manned by the Haitian National Police and the U.N. went up throughout the capital on January 8 and traffic remained sparse as most residents stayed in their homes.
Jorel made his comments from Cite Soleil, a bastion of support for ousted president Aristide and current presidential candidate Rene Garcia Preval. It has served as a launching site for massive demonstrations demanding the return of Aristide and most recently as a staging ground for large Preval campaign rallies. Residents of Cite Soleil accuse Haiti’s business community of pressuring U.N. forces to commit a massacre there on July 6, 2005.
The January 9 strike came two days after the death of the commander of U.N. military forces in Haiti Lt. Gen. Urano Bacellar. His death was initially reported as a suicide but U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti Juan Gabriel Valdes has implied in recent interviews to the Haitian press that it may have been an assassination by forces trying to disrupt the electoral process. And finally, the right-wing opposition of president Mbeki in South Africa with ties to Haiti’s elite ridiculously implied that a sniper from their country, at the behest of Aristide, killed the general.
For Jorel and most residents of Cite Soleil, the Chamber’s call to shut down businesses and transportation is an ominous and frightening portent of things to come. They do not see the strike as a call for national unity to combat crime and violence; rather they view it as another attempt by Haiti’s wealthy elite, and those attempting to forestall upcoming elections, to force the U.N. to launch military attacks against the neighborhood. They see it as a repeat of events that led to the massacre of July 6, 2005.
‘This is Apaid, Boulos and Baker working to force the U.N. to come in here and commit another massacre like they did on July 6’declared Jorel in a familiar refrain heard throughout Cite Soleil. Andy Apaid is a wealthy sweatshop owner and the leader of an organization that dropped the 0 from Haiti’s year of independence, 1804, to create a civil society organization named Group 184 that was heavily funded by the United States, France and Canada. The Group 184 helped to build opposition to Aristide’s government and Apaid was among the first to refer to para-military forces that invaded Haiti from the Dominican Republic as freedom fighters as they killed police officers and Lavalas officials in their bid to oust Aristide. Dr. Reginald Boulos is the president of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce who is implicated in the death of 60 children after his company, Pharval Pharmaceuticals, produced a poisonous cough syrup distributed throughout poor neighborhoods of the capital. Boulos had also pushed the U.N. to make armed incursions into pro-Aristide neighborhoods last May that many view as having led to the massacre in Cite Soleil on July 6. Charles Henry Baker, another sweatshop owner, helped to create the Group 184 and is currently a presidential candidate seen as the preferred choice of Haiti’s wealthy elite and business community.
‘Why do they keep postponing these elections when everyone knows that Preval is the people’s choice? Why are they afraid of democracy when they claim that removing Aristide was for democracy? We still believe they kidnapped our president and forced him out. Now we stand ready to vote again for Preval and they keep delaying the vote. Is it because they want to rob us of our democratic rights once again? Is it because so many people are getting rich from the coup of Feb. 2004 that the international community is so blind they can’t see the truth?’asked Jorel.
‘Don’t go there. There are killers and bad people.’
As the jeep of journalists approached the two Armored Personnel Vehicles (APVs), manned by Jordanian soldiers and two Haitian police officers, they motioned for them to stop. Everyone got out of the car to have their identification checked as the soldiers assured themselves that the lone Haitian driver was not kidnapping them. The journalists were about to enter the fabled land of poverty and misery that has been targeted recently as a repository for kidnapping victims in the Haitian press and mainstream international media. One of the Jordanian soldiers cautioned, ‘Be careful. Don’t go there. There are killers and bad people.’
After being followed by another APV, the Haitian driver finally negotiated his way to the central marketplace in Cite Soleil on a street named Bwa Neuf. Bwa Neuf is the site of a monument erected in honor of another supposed Lavalas ‘bandit’, Emmanuel ‘Dread’Wilme. U.N. forces assassinated Wilme and four of his armed lieutenants on July 6 and residents accuse them of targeting unarmed civilians during the raid. Dread, as residents of Cite Soleil refer him to, was an orphan who grew up in La Famni Selavi, the organization founded by Aristide to help homeless street children. Like so many others, he saw his parents killed by the military following the coup that ousted Aristide in 1991. While the US-installed government, the Haitian elite and the U.N. demonized Dread as a criminal, the impoverished residents of Cite Soleil put their pennies together and built a monument to his memory.
‘They killed my wife and have left me to take care of our nine children.’
Bwa Neuf is patrolled by several APVs 24-hours a day. Residents claim that at any given hour wherever people congregate to talk about the community or share ideas with one another, they open fire with automatic weapons. According to the testimony of residents, four women were killed by U.N. forces in the marketplace of Bwa Neuf on January 6. Dieunord Edme, 51 years-old, described how his wife Annette Moleon, 45 years-old, was gunned down by U.N. forces on that day from a passing APV: ‘They started shooting everywhere for no reason. They killed my wife and have left me to take care of our nine children. Why did they do that?’
The fear was palpable as residents of Haiti’s poorest neighborhood continued to surround the group of journalists to respond to the news that the U.N. had announced the results of an investigation into the events of July 6. APVs passed by several times and residents said the only reason they didn’t open fire was because of the presence of white foreigners. Yet so many killings by U.N. forces have gone unreported by the press and human rights organizations. For example, Zapada Price, a man described as ‘fou'(crazy) by the community, ventured too close to the U.N. checkpoint. His body lay on the road for four days because every time his family came to collect the corpse U.N. forces reportedly fired at them as well.
‘The blue helmuts are lying. They killed so many people and I praise God that I am alive to call them liars,’shouted 30 year-old Edline Pierre-Louis who was 6 months pregnant when the U.N. opened fire on July 6. Showing us the scars on her stomach, she exclaimed, ‘I lost my unborn baby to U.N. forces on July 6. If they say there was not a massacre then tell me where is my child? Where is my brother who bled to death in the street? The U.N. is lying. They are the ones embarrassing themselves with this lie. Look at how many victims have come forth to tell you the truth.’
On Jan. 8, residents of Cite Soleil also spoke against a campaign by Haiti’s wealthy elite to destroy them because of their fidelity to the cause of ousted president Aristide and their support for the campaign of Rene Preval. ‘My brother has been shot and killed by the U.N., my cousin was shot and killed by the U.N. on July 6. The U.N. is lying. Look at my stomach and the operation they performed to save my life. The U.N. is lying!’stated Amavil Joudain. He was shot in the stomach by U.N. forces on July 6, 2005. Other victims of July 6 who gave testimony to journalists included:
Pierre, Samson, 37, bullet in the stomach; Carole Janvier, 52, bullet to the chest; Mimose Gabriel, 52, home fired upon, stray bullet to the stomach; Leonise Cenard, 46, bullet to the stomach.
During the raid of July 6, not a single ambulance or medical unit accompanied U.N. forces as they opened fire in the community with what was described by residents as ‘a hail of bullets.’The U.N. ultimately relied upon witnesses and testimony presented to them by the Haitian police and human rights ‘expert’Jean-Claude Bajeux to dismiss the evidence. Bajeux is a member of the Group 184 and known for his bias and visceral hatred of Lavalas. The U.N. to date has never interviewed nor spoken to a single resident of Cite Soleil. Despite direct testimony by victims of the July 6 U.N. military incursion, the official report by the MINUSTAH forces concluded: ‘The targeted victims were either individuals suspected of having been the informants of MINUSTAH, or of the people who imprudently expressed their joy at the announcement of the supposed disappearance of Dread Wilmé and some of his close associates.’In other words, the U.N. ultimately concluded that the victims were shot and killed by members of Lavalas in retaliation for informing and expressing ‘joy’for their [the U.N.’s] military incursion.
The U.N.’s dismissal of the testimony of victims of July 6 and the recent pressure applied for another raid in Cite Soleil by virtue of the strike called by the Haitian Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 9 was foreshadowed by another dark event on December 30, 2005. The Canadian government, responsible for the reformation of Haiti’s corrupt judiciary, stood by and watched without comment as Judge Jean Pérs Paul ordered the release of the following individuals implicated in kidnapping in Haiti but never mentioned by the Chamber of Commerce during their strike:
* Stantley Handal; * Wilfrid FranÃ§ois, Haitian police officer Agent 1; * Sony Lambert, Haitian police officer Agent 3; * Rénald Cinéus, Haitian police officer Agent 4.
Handal is a member of one of Haiti’s wealthiest families that supported the ouster of Aristide in 1991 and 2004. He was initially arrested along with eight members of Haiti’s police force for running a kidnapping ring after he attempted to use a stolen credit card taken from one of his victims. The judge that released them, Jean Pérs Paul, is responsible for keeping Father Gerard Jean-Juste behind bars and for the arrest of journalists Kevin Pina and Jean Ristil on September 9, 2005. The police officer responsible for the initial investigation into Handal’s case has reportedly been forced into hiding. The U.N. and the Canadian government have not commented on the case since Jean Pérs Paul ordered the suspects released.
U.N. accused of attacking hospital in Haiti
Friday, January 20, 2006
HIP, Haiti – It was about 11 p.m. at St. Catherine’s hospital in Cite Soleil on Wednesday night as exhausted doctors and nurses were treating numerous victims of gunshots wounds and filling out paperwork for the four corpses of the unfortunate ones whose lives they could not save.
‘There had been a rush of gunshot victims and those who would talk told us it was the result of the U.N. opening fire on them. All of a sudden we heard loud booms and glass breaking and then we realized the hospital was being fired upon. At first we couldn’t tell where it was coming from but then we saw the tracers coming from the direction of the old Boulos market that is now an armed encampment for the Jordanians in Cite Soleil. There was panic as a bullet struck a window in the Children’s Ward and everyone went diving for cover,’ explained a hospital worker who asked to remain anonymous.
A foreign doctor who also asked their name not be used stated, ‘We are not sure where the bullets came from but if what everyone is saying is true [that the gunfire came from U.N. troops] there can be no excuse or justification for firing at this hospital.’
Jeanette Lager, a 38 year-old mother clutching her ailing 2 month-old son, described the attack, ‘My friends who were on the street said they saw the U.N. firing at the hospital. I was inside with my sick baby when all of sudden glass started breaking and we could hear the gunfire from across the road where the U.N. controls the street. Look at the size of the bullet holes, look at the damage they caused. These were not small weapons. The U.N. is killing us in the streets and now they are attacking the only hospital we have in Cite Soleil. It’s criminal and it must be stopped.’
Benis Benjamin, whose 8 year-old daughter Valancia was shot in their home by U.N. forces the same night, described his fear as gunfire struck the hospital. ‘My little girl was shot in our home by MINUSTAH last night and I had to rush her here to save her life. The only reason she is alive is because of this hospital. Then I had to worry she might be a killed a second time when they began firing on the hospital. Thank God the hospital is still here,’ Mr. Benjamin stated.
As the on again, off again elections approach a renewed deadline of Feb. 7, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is being pressured to crack down hard on poor neighborhoods that are accused of remaining loyal to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Many of these same communities have also been staging grounds for large campaign rallies in support of presidential candidate Rene Garcia Preval.
The attack on St. Catherine’s comes on the heels of the killing of two Jordanian soldiers last Tuesday night. Those killings were preceded by a demonstration in the capital the day before by Haitians that supported the forced ouster of Aristide on February 29, 2004. Led by members of Haiti’s wealthy elite, most notably Andre Apaid, Dr. Reginald Boulos, and Charles Henry Baker; the demonstrators criticized the U.N. for being too soft on criminals and not doing enough to restore security.
Andy Apaid is a wealthy sweatshop owner and the leader of an organization that dropped the zero from Haiti’s year of independence, 1804, to create a so-called civil society organization named Group 184. The organization was heavily funded by the United States, France and Canada and helped to build opposition to Aristide’s government. Apaid was among the first to refer to para-military forces that invaded Haiti from the Dominican Republic as freedom fighters even as they killed police officers and Lavalas officials in their bid to oust Aristide.
Dr. Reginald Boulos is the president of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce who is implicated in the deaths of at least 60 children after his company, Pharval Pharmaceuticals, produced a poisonous cough syrup distributed throughout poor neighborhoods of the capital. Boulos had also pushed the U.N. to make armed incursions into pro-Aristide neighborhoods last May. Survivors and members of the community charge this led to a massacre committed by U.N. forces in Cite Soleil on July 6, 2005. Charles Henry Baker, another sweatshop owner, helped to create the Group 184 and is currently a presidential candidate seen as the preferred choice of Haiti’s wealthy elite and business community.
Jordanian forces in Cite Soleil attempted to block the access of journalists into another area of the community where more reported killings of unarmed civilians occurred yesterday. After finding another route around the Jordanians, journalists saw evidence of at least two more persons residents said were gunned down by MINUSTAH forces Thursday morning. John Erickson’s body lay less than 30 feet from a wide street named Bwa Neuf that is patrolled by Jordanian soldiers in Armored Personnel Vehicles 24-hours a day. Residents claimed he was shot along with several others at about 9 a.m. when gunfire erupted from U.N. forces.
Another man, known by his neighbors only as ‘Ti Blan’, lies in a pool of blood and was the apparent victim of a single shot that ripped into his chest. All of those interviewed at the scene repeated several times that the victims were unarmed at the time U.N. forces opened fire.
Journalists leaving Cite Soleil and traveling through the neighboring community of Pele witnessed first-hand new tactics being employed by Brazilian forces to pacify the area.
A man described by residents as being a member of a group called the GNB, hid his identity behind a mask made of camouflaged cloth as he led Brazilian soldiers through the area in search of what he described as ‘bandits.’ He stopped and questioned a woman using a cellular telephone on the street and then took the phone away from her and began searching through the directory for numbers. He called a number with no apparent luck, returned the phone and told her that if he saw her again he would have her arrested.
When questioned by a reporter the masked man stated he was a private citizen who had ‘volunteered to help the Brazilians rid Haiti of bandits’ and said he was not being paid for the service. When asked if he was otherwise gainfully employed he retorted, ‘This is my job. I am going to find the bandits for these guys and they have given me my authority. I don’t need money to eat.’
After the masked man led the Brazilians down a side street and out of earshot, residents began to complain that he was one of at least eight individuals being used by U.N. forces in the area as paid informants. One woman who spoke out afterwards said, ‘Those masked guys have been responsible for arresting a lot of innocent people over the past three weeks. They are using this as a form of political and personal revenge and the U.N. doesn’t seem to care if innocent people are killed as a result or if they end up in jail. This situation is like living in a nightmare.’
For article with photo essay visit: http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/1_20_6/1_20_6.html
The Haiti Information Project (HIP) is a non-profit alternative news service providing coverage and analysis of breaking developments in Haiti.
For more information: To view 7-minute trailer of ‘Haiti: The UNtold Story’ visit: www.teledyol.net for further infomation about the Haiti Information Project (HIP) visit: http://www.teledyol.net/HIP/about.html Contact: [email protected]
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