Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Petitioners in Haiti Blame U.S., Others, for Aristide’s Demise

AP WorldstreamFour human rights groups filed a petition on Thursday blaming the United States, the Dominican Republic and Haitian allies for the demise of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s elected government two years ago.

The petition was filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an arm of the 34-nation Organization of American States.

The Bush administration helped Aristide flee the country for exile in Africa on Feb. 29, 2004, contending that only his departure would avert a major escalation of politically-motivated violence. It insisted that Aristide left the country voluntarily.

The petition said the United States collaborated with the Dominican Republic and Haitian accomplices in the overthrow of the Aristide government, and its replacement by a government that it said had no legal basis.

Presidential elections will be held next Tuesday to replace the interim government. Assisting in the process will be some 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers.

Filing the petition were the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, TransAfrica Forum, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, and the Haiti-based Bureau des Avocats Internationaux. Five Haitian citizens signed the petition as well.

Jan Edmonson, spokesman for the State Department’s Latin America bureau, said there was no truth to the allegations that Aristide was forced out.

“Former President Aristide voluntarily resigned and sought U.S. assistance to depart Haiti _ he asked for safe transport out of Haiti. We provided the help that he sought from us, and subsequent allegations are pure fabrications,” Edmonson said.

James J. Silk, director of the Lowenstein group, said the petition “seeks to break new ground in establishing that international law protects citizens’ democratic choice of government, not only from the violence of domestic opposition, but also from the intervention of powerful states.”

The petition alleged that that the Bush administration destabilized the Aristide government by conspiring to cut off all assistance and to prevent the Haitian police to arm themselves.

It added that the Dominican Republic helped to destabilize the Aristide government by allowing rebels to train in that country and to launch strikes against targets inside Haiti.

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