Haiti Report for May 23, 2004
Prepared by Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center

The Haiti Report is a compilation and summary of events as described in Haitian and international media. It does not reflect the opinions of Haiti Reborn. This service is intended to give a better understanding of the situation in Haiti by presenting the reader with reports that provide a variety of perspectives on the situation.

At the end of this report, please find ****ACTION ALERT: Halt Deportations!****

- Possible Famine in Haiti
- Army and Rebels
- But the MIF SaysÖ
- Canada and Haiti
- CARICOM Takes its call for Investigation to the OAS
- Interim Prime Minister Latortue in US
- Papal Nuncio Calls for Debt Cancellation
- South Africa Grants Aristide Temporary Asylum
- U.S. Aid to Haiti
- Haiti ‚ France Relations
- International Institutions' Aid to Haiti
- UN Peacekeeping Mission
- Justice and Peace on Disarmament
- Evans Paul May Run for President
- Provisional Electoral Council
- General Hospital has no Electricity
- Violence Against and Arrests of Lavalas
- Demonstration Turns Violent on Flag Day
- Radio and Tele TiMoun Closed
- Army Joining the PNH
- Interim Government to Investigate 9 Allegations Against Aristide Government
- Refugees and Temporary Protective Status
- ****ACTION ALERT: Halt Deportations!****

Possible Famine in Haiti:
Haiti is on the brink of famine with farmers reduced to eating reserves of seed they should be planting, a German aid agency warned. "It's feared the food situation in rural regions will get worse still," the Protestant Church-linked agency Diakonische Katastrophenhilfe said, citing its Latin America Chief Michael Jordan after a visit to Haiti. He said farmers were eating seed because they had no other food, but it was putting the main sowing season in danger which would then reduce any harvest. "We're worried about a famine," he said. According to the organization, more than half of Haiti's 8.5 million people were already dependent on food aid even before former president Aristide went into exile. Jordan said that even now, international aid was only getting to the towns but not the countryside, where people were left to fend for themselves. (News 24, 5/6)

Army and Rebels:
There are indications that across the country, the armed irregular forces are maintaining their grip on de facto power: On 23 April, in Gonaïves, armed men drove police from their headquarters in a dispute over a government-owned car confiscated by police. French troops had to intervene to regain control of the police station. The rebels beat up two policemen, freed a detainee, and took a revolver, according to police spokesman Jean Yonel Trecile. On 25 April, in Hinche, according to foreign military sources, men believed to be under ex-soldier Joseph Jean-Baptiste's command set fire to two police stations. Over the weekend of 1 and 2 May, several people were wounded during violent incidents in the locality of Ka Pól, a communal section of St-Michel de L'Attalaye. Those responsible for the violence, including the setting on fire of around 50 homes and the theft of people's belonging, identified themselves as supporters of the former opposition and rebels. The violence followed the 29 April murder of at least four people and the wounding of others by men with machetes, accompanied by a dozen ex-soldiers. The attacks came after the local people refused to agree to the former rebels' installation of an ex-section chief as a replacement for the local council, the Conseil d'Administration des Section Communale (CASEC).

On 3 May, Guy Delva, head of the Haitian Journalists' Association, denounced the fact that many journalists working in the provinces, particularly in the Central Plateau, were obliged to go into hiding after being threatened with arrest or receiving death threats issued by supporters of the former opposition and the ex-rebels. In Mirebalais, former solders have threatened those whom they accuse of "betraying their movement". Also on 3 May, in Cap-HaÔtien, former rebels and members of the former opposition used guns to force the staff out of the premises of the AutoritÈ Portuaire Nationale (National Port Authority). The attack, which caused panic in the city, was part of the armed former opposition's campaign to install their own appointees to public administration posts. The ex-rebels expressed their opposition to certain nominations selected by the interim government, and threatened to paralyse the public administration in the city if there choices were not permitted. On 7 May, a group of armed men attempted to expel the new appointee at the departmental education office but were stopped by foreign troops. On 6 May in the town of Hinche, the armed irregular forces under the command of former sergeant Joseph Jean-Baptiste announced they would resume their armed patrols in uniform to demonstrate their discontent with the way they were being treated by the government. After negotiations with Chilean troops, Joseph Jean-Baptiste apparently promised not to go through with his threat, and to instead collaborate with the foreign troops and Haitian police.

On 7 May, in St. Marc, the armed former opposition group, RAMICOSM, was accused of repressing the local people. A local resident told Signal FM that it was behaving just like the pro-Lavalas organisation, Bale Wouze, and said its members had been involved in a string of thefts, rapes and kidnapping as a response to being overlooked for appointments to local authority offices. (Haiti Support Group, 5/10)

Haitian rebel turned opposition leader Buteur Metayer on May 18 lashed out at the French troops which form the largest contingent in the MIF deployed in the country. "Down with the French occupation, down with France, the whites must leave. Down with the French whites," Metayer called out to a crowd of 1200 people in this northwestern town. The crowd did not pick up his chant of "Down with France." Metayer spoke at a ceremony marking the transformation of former rebels into a political party, the National Reconstruction Front. (Agence France de Presse, 5/19) Former rebels of Haiti's National Resistance Front (FRN) which played a major role in ousting president Jean Bertrand Aristide seek to conquer the ballot box with the formation of their new political party. The National Reconstruction Front (FRN), founded Tuesday, will present candidates in Haiti's 2005 general election. Former rebel leader Guy Philippe, 36, Winter Etienne, 40, and Buteur Metayer, 32, will hold, respectively, roles in the party of secretary general, general coordinator and president. (Agence France de Presse, 5/20)

But the MIF SaysÖ
With the return of stability in Haiti, military civil affairs specialists are working to improve the lives of Haitians throughout the country. The civil affairs mission has changed since the multinational interim force (MIF) moved into the troubled Caribbean island nation at the beginning of March. "When we first arrived, our job was to minimize civilian interference in military operations," said Marine Lt. Col. Ernest Garcia, the civil affairs chief for Combined Joint Task Force Haiti. But now the security environment is changed. In addition to the soldiers of the MIF, the PNH are back on the job. The force has secured not only the capital and its environs, but also the north and central plateau of the country. "With this more secure environment, we're able to branch out more," Garcia said. They are working with Food for the Poor, Catholic Relief Services and the World Health Organization, among others. "Early on, they would come to us to receive escorts for food convoys," said Army Maj. Terence Ray. "They also would come to us with security concerns, and we worked with them to get humanitarian supplies out." Now the security environment is such that convoys move freely, Ray said. (American Forces Press Service, 5/19)

Canada and Haiti:
Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada Bill Graham urged Haiti's interim government to work toward reconciliation yesterday so that the country can proceed to general elections. Once the election is held, Haiti could establish a South-African-style reconciliation commission to deal with past injustices. "This is a transitional government. It has to both be inclusive, but also recognize that there may be those guilty of offenses under the previous government who ultimately will have to be brought to justice," Graham said. Graham acknowledged that "the previous government in Haiti was not exactly blameless in respect of many activities. We know that the previous government distributed arms to all sorts of people." Graham made it clear that while Ottawa is committed to continuing to help Haiti rebuild, Canadians do not want their financial contributions squandered. The Canadian International Development Agency would be providing $2 million to support health, education, human rights, and efforts to stop violence against women. (The Globe and Mail, 5/8)

"Canada is pushing the World Bank to have Haiti designated as a post-conflict country, because if Haiti gets that designation then that will trigger at the World Bank a whole different approach, said International Development Minister Aileen Carroll. Such a designation would make Haiti eligible for post-conflict financing from the World Bank and the IMF. These are fast disbursing loans with conditions that are less rigid than for more formal lending programs. (Reuters. 5/13)

CARICOM Takes its Call for Investigation to the OAS:
Caribbean nations have asked the Organization of American States (OAS) to investigate the ouster of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Trinidad's foreign minister said. The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) had initially called for a UN investigation. Opposition from France and the US at the UN Security Council makes it unlikely an investigation would originate there. (AP, 5/6) The CARICOM's determination to find out the truth about the circumstances surrounding the sudden departure from office of Haitian President Aristide on 2/29, has reached the Permanent Council of the OAS. A fierce debate is expected for 5/21 for CARICOM's request for a Special Session of the OAS Permanent Council to address the Haitian crisis with the specific intention of invoking Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter on constitutional governance and the democratic order. Article 20 states: "In the event of an unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state, an member state or the OAS Secretary General may request the immediate convocation of the Permanent Council to undertake a collective assessment of the situation and to take such decisions as it deems appropriateÖ" The Permanent Council, in its own judgement, could exercise such diplomatic initiatives that are designed to foster the restoration of democracy. If the initiatives fail, the Council is obliged to speedily convene a Special Session of the OAS General Assembly. Unless proven otherwise by an independent investigation, the prevailing view is that there was an "unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime" when Aristide was flown into exile on an American military aircraft. Aristide maintains he was forcibly removed from office. (Trinidad Express, 5/19)

The interim government of Gerard Latortue asked on May 19 to delay to May 27 a special session of the OAS permanent council that should have taken place May 21 on the circumstances of President Aristide's departure on 2/29. Despite the fact that the meeting was delayed to May 27, the CARICOM is determined to learn what happened in Haiti on 2/29 for the future of democracy in the region. (AHP, 5/20)

Once again efforts by some regional governments to convene a meeting to probe the ouster of Aristide have been stymied. A meeting was postponed because, according to the agency's information officer, they were unable to agree on a mutually convenient date. In the context of the power play complained of in the past by CAIRCOM governments when they sought a similar probe at the UN and were blocked by the US and France, it is not far-fetched to believe super-power politics is at work again. (The Gleaner, 5/21)

Interim Prime Minister Latortue in US:
Outside, demonstrators sang and waves neon-colored signs demanding the return of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide while denouncing US officials as kidnappers who installed an illegal government. Inside, an equal number of enthusiastic Haitians sipped white wine and munched on shrimp and cheese as they waited for former South Floridian Gerard Latortue ‚ the retired economist who was tapped two months ago to lead Haiti's transitional government after Aristide's forced 2/29 resignation. Haiti's new prime minister made a special appearance at North Miami's Museum of Contemporary Art to help raise money for this summer's Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC, that will commemorate the Haitian bicentennial. It is scheduled for 6/23-27 and 6/30-7/4 on the National Mall. A protester, Nacivre Charles, 46 of Miami said, "We are protesting against President Bush, Latortue and Foley. Latortue is illegal. He's not supposed to be in that position. He is supporting what happened to the Haitian people. Aristide was elected by the Haitian people and he has to finish his term." Inside, Foley, who traveled to Washington with Latortue, was unfazed by the demonstrators. Neither were the group of about 300 invitees who pledged their support ‚ and gave their minimum $50 donations ‚ toward meeting the festival's deficit, which is between $75,000 and $300,000. "They have a right to protest; it's part of the democratic process," said J.C. Cantave, whose group, the Haitian-American Center for Economic and Public Affairs, was cosponsoring the fundraiser. (Miami Herald, 5/8)

Haiti's interim prime minister appealed to the UN for economic and development aid, saying just sending peacekeeping troops was insufficient. Latortue, who conferred with UN Secretary General Kofi Anna, told reporters that while piles of weapons in Haiti were a severe problem, he believed the expected UN troops were enough to accomplish disarmament "easily and rapidly." The US has said it would consider contributing $40 million to Haiti in addition to the $55 million already in the budget for this year. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who saw Latortue the week before, made clear "he can count on American support," a State Department spokesperson said. "What I do know it that President Aristide himself distributed more than 15,000 guns in the months before he left," Latortue said. "Aristide is behind us now and we are looking forward now on how to build the country." (Reuters, 5/10)

Haiti's interim prime minister said that opposition to his US-backed government is being fomented by black Americans more interested in "black power" than in the plight of the Haitian people. Speaking to reporters at the Harvard Club in Manhattan, Latortue also called exiled Haitian President Aristide an inveterate "liar". Latortue charged that African-American politicians organizing protests against his government are making the question of who should rule Haiti "a racial issue that doesn't correspond with the aspirations of the Haitian population today." Ron Daniels, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, "The fact is that many African Americans simply believe his government came to power in an illegitimate manner." (NY Newsday, 5/10)

Papal Nuncio Calls for Debt Cancellation:
The Holy See would like the international community to consider canceling the foreign debts of poverty-stricken Haiti, says the papal representative to the Caribbean nation. Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, the apostolic nuncio in Haiti, affirmed this in an address delivered to more than 200 representatives of government, civil society, and diplomatic delegations. Haiti's foreign debt includes $1.3 billion in loans contracted especially with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. (Zenit.org, 5/10)

South Africa Grants Aristide Temporary Asylum:
Ousted President Aristide has officially asked South Africa for asylum until his personal situation "normalizes", the Foreign Affairs ministry said. The ministry said in a statement that the request was made through CARICOM and Mozambique President Joaquin Chissano, who is the chairman of the African Union. (AP, 5/10)

The African National Congress commends the decision of Cabinet to accede to the request from the CARICOM to allow former Haitian President Aristide to visit South Africa. The decision was a reasonable and responsible response to a request from a regional multilateral body that has long been seized with the resolution of the crisis in Haiti. It is important to note that Aristide was the legitimately-elected head of a sovereign country who was forcefully and unconstitutionally removed from power. In respecting the independence and sovereignty of states, and in promoting the role of international multilateral institutions like the UN, African Union and CARICOM in the resolution of international problems, South Africa has a responsibility to assist in whatever way it can to achieve a peaceful and lawful resolution of Haiti's current crisis. (ANC, 5/13)

U.S. Aid to Haiti:
The US is increasing aid to Haiti by about $40 million in an attempt to bring stability to the turbulent nation. The additional money can be used for police support, jobs programs, humanitarian assistance and to strengthen democracy, spokesman Richard Boucher said. (AP, 5/10) The slow pace of putting together a comprehensive aid package for Haiti is not a sign of "donor fatigue" after the last attempt to rebuild the poorest country in the Americas failed, a US aid official said. Adolfo Franco, an assistant administrator with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said donor nations were working with the Haitian diaspora in their countries and with the new US-backed Haitian government to decide priorities. Donor nations will meet in Canada in June and were expected to lay out their first spending priorities, Franco added. (Reuters, 5/14)

Haiti ‚ France Relations:
Haiti does not want reparations from its former colonial master France but thinks Paris has a moral obligation to extend its credits, Prime Minister Latortue said in an interview. "France has a moral obligation towards Haiti," he said. "Its contribution could be a line of credit for French companies for infrastructure work in the energy and road construction sectors." Latortue was due to meet French President Chirac in Paris. Chirac initially refused to consider any reparations when Aristide demanded them last year, but later appointed a commission to study the issue. "We have never accepted the fact that we were the only country that had to pay large sums to have its independence recognized." (Reuters, 5/12)

France urged its former colony Haiti to avoid a "witch hunt" a day after the political party of ousted President Aristide accused the government of arresting sympathizers. On a visit to Haiti to see French soldiers in a US-led peace force, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier nevertheless praised the government of Latortue which denies it has launched a campaign of retribution against Aristide supporters. "It is a fundamental requirement of any state of law to always know how to differentiate between justice and vengeance, and between holding people accountable and carrying out a witch hunt," Barnier said in a speech in Port-au-Prince. (Reuters, 5/15)

International Institutions' Aid to Haiti:
The press office of the Interim Prime Minister announced that a workshop was held on May 5-6 at the Hotel Montana on the need to identify a framework for international assistance cooperation in the present case of Haiti. According to a press release sent to AHP, several experts took part in this workshop including representative from the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank), the European Union, the UNDP, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank. (AHP, 5/11)

UN Peacekeeping Mission:
Argentine President Nestor Kirchner has authorized sending some 500 soldiers to Haiti has part of a new UN peacekeeping mission in an important show of support for Washington. "There's no doubt that this is very important help for the USÖ For Washington its important," Defense Minister Jose Pampuro told local radio The shift in diplomatic strategy comes as Kirchner looks for Washington's support in tough talks with international creditors over repaying $88 billion in defaulted debt as well as in securing vital aid from, the IMF. Argentina's Congress must still approve the troops for Haiti. The legislature effectively blocked the US from sending soldiers to Argentina on military maneuvers last year. (Retuers, 5/10)

Brazil's Senate agreed late on Wednesday to send 1,200 troops to Haiti to lead a U.N peacekeeping mission as Brazil seeks to build a role as a regional crisis mediator. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has championed the interests of the world's poorest nations since taking office, offered Brazil's biggest ever U.N. peacekeeping force to head the mission. The Senate vote was the last hurdle for deployment. It was approved with 38 votes for and 10 votes against. (Retuers, 5/19)

Chile's Senate agreed on Wednesday to send 650 troops to Haiti as part of a new U.N. peacekeeping mission to take over the task of restoring stability from a U.S.-led multinational force on June 1. Chile, a member of the U.N. Security Council, deployed 130 troops last March for a 90-day stint after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled Haiti under international pressure as an armed rebellion threatened the capital Port-au-Prince. The new contingent -- approved 27-0 with 15 abstentions -- adds to that military presence and includes 38 members from the police force. (Reuters, 5/19)

Justice and Peace on Disarmament:
The National Commission of Justice and Peace pressed the Latortue government to disarm all armed groups sowing terror across the country. The director of this Catholic Church organization, Fr. Jean Hansens, said that the free circulation of weapons in the country contributes enormously to an increase in crimes in society. A vast campaign is urgently needed if one does in fact wish to pacify and stabilize the country. He insisted upon the need for those who continue to make fine speeches on the question of disarmament to shoulder their responsibilities fully. (AHP, 5/10)

Evans Paul May Run for President:
KID leader Evans Paul confirmed that he might be a candidate in the presidential elections set for 2005. He added that he does not wish to become president just for his own sake. "The KID does not merely have need of the presidency but aspires rather to power in a fuller sense and to having a team capable of addressing the country's problems," he declared. The KID party is part of the Democratic Convergence. Paul did not say whether he intends to run as a candidate representing the major socialist party that this coalition says it would like to form. (AHP, 5/10)

Provisional Electoral Council:
KID leader Evans Paul commented that the government should already have moved ahead to fill the vacancy left by the FL party within the new CEP. According to Paul, FL will never join the new EP because it is an electoral institution that is going to organize credible, honest and democratic elections. For his part, the President of the Haitian Senate, Yvon Feuille, warned that the eight people who have taken the oath of office against taking any action in the name of the CEP. "In order for it to be operational and functional, the CEP must be composed of nine members as called for under the Constitution," said Feuille. The Senator pointed out that the new CEP was formed in an unconstitutional manner and thus all actions taken by its members are contrary to the Constitution of 1987. (AHP, 5/10)

General Hospital has no Electricity:
The country's largest hospital complex continues to function under a black out. For the past several weeks, the General Hospital enjoys no more than a few hours of electricity per day, although it is supplied with electricity on a 24 hour basis. The physicians on duty have said that all services at the hospital are currently paralyzed due to this energy crisis. The patients are obliged to take their medicine by candle light. The only generated that supplies electricity to the hospital complex has been out of service for the past several weeks. (AHP, 5/11)

Violence Against and Arrests of Lavalas:
At 12:30 a.m. on the morning of May 10, a Special Forces squad of approximately 20 U.S. Marines executed a military assault on the home of 69-year-old Annette Auguste, a.k.a. So Anne. Auguste's residence is part of a compound that includes four other apartments that were also invaded by the U.S. military forces. The troops forcefully covered the heads of eleven Haitians with black hoods and then forced them to the lay face down on the ground while binding their wrists with plastic manacles behind their backs. The victims of this terrifying U.S. military invasion included five-year-old Chamyr Samedi, 10-year-old Kerlande Philippe, 12-year-old Loubahida Auguste, 14-year-old Luckmar Auguste and seven adults. Evidence gathered at the site included paraphernalia left behind, such as blasting caps, igniters for explosive devices that terrorized the occupants when the troops invaded the residence. There was not a single member of the Haitian National Police (PNH) force or the de facto Haitian government present, according to the arrestees, when the U.S. forces unilaterally attacked the residence. According to Haitian law, as is the norm in any democratic country, no arrest can be made without a proper warrant issued by judicial authorities. The Haitian Constitution requires that warrants only be executed between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. The lack of any legality within the context of Haitian law and the fact this was executed unilaterally by U.S. military forces in Haiti raises serious questions of national sovereignty and the role of U.S. military forces in Haiti today. Ms. Auguste is detained incommunicado at the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince despite the claim of National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) that they visited her at the prison. This claim by NCHR is disputed by her husband, Wilfrid Lavaud, who says he has no knowledge that NCHR visited Ms. Auguste. He stated that if NCHR did visit her, they did so without the knowledge of the family. Her husband also stated that he does not consider NCHR to be a credible human rights organization because they have worked so closely with the Haitian opposition to the constitutional government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the past. Annette Auguste, a.k.a. Souer Anne (Sister Anne), is being robbed of her Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status in the United States due to this arrest by the U.S. Marines. Ms. Auguste is required to travel to the United States every six months to renew her LPR status. An operation in February delayed her ability to make the trip and her doctor provided her with documentation that would grant her an extra three months for recovery. However, her detention is keeping her in Haiti beyond the time she was granted for recovery, and as a result, she will lose her status in the U.S. (Haiti Info Project, 5/12)

Colonel David Lapan acknowledged that no weapons were fired from the home of So Anne and that no illegal weapons were found there. He contended that the Marines used substantial force during their operation in order to persuade the occupants of the home that the Marines were capable of defending themselves. For his part, Justice of the Peace Marcenau Salomon, who prepared the official report of the military operation affirmed that he had documented substantial property damage. Lapan called on all those against whom a warrant has been issued to go to the police or risk becoming victims of this sort of strong arm intervention. The National Coalition of Haitian Rights (NCHR) stated that So Anne was arrested because of an allegation that she was involved in the violent incidents of December 5, 2003 at the university's School of Social Science. Speaking on behalf of NCHR, Viles Alizar, who visited So Anne at the National Penitentiary, declared that she is accused of having provided members of populist organizations with the means to attack the students. "So Anne is being detained at the prison under normal conditions of detention," said Alizar, who nevertheless deemed her arrest illegal because it was carried out without a warrant. The Fanmi Lavalas political organization spoke out against a wave of arrests carried out against its supporters across the country. A FL spokesperson, Gilvert Angervil, declared that he had documented more than ten arrests of activists in Port-au-Prince and the provinces since the beginning of the month. He said that all these arrests were made illegally on the basis of wild accusations or after police informants had mentioned their names. (Agence Haitienne de Presse, 5/10)

Two prominent supporters of ousted president Aristide have been arrested, prompting criticism by a leader of Aristide's party and a human rights group. Annette Auguste, a pro-Aristide street activist, was detained early on Monday by international forces on suspicion of illegal activities, and US Marines' spokesman Col. David Lapan claimed she threatened the troops. Auguste was turned over to Haitian police and charged with "criminal conspiracy" said police spokesman Max Harry Isaac. Police said a warrant had been issued for Auguste's arrest, and more arrests were expected. Pro-Aristide former mayor Maxson Guerrier of Delmas was detained at the border with the Dominican Republic. That arrest was denounced as illegal by the NCHR because were no charges against Guerrier. (Sapa, AFP, AP, 5/12)

Executive Secretary of the Committee for the Defense of Haitian People's Rights (CDPH), Ronal St Jean declared that many cases of violations of human rights have been committed in the country these last two months. According to St Jean, a campaign of repression is under way in many regions of the country against FL supporters. He declared that several FL members and supporters were killed in Petit Goave, in Maissade and in the Central Plateau. St Jean also condemned the provisional authorities' action in regards to the seals put on Radio TiMoun and TeleTimoun's offices. It is an illegal and arbitrary action, the executive secretary of CDPH declares. He wonders about the validity of this measure and about the silence of leaders of the National Association of Haitian Media (ANMH). (AHP, 5/20)

According to So Anne's husband, Wilfrid Lavaud, judicial authorities still didn't give Annette Auguste a warrant to justify her arrest. Lavaud considered that the country has entered a space of no-right and no-law where all you need is for someone to accuse you on the air or for accusations to be held against you by human rights organizations and right away, they put you in prison illegally. For her part, So Anne's sister Raymonde Auguste announced that she will lodge a complaint against American soldiers for the damage caused in her home the day of Auguste;s arrest. "What happened on May 9 is a serious violation of my rights and must not remain unpunished, she said, while she added that she will demand justice and reparation. She declared that American soldiers know very well that they could never commit such acts in the US, where you have to respect human rights. (AHP, 5/20)

Demonstration Turns Violent on Flag Day:
Police used tear gas and fired assault rifles in the air on May 18 to break up a peaceful march by about 10,000 supporters of ousted President Aristide. Thousands of people poured out of the slums to demand his return, making it one of the largest demonstrations of lingering support since Aristide was driven into exile on 2/29. As the march approached the National Palace where the US-backed interim government was holding a ceremony, riot police supported by US Marines began to lob tear gas canisters and to fire dozens of rifle rounds in the air to scatter the crowd. Police Inspector General Etienne Saint-Gourdin told Reuters the force dispersed the demo because it was illegal. "We had not received any request for a demo by Lavalas," he said. (Reuters 5/18)

Special Forces units (CIMO) of the Haitian National Police (PNH) killed Lavalas demonstrators in Port-au-Prince as a larger US Marine "peacekeeping" force of about 50 soldiers stood by. About 6,000 Lavalas demonstrators in one of many separate marches tried to converge near the Champ de Mars for a larger demo. The march had been planned for some time and the organizations that planned the march received written approval by the PNH to hold this demo on Haitian Flag Day. It is hard to estimate the actual size of the demo but figures 30,000 to 60,000 different demonstrators in various parts of the city seem credible. A contingent of about 50 Marines patrolled every hour at the start of one march in Bel Air trying to intimidate the population there. One of the marine officers in command tried to threaten an American journalist who was filming the action. Whenever any of the groups of marchers tried to reach Champ de Mars a CIMO unit would "appear out of nowhere" and commence shooting intro crowds of demonstrators. Reports of similar killing is coming in from different areas of the city. Even though demonstrators were rather angry no rocks were thrown or violence was witnessed to provoke the shooting. (Haiti Info Project, 5/18)

One of the spokespersons for FL, Rudy Herivaux declared that freedom of expression and freedom to demonstrate have been suspended by the interim authorities, contrary to the requirements of the Haitian Constitution. Herivaux denounced by way of example the repression on May 18 of the demonstration by tens of thousands of Fanmi Lavalas supporters by the police, assisted by the multinational force. According to the former deputy, this attitude shows the determination of the provisional government of the provisional government to silence the majority of the population. (AHP, 5/18)

Lt. Col. David Lapan, spokesperson of the MIF, confirmed that "the PNH (Haitian National Police) requested assistance from the MIF in dispersing the demonstrators," referring to the Lavalas supporters who were calling for an end to political persecution and for the return of democratic order. He said that the director general of the PNH, Leon Charles, had informed him that no groups had submitted requests to conduct a demo by the time required (up to 48 hours prior to the time of the demo). Col. Lapan also said that the MIF has good communication with Charles and proceeds based on what the PNH director tells the force, which was that all demos other than planned festivities on May 18 were illegal. The MIF did not try to verify on its own whether the organizers of the demo had informed the police, because under the terms of the UN resolution, "we play a support role," Col. Lapan acknowledged, "if they ask for support, we provide it." On May 18, the organizers of the demo distributed a copy of the proof of delivery of the letter sent on May 12 to the director general of the national police. Lapan futher indicated that if the members of the MIF observe human rights violations, they are obligated to report it, and if possible, attempt to intervene to prevent them. (AHP, 5/19)

The PNH General Management wrote a letter on May 20 to apologize to FL activists who organized the May 18 demo that was violently dispersed by the PNH patrols and militaries of the MIF. The PNH General Management explains that the letter of notification from Lavalas supporters was sent to him late by the Institution's secretary. It promised that such a mistake would never happen again and that there will be sanctions taken against the employees who are in fault. In reaction to the letter from the police, a FL spokesman was proud of the institution's courage, even if the damage caused on May 18 cannot be repaired. (AHP, 5/20)

Radio and Tele TiMoun Closed:
The offices of Radio and Tele TiMoun which belong to the Aristide Foundation for Democracy located in Tabarre, were sealed during the afternoon of May 18. The seals were affixed by the Justice of the Peace of Croix-des-Missions, who as accompanied by close to 50 police officers. This act was carried out shortly after the end of a demo by FL that drew thousands of people denouncing political persecution and calling for the return of constitutional order on the holiday dedicated to the Haitian flag. Several lavalas sectors denounced the decision by the interim government against Radio and Tele TiMoun as a grave assault on freedom of the press and linked it to the success of the May 18 demo. (AHP, 5/19)

Army Joining the PNH:
A former Haitian senator and army major has proposed a new force of 1,500 to 2,000 former soldiers to curb the insecurity plaguing the country since an armed revolt in February. The ex-senator, Dany Toussaint, said the ''dissuasion'' force, to be composed of soldiers from the army that was disbanded in 1995 and those who later fought in the rebel ranks, would respond to civil unrest and other security threats. His proposal, presented to Interior Ministry officials, has been criticized as an attempt to re-create a brutal army, a reward for rebels who toppled a democratically elected president, and a Toussaint play for power. But the fact that the interim government of Prime Minister Gerard Latortue has not rejected his plan outright, remaining cautious although not unwelcoming, underlined its concerns over the country's growing insecurity. According to his plan, the 1,500-to-2,000-strong unit that he would call the National Internal Security Force would be placed under the Interior Ministry, currently headed by former army Gen. Herard Abraham, not under the Justice Ministry, which supervises the National Police. Leslie Voltaire, a former member of Aristide's cabinet, disagreed, especially if the unit is created before a new president and legislature are chosen in elections expected next year. ''It would be a bad idea,'' Voltaire said. ''It would be like creating a new army before the constitutional government can even think about it.'' Decrying what he claims has been a wave of repression against Aristide supporters since Feb. 29, he added, ``It would open the door for more persecution.'' Toussaint also said he plans to form a political party and run in the 2005 elections, although he declined to specify for which office. (Miami Herald, 5/20)

Several Lavalas activists who participated in the May 18 demo pointed out once again on 5/20 members of a new corps made of former militaries which was recently formed inside the PNH, were among the policemen who shot on the demonstrators on 5/18.
Interim Government to Investigate 9 Allegations Against Aristide Government:
Haiti's new government is investigating nine allegations of corruption and mismanagement by the Aristide administration, from suspect long-distance telephone contracts to misuse of government funds. The government will also probe the Aristide government's contract with Miami lawyer Ira Kurzban, a lobbyist for Haiti, said Finance Minister Henri Bazin and Central Bank chief Raymond Magloire. ''We will be looking into all the scandals and misuse of government moneyÖ those things that were illegal and violated procedure,'' Bazin told The Herald. "We're looking into corruption and mismanagement, both." Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue recently tasked the Central Bank, government ministries and agencies to look into the nine allegations against officials and supporters of the government of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

These are the nine allegations of Aristide government corruption and mismanagement under investigation:

  • That a former Aristide Cabinet minister made a $400,000 commission on the government's purchase of a $1.2 million house for former President René Preval.
  • A Colombian electricity company owed $5 million by the government allegedly collected $11 million from the Central Bank.
  • That government funds were funneled to armed pro-Aristide gangs known as chimeres.
  • Government funds allegedly went to the construction of a university run by the private Aristide Foundation.
  • There was a $13 million expenditure for the printing of Haitian currency in Germany and several other no-bid procurement contracts.
  • That an Aristide Cabinet minister made huge profits through duty-free franchises to import rice.
  • Government donations, including $1 million from the Central Bank, were made to the literacy Program Alpha. There is no accounting of how the money was spent.
  • That Aristide government officials and supporters received kickbacks for deals between U.S. long-distance telephone companies and the Haitian government's telephone company.
  • Taiwan allegedly decided to give aid directly to two private foundations controlled by Aristide, instead of the Haitian government as in previous years.
(Miami Herald, 5/21)

Refugees and Temporary Protective Status:
A group of lawmakers has announced it is renewing its call for the Department of Homeland Security to suspend deportations of Haitian refugees. The House members are led by Reps. Robert Wexler (D FL) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R FL). The current effort is in response to the refusal by the Homeland Security Administration to suspend deportations until the situation in Haiti stabilizes. The agency has since said it was monitoring the situation. (UPI, 5/19)

Please FAX Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson
fax: 202 612-1633
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services DirectorÝEduardo Aguirre, Jr.
fax:202 305-0134
Asking them to halt all deportations of Haiti because of the deteriorating conditions in that country. Deportations of Haitians from Miami are set to resume on Monday, May 24th.This has been confirmed by Marion Dillas, Officer in Charge at Krome, and Mark Lennox, acting chief of staff for ICE Dentenion and Removal Operations. Mark Lennox has stated that no one will be returned to Haiti without travel documents. (This is disputed by Attorney Candace Jean, who has stated that she has clients without travel documents, who are to be deported.) We do not have the exact number of Haitians, but it has been verified that deportations are resuming.

Your help is needed in stopping the deportations, as reports from the ground indicate that the conditions in Haiti continue to deteriorate. According to the National Lawyers Guild (www.nlg.org), in their summary reports of their delegations to Haiti in March and April of this year, "In general, the delegation found the human rights situation grave. The conditions are especially precarious and evidence little hope for improvement due to the almost total lack of knowledge about, and media attention to, the human rights abuses taking place. Layered upon the gravity, there is a general sense in the people of insecurity due to, among other things, (i) killings, (ii) curfews, (iii) the lack of police or any form of working judicial system, (iv) patrols of private, heavily-armed militias, (v) the doubling or tripling of food and fuel prices, (vi) the fall of Haitian currency against the U.S. dollar, (vii) an abnormal lack of electricity in the cities, and (vii) the unauthorized return of the uniformed and armed soldiers of the Haitian Army that President Aristide had decommissioned in 1994 for its historical oppression of Haiti's poor." The report goes on to document the atrocities, including an admission by the director of the State Morgue in Port-au-Prince, that "many" bodies have come into the morgue since March 1, 2004 that are young men with their hands tied behind their backs and plastic bags over their head, that had been shot.....800 bodies were "dumped and buried " by the morgue on Saturday March 7, 2004 and 200 bodies dumped on Sunday, March 28, 2004. The "usual" amount dumped is less than 100 per month. In addition, Several witnesses told the delegation that 40 to 60 bodies were brought in trucks to a field near the Piste D'Aviation....on Sunday March 22, 2004, along a road to the airport. On Monday March 23, 2004, the bodies were moved away from the roadside to a more remote field and were burned. The Delegation observed the massive ash pile, and the pigs eating flesh of human bones that had not burned at Piste D'Aviation. The Delegation photographed fresh skulls and other human bones, some still tangled in clothes or with shoes and sneakers nearby. (The delegation has photos to document this claim.)

For more information on this ACTION ALERT, Contact: jmaruskin@churchworldservice.org, or visit: www.churchworldservice.org

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