Update: Good news first: there are now 64 co-sponsors to the Haiti Debt Relief Resolution, H.R. 888 in the U.S. House of Representatives. We only need 16 more to reach our target of 80, which should allow it to get to a vote before the House. Time is running out on this legislative session, so please call this week to urge your Representative to sign on to H.R. 888 (for more information, see last week�s Half-Hour for Haiti alert at www.ijdh.org).
The bad news is that Esterne Bruner, coordinator of the Grand Ravine Community Human Rights Council (CHRC-GR), was assassinated Thursday morning, September 21, after he returned from a meeting to organize for justice for the 22 people killed in an attack in Grande Ravine last July 7. Mr. Bruner, age 36, was the father of six children, and a committed social justice advocate who insisted on working through the justice system to address the violence that plagued his community.
Grande Ravine has suffered from repeated murderous attacks since the August 20, 2005 �Soccer Massacre� by paramilitaries and police. We issued action alerts for Grande Ravine on �March 14, 2006 (release of police suspects), November 15, 2006 (illegal arrest of one of Mr. Bruner�s colleagues by UN troops), and August 21 and 23, 2006. Unfortunately, the people of Grande Ravine need us to stand up for them once again. This time the alert comes from the Bay Area Haiti Action Committee (www.haitiaction.net). The Haitian human rights group AUMODH, which provides legal and other support to the Grande Ravine victims, has more information and action at http://www.hurah.revolt.org/.
This week�s action:
Haiti Action Committee Calls For Justice In Grande Ravine
Esterne Bruner, coordinator of the Grand Ravine Community Human Rights Council (CHRC-GR), was assassinated Thursday morning, September 21, after he returned from a meeting to organize for justice for the 22 people killed in an attack in the Grande Ravine neighborhood last July 7. Mr. Bruner was the father of six children, and a committed social justice advocate who insisted on working through the justice system to address the violence that plagued his community.
CHRC-GR was initially formed in response to the August 2005 �Soccer Massacre� in Grande Ravine. In both the August 2005 and July 2006 attacks, the Lame Ti Manchet (Little Machete Army), a paramilitary organization that opposed Haiti�s Lavalas political movement, hacked or shot unarmed civilians to death, and burned their houses. Members of the Haitian National Police also participated in the Soccer Massacre, which was recorded by film crews.
Not a single member of the Lame Ti Manchet has been arrested, by Haiti�s unconstitutional Interim Government (2004-2006), by the democratic Preval government that took office in June 2006, or by MINUSTAH, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH did illegally arrest one of Bruner�s colleagues in November 2005). A police investigation documented the involvement of twenty police officers in the Soccer Massacre, and eight were arrested. But all were freed in March 2006.
The Lame Ti Manchet will not stop killing in Grande Ravine until the Haitian government and MINUSTAH stop it.
Write to Jacques Edouard Alexis, Haiti�s Prime Minister, and the head of Haiti�s police oversight authority, the CSPN, urge him to take immediate steps to protect the citizens of Grande Ravine and prosecute Lame Ti Manchet members and police officers responsible for the killings. A sample letter is below, it can be sent by regular mail to Prime Minister Alexis or to the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Haiti by fax: (206) 350-7986 (a U.S. number) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, sign the Petition calling for justice in Grande Ravine by AUMOHD, an organization that works closely with CHRC-GR and other victims of violence in Grande Ravine, or see www.HURAH..revolt.org/ for more information on AUMOHD�s efforts.
The Honorable Jacques Edouard Alexis
Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti
Bourdon, Port-au-Prince, Ha�ti
Dear Prime Minister Alexis:
I am writing to express my deep concern over the continuing violence in Grande Ravine, which most recently manifested itself in the assassination of Esterne Bruner, coordinator of the Grand Ravine Community Human Rights Council (CHRC-GR), on September 21. I am especially concerned that this violence has continued despite the installation of your constitutional government.
As you know, the Lame Ti Manchet has conducted repeated attacks against civilians in Grande Ravine, including the August 20, 2005 massacre at a football game, and under your government, an attack on July 7 of this year. As far as I know, not a single Lame Ti Manchet member has been arrested or prosecuted; the seven police officers arrested last year have been released.
This violence will continue unless your government stops it. You have a moral obligation as Prime Minister to do everything you can to stop the killings; you have a legal obligation, as the President of the CSPN, to stop massacres that are foreseeable, but also to ensure that killings that do occur are promptly investigated and the perpetrators punished.
Accordingly, I urge you to ensure that the National Police and the MINUSTAH mission immediately provide protection to the citizens of Grande Ravine, that prosecutors and police zealously pursue members of Lame Ti Manchet and police officers involved in the violence, and that your government compensates the victims for their losses.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
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. To receive Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alerts once per �week, send an email to HalfHour4Haiti@ijdh.org. Tax-deductible contributions to support IJDH�s work can be made on the website, or sent to IJDH, PO Box 745, Joseph, OR 97846. For more information about the Haiti Action Committee, see www.haitiaction.net.