Haiti News Update:
For too long the wealthy and powerful have operated with impunity in Haiti. Both the violent Dictator Jean-Claud "Baby Doc" Duvalier and the United Nations' (UN) Stabilization Mission to Haiti (MINUSTAH) have committed grave crimes against the Haitian People: and neither are being held accountable. The lack of accountability in Haiti must end!
In 1971 when the violent dictator Francois-Claude "Papa Doc" Duvalier died, his presidency and his personal militia called the Tonton Macoutes were passed to Francois-Claude's 19 year old son, Jean-Claude, "Baby Doc". For 15 years Jean-Claude continued to terrorize Haiti. The Haitian army and the feared Tonton Macoutes systematically beat, imprisoned, tortured and killed Duvalier’s political opponents and anyone who challenged his thugs’ authority. Jean-Claude stole hundreds of millions of dollars from public funds while Haitians struggled to survive.
Jean-Claude was finally forced out of Haiti in 1986 by a popular uprising. After living in exile in France for 25 years, in January Baby Doc Duvalier unexpectedly returned to Haiti. Instead of being imprisoned he is enjoying a life of luxury.
UN Peacekeepers were recently caught on video sexually assaulting a teenager, and this isn't the first time UN troops have been accused of rape in Haiti. The UN also obstructed the Haitian justice system’s investigation into the hanging death of a 16-year-old boy inside a UN base. WikiLeak US Embassy cables prove that the UN is involved in numerous massacres in pro-Aristide neighborhoods. And The UN Peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti, which caused over 6000 deaths and sickened more than 440,000 Haitians. MINUSTAH's annual budget is $850 million which is nine times the amount budgeted to fight cholera.
Numerous studies and experts have concluded that the MINUSTAH troops inadvertently brought cholera to Haiti. Haitians suspected that the source of cholera was the Nepalese base, when in October 2010 they saw sewage spurting out of the latrine into the Artibonite river which is their primary source of water. After months of refusing to investigate the source of cholera and obstructing investigations the UN finally admitted the link between the Nepalese base and the spread of cholera. Yet the UN hasn't even apologized to Haitians, let alone offered any compensation. As of Aug. 29 Cholera has caused 6290 deaths and sickened 442349 Haitains.
The Return of Dictator Jean Claude Duvalier & the Tragic Comedy of November 28, 2010 (IJDH-BAI: English, French)
The result of impunity today is simple: If it is so easy to accept the failure to prosecute Duvalier under the guise of prescription, there will be no need to consider any prosecution of the UN occupation force, MINUSTAH, which massacred hundreds of people in Cite Soleil; on whose base in Cap Haitian the dead body of a 16 year old boy was found hanging; and whose actions have lead to the tragic deaths of thousands of Haitians by the contamination of cholera in the Artibonite River.
Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil for MINUSTAH Withdrawal from Haiti, November 5, 2011
CONTINENTAL MEETING FOR THE IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL OF UNITED NATIONS TROOPS FROM HAITI
(*) The UN has finally recognized that the cholera bacteria was introduced to the country by the Nepal unit of MINUSTAH. The epidemic has infected more than 300,000 Haitians and killed more than 5,800. The annual cost of MINUSTAH is U.S. $850 million— nine times the amount budgeted to fighting the cholera epidemic.
(I will post an Action Alert dairy Next week.)
The media loves talking about lawlessness in Haiti (ad infinitum), which often leads to graphic depictions of ubiquitous violence. Many Haiti activists retort that these narratives brim with “unattributed false statement[s].” They point to the testimony of journalists like Sebastian Walker: “Haitians are among the most friendly, peaceful people I’ve ever encountered.”
Those informed by the mainstream media typically conclude that Haiti’s “lawlessness” necessitates more UN troops to impose security, while the justice-minded bemoan the “myth of Haiti’s lawless streets.” At this point, dialogue usually ceases as each side retires with their preferred conclusion.
- Press Release: The United Nations Should Hold MINUSTAH Personnel Accountable for Human Rights Violations to Haitians (IJDH-BAI)
MINUSTAH operates in Haiti with very little legal accountability for their action as a result of a legal waiver signed between the UN and the Government of Haiti,” according to Nicole Phillips, staff attorney at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. Phillips explains, “without this special treatment, the families of victims who died of cholera could be entitled to legal compensation under Haitian law for MINUSTAH’s negligence in disposing of their waste and for their failure to conduct an immediate investigation. Similarly, victims of sexual assault, including the 18-year old boy raped by the Uruguayan troops, could seek criminal action and civil damages against their MINUSTAH assailants in a Haitian court.”
Earlier this month, a cell phone video was released showing a group of UN soldiers from Uruguay laughing as they pinned down an 18-year old Haitian boy and sexually assaulted him. This is not the only case of sexual abuse committed by MINUSTAH in Haiti. In 2007, more than 100 Sri Lankan soldiers were repatriated for sexually exploiting young Haitian women and girls. A recent news article revealed that sex with minors, which is prohibited under Haitian and international law, is not uncommon for MINUSTAH soldiers. In August 2010, the body of a 16 year-old was found hanging inside of MINUSTAH’s base in Cap Haitien. MINUSTAH has never announced results from any investigation into the incident.
United Nations forces occupying Haiti were poorly trained, spied on student groups, impaired elections, and recklessly shot, killed and wounded hundreds of civilians, according to secret U.S. diplomatic cables.
In one “astonishing” case, according to the cables, UN troops fired 28,000 rounds in just one month in a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince known for resisting the UN occupation and the February 2004 coup that ousted democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
“Civilian casualties [from UN forays] in Cité Soleil … [rose] from 100 wounded in October  to between 170 and 205 in December ,” wrote then Chargé d’Affaires Timothy M. Carney in a secret Jan. 19, 2006, cable. “Half of these are women and children. Assertions that all were used as human shields strain credulity.”
Just six months prior, acting under intense U.S. and Haitian elite pressure, 1,400 UN troops sealed off the pro-Aristide slum, firing 22,000 rounds and causing dozens of casualties in just one six-hour night-time raid on Jul. 6. UN troops continued their attacks throughout the year, at one point firing an average of 2,000 rounds a day, one UN official told a reporter.
The UN’s human rights record is equally dismal. Apart from their direct military attacks on pro-democracy Haitians, like those described in Cité Soleil, UN troops “effectively provided cover for the police to wage a campaign of terror in Port-au-Prince’s slums,” said a 2005 report by the Harvard Law Students Advocates for Human Rights.
MINUSTAH, the HNP, and paramilitary forces supported by the Haitian business elite killed an estimated 3,000 people and jailed thousands of coup opponents and Fanmi Lavalas supporters during the consolidation of the February 2004 coup until mid-2007.
U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Timothy Carney only said, “[T]here has been no tangible UN contribution to improving the human rights situation,” in a January 4, 2006 cable. (Ironically, that same day, in a meeting with Haitian business leaders, Carney supported a proposal for UN occupation troops to attack armed groups in Cité Soleil, Haiti’s largest slum, fully foreseeing that there would be “unintended civilian casualties,” as he wrote in a secret cable two days later.)
- Martelly reverses himself and now Martelly Opposes Reducing U.N. Force in Haiti. This isn't surprising. Martelly has proven quite willing to do the US' bidding. In a secrete US cable (wikileak) the US Ambassador said that MINUSTAH is an essential tool in ensuring US interests in Haiti, and the US could not afford to replace UN troops right now. We also learn that it costs the US about twice as much as the UN to carry out the mission (no bid contractors?). WikiLeaked U.S. Cables Paint Portrait of Brutal, Ineffectual and Polluting UN Force
But the main driver behind MINUSTAH is Washington, the secret cables show.
U.S. Ambassador Janet Sanderson insisted in an Oct. 1, 2008 cable that MINUSTAH has been “an indispensable tool in realizing core USG [U.S. Government] policy interests in Haiti.” The UN is establishing “domestic security and political stability” there, she wrote, all necessary to prevent the resurgence of “populist and anti-market economy political forces” and an “exodus of seaborne migrants.”
“In the current context of our military commitments elsewhere, the U.S. alone could not replace this mission,” Sanderson concluded.
Furthermore, a February 2006 General Accounting Office report estimated “that it would cost the United States about twice as much as the United Nations... to conduct a peacekeeping operation similar to the...’MINUSTAH’. The UN budgeted $428 million for the first 14 months of this mission. A U.S. operation in Haiti of the same size and duration would cost an estimated $876 million, far exceeding the U.S. contribution for MINUSTAH of $116 million.”
- This is a Must read: The Death of Gérard Jean-Gilles: How the UN Stonewalled Haitian Justice
Gérard Jean-Gilles ran errands for Nepalese soldiers at their base in Cap Haïtien, Haiti’s second largest city. A Haitian interpreter for the troops, Joëlle Rozéfort, accused Jean-Gilles of stealing $200 from her car. The next day, on Aug. 18, 2010, Jean-Gilles was found hanging from a tree inside the base, a wire around his neck.
“He died searching for a way to live,” Haiti Liberte by Ansel Herz:
The UN Stabilization Mission to Haiti (MINUSTAH) said its internal inquiry found that Jean-Gilles committed suicide. But Jean-Gilles’ family and friends suspect he was murdered, and when a Haitian judge tried to investigate, the UN stone-walled.
The former delegate (or central government representative) of Haiti’s northern region calls the UN “the primary obstacle” to learning how Jean-Gilles died.
In impassioned demonstrations against MINUSTAH this week, Haitians are calling for justice for Gérard Jean-Gilles, too.
“He died searching for a way to live,” said his adoptive father, Rémy Raphaël, whose street merchant wife took in Jean-Gilles as a baby, after his mother died and father went missing.
“He was in school, but my wife couldn’t keep paying for it,” said Raphaël, in the family’s sparse two-room home in a narrow, grimy alleyway. “He never tried to make trouble with people because he understood his situation, he preferred to search for jobs… That’s why he became friends with the soldiers.”
Evens Bele, 17, worked alongside Jean-Gilles on the MINUSTAH base for three years. They earned the equivalent of $10 a month, running errands, cleaning base facilities, and translating for the UN troops during patrols.
"Sexual relations with minors (under 18 years old), whether consensual or not, are deemed to be sexual abuse and, therefore, prohibited," acting Deputy Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General Eduardo del Buey said in a briefing Wednesday following a question by IPS about the allegations.
- Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil for MINUSTAH Withdrawal from Haiti, November 5, 2011
CONTINENTAL MEETING FOR THE IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL OF UNITED NATIONS TROOPS FROM HAITI
Thousands of Haitians are protesting in the streets against the troops. Democratic, popular and trade union organizations in Haiti are speaking out against what they call “occupation troops”. For instance, the recent congress of the Autonomous Confederation of Haitian Workers (CATH) voted to demand the “total and unconditional cancellation of Haiti’s foreign debt, the immediate withdrawal of the occupation forces of MINUSTAH and compensation for damages caused by the cholera its soldiers brought (to Haiti).”
The Haitian people are tired of the occupation that violates their sovereignty. We are in solidarity, we want to see a free Haiti. It is time for Brazil to remove its troops!...
() The UN has finally recognized that the cholera bacteria was introduced to the country by the Nepal unit of MINUSTAH. The epidemic has infected more than 300,000 Haitians and killed more than 5,800. The annual cost of MINUSTAH is U.S. $850 million— nine times the amount budgeted to fighting the cholera epidemic.
- From the Field: Fellow Blogs - Violent Charge Against Peacekeepers in Haiti Strengthens Calls for Departure
- Haiti’s president to make U.N. debut
To add fuel to the fire, Haiti’s Senate passed a resolution Tuesday demanding the withdrawal of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym MINUSTAH, over the next three years.
- Prosecute Duvalier
- Haiti urged to bring Jean-Claude Duvalier to justice Amnesty international
Opposition party member Augustin Auguste was reportedly arrested on 28 January 1986 in Port-au-Prince by members of an armed militia known as the "tonton macoutes". He was seen at the Military Hospital and then taken to the prison at Fort Dimanche where he is believed to have been shot dead on 3 February.
He was never seen again and his family has never been given an official explanation of what happened to him. Auguste had been arrested several times previously in connection with his membership of the Haitian Christian Democratic Party. He was one of thousands of victims of Duvalier's rule.
A former political prisoner described prison conditions in January 1973: "Individual cells were normally seven feet long, seven feet high and three feet wide (two metres long, two metres high and one metre wide).
"Some of them were mere 'cubby holes' in which the prisoner can stretch out or curl but cannot stand upright. Communal cells are three metres by three metres and sometimes held up to 15 prisoners.
"They had to take turns to sleep, squatting or standing. There was no form of ventilation in the cell and daylight cannot get in. A harsh electric light burns day and night so that many prisoners suffer with their eyesight."
- Duvalier Supporters Crash Amnesty International Press Conference Calling for Dictator's Prosecution with podcast
- Will 'Baby Doc' Duvalier ever face justice in Haiti? @guardian Legal investigation into brutal 15-year rule stalls while Amnesty International report says former dictator lives in luxury
Yet eight months on from his dramatic homecoming, legal procedures against Duvalier appear to be stalling. Instead, the one-time playboy dictator, who took over from his father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, in 1971 at the age of just 19, is reportedly enjoying a cosy lifestyle in the city he once ruled with an iron fist.
An Amnesty International report, released on Thursday, is critical of the pace of investigations into Duvalier's alleged crimes and says bringing him to trial is an "obligation under international law" as well as "a historical opportunity to start building a Haitian state grounded in the rule of law".
"For 15 years, Jean-Claude Duvalier ruled Haiti with total disregard for the rights of the Haitian people. The grave human rights abuses perpetrated during those years still remain shrouded in absolute impunity," the report concludes.
"Torture, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial executions were state policy under Jean-Claude Duvalier," it says, outlining cases of opponents who were viciously tortured or spirited off to the squalid Fort Dimanche prison never to be seen again....
- The Martelly Government must comply with international law and prosecute Duvalier. The prosecution will not solve everything but it is a vital first step. The victims deserve justice.
- Brian Concannon interviewed about the Duvalier Prosecution (Flashpoint)
- 3 Articles Haiti's 'Baby Doc' Dines Out As Prosecution Stalls; Amnesty International Urges Haiti to Bring "Baby Doc" to Justice; Article in The Guardian
- Protesters in Haiti reject Amnesty International report on former dictator
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Supporters of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier disrupted a news conference about abuses during his rule on Thursday, shouting down representatives of Amnesty International as they presented a report aimed at spurring his prosecution on charges of torture, murder and other crimes.
The 40-page report contains previously unpublished testimony by dozens of political prisoners who were jailed and tortured under “Baby Doc’s” 15-year rule before he was chased into exile in 1986.....
But before the advocates were able to speak Thursday, two dozen Duvalier supporters stormed into a conference room at Le Plaza Hotel, denouncing the visitors as “imperialists” who were fomenting division in the country.
- Haiti’s ‘Baby Doc’ Dines Out as Prosecution Stalls (Miami Herald)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Victims of Jean-Claude Duvalier’s regime hoped for justice when he came home in January, or at least a trial for the former playboy dictator who ruled Haiti for 15 years with a force of thugs and a dank prison that was synonymous with torture.
It hasn’t worked out that way.
- More From Will 'Baby Doc' Duvalier ever face justice in Haiti?:
"Concluding a case like this needs lots of resources which Haiti's government doesn't have at the moment. Even if the Haitian government had all the resources at its disposal, without political will the case won't go anywhere," he added.
- MUST READ The Truth About Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic: An Interview with Dr. Renaud Piarroux | Black Agenda Report
DC: What kinds of problems or barriers did you run into from people or organizations when you conducted your work in Haiti? Please tell us about the level of freedom you had to do your work there.
RP: I had no problem doing my work in Haiti. I could go where I needed, except in the MINUSTAH’s camps. I could only have a short talk with some military doctors from MINUSTAH in the presence of their chiefs.
DC: Dr. Piarroux, how did you gain access to the medical records about the cholera cases and who assisted you with this?
RP: Except for the medical records of the Nepalese soldiers, which were not made available, I could get access to the epidemiological records of all the patients hospitalized in the health facilities as well as to all the results of stool samples sent to the national laboratory.
- Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil for MINUSTAH Withdrawal from Haiti, November 5, 2011 CONTINENTAL MEETING FOR THE IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL OF UNITED NATIONS TROOPS FROM HAITI
The UN has finally recognized that the cholera bacteria was introduced to the country by the Nepal unit of MINUSTAH. The epidemic has infected more than 300,000 Haitians and killed more than 5,800. The annual cost of MINUSTAH is U.S. $850 million— nine times the amount budgeted to fighting the cholera epidemic.
- Press Release: The United Nations Should Hold MINUSTAH Personnel Accountable for Human Rights Violations to Haitians (IJDH-BAI)
More recently, protests have included MINUSTAH’s failure to investigate the link between its negligent disposal of human waste and the outbreak of cholera. Under international pressure, the UN finally admitted the link between the MINUSTAH base and the spread of cholera. But no legal compensation has been offered to the 438,000 Haitians who have contracted the disease, or the families of the 6,200 Haitians who have died.
The US and Local Procurement – Haitian Firms Remain Sidelined
The United States, and especially USAID, have made many statements concerning local procurement and their commitment to work with Haitian companies, yet this commitment has yet to show up in their actual contracting. An updated analysis of the Federal Procurement Database System (FPDS) shows that an extremely low percentage of contracts are going to Haitian companies. As can be seen in Table I, as of September 15, 1537 contracts had been awarded for a total of $204,604,670. Of those 1537 contracts, only 23 have gone to Haitian companies, totaling just $4,841,426, or roughly 2.4 percent of the total. For every $100 dollars spent, just $2.40 has gone directly to a Haitian firm.
- Professor Speaks on Significance of Haitian Revolution
- Sophisticated vigilantes C.R.I.M.E. take on France over Haiti restitution rabble.ca:
CRIME, an international group of activists who have impersonated French government officials, have called on the French government to repay Haiti, its former colony, more than $20 billion that had been extorted in the 19th century as penalty for Haiti's fully-deserved and arduous revolution.
- For past News Update diaries here
- Dominique Esser (twitter @ dominique_e_ ) excellent list of Haiti news and history: Haiti Links
- AID FACTS ON HAITI, as of June 2011 | Canada Haiti Action Network:
- Human Rights Reports
- WikiHaiti File:
IJDH Does amazing work in Haiti. I donate to them whenever I can afford it. Please support IJDH's work.
IJDH draws on its founders’ internationally-acclaimed success accompanying Haiti’s poor majority in the fields of law, medicine and social justice activism. We seek the restoration of the rule of law and democracy in the short term, and work for the long-term sustainable change necessary to avert Haiti’s next crisis.
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The Aristide Foundation for Democracy (AFD) was created in 1996 by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (the first democratically elected president of Haiti) with a simple principle in mind: "The promise of democracy can only be fulfilled if all sectors of Haitian society are able to actively participate in the democratic life of the nation."
Haiti’s grassroots movement – including labor unions, women’s groups, educators and human rights activists, support committees for political prisoners, and agricultural cooperatives – are funneling needed aid to those most hit by the earthquake. They are doing what they can – with the most limited of funds – to make a difference. Please take this chance to lend them your support. All donations to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund will be forwarded to our partners on the ground to help them rebuild what has been destroyed.
Partners in Health (**/A+) has now started a BLOG about its efforts called Stand with Haiti. It has very useful information. Partners in Health is also putting out a call for health volunteers, in case you are a medical professional who can help out that way.
Haiti slavery- Indulgence had the white colonial in its grip from childhood. "I want an egg," said a colonial child. "There are none." "Then I want two." This notorious anecdote was characteristic. (The Black Jacobins, P29)
- ojibwa has written excellent essays about Haiti: Haiti's Pact with the Devil; And related topics Indigenous Puerto Rico; Indians 101: The Great Debate
- Denise Oliver Velez Aristide speaks from South Africa. Denise's Diary Haitians fought in our Revolutionary War...we turned our backs on theirs, inspired me to learn more about Haiti.
- I donate to Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti for Haiti.