Saturday, July 30, 2005

AHP/Radio Solidarity founder/director returns safely to Haiti

If you're not signed up for the English AHP translation, you can bye-mailing Mike at Or read the original at
Begin forwarded message:
> From: Mike Levy <
>> Date: July 30, 2005 1:49:23 PM PDT> To: "The AHP News- Eng. Translation" <>> Subject: AHP/Radio Solidarite Update, July 30, 2005 - AHP's Director> returns to Haiti

** AHP/Radio Solidarite founder/director Venel Remarais returned> safely to Haiti today at 12:30 PM. He cut short his travel in Florida> due to the summons brought to his office (but not delivered) on July> 27 stating that he is to appear before an investigating judge on> Monday August 1st to discuss criminal accusations against him.>> By the way, on his way home from the airport, Venel heard messages of> support from listeners to Radio Solidarite and called in to> congratulate a Haitian group on the release of their new CD that was> just played over the air and to reassure them that he was in Haiti and> ready to defend the station and his journalists. We will continue to> provide updates on this situation and expect to be sending you the AHP> News in English again before the end of the weekend. Thanks for your> support!>> For The Friends of AHP> Mike Levy>

Thursday, July 28, 2005

UN troops still occupying medical school created by Aristide

Just an update that I went by the medical school described below, and it's now being used as a base
for Brazilian UN troops. As death from preventable diseases continues to ravage Haiti's population, this is the
response of what we laughingly call the "international community". For a better approach check out Partners in Health, site easily accessible via google search. I'll post more about UN military operations in coming days.

This is from p. 4 of the excellent pamphlet We Will Not Forget! The Achievements of Lavalas in Haiti, available at

"President Aristide created a new medical school in Tabarre, which provided free medical education to 247 students from all parts of the country, each of whom committed to serve in their own community upon completion of their education. A school for nursing had been slated to open in fall of 2004. After the coup the U.S. and Brazilian militaries appropriated the land and building. The school remains closed."

AHP and Radio Solidarity founder/director under attack

below is a message that came from Mike Levy, stalwart English translator of AHP news. AHP and its sister organization, Radio Solidarite, have provided an independent voice for coverage of Haitian news which has refused to toe the line set by elite-owned right wing media in Haiti.

I'll post more news as this story proceeds, I greatly regret that I can't follow developments here in Haiti, as I'm returning to the U.S. tomorrow, but this blog will continue with material gathered from the 10 days working with the estimable Doug Spalding and other friends in Haiti. Though perhaps I will wind up changing the name of the blog as I won't be back in Haiti for a while, I will continue to write about events in Haiti, relying in no small part on Mike Levy's translations of AHP news. Note that at the bottom of this post is an appeal for financial support for AHP, please help if you can.

And please stay tuned.

Ben Terrall

Dear readers of AHP News,
A Haitian bailiff has just attempted to deliver a legal summons to the
office of the founder/director of AHP and Radio Solidarite, Georges Venel
Remarais in Port-au-Prince. The precise contents of the document are not yet
known as Mr. Remarais was not present and the document was not accepted,
however a member of the staff who saw the document reported that he is being
accused of "association de malfaiteurs" (criminal association) and
escroquerie (fraud). It is believed that he has been ordered to appear
before a judge on Monday, August 1. Mr. Remarais is currently outside Haiti
and is attempting to return to Haiti prior to the date indicated on the
Efforts are now being made on his behalf to determine who signed the order
against him and to learn further details regarding the allegations.
It is perhaps not a coincidence that a member of the Conseil des Sages
(Council of the Wise) recently stated that all radio stations that permit
bandits to speak over the airwaves should be shut down. It is believed that
the term "bandits" may be a reference to anyone living in the populist
districts. As most AHP readers know, AHP and Radio Solidarite, like most
independent media organizations, often provide news from a wide variety of
sources, including governments, NGOs, grassroots organizations, and
witnesses to natural disasters as well as acts of violence and actions of
national or international security forces in an effort to provide in-depth
reporting and to serve the Haitian public.
Some human rights observers are already interpreting this action as a very
disturbing  act of intimidation against what remains of the independent
media in Haiti, and believe that additional action by human rights defenders
may be necessary. It is hoped that human rights and press freedom
organizations will be monitoring the situation closely. As the full details
become available, the Friends of AHP will pass them along to you in the
event it becomes clear. We of course hope that this is not an indication
that a more serious human rights situation is about to develop.
For the Friends of AHP,
Mike Levy
[write Mike to be added to daily AHP translation list]
AHP and its sister operation, Radio Solidarité, greatly need your financial support to enable them to continue to bring news about events in Haiti to the Haitian people and an international audience, in a manner not available elsewhere.
We are delighted to announce that your contributions to AHP sent through the Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas are tax-deductible.
Please make your checks out to:
MITF/Friends of AHP
and send them to:

Friends of AHP
P.O. Box 370
Osceola, WI 54020

Checks made out to AHP/Radio Solidarite and sent to:

Friends of AHP
PO Box 370
Osceola, WI 54020

are also greatly appreciated and will be rushed immediately to AHP in Haiti, however they are not tax deductible.
Many thanks to all contributors and to MITF!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

this puts "gang" label into context, which Amnesty didn't

UN to Probe Deadly Raid
Haider Rizvi

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 25 (IPS) - Following protests by human rights
groups in the United States, the United Nations mission in Haiti has
decided to investigate the alleged killing of civilians by its troops
there early this month.

In a statement Monday, the U.N. Stabilisation Mission in Haiti, also
known as MINUSTAH, admitted for the first time that civilians might
have been injured or killed during the Jul. 6 raid on a working-class
neighbourhood in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

MINUSTAH is the sixth U.N. mission to hit Haiti in a decade, and comes
on the heels of the country's second U.S.-led invasion and occupation
in as many years.

Until recently, the U.N. mission had consistently and categorically
denied activists' claims that many innocent people had died as a
result of indiscriminate firing by U.N. troops in Cite Soleil, a
stronghold of the supporters of ousted president Jean Bertrand

"MINUSTAH forces did not target civilians in the operation on Jul. 6,"
U.N. officials said in a statement, adding that "the nature of such
operation in densely populated urban areas is such that there is
always a risk of civilian casualties."

The statement said the mission "deeply regrets any injuries or loss of
life during its security operation," but gave no count of the dead or

Right activists say community leaders in Cite Soleil had counted at
least 23 bodies, including those of women and children, as a result of
firing by U.N. troops. More than 400 troops took part in the assault.

U.N. mission officials said the security situation in parts of
Port-au-Prince remained "very tense," adding that for the past few
months different armed gangs had "terrorised" the population and
"disrupted" the economic activity of the city.

MINUSTAH and the Haitian police have collaborated on many missions in
the capital and in the countryside, carrying out raids, confronting
gang violence and providing security for events.

Justifying the Jul. 6 action, the U.N. mission said it had taken a
"robust posture to disrupt the activities of these armed gangs and
bring the alleged criminals to justice," because it was necessary to
create "a secure and stable environment within which the
constitutional and political process can take place."

In April, a delegation of 10 Security Council members, headed by
Brazilian Ambassador to the Security Council Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg,
and members of the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council ECOSOC, visited
Haiti to pledge support for a disarmament campaign, reform of the
police force and justice system, economic and social development, and
national elections slated for this fall.

But U.S.-based activists, who have interviewed scores of local
residents and medical aid workers in Port-au-Prince, see things
differently. They say since Aristide's ouster from power, the people
of poor neighbourhoods like Cite Soleil have faced extreme repression
-- including extra-judicial killings -- at the hands of Haitian

In response, some young people have set up their own armed networks,
which are labeled by authorities as "gangs."

While the U.N. mission in Haiti wants those youth to surrender their
arms, it has failed to rein in the police units that have been
terrorising people in the poor neighborhood, according to some Haiti

Though welcoming the U.N. decision to probe the use of excessive force
by its peacekeeping troops, activists said that was not sufficient.

"That is not the way to conduct a professional police operation," Seth
Donnelly, an activist who closely watched the recent events in Haiti,
told IPS. "Rather this seems to be what the U.S. military did in
Falluja, Iraq to find insurgents."

The widely-publicised siege of Fallujah in April 2004, called in
response to the killings of four U.S. military contractors, included
massive air and artillery strikes, and resulted in hundreds of Iraqi
civilian deaths.

Donnelly and others insist that the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights
Commission, not MINUSTAH, should be given the authority to conduct an

"We are hoping that Human Rights Commission will conduct its own
investigation," said Donnelly. "It's clear that higher authorities are
involved here."

Earlier this month, Donnelly and his colleagues were sent to
Port-au-Prince by the San Francisco Labour Council to attend a major
labor conference there. They said they were still in Haiti when the
U.N. troops raided Cite Soleil and that they had access to videotaped
footage showing innocent people dying as a result of that operation.

"The evidence of a massacre by U.N. military forces is substantial and
compelling. It completely contradicts the official version," they

Critics of the U.N. mission's way of handling the pervasive violence
in Haiti say the world body's mission there needs to strike a balance
in the conflict between Haitian police and members of the local

"The U.N. mission apologised to the Haitian police for its delayed
arrival on the scene of an incident where two police officers were
killed on May 22, but it has never once apologised for any of the many
documented instances where its troops killed civilians," said Pierre
Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee, a U.S.-based group.

Noting that under its most recent mandate, the U.N. has supervision of
the Haitian police, he added: "Instead of stopping the killing of
civilians, the U.N. is stepping up the slaughter. That must not be
accepted by the international community." (END/2005)
Lethaitilive mailing list

Amnesty International Designates Fr. Jean-Juste Prisoner of Conscience

Doug and I will attempt to visit Fr. Jean-Juste today but we've been
told he's been
put in isolation so we may not be allowed to actually see him.
Obviously it's important for them to know internationals want to get
in to see him, so we'll harass the bureaucrats no matter how much they
stonewall us.

Today new smears against Jean-Juste are coming out of Haiti's
elite-controlled right wing media machine, with allegations that Fr.
Gerry was involved in "corruption" in Aristide's administration. As a
friend said today, though it was nothing like the gangster regime now
in office, for sure there was some corruption in the former
government, just like there is in the U.S.(anybody asked George W. how
Ken Lay is doing lately?), but many many in Aristide's administration
were not loyal to him and did not have his solidarity with the poor
majority of Haitians. As my friend pointed out, "inside of the Palace,
Aristide had more enemies than outside". Many of these opportunists
wound up having more loyalty to Washington's agenda than to

The word is that there will be a demonstration in Cite Soleil
demanding Fr. Jean-Juste's release. We will be trying to get in to
speak to various prisoners elsewhere, so I don't know how close we'll
get to said demonstration. Given the fever pitch of demonization of
that neigborhood and support for extra-judicial executions among
elites pressuring the UN to "do more", it's not unlikely that the
"security" forces will crackdown in response.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: bill quigley <>
Date: Jul 26, 2005 9:23 AM
Subject: [Lethaitilive] Amnesty International Designates Fr.
Jean-Juste Prisoner of Conscience
To: lethaitilive list <>

Dear Friends:
Great news! Amnesty International has designated
Fr. Jean-Juste as a Prisoner of Conscience and asked
for international action to be brought. Here is their
report and request for action. Please follow up on
their requests for action! Peace, Bill Quigley

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 36/008/2005
UA 195/05 Arbitrary arrest/prisoner of conscience
25 July 2005

HAITI Gérard Jean-Juste (m), aged 59, Catholic priest

Catholic priest Gérard Jean-Juste was taken into
custody at a police station "for his own protection"
on 21 July, after he was assaulted, but while he was
at the police station he was accused of murder. He was
abroad at the time of the murder of which he has been
accused, but he is a prominent opponent of the
government. Amnesty International considers him a
prisoner of conscience, detained solely because he has
peacefully exercised his right to freedom of
_expression. He risks spending a long time in custody
awaiting trial on apparently trumped-up charges.

Rev. Jean-Juste has been an outspoken supporter of
former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and critic of
the present government, in his sermons and in radio
broadcasts. On 21 July he attended the funeral of
journalist Jacques Roche, at a church in the
Pétionville suburb of the capital, Port-au-Prince. He
was assaulted and threatened by a mob outside the
church, who said he was one of those responsible for
the violence that is sweeping the capital. He was
taken to Pétionville police station by officers from
the Haitian police and the UN civilian police force,
CIVPOL. None of his attackers is known to have been

At the police station, officer Jean-Daniel Ulysse,
from the Central Command of the Judicial Police
(Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire, DCPJ)
accused him of the murder of the journalist. Although
he was supposedly there simply for his own safety, he
was locked up in a cell at the police station with
another 43 detainees. The following day he was
transferred to the National Penitentiary, where he is
in solitary confinement. According to his lawyer, he
has reportedly been charged with the murder of Jacques
Roche. However, Rev. Jean-Juste and his lawyers were
not shown an arrest warrant or any other official
statement of the charges. He is one of dozens of
Aristide supporters who have been arbitrarily detained
in this way.

Journalist Jacques Roche was kidnapped on 10 July, and
murdered when the full ransom demanded was not paid.
Rev. Jean-Juste was in the United Sates at the time,
returning from Miami on 15 July.

Rev. Jean-Juste has been a target for government
repression for some time. On 13 October 2004, he was
arrested by police without a warrant at his church,
Saint Claire's, in Port-au-Prince. A warrant issued on
18 October accused him of "plotting against the
internal security of the state." He was released on 29
November, after six weeks in custody. When he flew in
from Miami on 15 July, he was stopped at
Port-au-Prince airport, searched and questioned. He
was ordered to present himself to the judicial police
on 18 July, and two days later he was questioned by
the investigating magistrate, regarding the accusation
leading to his October arrest.


President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted on 29
February 2004, after an armed rebellion led by former
military officers took control of the whole country.
The same day, a US-led multinational force was
deployed in Haiti, authorised by the UN Security
Council. An interim government was put in place in
early March with Gérard Latortue sworn in as Prime
Minister. In June 2004, the UN Stabilisation Mission
in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was sent to assist the interim
government in securing the country, reforming the
national police and protecting human rights. Since
October 2004, the violence has escalated, particularly
in the capital, where armed gangs, some of which
allegedly have political affiliations to Aristide's
party, are responsible for numerous killings and grave
human rights abuses.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as
quickly as possible, in French, English or your own

- expressing concern at the arrest and detention
without formal charges of Rev. Gérard Jean-Juste;

- pointing out that he appears to be a prisoner of
conscience, detained solely for the legitimate
_expression of his opinions, and urging the
authorities to release him immediately and

- calling on the authorities to put an end to the
arbitrary detentions that are prevalent throughout


Prime Minister
Gérard Latortue
Ministère de l'Intérieure, Villa d=Accueil, Delmas 60
Musseau, Port-au-Prince, HAITI (W.I.)
Fax: +509 298 3901
Salutation: Monsieur le Premier Ministre/Dear Prime

Minister of Justice and Public Security
Me. Henri Dorléans
Ministère de la Justice
19 Ave. Charles Sumner, Port-au-Prince, Haiti (W.I.)
Fax: +509 245 0474
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Mr. Dorléans

General Director of the Haiti National Police
Mario Andresol
Directeur Général de la Police Nationale d'Haïti
Grand Quartier Générale la Police
12 rue Oscar Pacot, Port-au-Prince, Haiti (W.I.)
Fax: +509 245 7374
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Mr. Andresol

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General
Juan Gabriel Valdés
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
385, Ave. John Brown, Bourdon, B.P. 557,
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (W.I.)
Fax: +509 244 3512
Salutation: Monsieur le Représentant spécial/Dear
Special Representative Valdés

Head of Human Rights Division
Thierry Fagart
Human Rights Division, MINUSTAH
385, Ave. John Brown, Bourdon, B.P. 557
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (W.I.)
Fax: +509 244 9366
+509 244 9367

and to diplomatic representatives of Haiti accredited
to your country.

International Secretariat, or your section office, if
sending appeals after 5 September 2005.

Lethaitilive mailing list

Monday, July 25, 2005

returned to Port-au-Prince after 2-day Les Cayes visit

Too much detail to pack in and not sure how long manager of this week's guest house will alllow me on this computer, but want to get one or two details down. I wrote for 45 minutes from the Southeastern town of Les Cayes and then connection was lost seconds before I was ready to post, oh well. Today we had a few visits with prisoners in jails around Les Cayes that, as a Haitian friends says of cruel realities down here, really put bad hair days in the U.S. in perspective, ditto internet snafus. Horribly crowded conditions, crappy food, long sentences, pretty much hell on earth. More on them soon, need to get documentation together with my colleague and comrade Doug before committing to cyber-space.

On Saturday we were parked downtown not far from the National Penitentary in our 4-wheel drive rental for our friends to get their vehicle so we could all go to Les Cayes in a 2-car convoy. I spent a while staring at the outrageously colorful tap-taps (covered pick-up trucks or vans with benches in back for passengers) driving people by, checking out ridiculous variety of expressions and exhortations painted on the sides of them in all manner of loud colors, especially red, blue, green, and yellow. My favorites were the ones with huge paintings of the owner's kids, much better than the ridiculous oversize images of Arnold and Sly Stallone (who probably were inspirations for some of the US Special Forces-trained paramilitaries that came into Haiti from the Dominican Republic in the winter of 2004 to unseat Aristide). After a quick narcoleptic back seat doze I began reaching for a collection of essays by diaspora Haitians edited by Edwidge Danticat, when shots rang out in the vicinity and everyone around us went apeshit. Our rock-solid driver Antoine said "this is where you have to chill" and let others speed off before slowly pulling out of our space and making a turn to drive out of the area. Given my experience the last time I was in Haiti in a similar situation, when our driver blindly swerved into a U-turn and was instantly hit by a pick up trick (nobody was hurt but the compact in question sustained major front end damage), I was impressed and relieved by Antoine's cool. Perhaps I'll actually remember that the creole expression 'nou poze' means 'we chill.'
As we drove out of Port-au-Prince `we drove by Village de Dieu, where some months back Haitian police shot and killed a Haitian reporter with a Miami radio station who happened to be in the way when firing on civilians commenced. The neighborhood was probably described as "a sprawling seaside slum" in the New York Times, that seems to be a pretty popular phrase in Haiti pieces. We drove on through what numerous sources describe as desperate poverty characterized by inadequate sanitation and dubious hope of potable water, but there was also a vitality and liveliness in the spirit of people on the street. As Antoine said about Haitians that take off to other islands with tough labor conditions, Haitians are used to hard work and can survive anything. That tenacity is both inspiring and humbling.

The condition of the road to Les Cayes could safely be described as bad to bad beyond belief, with occasional stretches of something approaching a smooth paved surface. One major bridge was wiped out by the recent tropical storm visitation someone inexplicably named Dennis, so we just drove through the river. Luckily it wasn't at a raging torrent phase. Our two vehicles swerved madly back and forth across the road in an approximation of some sort of amusement park ride devoted to avoiding randomly placed potholes. Given Antoine's habit of relying on honking as a protective measure while passing on corners, there were moments as a passenger that I found much more scary than the gunfire in Port-au-Prince, but it was a fun ride nonetheless.

En route we stopped and visited some friends of one of our travelling companions. A local kid thoughtfully scaled a coconut tree and knocked down a pile of nature's bounty, then set about hacking off the tops for us to drink coconut juice to our heart's content. Of course the delicious meat was also offered up. Country hospitality at its finest, not the last time we'd experience it over the weekend.

Along the road to the Southeast we hit numerous UN checkpoints at which Haitian police also hung out. By the end of the day we saw Uruguans, Nepalese and Sri Lankans, and later saw a UN 'Civpol' in a jail outside Les Cayes.

More to say about Les Cayes and points farther along barely driveable roads but for now here's a news update on last week's developments via an analysis from the progressive Washington outfit [there are a few left] The Council on Hemispheric Affairs:

"On July 16, Haiti’s Council of Sages formally recommended barring former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Lavalas Party from participating in upcoming elections, accusing the group of “continu[ing] to promote and tolerate violence.” Then, on July 22, Lavalas leader and likely presidential candidate, Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, was arrested on charges in connection with the death of prominent Haitian journalist Jacques Roche. It is important to note that a State Department official carefully articulated that his agency had seen no credible evidence establishing that pro-Aristide forces were responsible for Roche’s death. The priest’s arrest and the recommendation made by the seven-member advisory council, which was formed under the plenary direction of the U.S. following Aristide’s February 2004 ouster and was responsible for selecting interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, dealt fatal blows to any lingering hopes for delivering an open democracy in the near future to the long-struggling island. These events, along with stepped-up violence by Haitian police in complicity with the UN peacekeeping forces, have projected Latortue’s interim government as proving to be increasingly incapable of establishing the necessary stability, security and protection from political persecution on the island in order for free and fair elections to take place within a three month framework."

A Haitian activist friend calls the coup-appointed body which did the July 16 slamming of Lavalas 'The Council of Savages."