IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 6, 2012
Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, (in Haiti), firstname.lastname@example.org, +509-3701-9879 (French, Creole, English)
Maria-Elena Kolovos, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (in Haiti), email@example.com, +509-4688-9968 (English)
Women’s Rights Groups and Cholera Victims Unite in Shared Struggle against UN Impunity in Haiti
On International Women’s Day 2012, human rights groups condemn MINUSTAH cholera and sexual violence
Monday, March 5, 2012, Port-au-Prince –To commemorate International Women’s Day 2012, on March 8, human rights groups will join cholera victims in a peaceful demonstration under the banner “Men and Women Together Demand Justice and Reparations for Victims of MINUSTAH Cholera and Rape.” With support from the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) Women’s Network, the Collective for Reparations for Cholera Victims, the Movement for Liberty and Equality of Haitians for Brotherhood (MOLEGHAF), and Batay Ouvriye, demonstrators will peacefully protest against the cholera and sexual violence that the UN and its peacekeeping mission, MINUSTAH, have inflicted on Haitians. The demonstration will begin in front of Fort National at 10AM EST.
“Despite its ‘protection’ mandate, the UN’s militarization of Haiti has harmed women. MINUSTAH soldiers themselves have been guilty of sexual violence and the deadly cholera the UN brought to Haiti has destroyed families. Women, often the heads of their households, have been most vulnerable to these harms. They continue to suffer while the UN’s wrongs go unpunished,” added Rose Getchine Lima, the BAI Women’s Network Coordinator.
International Women’s Day honors women’s struggle and achievements for gender equality and justice. The demonstrators note that MINUSTAH’s operations in Haiti have ill-served this struggle.
Discontent is rising as the UN denies justice to the Haitians victimized by the UN mission. Since the mission’s arrival in 2004, independent reports and the UN itself have documented a myriad of MINUSTAH human rights abuse. These abuses include sexual exploitation of Haitian women and youth, in the form of gang rape in some instances. In 2010, MINUSTAH troops imported a virulent foreign-strain of cholera into Haiti’s largest river system through negligent waste disposal practices. Currently the worst in the world, the cholera epidemic in Haiti has killed to date over 7,000 Haitians and sickened over 500,000.
“The United Nations says it acts to ‘advance the status of women.’ Yet it won’t hold its personnel accountable for raping Haitian women, girls, and boys, or take responsibility for the cholera epidemic that has killed over 7,000 Haitians. The UN needs to act or the rapes and the cholera deaths will continue to decimate Haiti’s people,” said Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI). The BAI represents over 5,000 victims of cholera who filed claims with the UN demanding that the UN invest in comprehensive water and sanitation infrastructure, compensate the individual victims, and issue a public apology.