August 2, 2005
Thanks to everyone who wrote on behalf of Fr. Jean-Juste the last two weeks. He is still in prison, but the letters and phone calls from activists, bishops, professors, lawyers, doctors, students and many others are a strong foundation that we will build on until Fr. Jean-Juste is freed. Another case that many people have responded to is former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune. He is still in prison, but upon the advice of his medical advisors he terminated his hunger strike, and is recovering. We have received conflicting information about his legal status, and will send an update when we know for sure.
This week’s action is to sign the International Declaration of Support for the Haitian People, issued by the Haiti Action Committee and other concerned activists. The Declaration is a good opportunity to reflect on the larger issues underlying the political prisoners and innocent civilians killed by peacekeepers- these individual violations are part of a larger effort to undermine Haitian sovereignty. That effort also included the illegal removal of Haiti’s government, the silencing of critics, and now, an effort hold elections under sufficient repression to ensure that the majority of the population will not or cannot effectively participate.
This week’s action is also easy: to sign the petition, or to obtain a French or Portuguese translation, simply send an email to email@example.com.
We are Haitians living in exile, international human rights groups, Haiti advocacy groups, elected officials and individuals from the international community, who wish to declare our solidarity with the people of Haiti and to demand that Haiti’s sovereignty be respected. From February 29, 2004 to this day, we have witnessed, documented and reported on the forced removal of the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide, by the United States, French and Canadian governments; the dismantling of the constitutional government, which included the illegal removal of approximately 7,000 government officials; the creation of a subsequently lawless environment in which there is clearly a total disregard for the constitution and judicial system; and systematic human rights violations and crimes against thousands of members of the Lavalas Party and citizens from the poorest areas, which have traditionally supported the popular democratic movement of Haiti.
Between the state sponsored violence against the poorest citizens, the exclusion of the Lavalas Party which represents the majority of the citizenry, and the need to register 4.5 million people to vote, we feel that moving forward with imposed elections is absolutely not a just, credible plan or in the best interests of the Haitian people or the sovereignty of the country.
Based on the conditions described below, we condemn any attempt by the international community, the de facto government of Haiti, or the elite Haitian business community to coerce the Haitian people into holding elections, which are currently scheduled for October and November of this year.
In the past fifteen months, we have gathered and received documentation of:
Summary executions and disappearances of thousands of people who are either members of the Lavalas Party and/or citizens from the poorest areas, which have traditionally supported the popular movement
The living in hiding of thousands of people who are either members of the Lavalas Party and/or citizens from the poorest areas, which have traditionally supported the popular movement.
Mass illegal arrests of hundreds of people, who are members of the Lavalas Party, citizens from the poorest areas which have traditionally supported the popular movement and street children who have been imprisoned for weeks and months without charge or due process
Persecution of Lavalas party leadership, including several high ranking members of the Lavalas Party or well known activists such as� Prime Minister Neptune, Interior Minister Privert, Annette Auguste and Father Jean Juste.
Politically motivated rapes of over 100 women, girls, and boys who are either family members of the Lavalas Party and/or children from the poorest areas, which have traditionally supported the popular movement.
State sponsored terror of hundreds of people in the poorest neighborhoods, most recently Cite Soleil and Bel Air in which citizens including children have been attacked and murdered by HNP and MINUSTAH. Eye-witness testimonies received claim that similar operations in the months after the coup d’etat were carried-out by US Marines and the HNP. In the current attacks, unidentified English-speaking, white men in black ski masks have been identified by many local citizens.
Violations of right to free speech and assembly by state sponsored terror, in which the HNP has been given free reign to kill several unarmed, peaceful demonstrators, including young men, as they were exercising their democratic rights of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
The torture of thousands of people, especially members of the Lavalas Party, young men and boys from the poorest neighborhoods of Cite Soleil, Bel Air, La Saline, etc who have been and continue to be systematically profiled, terrorized and often tortured.
Persecution and violence against journalists from several countries who were trying to report on demonstrations for the return of President Aristide. Several have been murdered and threatened with arrest and/or murder.
In the past fifteen months, human rights organizations have recorded countless allegations and credible documentation of these crimes against members of the Lavalas Party and citizens from the poorest areas, being carried out to varying degrees by the Haitian National Police, the former military, many of whom patrol the streets while being given authority to act as law enforcement officials, United States Marines and MINUSTAH.
Some sources of the many credible reports include:
Harvard University, Keeping the Peace in Haiti?: An Assessment of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti,www.law.harvard.edu/programs/hrp/CAP/current/americas/haiti.html
University of Miami School of Law, Haiti Human Rights Investigationwww.law.miami.edu/news/368.html
Haiti Information Project, Crushing President Aristide�s Party Through Violence,
Loyola University New Orleans Law School,�Haiti Human Rights Report ,
Amnesty International, Haiti: health concern/legal concern, Yvon Neptune�;- Haiti: National Police must be held accountable for killing of civilians�; Haiti: Fear for safety/excessive use of force�; Haiti:Fear for safety/unlawful killing�; Amnesty International calls on the transitional government to set up an independent commission of inquiry into summary executions attributed to members of the Haitian National Police.
Our coalition feels strongly that under these oppressive, genocidal conditions, resembling a dictatorship not a democracy, it is impossible to move toward elections. We insist that rather than the United States Congress and the United Nations initiate the sending of more arms and troops to Haiti against the peoples will and good judgment, that these inhumane, unconstitutional conditions are brought to a halt.
As an international coalition we support and insist that:
The gross human rights abuses stop immediately, including the daily attacks orchestrated by the HNP, MINUSTAH and the unidentified militia in the neighborhoods of Cite Soleil and Bel Air, the illegal arrests, rapes, tortures and persecution of the poor. Impartial, international human rights observers must be sent to Haiti immediately.
The governments of the United States, Canada and France, remove themselves from the political affairs of Haiti, respect Haiti’s sovereignty and resist any further attempts to try to colonize the country or to use Haiti as part of the globalization movement.
All current and former political prisoners including Prime Minister Neptune, Interior Minister Privert, Annette Auguste and Father Jean Juste, receive protection and are released immediately.
The reinstatement of the constitutional government including the return of President Aristide.
As an international coalition representing hundreds of thousands of people from around the world, we expect that our concerns for the sovereignty of Haiti and the well being of the Haitian people will be taken very seriously. This is a situation of extreme political and economic oppression, violating all national and international laws of decency and human rights doctrines, not unlike a genocidal state. We will continue to monitor and record the illegal activities and human rights abuses in Haiti, and report them to various heads of state, as well as the Haitian and international press. We will also continue to confront and expose the imperialist policies of the United States, Canadian and French governments that have and continue to threaten the very lives of the vast majority of the Haitian people.
For more information about the Haiti Action Committee, see www.haitiaction.net. For moreinformation about the Half-Hour For Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti or human rights in Haiti, see www.ijdh.org.