Friday, July 22, 2005

Fwd: [Lethaitilive] Aina Hunter on July 6 Cite Soleil Massacre

Haitians Accuse the U.N. of Massacre
Submitted by editor on July 19, 2005 - 1:25pm.

By Aina Hunter
Source: Village Voice

Haitian New Yorkers are protesting again, the latest round Saturday in
front of the United Nations. They're upset over the latest
"peacekeeping" operation in Cite Soleil, a slum of Port-au-Prince that
festers just a stone's throw from the Bahamas. In theory, the troops
are there to maintain order until the elections the interim government
says they're planning take place. In practice, their presence has
resulted in reports that innocent citizens are being killed.
What's undisputed in this case is that some 300 U.N. troops descended
on the shanty town at 3 a.m. on July 6, rolling through in tank-like
APC's, or armored personnel carriers. Witnesses say they shot up
pretty much everything, in some accounts in a battle with armed gang
members loyal to the ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. But
while eyewitnesses and human rights workers say a minimum of 20
people, including women and children, were gunned down, some through
the walls of their shacks, the U.N. says no civilians were harmed.

One Haitian human rights worker, who says he cannot risk identifying
himself for fear of being shot to death by the Haitian police or those
working under the direction of the U.N., captured some of the gore on
film from which stills have been taken.

Seth Donnelly, a Bay Area high school teacher and labor activist,
happened to be in Port-au-Prince as part of a delegation sponsored by
the San Francisco Labor Council when it all happened. The next day he
found a translator to accompany him into the ghetto where he says he
was surrounded by "hysterical, grieving" people who showed him bodies
waiting for burial, including that of a baby shot in his mother's
arms. Donnelly also filmed homes riddled with bullet holes so big he
says they could only have come from tanks.

U.N. military spokesman Elouafi Boulbars told Agence France Presse
that the troops only fired into the slum because "bandits" fired
first. Their goal was to find and capture Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme—a man
hated and feared by the U.S.-supported Haitian government. He was
reportedly killed in the raid.

Whether you consider Wilme a dead gangster or a slain hero depends
largely upon whether you sleep in plush government housing or in a
Cite Soleil sewer, and the hundreds of slum dwellers who attended
Wilme's July 9 funeral fall into the latter category.

Few of the approximately 75 New York Haitians gathered at the U.N.
went so far as to call Wilme a hero, but Bernier Achille, who works
for the post office, angrily insisted there is no problem with gangs
in Haiti. "It's code to demonize you," he said. "In Iraq they call
them insurgents, in Haiti they call them gangs." Most protesters were
more circumspect, preferring to keep the focus on the dead civilians
as they waved graphic photographs they said were of the machine-gunned

Two days after the slaughter, when Donnelly interviewed two high
commanders in Haiti, Lt Gen Augusto Heleno and Colonel Morano, at the
swank Christopher Hotel in Port-au-Prince, both officials said that to
their knowledge no Civilians were hurt.

This is particularly odd, not only because stills from the film
footage clearly show unarmed men and women being shot, but because
officials at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Port-au-Prince
say they received more than the usual number of machine-gun victims
from the often violent Cite Soleil on the afternoon of July 6: Twenty
women and children, as well as six men. The patients told their
doctors they'd been shot by U.N. soldiers.

When asked about the 20 or so bodies eyewitnesses say remained after
the U.N. rolled out, Morano said that maybe gang members killed people
after the peacekeepers left. What the colonel has going for him is
that because the graphic footage only shows people being killed, and
not the killers, it is impossible for someone who wasn't there to
confirm without a doubt that the UN is responsible.

Brian Concannon, director of the Oregon-based Institute for Justice
and Democracy in Haiti, says the peacekeepers could easily have
verified the number of people killed and injured, and how—if they had
stayed on the scene long enough to clean up. Because they did not,
"it's hard to give them the benefit of the doubt they created."

People at Saturday's protest believe the U.N. is responsible. Lucas
Batteau, a Brooklyn electrician, said "everyone knows" the U.N. is the
real gang in Haiti. "There's no difference between the Haitian police
and U.N.," he says. "The ones they call 'gangs' are fighting against
the occupation."
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Fwd: [Lethaitilive] Fr. Jean-Juste Attacked in Church and Arrested for Murder - The Story

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: bill quigley <>
Date: Jul 22, 2005 10:56 AM
Subject: [Lethaitilive] Fr. Jean-Juste Attacked in Church and Arrested
for Murder - The Story
To: lethaitilive list <>

Dear Friends:
This is Bill Quigley. I was with Fr. Gerard
Jean-Juste all day yesterday from church to jail.
Though it seems unbelievable even to me, this is is
what happened and some action ideas about what to do
about it. Pardon if it is not very well-written, but
the computers are not working well and this is the
best I can do in short time with little sleep. Please
circulate this to anyone you want. Please feel free
to reprint and send it anywhere.

Haitian Priest Assaulted by Mob at Funeral and
Arrested for Murder.
By Bill Quigley, in Port au Prince. Bill is a law
professor at Loyola University New Orleans and is
co-counsel with Mario Joseph and the Institute for
Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Mario Joseph can be
reached at 509.554.4284. Bill can be reached in Haiti
at 509.401.4822 and in US at 504.861.2709.

On Thursday July 21, 2005, Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste
went to St. Pierre's Catholic Church to be one of the
priests participating in the funeral of Haitian
journalist Jacques Roche. Fr. Jean-Juste is a cousin
of the Roche family and members of the Roche family
protected him from a mob earlier in his life. He went
to express spiritual comfort and reconciliation to the
The tragic kidnaping and death of Jacques Roche
has been taken up as a cause by those opposed to the
Lavalas party. Jacques Roche was identified as a
supporter of the people calling themselves the group
of 184, who overthrew by force the democratically
elected goverment of President Aristide, the leader of
the Lavalas party, in February 2004.
Oppononents of Aristide say that because the body
of Jacques Roche was found in a poor neighborhood that
he was executed by the Lavalas party who is very
strong in the poorest neighborhoods. For those of us
in the US, this is much like blaming John Kerry for
inner city deaths because most of the people in the
inner city vote democratic.
Fr. Jean-Juste went to the funeral expressly to
pay his respects to the family and express his open
remorse and opposition to any killing of anyone, no
matter their political affiliation.
Jacques Roche's coffin was in the chapel next to
the sacristy and main area of the chuch. At 10
o'clock the bishop and about seven priests robed in
white with purple stoles or sashes paraded out of the
sacristy of the church to the chapel next to the main
area of the church to say blessings over the coffin of
Jacques Roche.
When Fr. Jean-Juste walked out, people started
yelling at him in the chapel. They called him
"assasin" and "criminal" and yelled out to "arrest and
kill the rat."
Fr. Jean-Juste has been publicly accused in the
last several days of "a plot against the security of
the state," smuggling money and guns into the
country, and of being behind all the kidnappings.
All clearly false charges but widely reported by
unfriendly press.
People knew Fr. Jean-Juste was coming to the
funeral because that was printed on the front page of
a conservative paper the day before.
As the well-dressed people continued yelling at
Fr. Jean-Juste, the prayer service nearly turned into
a riot. The other priests turned to leave and a
well-dressed crowd of screaming people surrounded him.
I went out to be by his side. Some plainclothes
security people and a few priests surrounded us and
helped push us through the increasingly hostile crowd
back into the church sacristy.
The other priests then persuaded Fr. Jean-Juste
not to continue in the funeral service. So we stood
aside as the priests and the funeral crowd filed past
us into the main church.
Well-dressed men and women continued to scream
and threaten Fr. Gerry as they moved by us into the
church. Then a crowd of 15 or 20 or more young men,
not dressed at all for the funeral came into the
sacristy and the mood turned uglier and more menacing.
At that point, the security forces melted away.
The young men continued the screaming started by
the well-dressed people and then started pushing and
hitting Pere Jean-Juste. At that point a young woman
came out of the funeral crowd and embraced Fr.
Jean-Juste shielding him with her body from the blows
and the increasingly loud and angry young men. She
started praying loudly and saying "mon pere, mon
A man in a suit, who identified himself as head of
security for the funeral, rushed back in from the
church area - only a few feet away and in plain view
-and told Fr. Gerry these people were going to kill
him there in the sacristy unless he fled. Fr.
Jean-Juste knelt to pray and the woman and I knelt
with him in the middle of the growing crowd.
At that point people started slapping Fr.
Jean-Juste on the head and face and spitting on him
and the other two of us. Something then hit Fr.
Jean-Juste in the head. Someone punched him in the
eye. We stood up and a few UN CIVPOL officers showed
up to help us leave the sacristy of the church. As we
tried to get to the stairs people continued pushing
and screaming and shouting threats. They continued to
call out "assasin," "criminal," and "kill the rat."The
crowd now overwhelmed the police. More people spit on
us and hit Fr. Gerry, even in the face, while others
were grabbing his church vestments trying to drag him
off the church steps.
The CIVPOL were trying to hold back the crowd but
were still well outnumbered and were not able to halt
the mob. We moved up the steps into a narrow dark
corridor while the crowd pushed and shoved and spit
and hit. We then retreated into a smaller corridor
and finally to a dead end that contained two small
concrete toilet stalls.
The three of us were pushed into the stalls as the
crowd banged on the walls and doors of the stalls and
continued screaming. The woman held the door closed
and prayed loudly as the people outside roared and the
CIVPOL called for reinforcements.
After a few minutes, reinforcements arrived and
the hallway was finally cleared of all but us and the
A man in a suit identifying himself as secretary
for security for Haiti told us that he was going to
have to arrest Fr. Jean-Juste because public clamor
had identified him as the assasin of journalist
Jacques Roche. The police would bring him to the
police station for his own safety. Fr. Jean-Juste
told the man that he was in Florida when the
journalist was killed and he wanted to return to St.
Claire's, his parish. The man left escorting out the
woman who helped us.
In a few minutes, CIVPOL police, including troops
from Jordan, surrounded Fr. Jean-Juste and I and ran
us out of the church to a police truck. The truck
with police with machine guns sped away from the
church and took us not to Fr. Gerry's parish but to
the police station in Petitionville.
For the next seven or eight hours we were kept in a
room while the UN forces and the Haitian forces
negotiated about what to do. Fr. Gerry read his
prayer book while we waited. We were told informally
that the UN wanted to escort Fr. Jean-Juste back to
his parish but the Haitian government was insisting
that he be arrested.
The attackers were allowed to go free and not
arrested, but they wanted to arrest the victim!
Fr. Gerry told me "This is all a part of the death
sentence called down upon me on the radio in Miami.
The searches at the airport, the visits to the police
stations, the mandate to appear before a criminal
judge yesterday, and now this. It is all part of the
effort to silence my voice for democracy."
At about 6pm, several Haitian officers came into
our room and ordered Fr. Gerry and I and Haitian
attorney Mario Joseph to come with them.
The officers held out a piece of paper that they
said was an official complaint against Fr. Gerry
accusing him of being the assasin of Jacques Roche.
The complaint was based on "public clamor" at the
funeral identifying him as the murderer. They refused
to let Fr. Jean-Juste or the lawyers see this paper.
It was their obligation, they said, to investigate
this public clamor identifying him as the murderer.
If Fr. Jean-Juste chose not to talk with them, they
would put him in jail immediately.
Fr. Jean-Juste agreed to the interrogation and it
went on for over three hours. He was growing
increasingly sore and tired from the beating he took,
but was not bleeding externally. When the lawyers
argued with the police, Fr. Gerry read his prayer
The police already knew that Fr. Jean-Juste was in
Florida at the time of the kidnapping and death of the
journalist, because the police had already interviewed
him several times in the last few days in connection
with the other false allegations against him, but
asked him many questions anyway. How many cell phones
did he have? What is his exact relation to Jacques
Roche? Why did he go to the funeral? Can he prove he
was in Florida? Since he was on the news in Florida
can he provide a copy of the newstape showing he was
in Florida? When Aristide was president was he
provided with armed security? What happened to the
pistols that his secutity had? Could he find out and
have any pistols returned to the government? Why did
he go to the funeral? Did Lavalas promise Aristide to
execute someone from the group of 184 in retaliation
for them taking power? When was the last time he was
in the US? Are the Catholic sisters in Bel-Air with
you when you got to demonstrations there? and on and
After over three hours, the interrogation
With great solemnity the police told Fr. Jean-Juste
that he was being charged with participating in the
death of Jacques Roche and not returning state
property. The said the law orders that he will be
brought before a judge within 48 hours for further
At exactly 10pm, Fr. Gerry handed me his keys and
church vestments and was locked into the jail cell at
Petionville with many, many others. He was holding a
pink plastic rosary, his prayer book and a roll of
toilet paper.
He flashed a tired smile and told me: "Now you
see what we are up against in Haiti. If they treat me
like this, think how they treat the poor people. Tell
everyone that with the help of God and everyone else I
will keep up the good fight. Everyone else should
continue to fight for democracy as well. The truth
will come out. I am innocent of all charges. I will
be free soon. Freedom for Haiti is coming. The
struggle continues."
As I left him, a very tired Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste
was being greeted by all the prisoners in the very
crowded jail cell as "mon pere!"

Action: Write or fax UN Special Representative
Juan Gabriel Vald�s, urging him to release MINUSTAH's
prison report immediately, and to resist pressure from
the Haitian police to minimize the number of
casualties. A sample letter is below. Mr. Vald�s
speaks English, French and Spanish. His fax number is
(dial 011 first from the US for an international line)
509 244 3512.

Mr Juan Gabriel Vald�s
Special Representative of the Secretary-General
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
387, avenue John Brown
Port-au-Prince, Ha�ti

Contact Information:

U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, James B. Foley
United States Embassy
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Telephones: 011-509-223-4711, or 222-0200 or 0354
Fax: 011-509-223-1641 or 9038
Email to Dana Banks, Human Rights Officer:
Canadian Ambassador to Haiti, Claude Boucher
Embassy of Canada
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Telephone: 011-509- 249-9000
Fax: 011-509-249-9920

Ambassador of France in Haiti, M. Yves GAUDEUL
Embassy of France
51 place des H�ros de l'Ind�pendance - BP 312
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Telephone: 011-509-222-0952
Fax : 011-509-223 5675

Haiti Authorities:
Fax. No. 011-509-245-0474
Me. Henri Dorl�ans
Ministre de la Justice et de la S�curit� Publique
Minist�re de la Justice
19 Avenue Charles Sumner
Port-au-Prince, Haiti

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quick note on Friday

I'm about to be pulled off this computer, so only have time to write a quick post with a few details. Flew in from Ft.Lauderdale early Wednesday, and that afternoon heard many, many shots from veranda of place where we're staying. Some of gunfire was from the "hot" area of Solino, a popular neighborhood ( where the UN and police have been conducting operations. On Wed.said operations were conducted in middle of the day. Not much detail yet on casualties, but if the violence was anything like July 6, which Naomi Klein referenced in her recent Nation and Guardian pieces [slightly different versions of same article,also see recent Village Voice piece for more good detail], there were undoubtedly many unarmed civilians killed. This has been the pattern with UN backup of Haitian police operations for a long time, but anti-Lavalas rhetoric on radio has escalated to the point that a friend has repeatedly expressed concern that it's a situation that's created tolerance for mass media, as in Rwanda the right wing controls most media and people are hearing a non-stop drumbeat of demonizing of Lavalas. All violence is blamed on elements associated with Lavalas, even when there is absolutely no evidence to back up such assertions. And even if some desperate characters who may be pro-Lavalas are involved in crime, a majority of the country is still pro-Lavalas and everyone who calls themselves that is not representing the party as a whole, obviously. Then there is the question of provacateurs, always a factor hard to pin down. And the question of defensive violence in a situation where entire neighborhoods are under control by police, paramilitaries and UN troops bent on lethal force...a question addressed at length in "Demonstration Elections"by Ed Herman and Frank Broadhead, which is also an extremely useful book for understanding what the U.S., Canada, France and the coup regime, with full cooperation from the UN, is orchestrating vis-a-vis October and November '05 elections in Haiti. Note that Guy Phillipe, who the U.S.Embassy and DEA have linked to drug smuggling, has announced his candidacy for President, calling up memories of the ARENA party in El Salvador in the 1980s.

Last week radio commentator, journalist and poet Jacques Roche was brutally murdered after being kidnapped. The right wing has seized on this as an example of Lavalas barbarity, of course with no proof. Any journalist who investigates the murder with an open mind and a willingness to look at right-wing actors involved in kidnappings (see Anthony Fenton's recent piece at ZNet about the Latortue family and kidnappings)would risk demonization and perhaps worse. Yesterday Fr.Gerard Jean-Juste was attacked verbally, and then physically, at the funeral for Roche. Jean-Juste is a favorite target of the coup regime, and while in Florida last week was attacked on right wing Haitian hate radio as a supporter of violence, a ridiculous assertion as Fr.Jean-Juste is often referred to as the Martin Luther King of Haiti. The radio host smearing him claimed that Jean-Juste was bringing guns back to Haiti, which of course he wasn't, as officials that detained him at airport in Port-au-Prince not surprisingly discovered. Jean-Juste raises money in the U.S. to feed hundreds of starving children in his parish. In contrast, the Bush Administration admitted that it shipped thousands of weapons to Haiti this year, which are now being used on desperately poor neighborhoods who will not accept living under the heel of sweatshop profiteers and death squad veterans behind the current government. Among the guns I saw Haitian police toting yesterday were T-65s or M-16s [these two are very similar in design and impact], MP5s, and M-1s. Several were rigged with night scopes for carrying out operations in the dark.

I was in the room at Petion-Ville prison yesterday where an officer with the DCPJ (Haiti's equivalent of the FBI) asked Jean-Juste if he'd murdered Jaques Roche, when everyone in the room knew that Jean-Juste was in Florida at the time the murder took place. The DCPJ officer insisted to Jean-Juste's lawyer Mario that since J-J was accused by the people who attacked him of being responsible for Roche's murder, it was his duty to detain and question Jean-Juste.
Jean-Juste's Bill Quigley, who was also present, remarked that this was a classic example of blaming the victim. Mario later pointed out that if Jean-Juste announced that he was definitely not going to run for office perhaps the authorities would stop harassing the priest.

As Jean-Juste said to me, "every day they're looking for a reason to arrest me."

Driving around Port-au-Prince yesterday, UN troops were stationed at many intersections on trucks, with their fingers on triggers of large guns. We drove by a huge sweatshop complex where Chinese UN troops, who have a reputation for violence perhaps approaching Jordanians, are quartered. Across the street is a sweatshop complex owned by Andre Apaid, a key player in the anti-Lavalas Group of 184, an important part of the coup regime. See Thomas Griffith's report for the University of Miami on the situation in Haiti [posted at]for more on Apaid.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, July 18, 2005

about to split for Haiti

just checking this out, looking forward to trip, will attempt to file audio reports from Haiti...