ACTION ALERT & SAMPLE LETTER
Denounce AP's disinformation campaign, bias and misleading coverage
December 10 marks International Human Rights Day, when we commemorate
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (signed December 10, 1948,
following World War II.) At that time, many in the world hoped that
by enshrining respect for human rights in the structure of the United
Nations, we would help move the world in a peaceful direction and prevent
another world war.
More than fifty years later, the world has once again descended into
a global battle for empire, resources, and hegemony. With a second Bush
administration, it becomes more important than ever to demand respect
for human rights in every country on every continent, including our
own, and to demonstrate the power of informed citizen activists to move
the world towards peace in a time of war. On this International Human
Rights Day let us renew our commitment and strengthen our resolve towards
2004 has been marked by misery in Haiti: the brutal coup was followed
by devastating storms, which have been followed by brutal repression.
The all-out attack on the supporters of the democratically-elected president,
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has escalated since police fired upon a peaceful
march on September 30, killing several people. On Wednesday, December
1, a new massacre took place - this time when police officers fired
into a crowd of prisoners at the National Penitentiary. At least 7 prisoners
were killed, and likely twice that many, or more. (In Haiti -- like
in Iraq -- authorities often disappear bodies and refuse to release
the names or numbers of victims.) The Associated Press account cynically
reported that the prisoners had stabbed each other, parroting the official
line of the prison director and the National Coalition for Haitian Rights.
(We know this is not true, because the bodies of seven prisoners were
viewed at the morgue with gunshot wounds.)
That same day Colin Powell visited interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue
in Haiti and declared, "The U.S remains committed to your effort
... We are with you all the way." Latortue reportedly has estimated
he will need to kill 25,000 people in the capital of Port-au-Prince
alone to pacify Lavalas (the popular party of Aristide). U.S. support
for the murderous Latortue regime illustrates the urgent need for all
peace-loving people to speak-up this December 10.
Due to the long disinformation campaign against the Aristide government,
and the blockade of news about Haiti since the coup, the Haiti Action
Committee requests that you send a Letter to the Editor of at least
one media source, seeking improved coverage about Haiti and respect
for human rights. Our sample letter [see over] focuses on the erroneous
Associated Press report from last week and The AP's general lack of
reporting on the ongoing human rights abuses. Please feel free to send
your letter to as many outlets as possible.
Call the ASSOCIATED PRESS national office in New York and ask for the
International Desk: 212-621-1500. A live person always answers!!
Also, contact the San Juan Bureau of the ASSOCIATED PRESS
Contact Haiti Action Committee
for more information:
www.haitiaction.org firstname.lastname@example.org 510.483.7481
To the Associated Press,
I am writing to protest the misinformation spread by reporter Amy Bracken
in her December 2 report from Haiti about the murder of prisoners in
the National Penitentiary, her incomplete reporting of the crucial events
of September 30, as well as her general negligence in reporting the
ongoing human rights abuses of the interim government.
Though Bracken correctly identifies September 30, 2004 (the anniversary
of the start of the last coup from 1991-4) as a watershed event in the
latest round of repression, she fails to mention that police fired into
a crowd of peaceful demonstrators, killing several people.
Regarding the December 1 prison murders, Bracken uncritically quotes
sources Marie Yolene Gilles (of NCHR) and Jessy Cameau Coicou (PNH spokeswoman),
writing, "slain inmates were killed by other inmates" with
sharpened toothbrushes. Other reports of this event, (including that
by Reuters, whose reporter went to the morgue to view the bodies), indicate
that seven prisoners bodies exhibited gunshot wounds.
In her report from December 7, Bracken repeats the vague charge, "Latortue
has accused Aristide of orchestrating the violence" at the end
of a lengthy account of violence in popular neighborhoods. Nowhere in
her account does she examine the fundamental role of the former military,
police and interim authorities in perpetrating violence.
Ms. Bracken is one of the few international reporters remaining in Haiti.
Because AP distributes her stories widely, it's critically important
that they be accurate. I strongly protest her unquestioning acceptance
of lies from members of the interim government. I demand AP provide
unbiased and accurate information about Haiti, including stories concerning
the repression of the Lavalas movement and the U.S. involvement in the
February 29 coup. Now that would be a scoop.
Phone #__________________ )
Forwarded by the Haitian Lawyers Leadership
"Men anpil chay pa lou" is Kreyol for - "Many hands make
light a heavy load."
See, The Haitian Leadership Networks' 7 "men anpil chay pa
lou" campaigns to help restore Haiti's independence, the will of
the mass electorate and the rule of law. See, http://www.margueritelaurent.com/campaigns/campaigns.html
and http://www.margueritelaurent.com/law/lawpress.html .
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