November 15, 2005
Half-Hour for Haiti: Protest Illegal Arrest By UN Police
Sorry we missed the alert last Tuesday- we are in the midst of 5 weeks of busy travel.
This week is one of the busiest ever for Haiti solidarity. Please participate if you can:
- in Canada, the Canada Haiti Action Network’s Pan-Canadian Week of Action is November 12-20, 2005;
- in Boston, the second session of the International Tribunal on Haiti will take place on November 19, at Suffolk University Law School;
- in New York the film “ Aristide the Endless Revolution” will play November 17-23, nightly, at the Two Boots Theater in Manhattan. There will be question and answer period after each showing, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! And Brian Concannon of IJDH will speak on Monday, November 21;
- in Georgia, the School of the AmericasWatch will hold their annual vigil at Fort Benning from Friday through Sunday (11/18-29). Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) will address the main event on Saturday, and BAI and IJDH will hold a workshop on Friday at 12; and
- in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Vanguard Foundation will have a Benefit for the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund on November 19 in Berkeley featuring Bolivar Ramilus, Haitian peasant leader and former member of Parliament , target of many death threats since the 2004 coup, and Pierre Labossiere, founder of the Haiti Action Committee.
Our August 23 alert asked you to urge the UN to investigate the August 20 Grande Ravine Soccer Game Massacre . Pressure from us and others has had an effect: the UN is investigating and the Haitian police have arrested 12 officers suspected of involvement in the killings. But the members of the “Little Machete Army” death squad that hacked many Grande Ravine soccer fans to death still circulate freely, and intimidate the survivors and their families. Even worse, a police patrol from MINUSTAH, the UN mission in Haiti, illegally arrested a community leader who was bringing a victim to the hospital, under the escort of MINUSTAH soldiers from another unit.
Jean Louis Carlson, known as “Sason,” is a leader of the Grande Ravine Victims’ Association (“AVGRA”). Although threats from the Little Machete Army forced him underground, he came out of hiding in order to accompany victims to the hospital for treatment. Soldiers from the Sri Lankan contingent of MINUSTAH agreed to accompany the victims to protect them against their attackers.
On Saturday, November 12, Mr. Carlson was accompanying a victim to the hospital, escorted by Sri Lankan soldiers, pursuant to the agreement. A patrol of police officers from the Chinese MINUSTAH contingent intercepted the group, and arrested Mr. Carlson. The arrest violated Haiti’s Constitution, because there was no warrant or other legal justification. Reportedly, the Sri Lankan commander objected to the illegal arrest, but the Chinese troops brought Carlson into custody anyway.
The MINUSTAH police handed Mr. Carlson over to the Haitian National Police, the very body that led the bloody soccer massacre against his neighbors.
ACTION : (adapted from an alert by Human Rights Accompaniment In Haiti, http://www.hurah.revolt.org) Write to Mr. Juan Gabriel Valdés , the head of MINUSTAH and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Haiti. Deplore the illegal arrest of Mr. Carlson and insist that the UN police and soldiers respect the liberties guaranteed by Haiti’s constitution and cease harassing the victims of the Grande Ravine massacre. A sample letter is below. Mr. Valdés speaks English, French and Spanish. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org, his fax number is (dial 011 first from the US for an international line) 509 244 3512.
Mr. Juan Gabriel Valdés
Special Representative of the Secretary-General
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
387, avenue John Brown
Dear Mr. Valdés :
I am writing to protest the illegal arrest of Jean Louis Carlson, a leader of the Grande Ravine Victims’ Association (“AVGRA”) on November 12, 2005 by police officers from MINUSTAH’s Chinese contingent. I am informed that the arrest was made without a warrant, which violates article 24.2 of Haiti’s Constitution.
Mr. Carlson’s arrest also violates MINUSTAH’s agreement to protect AVGRA members and other victims of the August 20 Grande Ravine Soccer Massacre. Soldiers from the Sri Lankan contingent were accompanying Mr. Carlson at the time of arrest, because he was bringing victims to the hospital for treatment. The commander of the Sri Lankan contingent reportedly protested the arrest. But nevertheless Mr. Carlson was arrested and turned over to the Haitian National Police, the very body that perpetrated the Grande Ravine massacre.
By making the illegal arrest, MINUSTAH is legally and morally responsible for Mr. Carlson’s safety. I therefore urge you to take every measure to ensure that Mr. Carlson is immediately released from all custody. I also urge you to issue a clear directive to all MINUSTAH personnel to cease making illegal warrantless arrests.
For more information about the Half-Hour For Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti or human rights in Haiti, see www.ijdh.org.For more information about Jean-Louis Carlson’s arrest and the Human Rights Accompaniment in Haiti project, see http://www.hurah.revolt.org.