For Immediate Release, May 18, 2004:
Largest Haiti Coalition Unanimously Condemns U.S. Marine Activity that
Violates the Human Rights of the Haitian People
Social justice, faith-based, human rights, community, labor and
professional organizations release findings and demand U.S. soldiers
not participate in UN peacekeeping mission
For Immediate Release, May 18, 2004: Largest Haiti
Coalition Unanimously Condemns U.S. Marine Activity that Violates the
Human Rights of the Haitian People Social justice, faith-based, human
rights, community, labor and professional organizations release findings
and demand U.S. soldiers not participate in UN peacekeeping mission
Hyattsville, MD: The Let Haiti Live: Coalition for a Just U.S. Policy
is shocked and appalled by the behavior of U.S. soldiers currently serving
in the Multinational Interim Forces (MIF) in Haiti. Five teams of independent
observers have visited Haiti since its constitutional government was
overthrown and each has reported a high level of terror in Haitiís capital
Port-au-Prince where U.S. Marines are frequently carrying out searches,
arrests, and even executions in poor neighborhoods. Impoverished and
literally starving populations are subjected to night-time maneuvers
with no apparent purpose other than to terrorize.
The Quixote Centerís Emergency Haiti Observation Mission, the first
team of North American volunteers to visit Haiti after the February
29 coup díetat, recently released its report. It states: ìPerhaps most
unsettling for our team were the consistent reports that U.S. Marines
had shot and killed people in poor neighborhoods and then removed their
bodies in body bags.î Furthermore, the twenty-three-member team declared
that the upcoming United Nations peacekeeping mission should not include
any U.S. soldiers to ensure that it is able to provide security and
end the terror campaign currently gripping Haiti. For the full report,
Delegations from EPICA, the National Lawyers Guild and the International
Labor/Religious/Community Delegation have issued reports with similar
and related findings.
Let Haiti Live, which includes fifty organizations representing more than
one hundred thousand grassroots constituents throughout the United States
and Canada, is also disturbed to learn the details of the May 10 arrest
of Annette ìSo Anneî Auguste, a sixty-nine year old Lavalas activist.
U.S. Marines entered Augusteís home in the middle of the night with
the use of explosives and arrested eleven people present, including
Auguste who is recovering from recent surgery. All were taken to the
U.S. military headquarters and questioned, and Auguste was held at a
U.S.-controlled prison facility without access to legal counsel until
her hearing two days later. According to Lt. Col. David Lapan, a spokesman
for the MIF, Auguste was targeted because the U.S. received information
that she may be involved in activities that could threaten their mission.
The international wire service Reuters has reported that the accusation
that led to her arrest was involvement in the December 5, 2003 violent
clash at the State University.
Determining the veracity of the accusations
leveled at Auguste is a task for the Haitian justice system, and the
Let Haiti Live Coalition urges vigilance that Augusteís constitutional
rights are respected from this point forward. The Coalition condemns
the actions of the U.S. Marines, whose sole purpose in Haiti is to provide
stability until the arrival of the UN peacekeeping mission. U.S. forces
must not continue to terrorize Haitians with destructive and violent
night searches. A spokesperson for Let Haiti Live Coalition, human rights
lawyer Nicole Lee declared, ìTactics used in the Auguste case such as
the handcuffing of children, including a five year old, and the use
of black hoods are the tactics used by death squads and terrorists.
This behavior is not appropriate or justified, and is not condoned by
the American people.î
Statement of the Emergency Haiti Observation Mission Coordinated by the Quixote Center
The Emergency Haiti Observation Mission, coordinated by the Haiti Reborn
program of the Quixote Center, was the first volunteer observation team
on the ground after the coup díetat of February 29, 2004. The Observation
Mission visited two geographical departments in Haiti and gathered information
from more than thirty interviews, meetings, and personal encounters.
Security concerns prohibited the team from traveling anywhere north
of Port-au-Prince. Travel throughout Port-au-Prince and to Jacmel on
Haitiís southern coast allowed the team an opportunity to observe the
Haitian people in both urban and rural areas - from professionals, to
politicians, to peasants; from those living on one side to the other
of the dizzying economic gap between the small community of extremely
wealthy and powerful, to the disempowered and desperately impoverished
The observation team was alarmed to discover that the violations
of human rights taking place in Haiti are far worse than has been reported
by the mainstream press. Since the coup díetat there has been a dramatic
increase in terror and a disruption of Haitiís fragile peasant economy,
having deadly consequences for the impoverished majority of the population.
Recent events remind us that the divisions in Haitian society exist
within a two hundred-year old tradition of class warfare, and we observed
that the poor are once again paying the highest price.
Only days after
the removal of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, an illegitimate
government was created from Haitiís private sector and the political
opposition, backed by United States with the assistance of the Organization
of American States (OAS). This interim government has not even attempted
to create the illusion that it is inclusive and has gone beyond just
excluding Fanmi Lavalas members to compiling a list of Lavalas leadership
that must not, under any circumstances, attempt to leave the country.
In addition, this interim government appears to be implicitly supporting
violent criminals-at-large, and resurgent military and paramilitary
groups. In its actions and in its words, the ìinterimî government is
condoning a large violent faction that is committing human rights violations.
The presence of the Multinational Interim Force, or MIF, is NOT creating
a greater sense of security. One incident that has escaped any real
scrutiny by the international press is the alleged massacre of as many
as seventy-eight people in the Bel Air neighborhood. According to reports
from almost every individual and organization the observation mission
interviewed, the deaths came at the hands of U.S. Marines.
Haitian democracy has received a blow that could signify a return to
complete consolidation of power in the hands of the wealthy few at the
continued expense of the needs of the majority. The coup díetat against
President Aristide is only the most recent attack on popular democracy
that Haiti has suffered over the last several years. The aid embargo,
the U.S. and OAS-backed negotiation process factors, and the escalating
humanitarian crisis have led to widespread disillusionment among poor
and marginalized Haitians when it comes to the democratic process. The
destructive impact of U.S. policy on Haitian democracy is unparalleled
and would be difficult to overstate.
It is with the consideration of
both the present and the past that the observation mission demands a
full investigation into the U.S. role in the events of February 29,
2004, along with other actions and policies that may have contributed
to the illegitimate removal of Haitiís President.
Our greatest fears, the worst case scenario, do seem imminently possible:
- In a political
climate controlled by the U.S. and the traditional Haitian elite, the
resurgent military will continue to assume security and governance positions
until re-establishing the army has been accomplished de facto;
- As Haiti moves toward elections at the end of 2005, the campaign of terror
against the poor who support Lavalas will intensify, guaranteeing their
exclusion in the electoral process;
- The interim government will re-start
the Haitiís destructive structural adjustment program, and the U.S.
aid program will once again take priority, along with debt repayment;
- The 2005 elections will be dominated by opposition political parties
who are positioned to benefit from U.S. aid for democracy; and
Haitian peopleís voices will be silenced as their lives are destroyed
by neoliberal economic policies.
In the interest of preventing this tragedy, we call for a full investigation
by the United Nations, as requested by CARICOM, and a bipartisan, independent
commission of the United States Congress into the U.S. role in the removal
of President Aristide from Haiti and U.S. funding to Haitiís political
and military opposition.
Furthermore, we call for the immediate replacement of the
Multinational Force led by the United States with a United Nations Peacekeeping
Mission that does not include the U.S., France, or Canada. Pending the
removal of U.S. Marines from Haiti, we demand Creole translators for
every unit, the immediate removal of helicopters, tanks and artillery.
Lastly, we call for the U.S. to adopt Franceís rules of engagement:
to not fire unless fired upon.
Finally, we demand that any government
claiming legitimacy in Haiti immediately arrest the so-called ìrebelsî,
including their leader Guy Philippe, for their violent crimes. We call
for the prompt re-capture and re-imprisonment of convicted criminals,
in particular, convicted human rights abusers Jean Pierre Baptiste (alias
Jean Tatoune), Jean-Claude Duperval, Carl Dorelien, Prosper Avril, and
Louis Jodel Chamblain, who are notorious human rights abusers.
Access the full report of the delegation at www.haitireborn.org