Nine French nationals, including six members of the charity Zoe's
Ark and three journalists, were charged late Monday with "kidnapping
minors" and "fraud" for attempting to fly the children
from the Chad-Darfur border to France, prosecutors in the eastern
town of Abeche said....") French
Aid Workers Sentenced and
Aid Workers Charged with kidnapping scheme in Chad
Although the term "sex tourism" usually conjures up
planeloads of dirty old men flying to Bangkok, it is the opposite
in Gambia. Gambia bound planes, according to a recent Reuters
article, "regularly arrive with a high proportion of women
traveling alone." Britain was singled out as a country of
origin for many of these female sex tourists, but the phenomenon
appears to be European in general. http://www.gadling.com/
In many African countries, it is common to see older white men
with young local black women, but Gambia, along with some resorts
in neighboring Senegal, has earned a name as a place for older
European women to meet young African men....60-70 percent of visitors
to one of the main tourist areas near the
capital Banjul were there for "sun relaxation and cheap sex."
Quebecers arrested for sexual assaults on minors in Haiti
With the Ezili
Danto Witness Project, HLLN documents eyewitness testimonies
of the common men and women in Haiti suffering, under this US-installed
regime, the greatest forms of terror and exclusion since the days
of slavery; conducts learning forums on Haiti (The "To-Tell-The-Truth-About-Haiti"
Forums), and , in general, brings the
voices against occupation, endless poverty and exclusion
in Haiti directly to governments officials, international policymakers,
human rights organizations, journalists, the corporate and alternative
media, schools and universities, solidarity networks. We are often
quoted in major alternative and even the corporate papers and
press influencing the current thinking of readers today."
HLLN, November 9, 2005.
See, The Nescafé
machine, Common Sense, John Maxwell Sunday, November 06, 2005
HLLN's chairperson, Marguerite Laurent, Esq.
festival goes on the road in Haiti The annual film festival in Jacmel,
Haiti, will take the show on the road
this year, visiting some of the country's most poverty-stricken
A Port-au-Prince slum where armed gangs and ricocheting bullets
are a way of
life hardly seems a good place to go to the movies. But for Haiti-born
hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean and organizers of the Festival Film
which is in full swing this week -- the Cité Soleil slum
is not only the
ideal place for a movie theater, but also a whisper of hope for
daring social experiment yet.
Third Annual Jacmel Film Festival: Discovering the World to Haiti
Kim Yves, December 2, 2006
une vue partielle de son rivage (Photo:HC)
Already, the southeastern sea-side
city of Jacmel is considered the art capital of Haiti. Small shops
selling giant paper-mache Carnival masks, traditional and avant-garde
paintings, furniture, iron sculpture and wood carvings are sprinkled
along the city's narrow streets. On porches and down alleys, one
spies young men and women, painting, sanding, threading and gluing
all manner of handicrafts, from kites and placemats to baskets
Nineteenth century stone and brick buildings predominate, with
a few gingerbread mansions, their pastel colors gently scrubbed
and faded by decades of Caribbean wind and sun. Ferns sprout from
the walls and gutters of the elegant old coffee warehouses, whose
tenants now include a bustling art school, a quaint hotel, and
a small film production studio.
Enter the Jacmel Film Festival. Patrick Boucard, a scion of a
prominent local bourgeois family, and David Belle; a North American
expatriate filmmaker who moved to Jacmel a decade ago, conceived
and launched the festival in 2004 as a one time event to celebrate
Haiti's bicentennial. "It was never our intention to have
an annual film festival," explained Belle, who is again acting
as the Festival's executive director in this its third year. "We
wanted to illustrate the history of cinema in Haiti: films made
by Haitians or foreigners set in Haiti, and we programmed 85 films
spanning 70 years."
During that bleak year when Haiti was gripped by another bloody
coup d'état, the festival was a blast of oxygen and hope
to Haiti's long suffering masses. Thousands turned out to watch
films projected on a giant screen under the stars on the town
wharf. Its spectacular success sealed the fate of its initiators.
The population of Jacmel wanted the festival back, literally "by
popular demand." And, in Haiti, some popular demands cannot
The festival's third incarnation is more ambitious than ever.
The line-up includes 92 films from 29 countries from Nov. 24 to
Dec. 2, culminating in a Dec. 1 concert by hip-hop musician Wyclef
Jean. (YeleHaiti, an NGO linked to Jean, is one of the principal
sponsors of this year's festival.)
The festival's formula for success is simple: 1) put Haiti's emerging
cinema on display; 2) introduce cinema from around the world to
Haitians, long confined to a diet of Hollywood and Kung Fu movies;
and 3) make it completely free to the public.
Simple does not mean easy. Haiti's dilapidated infrastructure
and dusty, humid climate are challenges to any equipment-intensive
undertaking: DVDs freeze and skip, electricity is intermittent
and surge-ridden, technicians are few and hard to come by. Finances
are always a problem.
Furthermore, there are no movie theaters, strictly speaking, in
Jacmel. "We actually create screening rooms by taking over
buildings, bringing in our own equipment, and renting chairs,"
Belle explained. "We use a nightclub, a conference room,
and a warehouse. This year we've added a fourth venue which is
a private screening room at a fancy hotel that has been built
outside of town."
The principle venue, however, is breezy Congo Plage (Congo Beach),
where every night thousands gather to watch films projected on
a 20 by 30 foot screen framed by swaying palm trees and a cloud-crowned
Haitian feature films are, of course, the big favorite and the
centerpiece of the beach showings. Richard Arens' "Chomeco,"
a buddy comedy about the misadventures of two unemployed men married
to and living in the same house with two sisters, produced howls
of laughter from a huge crowd on Saturday. Although hammy, the
innate comic talent of its two protagonists, Nono and Cassagnol,
played by Simon Innocent and Roberto Colas, make this film very
The next night, some 15,000 people, nearly half of the town's
40,000 population, jammed onto the beach for Sacha Parisot's lushly
produced "La Rebelle," a drama about a rich Haitian
businessman trying to reconcile his unruly teenage daughter with
his fiancée. Although the film and its bourgeois characters
never stray from the landscaped confines of Haiti's super-rich,
it boasts professional camera work, editing and a sophisticated
plot twist or two which make it a new high-water mark for Haitian
Georges David Jiha's light-hearted comedy "Café au
Lait" is of a similar vein, but set exclusively in Miami.
Using the romance of a light-skinned lawyer and a dark-skinned
medical intern, the film spoofs Haiti's racial myths with some
serious jabs at tensions and prejudices in Haitian society.
Arnold Antonin's "Le President a-t-il le SIDA" (Does
the President have AIDS?) features an emerging Hollywood actor
Jimmy Jean-Louis as Dao, a brash charming lead singer –
the president of compas – and his romance with the proud
but penniless Nina, played by the talented actress Jessica Généus,
who uses her rare beauty to raise support for herself and her
mother. Paid for in large measure by the United Nations to educate
Haitians about the danger of AIDS, the film also plums religious
misconceptions and class dynamics.
"The Haitian section," which numbered 10 films this
year, "is really exciting because, with digital technology,
more and more films are being produced in Haiti," said Belle.
"Production gets more and more each year, and better and
better. There's really a new wave of Haitian cinema, a lot of
it in Creole."
Belle has also set up a studio and sound room in Jacmel where
foreign films are dubbed in Creole (subtitling was rejected given
Haiti's high illiteracy rate). Now 35 people are engaged in dubbing
films almost year round. "We look to dub films which are
set in similar circumstances in similar countries, similar cultural
and economic settings, that are sharing positive messages of people
addressing their difficulties, " Belle said. For example,
the Festival's team dubbed Zack Niles and Banker White's "Sierra
Leone's Refugee All Stars," a moving documentary about six
men from a refugee camp in Guinée who start a singing group
to entertain and bring hope to fellow refugees hurt in and hiding
from Sierra Leone's civil war.
Other documentaries dubbed include Florence Ayisi and Kim Longinotto's
"Sisters In Law," about women fighting violent marital
abuse in Cameroon, Ward Serrill's "Heart of the Game,"
about a women's basketball team in the U.S., Annette Olesen's
"One to One," about the mysteries and interpersonal
dramas surrounding the near-fatal beating of a youth in Copenhagen,
and Thomas Allen Harris' "12 Disciples of Nelson Mandela,"
the portrait by a son of his father, who was a militant in the
African National Congress.
The festival is now attracting the participation of internationally
prominent cultural figures. A delegation from Cuba included Harold
Gramatges, 88, Cuba's foremost composer and musical figure; renowned
author and Cuba's former UNESCO ambassador Dr. Miguel Barnet Lanza;
prominent filmmaker Lizette Vila Espina; painter, veteran journalist
and former diplomat Victor Mirabal, 96, and his son Richard Mirabal,
head of the Martha Jean-Claude Foundation; and Gema Suarez of
the Association of Cuban Musicians, which is part of the National
Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC).
Legendary documentary filmmaker Al Maysles also attended, holding
a press conference and a filmmaking workshop.
Haitian luminaries included novelist Edwidge Danticat, photographer
Marc Baptiste, and Wyclef Jean.
"The festival is beginning to share a more positive image
of Haiti with people around the world, beginning with the diaspora,"
Belle said. "It's had a tremendous impact on Jacmel. There's
a sense of pride – Jacmel has always considered itself as
Haiti's cultural capital – and this has reinforced that.
Belle also points out that the Festival dramatically contributes
to the city's tourism and employment. "All of the hotels
are sold out, all of the restaurants are packed, and there are
the jobs that are created throughout the year by the creole dubbing,"
Belle said. "Jacmelians have been taught audio mixing and
recording and that's something that they'll be able to go on and
use. We've also done intensive workshops with all of our projectionists.
It's really paying off. All the screenings are running for the
most part without problems, and they are running them completely
independently. That's a huge, huge accomplishment. ... It's inevitable
and essential that there is collaboration from people around the
world, otherwise it wouldn't be international. But as much as
possible, the local team is becoming autonomous in terms of skills."
Belle wants to keep moving in this direction. Now that the festival
has become an annual event – scheduled for the end of November,
just before the Havana Festival, instead of in July as it was
the first two years – Belle hopes to hand it off to others
"It's my personal goal to be able to turn this over as soon
as possible to local Jacmelians, so that they are running their
own film festival," Belle said, which might be a challenge
since "each year it seems to grow in popularity by at least
30% in terms of audience size."
Also the Festival is spreading to other parts of Haiti. "We
spend so much time and energy on putting this thing together,
it is a shame to only present it for one week in Jacmel,"
Belle said. "Why can't it be replicated and moved around
to other parts of the country?"
"That is why we've started a partnership with the Alliance
Française to use their network of centers around Haiti
to get a traveling festival to other parts of the country. We're
going in January to Port-au-Prince, and then in February to Les
Cayes and Cap Ha tien. Simultaneously, we're creating study guides
for the films which have been dubbed in Creole. The study guides
will be distributed to schools in those towns through the Alliance
Française system. While it's impact will not be tremendous
– maybe a few hundred or a thousand people in each city
– it's the beginning of us establishing the festival in
other places, and I think it is inevitable that this aspect will
start to grow."
In politically charged Haiti, Belle says that organizers have
tried to make the Festival a "neutral space." Several
pro-democracy documentaries sympathetic to former President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide were screened in past years, but also films supporting
the coup d'état against Aristide's elected government in
2004. Last year as the coup dragged on, one particularly vitriolic
anti-Aristide film – "GNB Kont Atila" –
by Arnold Antonin, who is also a winless right-wing politician,
received a typically Haitian reception during its evening big-screen
debut on Haiti's wharf. The crowd erupted in loud, boisterous
applause and cheering every time Aristide appeared on the screen,
even though he was being demonized.
There is also something inherently subversive in many of the social
issues being aired on the screens of Jacmel, a point which Belle
recognizes. "In many of the films that we are showing, while
they are not overtly political stories and portraits, there is
a strong, but subtle, political message, which doesn't need any
explanation," Belle said. "People are very very in tune
with what truth and reality are. Sometimes that's all that needs
to be presented."
Kim Ives, until recently a writer and editor at Haiti-Progres,
is now an independent investigative reporter and documentary filmmaker
with a focus on Haiti
Aid Workers Sentenced
By BRUCE CRUMLEY/PARIS, Time/CNN,
Jan. 28, 2008
A court near Paris has ruled that six French aid workers convicted
in Chad and sentenced to an eight-year prison for attempted kidnapping
will serve that full jail term in France — though with no
hard labor, which under French law is banned. The ruling brings
the bizarre, at times tawdry saga of humanitarian assistance group
Zoé's Ark to its legal conclusion, but emotions still run
high: as the judgment was read out, relatives and friends of the
six shook the courtroom with cries of protest and claims of political
Tasked only with rendering the Chadian punishment compatible with
French law, the Créteil court in Paris pointed out in a
statement that it wasn't mandated to reexamine the case evidence
or the guilty verdict handed down in Chad's capital, N'Djamena.
That controversial judgment, issued on December 26, convicted
the six Zoé's Ark's workers of attempted kidnapping in
their efforts to secretly fly 103 children they claimed were orphans
from war-torn Darfur out of eastern Chad to France for urgent
care. Later investigations concluded that virtually all the children
were in fact relatively healthy Chadian nationals with at least
one living parent, and elsewhere uncovered a range of troubling
details surrounding Zoe's
Ark and its mission.
All six members have consistently maintained their innocence,
and claimed they'd become scapegoats of the Chadian government's
attempts to take advantage of the humanitarian crisis created
by the violence in Darfur. But despite a considerable public relations
push by supporters to cast the aid workers as victims, French
public opinion has failed to warm to their cause. Before and during
their trial in Chad, certain members of the group righteously
justified their at times extra-legal efforts to tend to the children
as legitimate given the urgency of the situation. Since their
December 28 return to France under Franco-Chadian judicial accords,
several members of the operation have reportedly fallen out with
their leaders of its illegal aspects. Lawyers and families of
those support staffers had hoped the tribunal would consider evidence
in their conviction of the subordinate roles they assumed, and
lighten their sentences as accomplices rather — a distinction
not made by the Chadian court.
French government officials insist that even before the group's
arrest by Chadian police on October 25, they cautioned Zoé's
Ark against pursuing certain of their more audacious humanitarian
projects in Chad, particularly what appeared to be clandestine
adoption arrangements with families back in France. Because of
that, it came as little surprise to many observers earlier this
month when a French investigating magistrate named several members
in the group as defendants in his case for "complicity in
the illegal residence of foreign minors in France," "illegally
exercising the role as intermediary towards adoption" and
"fraud." With any eventual convictions on those charges
be pronounced by a French law based on violation of national laws,
any prison sentences arising from them would be added to the eight
year jail terms the Chad court handed down for kidnapping.
Given this run up to the tribunal's ruling on their sentence Monday,
there was little reason for the Zoé's Ark members or their
supporters to expect French judges to upend the rulings of the
Chad court. Indeed, despite accusations by supporters and lawyers
for Zoé's Ark workers that the Chadian trial had been unfair,
the French tribunal ruled it had met the minimal European criteria
requiring defense lawyers, debate of evidence and testimony, and
recourse to appeal. Given that, the judges concluded an attempt
to review the Chadian case would amount to "interference
in the affairs of a sovereign state," and limited their work
to adapting the sentence to French law. Detractors accuse the
tribunal of not wanting to be seen as protecting French nationals
from a punishment meted out by a former French colony, and they
contend that the ruling is colored by concerns about next month's
deployment of 3,500 French-led European peacekeeping troops to
eastern Chad, a foreign military presence Chadian leaders resent.
Lawyers for the six convicted aid workers said they'd file for
an appeal — but legal experts believe that given the narrow
ambit left to the court under the judicial accords between France
and Chad, they stand virtually no chance of receiving a more favorable
ruling. In fact, French appeals courts are notorious for stiffening
sentences in lower court rulings, meaning the Zoé's Ark
crew could see they Chadian prison jolts lengthened — and
then possibly compounded by eventual conviction in the case the
French state brings against them.
Find this article at:
Charges Made in Darfur 'Adoptions'
By BRUCE CRUMLEY, Time/CNN,
Monday, Oct. 29, 2007
Eric Breteau, the head of L'Arche de Zoe, and members of his
team sit handcuffed on Friday, October 26, 2007, in the eastern
city of Abeche, Chad.
seem to be going from bad to worse for the six officials of a
French non-governmental organization charged with attempted kidnapping
in Chad, following their Oct. 25 arrest while trying to airlift
103 children they claimed were Darfur orphans. A total of 16 European
nationals will stand trial for involvement in a case that Chadian
authorities initially condemned as an illegal money-for-adoption
scheme praying on child refugees from war-torn Darfur. If convicted,
the six French child aid workers could face 20 years of hard labor
in the bizarre affair — which has created an atmosphere
of suspicion and hostility towards other NGOs working to protect
victims of violence in Darfur.
At the heart of the international flap are six French nationals
working for child relief NGO Zoe's Ark, who were arrested last
Thursday as they prepared to spirit 103 Darfur orphans away from
the Chadian city of Abéché on a chartered plane.
According to press comments by Zoe's Ark colleagues in France,
the unauthorized attempt to hustle the children out of the region
flouted administrative procedure to obtain permission. Such time-consuming
steps, they say, clashed with the greater humanitarian urgency
of getting the orphans to care and safety in France. But Chadian
authorities swooped in as the plane prepared to depart, and arrested
the Zoe's Ark workers, three French journalists accompanying them,
and seven Spanish and Belgian flight crew members on initial suspicions
of "kidnapping and child trafficking". Outraged Chadian
President Idriss Déby went so far as to accused the group
of being "pedophile", and exploiting the refugee crisis
in a scheme to sell children to adults willing to pay for adoption
back in France.
The French lawyer for Zoe's called the entire matter politically
motivated. But that position became harder to defend in the face
of claims by another French relief organization that most of the
103 children were neither orphans — nor even Sudanese for
the most part. Those allegations were reinforced on Thursday when
two U.N. agencies said they'd managed to confirm 91 of the children
had at least one parent, and most came from Chad. French media
reports, meanwhile, quoted residents of Chadian villages claiming
they'd seen some of the 103 children lured from their homes into
trucks by visiting white people promising candy.
Adoption is not permitted in either Sudan or Chad; and any effort
to engineer the adoption of citizens from either country is legally
punishable, as are violations of immigration procedures by unauthorized
attempts to remove the children from Chad.
Adoption arranged by an organization not officially chartered
for that function is also prohibited in France. Officials at Zoe's
Ark explain their intention was to get the children to safety
in France by any means, then initiate extraordinary procedures
once on French soil to obtain special refugee status for the children.
Though the youngsters were to be placed in foster home for care,
Zoe's Ark said that the goal of the program in no way involved
adoption — for profit or otherwise.
Those assurances notwithstanding, the Chadians aren't the only
ones with grave reservations about the NGO's methods or motives.
"Taking [children] out in that manner is, in my view, illegal
and irresponsible," French Secretary of State on Foreign
Affairs and Human Rights Rama Yade told the daily Le Parisien.
Yade said she'd warned Zoe's Ark back in August of her concerns
about its rumored adoption practices. And while Yade said French
officials still don't have enough detail to be able to confirm
or refute the charges of child trafficking, she suggested the
NGO knew it was playing with fire. "You don't remove children
from countries like Chad and Sudan that don't allow adoption,"
The French Foreign Ministry had aired similar and repeated public
misgivings over the Zoe's Ark mission after it began last May.
Meanwhile, testimony gathered in France since Thursday's detentions
led French legal authorities to open an investigation on the NGO
on suspicions of "intermediary activity in unauthorized adoptions".
Zoe's Ark officials have responded with repeated statements that
their operation did not involve adoption. They've similarly explained
that while their care in Chadian camps allowed most of the children
to recover from the near fatal conditions they were found in,
their continuously fragile physical and mental health requires
rapid relocation to a stable environment.
So why the suspicion that the placement of those 103 children
with French families were permanent transactions? First off, all
of the 103 families paid between $2,800 and $8,400 as part of
the process of volunteering — that is, money to the NGO
above whatever amount caring for the children will cost. Meanwhile,
Chadian authorities say the Darfur children — taken from
refugee centers administered by the NGO — showed no signs
of hunger or illness that would make their departure urgent.
Finally, with neither the nationality nor even exact identity
of most children fully established, officials in Chad and France
wonder how Zoe's Ark leaders could possibly know if the parents
are indeed dead.
The official French criticism of Zoe's Ark — and Yade's
expression of "solidarity" with Déby and Chadian
justice officials pursuing the case has alarmed some French human
rights activists over a perceived presumption of guilt in the
affair. They also decry Chad's decision to try the three journalists
and seven flight crew members for complicity, since they were
not actively involved in selecting children for expatriation,
nor hustling them aboard the plane. French President Nicolas Sarkozy
on Wednesday responded by asking Déby to free the French
Some see politics playing more of a role in the case than Sarkozy's
intervention on the reporters' behalf. Zoe's Ark's French lawyer
has pointed out Chadian officials remain angered by a French-inspired
plan to deploy European peacekeeping troops to eastern Chad to
protect Darfur refugees — an attitude he says may motivate
what he considers a framing of the Zoe's Ark workers. Déby
has denied that allegation, and promised the deployment will be
carried out as planned. Despite that, international aid efforts
in the region have been undermined by the caper — while
Zoe's Ark efforts to tend to victims of Darfur's humanitarian
crises are now clearly over for good. Meanwhile, other NGOs operating
in the area report local populations have begun to regard aid
workers with suspicion and hostility, fearful that such humanitarian
efforts may be masking more sinister plans.
Find this article at:
(in 1990)"...Haitians, through
the ballot box, rebelled against their neocolonial status. They
rebelled against a racist world economy that locked them into
the role of producers instead of consumers. Under Aristide, they
wanted to complete what they began in 1803 – joining the
world community as equals.If
Haiti, as the hemisphere’s poorest nation, was successful
in escaping from their international debt and seizing control
of their own destiny, it could prove to be as devastating to the
global sweatshop economy as Haiti’s first revolution was
to the slave trade....... "...the new (US-imposed Miami) government
also, as one of its first acts in office, cut Haiti’s minimum
wage by 50%, from about $3.60 for a 12 hour day, down to $1.60.
This is a big perk for Haitian-American Andre Apaid, owner of
numerous Haitian garment manufacturing plants making cheap wares
for American companies such as Disney, owner of the ABC network.
ABC joined the US corporate media in selling this American citizen
as a legitimate leader of Haiti’s “civil resistance”
to the popular Aristide Government. "Our
nasty little racist war in Haiti by Michaeli,
NimN, June 7, 2004 | Source:
(Scroll down to 7 June 2004)
Is Rising!! Ayisyen: You Are Not Alone!
"When you make
a choice, you mobilize vast human energies and resources which
otherwise go untapped...........If you limit your choices only
to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself
from what you truly want and all that is left is a compromise."
Show at the
July 27, 2004 Haiti Forum Press Conference during the DNC
in Boston honoring those who stand firm for Haiti and democracy;
those who tell the truth about Haiti; Presenting the Haiti
Resolution, and; remembering Haiti's revolutionary legacy
in 2004 and all those who have lost life or liberty fighting
against the Feb. 29, 2004 Coup d'etat and its consequences