February 10, 2007

Haiti: War on the Poor

What's happening in Haiti? Most don't care. But I had to say something.

It's a story repeated in many small countries. A wealthy minority is threatended by the poor masses, who have majority-rule democracy on their side. This well-connected minority convinces the well-connected minority of the U.S. that it's in their national interest to repress the poor masses. It's not hard to imagine their argument:

You can't have a bunch of unruley masses taking over and allowing a safe haven for terriorists, can you? Furthermore, "these people" don't understand the economic principles of the free market. They don't realize it's for their own good. They will undermine decades of investment in the institutions of trade liberalization. The very fabric of globalization is thretened here. Yes, this is a small country, but if they get a foothold here, it will spread.
This is the unreported story of Haiti. Haiti is a battle ground for the real war that's being waged in the world. It translates into a war on the poor, albeit, it's more nuanced than a simple class war. However, the corporate mass media fails to tell this story.

Instead, the mass media follow a predictable, superficial narrative. One-time popular leader becomes corrupt, looses popular support, a crisis develops, the leader flees to avoid a bloodbath. No mention of US-backed destabilization program to create the crisis. No mention of provocations that help create justifications. The notion of a slow-motion coup is too complex for the mainstream media to grasp, in part because of reporter down-sizing as part of the on-going media consolidation.

Now we're being told by mainstream media that the United Nations Peace Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) are conducting operations in the slums of Citè Soliel to pacify "gangs." Surely there are gangs in the slums of Citè Soliel, some are committing violent acts. They are desperate. Have they been pushed to desperation? It's a tried-and-true tactic to provoke a response and then point at the reponse as justification for violent oppression.

But, what about the organized criminals that operate on a national level, with what appears to be the complicity of elements of the interim government? What about the death squads of the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH), founded by Emmanuel 'Toto' Constant, who claimed to be on the CIA payroll when he created FRAPH. What about Lame Ti Manchèt (the Little Machete Army). This civilian vigilante group is reported, by residents of Martissant in southern Port-au-Prince, to be responsible for the killing of freelance photojournalist Jean-Rémy Badio on January 19, 2006.[1]

Mainstream media reports have painted a simplistic picture of Lame Ti Manchèt being a "rival gang" in conflict with Baz Gran Ravin (Big Ravine Base), a group that has served a self-defense function in Martissant.[1] These reports generally fail to mention the relations that Lame Ti Manchèt have with elements in the Hatian National Police (NHP), who have their own human rights abuse problems.[2] Amnesty International describes a July 2006 massacre by Lame Ti Manchèt in the Grand Ravine neighborhood in which hundreds of homes were burned and women and children killed. These were followed by an August 20, 2006 attack at a soccer game by Lame Ti Manchèt and police killing 20 people, and an August 21, 2006 attack on Grand Ravine in which the home of Bruner Esterne, President of the Grand Ravine Community Council for Human Rights, was burned. On 21 September 2006, Bruner Esterne was killed by unknown individuals. [3]

United Nations: Enforcers of Mainstream Narrative:

The international community backed the slow-motion coup of Hatian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The US and France wanted it, and the rest of the world didn't car, surely having more immediate issues to deal with. Enter the in United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), at the request of the international community. It shouldn't come as a surprise that MINUSTAH has become an arm of the mainstream narrative.

So, we're hearing of MINUSTAH members attacking journalists, and being involved in chaotic attacks in poor neighborhoods.

The UN mission in Haiti seems to be unraveling. This is exemplified by reports of UN cover-ups of "massacres" and disproportionate use of force. UN Special Representative, Edmund Mulet, denied the UN fired from helicopters into Cite Soleil at a press conference in Washington, D.C. on January 31, 2007. Mulet said, "We never shot from a helicopter – never. We had one helicopter with a camera taking pictures and following the operation, but we never shoot from helicopters. We never use heavy artillery either.” [4]

This was contradicted by Medical Doctor John Carroll in an inteview with Pacifica Radio program Flashpoints.[5]

Medical Doctor Dr. John Carrol [using an internet phone connection]: I spoke with the mother, she was 48, I’ll call her Immacula, and a couple of daughters. And what happened, according to this family, is that [United Nations] MINUSTAH helicopters circled for about three hours above their home, above the neighborhood in Sole’ 17 … and they shot down for at least three hours over the area. As I looked up I could see about a twelve-inch hole in their roof on the right hand side of where I was standing, and then there were smaller holes on the left hand side.

She had, Immacula had three daughters a 19-year old, a 15-year old and a 17-year old. The 19-year old was hurt the worst. They all dove under their beds and did the best get out of the gun fire. The 19-year old was shot in the left shoulder and the left chest, was hospitalized at St. Catherine’s hospital about a mile down the road in Cite’ Soleil. The 15-year old girl was, ah took a shot to the left side of the head, I would call it shrapnel, the left side of her head was still shaved when I examined her and the shrapnel had been removed, she was OK. The 17-year old, ah what I’m calling shrapnel, in the mid right leg, which would be the tubual [?] area, and that wound was also uninfected.

I did check the 19-year old girl, the daughter that was injured the most, after she was released from a hospital. And I say “a hospital” because she was transferred from St. Catherine’s to another hospital and then I saw her in clinic. She’s psychologically very wounded, she’s very afraid. There’s a large scar on her left shoulder, her left arm was not working like it should from the neurological standpoint. There was also a bullet wound on the left side of her chest and on the dosum, which is the back of the right hand. But she’s alive, all the girls were alive. They’re very scared and the people in Sole are very scared.

Dennis Bernstein: You’re documenting and saying now that the United Nations flew over head of Cite’ Soleil and were firing on and off for some three hours. Is it your understanding, based on your own personal examinations that these people were shot from the air? [break up] Doctor Carrol?

Dr. Carrol: Dennis I lost you for a second.

Dennis Bernstein: Dr. Carrol, let me repeat my question because it’s crucial, be cause what we’re doing here is essentially we’re documenting a situation where the United Nations lied to the World. So, let me ask you again. Are you saying, based on your examinations as a medical doctor and your interviews that you confirm that the United Nations is lying and that these people were shot from the air.

Dr. Carrol: That’s correct. Your question is cut up quite a bit by the internet, but ah, the family stated, as I stated, that the helicopter from MINUSTAH, the United Nations, circled overhead and shot down. I saw the holes in the roofs and I saw the holes in the patients. Go ahead.

So again, just to confirm, based on your examination as a medial doctor, you confirm that the United Nations is lying when they say that they did not use a helicopter gun ship on this very poor community.

Dr. Carrol: That would be my assessment. That would be my impression, ah based on what I saw in their home, ah with the holes in the roof, with the holes in the children, ah and on the interview. I don’t know what more to say.

Sources:

[1] Jeb Sprague, January 27, 2007, Lame Ti Manchèt accused of role in killing of Photojournalist

[2] William G. O'Neill, Haiti Insight Volume 7, No. 3, National Coalition for Hatian Rights, The Haitian National Police: A Mixed Record

[3] Amnesty International, September 28, 2006. Activist’s killing shows need for disarmament programme

[4] Haiti Information Project (This is a fairly weak citation).

[5] Februray 7, 2007, Flashpoints Radio, Interview with Dr. John Carroll

6 comments:

nocturnal scribe said...

You have an excellent blog here. Well spoken and researched, also timely re: issues. Keep up the good work; don't get discouraged.

Worried said...

GDAEman; I linked your url/blog on my main blog. I hope some of our visitors will check out ths blog.

JollyRoger said...

We've never had a media as hostile to its own consumers as today's Chimpromised MSM.

Don't expect any kind of factual reporting from this bunch. To quote a Bush, they're not gonna do it...

GDAEman said...

I appreciate the encouragement, N. Scribe. Thanks for linking to GDAEman... that's more encouragement. Not to worry ;-) I did a double-take on the "Chimpromized MSM." Gave me a good chuckle and more encouragement. I guess that's to be expected from the 'Jolly'roger.

Was going to have a meeting of like-minded alt media folks tonight, but got iced out... literally.

Thanks for the comments.

Worried said...

I''m glad that Jolly Roger popped in to visit. Granny (Ann) also popped over but didn't comment. She commented on our blog about visiting you. Jolly Roger is one of Granny Ann's regulars on her main blog, rocrebelgranny.blogspot.com.

Granny and I and Gadfly are team mates on my main blog, isamericaburning.blogspot.com.

Many visitors get us mixed up, so recently I posted a clarification of our identities. If you would care to view it and see who is who, the link is: http://isamericaburning.blogspot.com/2007/02/clarification-for-our-readers.html .

I have several war blogs, one of which is Sacrificed for Empire, on which you commented. So I am also "nocturnal scribe" as well as "worried".

JH said...

I was curious why you added your own editorial referring to the Haiti Information Project article as a "weak citation?"

Haiti Information Project (HIP) and Kevin Pina honored with Project Censored award.

(HIP story among Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008 recognized by Project Censored): http://www.projectcensored.org

# 12 Another Massacre in Haiti by UN Troops
Sources:
HaitiAction.net, January 21, 2007
Title: “UN in Haiti: Accused of Second Massacre”
Authors: Haiti Information Project
http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/1_21_7/1_21_7.html

Inter Press Service
Title: “Haiti: Poor Residents of Capital Describe a State of Siege”
Authors: Wadner Pierre and Jeb Sprague
http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=36772

Student Researcher: William Leeming
Faculty Evaluator: Dianne Parness

Eyewitness testimony confirms indiscriminate killings by UN forces in Haiti’s Cité Soleil community on December 22, 2006, reportedly as collective punishment against the community for a massive demonstration of Lavalas supporters in which about ten thousand people rallied for the return of President Aristide in clear condemnation of the foreign military occupation of their country. According to residents, UN forces attacked their neighborhood in the early morning, killing more than thirty people, including women and children. Footage taken by Haiti Information Project (HIP) videographers shows unarmed civilians dying as they tell of extensive gunfire from UN peacekeeping forces (MINUSTAH).

A hardened UN strategy became apparent days after the demonstration, when UN officials stated they were entering Cité Soleil to capture or kill gangsters and kidnappers. While officials of MINUSTAH have admitted to “collateral damage,” in the raids of December 2006, they say they are there to fight gangsters at the request of the René Préval government.

But many residents and local human rights activists say that scores of people having no involvement with gangs were killed, wounded, and arrested in the raids.

Although MINUSTAH denied firing from helicopter gunships, HIP captured more than three hours of video footage and a large selection of digital photos, illustrating the UN’s behavior in Haiti.

An unidentified twenty-eight-year-old man, filmed by HIP, can be seen dying as he testifies that he was shot from a circling UN helicopter that rained gunfire on those below. HIP film also shows a sixteen-year-old, dying just after being shot by UN forces. Before dying he describes details of the UN opening fire on unarmed civilians in his neighborhood. The wounded and dying, filmed by HIP, all express horror and confusion.

IPS observed that buildings throughout Cité Soleil were pockmarked by bullets; many showing huge holes made by heavy caliber UN weapons, as residents attest. Often pipes that brought in water to the slum community now lay shattered.

A recently declassified document from the US embassy in Port-au-Prince reveals that during a similar operation carried out in July 2005, MINUSTAH expended 22,000 bullets over several hours. In the report, an official from MINUSTAH acknowledged, “given the flimsy construction of homes in Cité Soleil and the large quantity of ammunition expended, it is likely that rounds penetrated many buildings, striking unintended targets.”

Frantz Michel Guerrier, spokesman for the Committee of Notables for the Development of Cité Soleil based in the Bois Neuf zone, said, “It is very difficult for me to explain to you what the people of Bois Neuf went through on Dec. 22, 2006—almost unexplainable. It was a true massacre. We counted more than sixty wounded and more than twenty-five dead, among [them] infants, children, and young people.”

“We saw helicopters shoot at us, our houses broken by the tanks,” Guerrier told IPS. “We heard detonations of the heavy weapons. Many of the dead and wounded were found inside their houses. I must tell you that nobody had been saved, not even the babies. The Red Cross was not allowed to help people. The soldiers had refused to let the Red Cross in categorically, in violation of the Geneva Convention.” Several residents told IPS that MINUSTAH, after conducting its operations, evacuated without checking for wounded.

Following the removal of Haiti’s elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide government (see Censored 2005, story #12), up to one thousand Lavalas political activists were imprisoned under the US-backed interim government, according to a Miami University Human Rights study.

A study released by the Lancet Journal of Medicine in August 2006 estimates that 8,000 were killed and 35,000 sexually assaulted in the greater Port-au-Prince area during the time of the interim government (2004-2006). The study attributed human rights abuses to purported “criminals,” police, anti-Lavalas gangs, and UN peacekeepers.

HIP Founding Editor Kevin Pina commented, “It is clear that this represents an act of terror against the community. This video evidence shows clearly that the UN stands accused, once again, of targeting unarmed civilians in Cité Soleil. There can be no justification for using this level of force in the close quarters of those neighborhoods. It is clear that the UN views the killing of these innocents as somehow acceptable to their goal of pacifying this community. Every demonstration, no matter how peaceful, is seen as a threat to their control if it includes demands for the return of Aristide to Haiti. In that context it is difficult to continue to view the UN mission as an independent and neutral force in Haiti. They apparently decided sometime ago it was acceptable to use military force to alter Haiti’s political landscape to match their strategic goals for the Haitian people.”

Update by Kevin Pina

Since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Lavalas political party were ousted from power on February 29, 2004, accusations of gross human rights violations have persisted in Haiti. While the Haitian National Police (HNP) received training and assistance from the UN following Aristide’s ouster, they were also accused of summary executions, arbitrary arrests, and the killing of unarmed demonstrators. The actions of the Haitian police became so egregious that even UN police trainers (CIVPOL) began to question the motives of their commanders and the mission’s objectives. The Haiti Information Project (HIP) received the following correspondence in response to a May 8, 2005 article “UN accommodates Human Rights Abuses by police in Haiti.”1 This is the first publication of that correspondence:

"Just want to reinforce your observations as all being accurate.

I am one of the 25 US CIVPOL here on the ground in Haiti, having arrived last November. As a group we are frustrated by the UN’s and CIVPOL’s unwillingness to interpret their mandate aggressively. I have been pushing them to conduct investigations into all the shootings and other significant Human Rights violations with no success. The Police Commissioner and command staff shows little interest and claim the mandate does not allow them to do this. Unfortunately I have countless examples.

The corruption in the HNP is massive with little interest in addressing the problem. Just keep up the pressure, I don’t know what else to do."

Stephen MacKinnon
Chief, Strategic Planning Unit
CIVPOL-MINUSTAH

Chief MacKinnon provided HIP with information and documents that painted a disturbing picture of a UN operation more obsessed with political embarrassment caused by mounting demonstrations for Aristide’s return than interest in reigning in human rights abuses committed by the HNP.2

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) now stands accused of having itself committed several massacres in the seaside shantytown of Cité Soleil. This area of the capital served as a launching site for massive demonstrations demanding the return of President Aristide and for an end to what they called the foreign occupation of their country.
The Brazilian military has responsibility for leadership of the UN military forces in Haiti and is authorized to use deadly force. They are at the top of the command structure and their influence on the overall mission should not be understated. More importantly, there is a direct parallel between Brazilian military tactics utilized by UN forces in Haiti and similar military-style assaults used by the police in their own country.

The Brazilian military police have been accused of firing indiscriminately in the poor slums of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro called favelas. This was highlighted in an Amnesty International report “Brazil: ‘They come in Shooting’: Policing socially excluded communities,” released on December 2, 2005.3
This is similar to the tactics authorized by the Brazilian generals in Haiti. It has resulted in several high-profile massacres committed in the poor slum of Cité Soleil where protestors challenged the UN’s authority by continuing to launch massive demonstrations demanding Aristide’s return and condemning the UN’s presence in Haiti. In each instance, the UN and the elite-run Haitian press demonized the entire community as being criminals and gangsters and/or collaborators of criminals and gangsters. While it is true that armed “gangs” operated in the neighborhood and a few claimed they were aligned with Aristide’s Lavalas movement, these military raids had a clear correlation to the ongoing demonstrations and opposition to the UN presence in Haiti.

Cité Soleil was terrorized on July 6, 2005 when Brazilian commanders authorized a raid by UN forces with the stated aim of routing gangs in the area.4 For Aristide supporters, the raid was a preemptive strike by the UN to dampen the impact of protests on Aristide’s birthday, planned to take place only nine days later on July 15. It also represented the first time UN forces purposely sought to assassinate the leadership of armed groups claiming allegiance to Aristide’s Lavalas movement.5 By the time UN guns stopped firing, countless unarmed civilians lay dead with many having been killed by a single high-powered rifle shot to the head. Since then, documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the US Embassy and various intelligence agencies, were aware of the excessive use of force by UN forces in Haiti on July 6, 2005.6 Despite being heavily censored by US officials, what emerges is clear evidence of the disproportionate use of force by UN troops in Cité Soleil.

December 16, 2006 saw another large demonstration for Aristide that began in Cite Soleil and only six days later on December 22, Brazilian commanders would authorize a second deadly raid that residents and human rights groups say resulted in the wholesale slaughter of innocent victims. The unspoken parallel of Brazil’s role in leading the UN’s military strategy in Haiti is the fact that terror tactics such as these have been their modus operandi in their own country.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 2, UN forces entered Cité Soleil firing indiscriminately and their victims were two young girls killed as they slept in their own home.7 Massive demonstrations were scheduled to take place five days later demanding the return of Aristide throughout Haiti on Feb. 7. While these demonstrations went largely unreported by the international corporate media, this stood in contrast, to the avalanche of news stories filed two days later on Feb. 9, when UN forces launched yet another deadly military operation in Cité Soleil.8

Although these raids were ostensibly to rid the neighborhood of gangs, they followed the same pattern and relationship to demonstrations for Aristide’s return and military tactics used by Brazilian commanders in previous UN operations.
The only rights organizations documenting the loss of life and destruction of property resulting from the UN raid on December 22, 2006, as well as previous and subsequent UN military operations, were the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI).9 HIP, the organization originally authoring the article being recognized by Project Censored, is a news agency that has extensive video evidence and interviews from Cité Soleil taken the same day these attacks by UN forces were executed. HIP offers any human rights organization the opportunity to view the documentary footage and evidence supporting the claims of Cité Soleil residents that massacres by UN forces have been committed against them. Unfortunately, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States have remained conspicuously disinterested and silent about this evidence.

For further information and updates about Haiti, please visit www.haitiaction.net, www.ijdh.org, www.HaitiInformationProject.net, www.haitianalysis.com, www.canadahaitiaction.ca, and www.ahphaiti.org.

Notes

1. Haiti Information Project,”UN accommodates Human Rights Abuses by police in Haiti,” May 8, 2005. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/5_8_5/5_8_5.html.

2. Internet correspondence received from Steve McKinnon to HIP May 12, 2005.

3. Amnesty International Report, “Brazil: ‘They come in Shooting’: Policing socially excluded communities” December 2, 2005. See http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e &id=ENGAMR190252005

4. Haiti Information Project, “Evidence mounts of a UN massacre in Haiti,” July 12, 2005. See http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/7_12_5.html.

5. Haiti Information Project,”The UN’s disconnect with the poor in Haiti,” December 25, 2005. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/12_25_5/12_25a_5.html.

6. Haiti Information Project, “US Embassy in Haiti acknowledges excessive force by UN,” January 24, 2007. Article based on FOIA documents obtained by College of DuPage Geography Professor Keith Yearman. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/1_23_7/1_23_7.html.

7. Haiti Information Project—February 2, 2007. UN terror kills Haiti’s children at night http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_2_7a/2_2_7a.html.

8. Haiti Information Project, “Massive demonstrations in Haiti catch UN by surprise,” February 9, 2007. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_9_7/2_9_7.html.

9. Haiti Information Project,”The UNspoken truth about gangs in Haiti,” February 15, 2007. See http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_15_7/2_15_7.html.

10. Video images documenting UN military operations on July 6, 2005 and December 22, 2006 were taken by HIP videographer Jean-Baptiste Ristil.