Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cite Soleil Under Siege by UN Occupiers |
Illegal Demolitions Must Stop

Attorney Marguerite Laurent of Haitian Lawyers Leadership has issued a statement condemning the wholesale expropriation and demotion being undertaken in Cite Soleil of 155 homes. Cite Soleil, a shanty town in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is under siege by the UN occupying forces. In the past at least two (July 6, 2005 and Dec. 22, 2006) documented attacks by United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) have been characterized as massacres by many journalist and human rights activist.



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HLLN Statement:
Regarding the allege illegal expropriation of the private property of people in Site Soley by USAID, MINUSTAH, US Embassy and DYNCORPS

On August 22, 2008, we posted on our Ezili Dantò's HLLN listserve an urgent appeal, from Haitian human rights lawyer and advocate, attorney Evel Fanfan, in Haiti, asking for international mobilization of help for property owners in Site Soley whose assets were taken over to make way for a new MINUSTAH headquarters in Site Soley, allegedly being built by the private US Embassy defense contractor DYNCORPS with monies from USAID.

According to counselor Evel Fanfan’s appeal, “More than 155 private homes and buildings in Site Soley are being destroyed without even a notice or compensation plan for the owners. This giant cleanup operation is being carried out by the firm, DYNCORPS, the chief agent of the American Embassy in Haiti with USAID as the financing source…”

Upon further investigation, HLLN learned that the subject property owners have complained to the Haitian government, to at least three Haitian officials and apparently have been told by these officials that they are not party to this transfer. There is apparently a "magistra" in Site Soley who has the "case.” It is clear that no mayor or ‘magistra’ in Site Soley has the legal right to unilaterally confiscate private property whatsoever and hand it over to foreigners. So, the question is: who within the Haitian government had the legal authority and authorized the demolition by DYNCORPS and building for MINUSTAH and US Embassy on the property of Haitians who did not transfer their land titles and are still the legal owners of the expropriated properties?

Who in the Haitian government authorized this taking of private property for MINUSTAH and foreign use and do these buyers or lessees not have the duty to not only 1). disclose to the owners how they came to claim title to these private lands, but also 2). to make sure that the authority from whom they rest their rights and title actually has the LEGAL authority to transfer said private Haitian property to them and for the use being made of it? MINUSTAH, DYNCORPS, US Embassy, USAID cannot break ground and take possession of private property in Haiti without the legal right to do so. What are MINUSTAH, USAID, US Embassy and DYNCORPS basing their titles to occupy these lands upon? Upon whose authority?

There is a Haitian law and procedure for decreeing certain private property state property. We shall soon publish this Haitian law. Suffice it to say it requires due notice, hearing and compensation to the property owners. The owners in this matter have not had any notice whatsoever, and certainly no compensation before DYNCORPS, the private US Embassy defense contractor, began demolition of their property.

“Rev. Eddy Michel, a preacher at the Christian church, The Apostles' Foundation, one of the institutions that is a victim of this operation, said he was, " completely astounded to find out about this cleanup operation with no warning, no explanation, or plan for compensation on the part of City Hall, MINUSTAH, or the American Embassy which together are authorizing, securing and financing this work." Lebon Isaac, Senior Pastor of the church says he is "the legal property owner of this piece of land on which we have been building the church since 1994", and, he reports, "this is the case for several other neighbor owners". (See Evel Fanfan’s August 22, 2008 appeal, copied below).

This is an urgent matter for the Haitian government to address. The demolition must stop, and the people living in the community must be heard on this issue before USAID may fund whatever it is going to built behind the MASSIVE walls that are currently being built on private property by DYNCORPS. Whoever it is, within the Preval government, who has the legal oversight over the actions of MINUSTAH, USAID, DYNCORPS, US Embassy must step into this breach, call for a stop to the demolition and constructions in Site Soley “taking place in front of the Place D'Arme.”

These foreigners – MINUSTAH, USAID, DYNCORPS and US Embassy should not be above the law. While telling all in sundry they are in Haiti to institutionalize law, transparency, justice and democracy, they must adhere to the appropriate Haitian law that mandates that the owners of the land and buildings cannot be divested of their interests without the due process of law, and proper compensation. At the moment these Haitian owners allege their properties are being illegally taken. This charge must be answered, not only by the Haitian government, but by MINUSTAH, USAID, DYNCORPS and US Embassy - all are obligated to show they have legal authority, legitimate title and have followed the proper legally mandated procedures for divesting these owners of their legal titles in the subject lands.

These "buyers/lessees" have a duty to be sure they are contracting from a seller ABLE to make the transfer, before their personal defense contractor, DYNCORPS, can start bulldozing private HAITIAN property and building a massive, massive wall, right in the middle of a defenseless Site Soley community that has no idea what is happening.

Finally, I note that we are aware that many of the property owners are hesitant about protesting this gross and flagrant violation of their civil rights and existing Haitian laws. It took a lot of courage for these poor resource-less Haitians from Site Soley to ask for our help in the international community because their adversaries are powerful and many fear 'y ap mete yon bagay sou do m' - that these internationals will simply label them as "bandits" or "gangsters" and they'll be disappeared or thrown into jail with indefinite detention for expressing outrage and dissent over abuse of their rights. Remember DYNCORPS, who is financially benefiting from demolishing these properties and building this massive compound, is a powerful private Defense Contractor with authority from the absolutely powerful US Embassy, USAID and MINUSTAH forces in Haiti.

We ask that everyone stay tuned and please call Attorney Evel Fanfan directly as he indicated in his appeal, as well as Rev. Eddy Michel of the Apostles' Foundation and Pastor Lebon Isaac, et al, to help in whatever way you can and to show your solidarity

These Haitian men are facing down very powerful forces and the solidarity of truly caring people, the world over, is immeasurable in times like this. When one knows not the manner of retaliation that may be exacted, the suffering, irreparable damage, if not death that may come about from this simple appeal for help and for simply asserting their human right to tell their story to you and ask for your help and solidarity. Your solidarity is critical. Human lives are at stake.

We urge all major media and international news outlets to not remain silent and to please cover and report on this story as soon as possible.

Marguerite "Ezili Danto" Laurent, Esq.
President, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
August 25, 2008


BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

ALERT: SERIOUS VIOLATION OF RIGHTS IN CITÉ SOLEIL
by Atty. Evel Fanfan, President of AUMOHD

More than 155 private homes and buildings in Cité Soleil are being destroyed without even a notice or compensation plan for the owners. This giant cleanup operation is being carried out by the firm, DYNCORPS, the chief agent of the American Embassy in Haiti with USAID as the financing source. This is taking place in front of the Place D'Arme in this poor, inner city zone and beside the new building serving as headquarters for both the police and the soldiers of MINUSTAH. The properties being razed were damaged by the armed violence which took place in this section over the past several years. Community members are organizing to resist this illegal action.

Rev. Eddy Michel, a preacher at the Christian church, The Apostles' Foundation, one of the institutions that is a victim of this operation, said he was, " completely astounded to find out about this cleanup operation with no warning, no explanation, or plan for compensation on the part of City Hall, MINUSTAH, or the American Embassy which together are authorizing, securing and financing this work." Lebon Isaac, Senior Pastor of the church says he is "the legal property owner of this piece of land on which we have been building the church since 1994", and, he reports, "this is the case for several other neighbor owners".

Yesterday a meeting was held between AUMOHD and CODEL, the committee of landowners, victims of this operation and the Mayor, Charles Joseph. After a long discussion it was agreed to hold another meeting with the people from USAID, DYNCORPS and the City Hall of Cité Soleil to reassess the case.

So AUMOHD is asking you to make an urgent call to the mayors of Cité Soleil and other officials to say that you (as defenders of the rights of the poor and voiceless) are aware of these serious violations (illegal appropriation of private property and impeding the exercise of the religion of the people) and ask them to intervene in this affair so that justice be done fairly for all the owners of these houses and/or lands.

INTERNATIONAL ADVOCATES ARE URGED TO SEND AN E-MAIL (SEE DRAFT BELOW) TO AUMOHD WHO WILL DELIVER IT TO THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES

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1.-Cite Soleil City Hall
- Mayor Charles Joseph Tel : 509-37052083
- Mayor Gustave Benoît Tel : 509-37303620

2.- American Embassy in Haïti, to give them the same message.

Mr. Lucien Cantave, Director of political and human rights
services : Tel. 509-22230707

3.- The authorities of USAID, to pass on the same message

4.- MINUSTAH through SDH, Ms Andrea Eloi Tel. 509-39211103,
to pass on the same message.

5. Call Pastors Lebon ISAAC : 509-3798-5388

Eddy Michel : 509-36983515
Mr. Claude LOR : 509- 35572585

To tell them that you are engaged in their battle for
justice and reparations for them

For all other additional information call:
AUMOHD DWA MOUN
Evel FANFAN Esq.

President AUMOHD
(Action Des Universitaires Motivés pour une Haïti de Droit)

4, Delmas 47, Route de Delmas
Port au Prince, Haiti (WI)

Phone: (509)-37548022 / 34297129 / 3490-3394
E-mail : presidentaumohd@yahoo.fr | fanfanmel@yahoo.fr
website: http://www.hurah-inc.org

Blog: http//aumohddwamoun.blogspot.com
Skype: evelfanfan

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