Eyewitnesses Describe Massacre by UN Troops on Haitian People

Democracy Now!
July 11, 2005
(For Dread Wilme reported Killed, go to:zilibutton )

Eyewitnesses Describe Massacre by UN Troops in Haiti
by Democracy Now! | July 11, 2005


Eyewitnesses Describe Massacre by UN Troops in Haitian Slum
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In Haiti, UN troops launched a pre-dawn raid on Cite Soleil, one of the most economically-depressed neighborhoods of Port au Prince. Local residents say it might have been the deadliest attack carried out by UN troops since they were stationed in the country last year. On Saturday hundreds of Haitians gatherer for the funeral of Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme -- a popular community leader who lives in Cite Soleil, one of the most economically-depressed neighborhoods of Port au Prince. Wilme was killed last Wednesday when UN troops attacked the neighborhood in a pre-dawn raid.

Although the raid has received little attention, local residents say it might have been the deadliest attack carried out by UN troops since they were stationed in the country last year.

According to residents the UN troops entered the area at about three in the morning and opened fire. Eyewitnesses reported the UN troops used helicopters, tanks, machine guns and tear gas in the operation. The UN has admitted that its troops killed at least five people. UN military spokesman Colonel Elouafi Boulbars told Agence France Presse, "The bandits tried to fight our men. They suffered serious losses and we found five bodies in what was left of a house." Local residents put the figure at no less than 20. Some estimates are even higher. Witnesses said innocent civilians were among the victims.

• Witnesses in Cite Soleil describe the UN raid.

Another local resident lost her husband in the raid. She described what happened on Wednesday.

• Cite Soleil resident describes her husband's death.

The United Nations has defended the operation by describing it as a necessary move to wipe out violent gang activity. Both the United Nations and the interim Haitian government have described the slain Dread Wilme as one of the country's top gang leaders. Cite Soleil is comprised largely of supporters of the Lavalas Party and ousted
Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide who was overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup 18 months ago. To local residents Dread Wilme was a community leader and the attacks were seen as politically motivated.

• Cite Soleil residents talk about Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme.

We are joined in our studio by Seth Donnelly. He visited Cite Soleil
hours after the killings and interviewed survivors. On Saturday he
attended Dread Wilme's funeral. Seth Donnelly was in Haiti as part of
a human rights delegation sponsored by the San Francisco Labor

• Seth Donnelly, San Francisco Labor Council.
http://www.sflaborcouncil.org/To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, call 1 (888) 999-3877.


Witnesses said innocent civilians were among the victims.

RESIDENT OF CITE SOLEIL: A lot of innocent civilians were killed and there are even some people that they kill and just take them with them. One of the worst things that happened is that they killed like a mom with two of her children, and they are still -- the bodies are still there.

Another local resident lost her husband in the raid. She described what happened on Wednesday.

I'm working at night, so when I was back in the morning, so at noon when I was back from my work, I found him just in his blood. He was the only one here. And my three children are in the countryside because I have them in countryside. And he is a very old guy. So they just get inside and pulled him out under the bed and killed him.

AMY GOODMAN: The United Nations has defended the operation by describing it as a necessary move to wipe out violent gang activity. Both the United Nations and the interim Haitian government have described the slain Dread Wilme as one of the countries top gang leaders. Cite Soleil is comprised largely of supporters of Lavalas and ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide overthrown in the coup 18 months ago, February 29, 2004, the President, Aristide, has described as a U.S.-supported coup. He said he was kidnapped in the service of a coup backed by the United States. To local residents, Dread Wilme of Cite Soleil was a community leader. The attacks were seen as politically motivated.

So Dread Wilme grew up with us. So, Dread Wilme is one of the guys who grow up in the community and who wanted to work for peace, who wanted to have, like, an improvement for the community, and he had, like -- he had developed a good relationship with all the people in the neighborhood as a professional. So Dread Wilme was a protector for us; he was like our dad. So they keep saying that Dread Wilme was like a gang and he was involved in the killings, but we never see this. We in the community, we have seen him as a peaceful guy but never as someone who was involved in killings of people. So, we want to say thank you to [inaudible] because he was the one who make this happen.

We are now joined in our studio by Seth Donnelly, who went to Cite Soleil a day after the killings last Wednesday. He interviewed survivors. On Saturday, he attended Dread Wilme's funeral. Seth Donnelly was in Haiti as part of a human rights delegation that was sponsored by the San Francisco Labor Council. We welcome you to Democracy Now!

It is good to be here. Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, talk about what you learned, what you understand happened, what is the U.N.'s version of events. We tried to get the U.N. on. They did not respond to our calls.

SETH DONNELLY: Yeah. I'd like to start with the official version, and then we'll look at what the evidence of the massacre that contradicts the official version. I interviewed the top military command of the U.N. on Friday, July 8, with some Haitian colleagues, human rights workers. And Lieutenant General Augusto Heleno and Colonel Morano claimed that the operation was a success. They did state that about 300 U.N. troops led by a Jordanian contingent, surrounded Cite Soleil, which as you mentioned is one of the largest ghettos in Port-au-Prince. It’s one of the poorest neighborhoods in the world. And it has, even before this operation, it has been sealed off. According to locals, the U.N. had put shipping freight containers blocking various entrances into the community because it's been a hotbed of support for President Aristide. It is a Lavalas base of support, and there has been ongoing conflicts with U.N. and police in that community. So, the community was already relatively sealed off. But then the 300 troops came around 3:00 a.m. July 6, and then also according to U.N. high military command, they had 18 to 20 armed personal - armored personal carriers, which are basically like tanks without treads. They have cannons. And they had those choking off entrances and exits to and from the ghetto.

And then around 5:00 a.m., they launched the attack. They tried to locate Dread Wilme and capture him. They claimed he was killed. The community is acknowledging that he was killed. But the top level military command said they were unaware of any civilian casualties during the operation. So that was sort of – and they also mentioned that there was a helicopter that flew 3,000 feet overhead just for observation purposes, but it did not shoot down into the community.

What we found actually when we went into the community the day after the operation was widespread evidence that the troops had carried out a massacre. We found homes, which when we say homes, we are talking basically shacks of wood and tin, in many cases, riddled with machine gun blasts as well as tank fire. The holes in a lot of these homes were too large just to be bullets. They must have been tank-type shells penetrating the homes. We saw a church and a school completely riddled with machine gun blasts. And then the community came out.

Once we had passed through, and we were -- the community understood who we were, women, children, old and young, came out en masse and started to give us their testimony. They clearly were not being coerced by (quote/unquote) “gang leaders” or “gang elements.” They took us into their homes. They showed us bodies that still remained. They gave us very emotional testimony. People were hysterical still. And they all claimed that the U.N. forces had fired into their homes, had fired into their community, and people were saying at a minimum 20, if not more, people were killed.

Then there's a Haitian human rights worker who was actually on the scene when the operation occurred and has video footage that unfortunately we cannot yet release, but there is a plan at some point for that to be released to the public, that shows people being killed during the operation quite graphically.

Thirdly, we went to the local hospital that serves people from Cite Soleil. There's one hospital in Port-au-Prince, it's Medicine Without Borders, that doesn't charge a fee so very poor people can go to that hospital. And we asked them if they would share with us their records, which they did. And we got the impression that nobody from the U.N. had spoken to them. Perhaps they did but we felt like we were the first human rights workers making contact with the hospital after the operation. And sure enough, their records show an influx of civilian casualties. Starting at 11:00 a.m July 6, there is 26 people alone from Cite Soleil that came in suffering mostly from gunshot wounds. Out of that 26, 20 were women and children. One pregnant woman lost her child. And 50% of those 26 people had serious gunshot wounds to the stomach and had to go into major surgery right away.

Now, if the U.N. was committed to finding out the (quote/unquote) “collateral damage” of their operation, they would simply need to make a phone call or do what we did, which was to go to the one hospital in Port-au-Prince that serves the people of Cite Soleil or they could have spoken to the Red Cross in Cite Soleil, which admitted that they had transported 15 people out of there on tap-taps into the hospital. So the other --

AMY GOODMAN: Those are local buses? Local buses, tap-taps?


AMY GOODMAN: What did the U.N. military commander say when you were questioning him about your -- the eyewitness accounts that you heard?

SETH DONNELLY: Well, the Lieutenant General Augusto Heleno initially challenged us, our delegation, as to why were we concerned about the rights of the (quote/unquote) “outlaws,” the term that he used, and not the (quote/unquote) “legal force.” He seemed to write off community testimony as being part of community hostility and part of these (quote/unquote) “gang attacks” on U.N. forces. In that sense, I felt like he was sort of -- the subtext of what he was saying was that the community itself was an outlaw community, that the gang would presumably include all of these folks that came out to talk to us. Another -- the other military commander present suggested that some of the bodies that were shown to us were actually killed by (quote/unquote) “gangs,” and that we should try to have ballistics tests done on the bodies. I would be all for having ballistics tests done on those bodies, as well as getting more comprehensive forensic evidence from medical professionals.

Seth, you were also at the funeral of Dread Wilme on Saturday. Fears that there would be another U.N. attack?

SETH DONNELLY: Yeah. Hundreds turned out. Inside of Cite Soleil, I kept feeling like we were – it was sort of like a South African township during the apartheid days, cut off. And hundreds of people came out for this funeral. The way the community spoke about Dread Wilme – again, not just youth who, you know, often worked with Dread Wilme, but also the entire community, women and children, referred to him as a father figure or a protector. But there was twice during this funeral service where a rumor hit the crowd that U.N. troops were coming back. There was U.N. -- some APCs in the distance in Cite Soleil holding off checkpoints. And twice the rumor hit that they were about to roll on the crowd, and people fled in terror, including myself. It was a stampede running with the crowd, because you didn't know what was going to happen. That also was an indicator that something was very -- when you have hundreds of people fleeing in terror, it would indicate that something very wrong happened on July 6.

You're saying a lot of the eyewitnesses saw this as a political attack, Cite Soleil, long seen as a stronghold --

SETH DONNELLY: Oh, absolutely, the community is highly politicized, it is highly -- the community views itself locked in a long-term struggle for the restoration of President Aristide and for the removal of occupation forces from Haiti, and it views -- people view these attacks as part of the ongoing post-coup war on the poor majority that is occurring in Haiti, which, by the way, our delegation outside of this event in Cite Soleil found comprehensive evidence of an ongoing war on the poor majority on different levels that is being conducted by the coup regime itself, the interim government of Latortue

AMY GOODMAN: In other news from Haiti, paramilitary leader, Guy Philippe announced last week he plans to run in the upcoming Haitian presidential elections. Last year, he played a key role in the ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the president. Philippe, a former police chief who was trained by U.S. special forces in Ecuador in the late 1990s, involved with and has been accused of the masterminding of deadly attacks in Haiti. We're talking to Seth Donnelly. Last comments, Seth, as we wrap up right now about the significance of what happened in Cite Soleil last Wednesday.

Right, I certainly want to say that it’s one thing to describe this in words, but when a person actually enters Cite Soleil, and you see the open sewage streams, you see the shacks that -- how people are living, and then you think about 18 to 20 armored personnel carriers with tank-type cannons and you think about 300 troops with machine guns and a helicopter, by the way, which community people are saying fired down on them, and we did see what appears to be bullet holes in the roofs. It seems to me that this really was a Warsaw Ghetto-type attack on an impoverished community. And I do think this is emblematic of the ongoing war on the poor majority that is occurring in Haiti today, and it requires people in the United States to stand in solidarity with the people of Cite Soleil.

The U.S. has not sent military weapons to Haiti under the democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but was documented sending hundreds, if not a thousand rifles under the leadership, if you could call it that, of Latortue.

Sure, and then they froze aid to Aristide, but now the Latortue government is, you know, receiving all sorts of money from the U.S. Then you have the -- you have the issue with what is the U.N. role here. The U.N. role, they’re in all of the very -- they're in fancy bourgeois hotels. They drive around in these fancy SUVs. they have resources but I don't see schools being built. I think it could arguably be stated that Cuban doctors sent by the Cuban government have done more for the people of Haiti than the entire administer of the U.N. mission in Haiti since the coup.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us, Seth Donnelly a member of the U.S. labor human rights delegation who has just returned from Haiti, reporting to us on what happened last Wednesday, a pre-raid dawn by U.N. forces in a very poor area of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, Cite Soleil, long seen as a Lavalas stronghold, stronghold of the supporters of the democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It looks like at least 20 dead, according to the reports on the ground.

Estimates from the community are getting much higher. Yeah. The person who was on the scene has given the estimate of 30, at least 25 confirmed dead as he sees it.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much, Seth, as we wrap up the show. Thank you.


Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme - on "Wanted poster" of suspects wanted by the Haitian police.  
Click photo for larger image

Emmanuel Dread Wilme Reported killled by UN troops July 6, 2005

(See Democracy Now!: Eyewitness report below)
Demand a Stop to the killings in Cite Soleil
Please send appeals immediately
See Urgent Action Alert

Drèd Wilme was reported assassinated by the UN occupation forces in Haiti on Wednesday, July 7, 2005. But he's been falsely reported
dead before. Haitians with faith still know that long after the hired triggermen who are shooting the people of Cite Soleil and even at Wilme, are dust in the wind, Drèd Wilme's deeds, the people of Haiti's resistance to tyranny, will live on, in all Haitians, for all peoples on this globe, who resist Euro/US-led greed, racism and tyranny against the poor and African on this planet.

The Haitian resistance against the Western bicentennial re-colonization of Haiti lives on. Below, we bring again the voice of Drèd Wilme, speaking a few days after the Apaid-hired-gun, Labanye, was killed and the UN occupation troops themselves had entered Site Soleil to continue the Haitian extermination campaign begun when the U.S. Marines kidnapped President Aristide and exiled him from his country. Drèd Wilme was announced dead on July 7, 2005, the same day that US CIA asset and the real killer and Haitian bandit, Guy Phillipe, announced his candidacy for President of Haiti. Guy Phillipe is a terrorists to the majority of Haitians thus, naturally he's a "freedom fighter" for Roger Noreiga, James Foley, Haiti Democracy Project, NED, IRI and their Group 184 lackeys.

Drèd Wilme represent(ed) Haiti's manhood, its courage and commitment to liberty. He stood, as a lone fighter, a father to the Haitians in Site Soleil without defenders against the most powerfully armed nations on earth. Wilme lasted without resources for more than 16months evading the biggest manhunt in the Western Hemisphere led against Haitian self-determination by the alien and foreign occupying forces. But because Dred Wilme could not, like Guy Phillipe be bought off by a U.S. dollar, he was a terrorist for the aims of U.S. Ambassador Foley and right wing Cuban-American hater of indigenous self-rule, Roger Noreiga. Haitians throughout Haiti and the Diaspora embrace Wilme as they do Kapwa Lamò and Charlemagne Peralte. None of those calling Drèd Wilme "bandit" have ever shown he traveled outside his community to
attack either the foreigner who came to kill him in his own home, nor the morally repugnant Haitian bourgeoisie who paid assassins to destroy his community, his nation. In contrast to the bi-centennial Coup D'etat traitors, Drèd Wilme is known to the people in his community as a defender of the defenseless and poor. Again, we say, as we did last April, Wilme covered himself in glory because he added value in his own community, and if, in fact, he lives no more, he joins the line going back to that first Neg and Negès Ginen who can only - depi lan Guinen - live free or die. That unborn
spirit, that Haitian soul, cannot die. It's rising.

Ezili Danto
Li led li la
July 8, 2005
Haiti Action Committee
July 10, 2005

Haiti Action Committee condemns UN massacre in Haiti, demands an end to the killing

The Haiti Action Committee today condemned a July 6 massacre of
Haitian civilians in Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince carried out by UN

Dave Welsh, a delegate with the San Francisco Labor Council who was
in Haiti as part of a labor/human rights delegation, said, "This
full-blown military attack on a densely-populated neighborhood, which
multiple sources confirm killed at least 23 people, is a crime."
Published estimates indicate that upwards of 50 may have been killed
and an indeterminate number wounded, and that more than 300 heavily
armed UN troops took part in the assault on the neighborhood.
The attack took place in Cite Soleil, an extremely poor area that is
staunchly supportive of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Aristide was forced from office by the U.S. embassy in collusion with
U.S.-backed paramilitaries on February 29, 2004 and is now in exile
in South Africa.

Seth Donnelly, a California teacher with the same delegation, visited
the scene of the massacre and spoke to traumatized survivors of the
attack. "This operation started early Wednesday morning at 3am, with
Jordanian and other troops on foot and in tanks and helicopters with
machine gun turrets. It was a full-scale attack. Survivors told us
that when they saw UN troops they felt that, unlike Haitian police,
they would not fire on civilians, but that the 'peacekeepers' soon
began shooting into houses and at civilians. "

The Labor/Human Rights Delegation from the United States, sponsored
by the San Francisco Labor Council, had been in Haiti since late June
to attend the Congress of the Confederation of Haitian Workers (CTH),
the country's largest labor organization, and met with hundreds of
Haitian workers, farmers and professionals, interviewing scores of
them about the current labor and human rights crisis in Haiti.
Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee noted, "MINUSTAH [The
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] apologized to the
Haitian police for its delayed arrival on the scene of an incident
where two Haitian police officers were killed on May 22, but it has
never once apologized for any of the many documented instances where
UN troops killed Haitian civilians. This latest attack, in which
people in their homes and on the way to work were killed for no
reason, is beyond the pale. Such atrocities must not be accepted by
the international community. Those responsible for these killings of
civilians must be brought to trial."

Labossiere concluded that the U.S.Embassy should immediately refrain
from more statements which provide a "green light" for slaughter of
civilians. "By recently calling grassroots activists 'gang members'
and 'terrorists', U.S. Ambassador James Foley sent a signal that it's
open season on civilians. This is especially Orwellian, since the
real terrorists in Haiti are the UN troops, the Haitian police and
the paramilitaries who are killing civilians. Under its most recent
mandate, the UN has supervision of the Haitian police. But instead of
stopping the killing of civilians, the UN is stepping up the
slaughter," said Labossiere.

Cite Soleil Community Turns Out En Masse For Funeral of Dread Wilme

Credible Estimates of Civilian Casualties during July 6th UN Military Operation in Cite Soleil Continue to Mount

US Labor and Human Rights Delegation
July 9th, Port-au-Prince

For further information, contact Delegation Member Seth Donnelly: 650-814-8495
Hundreds of people of all ages turned out for the funeral of Dread Wilme, a leader of the Cite Soleil community in Port-au-Prince. Wilme was reportedly killed in a UN military operation in Cite Soleil during the early morning hours of Wednesday, July 6th. The funeral ceremony was held in the street and involved speeches by community activists, music, dancing, and carrying a coffin to the people. White banners were draped up and down one of the main streets in the community. Media, mostly Haitian, were present.

Speakers expressed respect for Wilme as someone who embodied the hopes of the community, someone who attempted to stand up for and protect his community. They vowed to continue the struggle for the rights of the poor in Haiti to healthcare, education, and democracy. In this spirit, they also vowed to fight for the return of President Aristide. One young female speaker stirred the crowd with her words affirming the dignity of the people of Cite Soleil and their rights to be treated as human beings.

Another speaker addressed the issue of kidnappings in Haiti, claiming that they were being used by the coup regime to scapegoat poor communities like Cite Soleil. Armed young men seemed to provide security for the ceremony.

At least twice during the service, people began to urgently run away, turning into a collective stampede, when rumors circulated that MINUSTAH forces were coming. MINUSTAH APCs (tanks) were stationed at several checkpoints in the neighborhood. People appeared to be terrified of MINUSTAH forces.

One older, Haitian-American woman who recently moved to Cite Soleil one month ago to practice her ministry gave an interview to a US human rights delegation and Haitian journalists, stating that the youth of Cite Soleil are not animals or "chimeres", but intelligent human beings who are struggling to deal with the most harsh oppression.

She described Dread Wilme as someone who worked on behalf of these youth, providing them with education and food when the larger society was willing to throw them away.
Credible Estimates of Casualties During the July 6th UN Military Operation in Cite Soleil

Continue to Mount

In contrast to the claim made by the UN high military command in Haiti that they were unaware of any civilian casualties from Cite Soleil during the July 6th operation, the staff at the Medecines Sans Frontieres Hospital in Port-au-Prince reported that they received a wave of wounded civilians from Cite Soleil on July 6th. This is one of the few, if not the only hospitals in Port-au-Prince where people can from Cite Soleil can go because it provides free health care.

Ali Besnaci, "Chef de Mission" of the Medecins Sans Frontieres program and hospital staff member Olivia Gayraud met with a US and Haitian human rights team on July 9th, sharing the hospital registry records with the team. The records indicate that on July 6th, starting at approximately 11 AM, the hospital received a total of 26 wounded people from Cite Soleil who were transported to the facility by Red Cross "tap taps" (local trucks). Of these 26, 20 were women and children and 6 were men. Half of the total number were seriously wounded by abdominal gun shot wounds and were routed into major surgery. One pregnant woman lost her baby. Other victims seem to be in recovery, according to the hospital staff. All reported that they had been wounded by UN military forces during the operation and some spoke of their homes being destroyed.

This number of 26 stands in contrast to the hospital's records of Cite Soleil residents admitted on other days when the figures are much lower, such as 2 people on July 7th and none on July 8th. One Haitian human rights worker present during the meeting with the hospital staff speculated that the number of men from Cite Soleil who were admitted to the hospital was low because many men would fear being arrested by the authorities while in the hospital.

Meanwhile, one Haitian journalist who was an eyewitness to the damages in Cite Soleil on the morning of July 26th claims that he personally saw 20 bodies, and that 5 additional victims were buried by their families, and that 5 families were searching for loved ones who have been missing since the morning of July 6th. Additionally, a Reuters reporter covering Dread Wilme's funeral told a human rights team that he had personally seen and taken pictures of 7 bodies when he entered Cite Soleil at some point after the operation. Moreover, he took video footage of gun shots through roofs in the community, indicating that perhaps there had been helicopter fire from UN forces, as many community members allege. The US human rights team also saw what appeared to be many gun shot holes through the roof of a community school and an adjacent building.

Another estimate on the death toll from one community member who spoke during the funeral ceremony ranges as high as 80 community members killed.




Solidarity Day Pictures & Articles
May 18, 2005
Pictures and Articles Witness Project
Click photo for larger image
Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme - on "Wanted poster" of suspects wanted by the Haitian police.
"Dread" Wilme reported killed July 6, 2005

Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme speaks:
Radio Lakou New York, April 4, 2005 interview with Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme
Urgent Action
Alert- Demand a Stop to Killings
in Cite Soleil:

Background Info,
Sample letters and Contact information provided, April 21, 2005

Crucifiction of
Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme,
a historical

Charlemagne Peralte - The old Bandit King of Haiti
* In 1919 the US murdered him and put the body on public display

Urge the Caribbean Community to stand firm in not recognizing the illegal Latortue regime:

Selected CARICOM Contacts
zilibutton Slide 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
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