Can Freedom Wear Jackboots?

by John Maxwell


Original source: The Jamaican Observer

January 29, 2005


Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews, said
eloquently. “In those times those who were in the death camps felt
not only tortured and murdered by the enemy, but also tortured and
murdered by what they considered to be the world’s silence and

Now, 60 years later,at the United Nations commemmoration of the
Holocaust, the world at least was trying to listen and to

“Those who committed the crimes were not vulgar, underworld thugs,
but men with high positions in government, academia, industry and

The world is remembering Auschwitz and the Holocaust. It is not
paying any notice to the 200 year Holocaust still underway in
Haiti. There too, the people in hazard must feel tortured and
murdered by the indifference of a world conned into believing that
the high-minded leaders of the United States, France, Canada and
Brazil have the interest of the Haitian people at heart when their
agents torture, murder, maim and rape Haitians for no better reason
than that they support their democratically elected and
unconstitutionally removed President, Jean Bertrand Aristide.

At the UN Holocaust commemoration, Archbishop Cilistino Migliore,
the Pope’s representative welcomed the Holocaust commemoration “so
that humanity would not forget the terror of which man was capable,
the evils of arrogant political extremism and social engineering, and
the need to build a safer, saner world for every man, woman and
child.” He beseeched all men and women of good will to seize that
solemn occasion to say “never again” to such crimes, no matter their
political inspiration, so that all nations, as well as the United
Nations, might truly respect the life, liberty and dignity of every
human being.

The life, liberty and dignity of the Haitian people does not seem to
matter to anyone in the ruling circles of the world. On their way to
forced exile in the Central African Republic, eleven months ago, The
President of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide and his family, aboard an
American aeroplane, were described by their kidnappers to the
Antiguan government as ‘Cargo”.

'Men without conscience…'At the Holocaust memorial, the Vice President of the United States of America declared ” …these great evils of history were perpetuated not in some remote, uncivilised part of the world, but in the very heart
of the civilised world. … Men without conscience are capable of any
cruelty the human mind can imagine. Therefore we must teach every
generation the values of tolerance and decency and moral courage. And
in every generation, free nations must maintain the will, the
foresight and the strength to fight tyranny and spread the freedom
that leads to peace.”

In his reference to remote, uncivilised corners of the world Mr
Cheney was obviously referring to the image conjured up by President
Bush in his 2002 speech to the West Point graduating class: "Our
security will require transforming the military you will lead, a
military that must be ready to strike at a moment's notice in any
dark corner of the world." And, referring to Iraq – "…if war is
forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the
United States army."

Mr Bush did not need the full might of the US army to strike against
Haiti; a platoon of Marines was enough to blackmail the President to
leave. They thought they had persuaded him to resign, a mistake which
has cost them dearly in legitimacy.

But this legitimacy does not matter to the keepers of the flame of
civilisation. Their agents are busy instructing the agents of death
and destruction whom to arrest and shoot in Haiti – as if those
depraved killers needed any guidance.

Shortly after the thugs took power, a Canadian diplomat attached to
the OAS was a member of the party of official gangsters who were
flow to Gonaives in American helicopters to congratulate and
celebrate the ‘Cannibal Army’ who they credited with overthrowing
President Aristide. This sinister association caused no concern to
either the Canadians or the OAS until I commented on it in my column
some time later. He was then removed. He is gone, but other
Canadians have taken his place.

Meanwhile, in the United States, a self-confessed agent of the CIA
and known terrorist, one '’Toto' Constant, enjoyed apparent immunity
for prosecution for the crimes he had committed in an earlier
overthrow of Aristide. A group of Haitian women has now charged him
with rape. Within Haiti his fellow gangster, Louis Jodel Chamblain
was freed of multiple convictions for serious crimes against
humanity – in a judicial charade intended to legitimise him.

Despite the attentions of international and Haitian human Rights
groups, the world has turned a deaf ear to Haitian suffering. But
some new developments may make it less easy to ignore the systematic
brutalisation of the Haitian people at the hands of multinational
troops and the homebred Haitian gangsters. A report by an American
lawyer attached to the University of Miami law school is one of
those developments. Two others are the murder of a Haitian
journalist and the threat against another from the so-called Prime
Minister of Haiti, LaTortue.

LaTortue himself, the Haitian Minister of Justice, Bernard Gousse and
the UN military mission have all been formally accused of murder in
relation to the deaths of three men – Lavalas activist Jimmy
Charles, Ederson Joseph a student and Abdias Jean, a journalist.
Jimmy Charles was taken into custody by MINUSTAH, (the UN force)
turned over to the Haitian ‘police’ and later found shot to death.
Abdias Jean happened to witness the police killing of three children
who the police accused of hiding terrorists.

Caribbeannet senior news correspondent, Gus Thomas, has written to
La Tortue condemning the murder of Abdias Jean – who happened to be
Thomas’ friend – and called on him to safeguard the rights of
journalists. Thomas also complained about assaults and death threats
against other journalists and about police seizure of journalists’
tapes, photographs an other working material . He is also complaining
to the emergency meeting of the Inter American Press Association on
Monday in Port au Prince.

A third and perhaps even more dangerous threat to La Tortue was his
recent outburst against the president of the Haitian Journalists
Association and Reuters correspondent in Haiti, Guy Delva. Delva
was accused in an official statement by the PM’s office for
providing ‘disinformation’ about Haiti and of preaching to his own
political clique.

LaTortue has made the terminal mistake of many dictators: he has
attacked the press; you can kill any number of civilians but don’t
touch the press.

Delva’s crime was to report that LaTortue was thinking of sending a
delegate to South Africa to talk to President Aristide. According to
LaTortue, Delva’s report was based on a “hypothetical’ interview the
PM was supposed to have given Delva.

More dangerous to La Tortue than all of these however, is a 61 page
report by Thomas M Griffin, an American lawyer, who led a team to
Haiti in November. The report is published on the web-site of the
University of Miami Law School. [1]

Streets abandoned to Cadavers

The report begins: 'After ten months under an interim government
backed by the United States, Canada, and France and buttressed by a
United Nations force, Haiti’s people churn inside a hurricane of
violence. Gunfire crackles, once bustling streets are abandoned to
cadavers, and whole neighborhoods are cut off from the outside world.
Nightmarish fear now accompanies Haiti’s poorest in their struggle to
survive in destitution. Gangs, police, irregular soldiers, and even
UN peacekeepers bring fear. There has been no investment in dialogue
to end the violence.”

“Haiti’s security and justice institutions fuel the cycle of
violence. Summary executions are a police tactic, and even
well-meaning officers treat poor neighborhoods seeking a democratic
voice as enemy territory where they must kill or be killed.”
“As voices for non-violent change are silenced by arrest,
assassination, or fear, violent defense becomes a credible option.
Mounting evidence suggests that members of Haiti’s elite, including
political powerbroker Andy Apaid, pay gangs to kill Lavalas
supporters and finance the illegal army.”

Among the factors working for the overthrow of Aristide were a number
of US funded non-governmental organisations, including a consultancy
called the International Federation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
funded by USAID. The report details how this group organised
opposition to Aristide, systematically subverted the Haitian
bureaucracy and eventually succeeded in precipitating the putsch
against him. Bernard Gousse, the so-called Minister of Justice, was
among those on their payroll. The IFES administrators told the
Griffin team ‘[that the ouster] of Aristide “was not the objective of
the IFES program, but it was the result.” They further stated that
IFES/USAID workers in Haiti wanted to take credit for the ouster of
Aristide, but cannot “out of respect for the wishes of the US.

IFES is part of a group whose head is a close friend of Vice
President Dick Cheney.

The Griffin team also spoke to Haitian sweatshop millionaire Andy
Apaid, the main civil society leader of the coup. Apaid, the leader
of the Group of 184 admitted to the investigators that he has
directed the Haitian police not to arrest one particular gang leader
– Thomas Robinson – aka “Labanye” – but to work with him.

The Haitian slum-dwellers have a slightly different story. According
to them Labanye is the leader of a well-armed, well-financed group
which continually attacks people in Cite Soleil, the slum city. Many
witnesses told the investigators that Labanye received financial,
aid, firearms and political support from Andy Apaid.

On Thursday, at the swearing in of Condoleezza Rice at the State
Department in Washington, President G W Bush said “Freedom is on the
march, and the world is better for it.” No nation, he asserted, can
build a safer and better world alone, although he made it clear in
his inaugural speech that he was not about to turn back from his
doctrine of pre-emptive action. “The survival of liberty in our Land
increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.”

In Haiti, where the whole business of universal human rights began,
they will no doubt be pleased to hear that, and also Mr Bush quoting
Abraham Lincoln “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not
themselves; and, under the rule of a just God cannot long retain it.”

If I may paraphrase Shylock, a victim of anti-semitism:
Hath an Haitian not eyes? hath not a Haitian hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions?

“If you prick us, do we not bleed … and if you wrong us, shall we
not revenge??

Copyright 2005 John Maxwell

John Maxwell writes for The Jamaica Observer

Men Anpil Chaj Pa Lou!!!
- is Kreyol for "Many hands make light a heavy load."
Here is what you can do to help us help the people of Haiti:
HLLN - Action Requested from Haiti solidarity groups and
Haitian activists for justice and democracy:

Subscribe to and circulate the Ezili Danto mailings and
posts to your mailing lists and e-mail contacts. Subscribe or unsubscribe by writing to: Erzilidanto@aol.com

Adopt and circulate the Haiti Resolution (updated below) from the Haitian Lawyers
Leadership Network

Circulate the human rights reports, especially the latest Miami Law Center report

Do Press Work:
Join our letter writing campaigns to help free the political prisoners in Haiti, to stop the persecution of Haiti's most popular political party and democratic movement and to restore Constitutional rule. Write a letter, call the media, fax, - See our Press Work page for sample letters and for contact information.

Volunteer to help us maintain our Contact Information Sheet by sending us updated or new phone numbers and addresses to put on our Contact Information Sheet pages

Virtual interns and volunteers are also needed to help us translate selected materials into French, Kreyol, or Spanish to reach a wider audience. Volunteers with some research and computer skills are likewise needed to help us update our "List of Victims" and "Personal Testimonies" pages under Campaign One. (We have the information, what we don't have we know where to extrapolate them, but need help to put it together and in the format on our website page.)

More Network volunteer also needed to concentrate as primary coordinators/contributors to one of our seven campaigns

One internet savvy volunteer needed who is interested in logging and archiving, for our new Ezili Danto blog, (not yet unveiled) the regular Erzilidanto posts we send out so that those who only want to see these at their leisure, or, who cannot receive daily mailings, will have alternative access to these materials and posts, in an archived format.

Donate or volunteer to help with fundraising by using our logo and HLLN materials to sponsor a "To Tell The Truth About Haiti Forum and Teach-In." Proceeds from such teach ins or donations will go to continue the work of the HLLN, such as, our partnership with AUMOHD, young human rights lawyers in Haiti who are defending the defenseless poor whose only crime is that they voted for Lavalas, supported Constitutional rule or are resisting a return of the bloody U.S.-trained Haitian army and US-sponsored dictatorship. For information on AUMOHD, go to: http://www.april6vt.org/

The Haiti Resolution:

1. Support the return of constitutional rule to Haiti by restoring all elected officials of all parties to their offices throughout the country until the end of their mandates and another election is held, as mandated by Haiti's Constitution;

2. Condemn the killings, illegal imprisonment and confiscation of the property of supporters of Haiti's constitutional government and insist that Haiti's illegitimate "interim government" immediately cease its own persecution and put a stop to persecution by the thugs and murderers from sectors in their police force,
from the paramilitaries, gangs and former soldiers;

3. Insist on the immediate release of all political prisoners in Haitian jails, including Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, other constitutional government officials and folksinger-activist Sò Ann;

4. Insist on the disarmament of the thugs, death squad leaders and convicted human rights violators and their prosecution for all crimes committed during the attack on Haiti's elected government and help rebuild Haiti's police force, ensuring that it excludes anyone who helped to overthrow the democratically elected
government or who participated in other human rights violations;

5. Stop the indefinite detention and automatic repatriation of Haitian refugees and immediately grant Temporary Protected Status to all Haitian refugees presently in the United States until democracy is restored to Haiti; and

6. Support the calls by the OAS, CARICOM and the African Union for an investigation into the circumstances of President Aristide's removal. Support the enactment of Congresswoman Barbara Lee's T.R.U.T.H Act (HR 3919) which calls for a U.S. Congressional investigation of the forcible removal of the democratically elected President and government of Haiti.


Denounce Canada's role in Haiti: Canadian officials Contact Infomation

Urge the Caribbean Community to stand firm in not recognizing the illegal Latortue regime:

Selected CARICOM Contacts
zilibutton Slide Show at the July 27, 2004 Haiti Forum Press Conference during the DNC in Boston honoring those who stand firm for Haiti and democracy; those who tell the truth about Haiti; Presenting the Haiti Resolution, and; remembering Haiti's revolutionary legacy in 2004 and all those who have lost life or liberty fighting against the Feb. 29, 2004 Coup d'etat and its consequences
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