May 18 is Flag Day in Haiti, which celebrates 215 years of Haitian leadership in the fight for global freedom and democracy. In fact, Haitians invented the concept of Universal Human Rights: unlike the United States, which proclaimed that “all men are created equal” in 1776 without meaning “all”, and France who asserted “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” for some people in 1789, the Haitians in 1803 extended freedom and rights to everyone. At the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), we are honored to fight alongside our Haitian partners to advance the promise of universal rights in Haiti and abroad.Together with our Haitian partner, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), IJDH continues to insist that everyone is obligated to respect Haitians’ rights, including the United Nations, which must take responsibility for its deadly cholera epidemic that has taken 10,000 Haitian lives, and the United States, which must stop discriminating against Haitians in the U.S. on racial grounds.
We are proud to support the brave Haitian men and women who continue to hold high the flag of freedom through their resistance against undemocratic governments, social injustice, and against sexual abuses in Haiti. We salute the courage of grassroots leaders in Haiti who remain committed to a just, democratic and prosperous Haiti.
Sometimes the fight to fulfill the promise of the Congress of Arcahaie seems too hard, that there are too many obstacles ahead of us. It is true that we face obstacles, and everyone knows that deyè mòn gen mòn ––– behind mountains there are more mountains. But our obstacles are nothing compared with the obstacles faced by Dessalines, Christophe, Clérvaux, Pétion, and Catherine Flon in 1803. They were facing the world’s strongest army, fighting for freedom in a world dominated by slaveholders. But they came together, and they won. Inite fè la fòs ––– In unity there is strength.
We will celebrate today, but will also look forward to next year, when we can celebrate the 216th anniversary of Haiti’s flag, but also safety for 50,000 Haitian beneficiaries of TPS, and the UN keeping its promise to the victims of cholera.
Happy Flag Day to all Haitians around the world!
Bòn Drapo ak tout Ayisyen atravè lemond!
Avèk anpil respè,
Executive Director, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti