Big thanks to Stewart Neatby, writing in the Dominion Paper, for covering the REAL news in Haiti — the Haitian resistance is still alive and UN peacekeepers continue to use brutal and illegal tactics to keep a lid on it. Neatby, in his article below, states that as many as 40 Haitians were arrested prior to the recent visit of Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to the poor neighborhood of Cite Soleil. Mass arrests by MINUSTAH, the UN peacekeeping effort in Haiti, are not new and have resulted in the detention of hundreds of Aristide supporters, most held without charge.
Because of the just announced change in the mission chief for MINUSTAH and recent visits by Harper and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the press is obessessing over whether the mission is succeeding. Further, the press is speculating about whether current MINUSTAH chief, Edmond Mulet’s departure and Hedi Annabi ‘s arrival signal the end of one phase and the beginning of another. As the press tells it, Mulet is the guy who brought “security” to Haiti and Annabi is the guy who is going to bring the kinder, gentler phase — development/humanitarian assistance.
The real news here is that no matter how you wrap it, MINUSTAH is occupying Haiti and Haitians are resisting. Whether by mistake or intention, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s visit coincided with the 92nd anniversary of the first US invasion of Haiti by US Marines in 1915. The Marines occupied Haiti until 1934. One of the first things the Marines did was steal all the gold out of the Haitian treasury, packed it on a boat and sent it to New York for deposit in the City Bank.
In 1926, a Haitian described the pattern of invasions and occupations:
“I know they throw the history of Haiti in our face – its long tissue of revolutions and massacres. Yet the American war with the Cacos killed more people than 10 or 20 revolutions put together; it devastated whole regions and ruined the cattle of Haiti, as veterinary experts can testify if they are honest. Revolutions were fomented by foreigners – English, French, American, Dutch traders – who risked nothing, and always profited. Loans which dealt rather in human lives than in merchandise were made at rates of 1,000 per cent and those who thus enriched themselves overthrew any government that was not subservient to them.”
–excerpt from a letter written by Dr. Normil Sylvain, a Haitian, in 1926 to Emily Balch who led a delegation of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom to Haiti to observe the effects of the US occupation.
So whether it is 1926 or now, occupation always yields the same things: relentless provocations of the population, murder on a massive scale, oppression, persecution, incarceration, disenfranchisement, joblessness, homelessness, starvation and, fortunately, resistance. The occupier professes peace, provokes the occupied until they resist, labels the resistance a criminal kidnapping , gang mongering, murdering “threat to peace” and, then, the occupier proceeds unchallenged as he commences the slaughter.
In spite of the UN’s cheerful press releases, re-emphasizing its commitment to peace and democracy in Haiti, this occupation will not go on forever. When and how will it stop? The UN would do well to check out the Haitian history books for answers to these questions. There, they will read that they are occupying the land of the sons and daughters of Dessalines. If the UN is unable to grasp the significance of this, they should seek clarification from the French.
August 3, 2007
UN Arrested 40 Ahead of Harper’s Haiti Visit
Many demonstrators remain in jail
by Stuart Neatby
The Dominion – http://www.dominionpaper.ca
Forty Haitian demonstrators were arrested by UN soldiers hours before the arrival of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the Haitians slum neighbourhood of Cite Soleil on July 20. Haiti was the last stop for the Prime Minister’s Latin American tour, which also included stops in Colombia, Chile, and Barbados. The protest had been organized by residents of Cite Soleil in response to the visit of the Canadian Prime Minister, according to Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, a protest organizer and director of the Haiti-based September 30th Foundation. Thirty remain imprisoned in the National Penitentiary in downtown Port-au-Prince.
“On the morning of the 20, our comrades went out into the streets with placards, banners, and megaphones” said Pierre-Antoine in a phone interview with the Dominion.
“At that moment, it was around six in the morning, MINUSTAH soldiers began to make arrests for no reason. Many of our friends were arrested that morning.”
According to Pierre-Antoine, 10 demonstrators were released on the afternoon of July 20, after the departure of Harper from the country. The 30 who remain imprisoned have no access to legal counsel, due to their inability to hire a lawyer, and will wait for an indefinite amount of time before even seeing a judge. Although Haiti’s constitution requires prisoners to see a judge within 48 hours of their arrest, prisoners often remain in jail for months without seeing a judge.
When contacted by the Dominion, UN spokesperson Sophie Boutaud de Lacombe would not confirm that UN soldiers had made arrests in Cite Soleil on July 20.
According to numerous sources, the UN mission for stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has committed numerous documented human rights abuses within the seaside neighbourhood. According to reports by Democracy Now! and the Haiti Information Project, UN forces conducted a raid in Cite Soleil on December 22, ostensibly aimed at rooting out “armed gangs,” which resulted in the deaths of at least 30 civilians, including several children. As survivors of this raid lay bleeding in the streets, UN soldiers prevented Red Cross ambulances from reaching the dead and wounded. Cite Soleil has been a centre of political support for the Fanmi Lavalas political party of deposed president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The July 20 protest in Cite Soleil was organized to oppose Canada’s involvement in the February 29, 2004 coup d’etat of elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, as well as Canada’s continued interference in Haitian politics.
After Aristide’s removal, Haiti descended into a nightmare of political violence. Community activists were murdered, former Lavalas parliamentarians were jailed, and the Haitian National Police, which has received training by Canadian RCMP officers since 2004, waged a campaign of terror against some of the poorest neighbourhoods in Haiti’s capital. Cite Soleil was the hardest hit of these poor neighbourhoods. The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal based in the UK, estimated that there were 8000 murders in Haiti’s capital alone between 2004 and 2006, as well as 35,000 incidences of rape.
“Their plan was clear,”says Pierre-Antoine of the Canadian backed Latortue regime which ruled until 2006. “Their plan was to eliminate the party of President Aristide, the Fanmi Lavalas party, the majority party. But they did not succeed in their objective.”
Although such political repression has diminished since the election of current President Rene Preval, the Canadian government continues to play an influential role within Haiti. Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs has been a strong advocate for aggressive “anti-gang” attacks and raids by MINUSTAH against poor neighbourhoods like Cite Soleil. In a January 15 radio interview, Canadian Ambassador Claude Boucher applauded the deadly December 22 raid, calling upon the UN to “increase their operations as they did last December.” A Parliamentary report penned by Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Mackay, also applauded the December 22 killings, stating that “more robust operations led by MINUSTAH and the Haitian National Police from December 22, 2006, further improved the security situation.”
In the months that followed December 2006, the UN staged a number of brutal raids in Cite Soleil. Seven year-old Stephanie Lubin and four year-old Alexandra Lubin, killed as they lay sleeping on the morning of February 2, were only two among many other civilians who were killed during these attacks. In its press statements, the UN has claimed that it has subsequently been successful in dislodging gang leaders from Cite Soleil.
“What MINUSTAH is doing is not a mission of stabilization, it is not engaging in peacekeeping,” said Pierre-Antoine. “It is a mission that engages in operations of massacres, of assassinations, of destabilization more so than activities of reconstruction and peacekeeping.”
During a visit to Haiti this week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced plans to extend the UN’s mission in Haiti by another year.