Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sowing Panic on the Streets of Haiti

"So you have people who were financing misinformation, on the one hand, and destabilisation, on the other, and who encouraged small groups of hoodlums to sow panic on the streets, to create the impression of a government losing control."
Pro-Aristide graffiti in front of the Haitian Presidential Palace (March 2008)

That statement was made by President Aristide in 2006, but it is still appropriate for the situation in Haiti now. A UN food convoy was reportedly attacked by an armed group of men trying to hi-jack the supplies. One has to wonder, who are these fools, who would try to hold up a vehicle with men armed with powerful automatic weapons? These men couldn't have been armed with guns. What's more, no one was injured! The UN only fired warning shots. Unbelievable! What of the occasions when the UN occupiers have committed massacres; firing into shantytown communities, killing mothers, fathers and babies; or when a few brutally beat up Haitian policemen in their own barracks; or shot and killed a young man attending Pére Gerard Jean Juste's funeral?

The carnage which began with Bush regime change did not stop when the UN occupiers took over, as chronicled by Ezili Danto's Witness Project:
April 1, 2005 to April 23, 2005 - Killed by UN soldiers (AUMOHD report)

1. Fedia Raphael, age 15. She was shot by the Peruvian MINUSTAH soldiers, April 9, 2005

2. Jean Brenel Jean, age 28, killed by several bullets to the head by Peruvian MINUSTAH soldiers, April 15, 2005

3. Paul Jean Emile, killed at Bois Neuf in Cité Soleil by MINUSTAH soldiers.

4. Andre Joassaint, killed April 1, 2005 by MINUSTAH soldiers

5. "Bord", so called, a former soccer player, killed outside the police station at Cité Soleil

6. Denis Gary, killed by MINUSTAH soldiers with a bullet to the head, Cité Soleil

7. Daniel Jimmo, killed by MINUSTAH soldiers, April 19th, at Drouillard

8. Marie Maude Fabien, age 28, shot by MINUSTAH soldiers April 23, 2005. She is still in the morgue because her parents haven't the means to bury her.

(AUMOHD report for Ezili Danto Witness Project, dated April 30, 2005)
Bush regime change brought a bloodbath to Haiti, with the attendant massacres and human rights abuses. It's hard to believe that the UN occupier's disregard for Haitian life has just turned on a dime in a matter of days and they are just firing warning shots into the air now. The UN specializes in head shots. Their intent is not to maim, but to kill.
"And then when it comes to 2004-6, suddenly all this indignant talk of violence falls silent. As if nothing had happened. People were being herded into containers and dropped into the sea. That counts for nothing. The endless attacks on Cité Soleil, they count for nothing. I could go on and on. Thousands have died. But they don’t count, because they are just chimères, after all." –Jean-Bertrand Aristide
To be fair when the UN occupiers first came in June 2004, they just bore silent witness to the killings by the Haitian police and the goons who served the oligarchy. It was not part of their mission to stop the carnage, so they did not intervene to stop it. It was not until April 2005 that the UN began to systematically brutalize the Haitian population. The terror intensified in July and December of 2005 when Brazilian troops leading the "military component" of the UN mission committed bloody massacres in the shantytown of Cite Soleil.
“MINUSTAH has been shooting tear gas on the people. There are children who have died from the gas and some people inside churches have been shot. The Red Cross was with us. The Red Cross was just here and might have just gone on to pick up more children and adults who have gotten shot. The Red Cross is the only one helping us. The MINUSTAH soldiers remain hidden in their tanks and just aim their guns and shoot the people. They shoot people selling in the streets. They shoot people just walking in the streets. They shoot people sitting and selling in the marketplace.”
      – Emmanuel "Dred" Wilme/shot and killed by MINUSTAH 06.06.2005
Prior to the massacres, Cite Soleil had been the launching point of mass demonstrations calling for the return of President Aristide and an end to foreign occupation of their country. The targeting of Cite Soleil for terror, death and violence is documented as occuring before planned demonstrations.

Although Emmanuel "Dred" Wilme was targeted as a "gang leader," his people knew him as a Community Leader and hero. On July 6, 2005, 440 soldiers shot heavy guns at the fragile homes of the shantytown dwellers of Cite Soleil for seven hours from their tanks and helicopters. A total of 22,000 rounds of ammunition were expanded to kill one man, but killed in the cross-fire were an estimated 59 others; innocent men, women and children. Dred Wilme died a slow and painful death from a gut wound--he was not yet thirty when he died. His people celebrated Dred Wilme by giving him an honorific African funeral pyre by the seaside.
HLLN: "None of those calling Drèd Wilme "bandit" have ever shown he traveled outside his community to attack either the foreigner who came to kill him in his own home, nor the morally repugnant Haitian bourgeoisie who paid assassins to destroy his community, his nation. In contrast to the bi-centennial Coup D'etat traitors, Drèd Wilme is known to the people in his community as a defender of the defenseless and poor. Again, we say, as we did last April, Wilme covered himself in glory because he added value in his own community, and if, in fact, he lives no more, he joins the line going back to that first Neg and Negès Ginen who can only - depi lan Guinen - live free or die. That unborn spirit, that Haitian soul, cannot die. It's rising."
In spite of all the terror and deaths, United Nations Destabilization Mission in Haiti has not been successful in stopping dissent in Haiti. When President Aristides' Fanmi Lavalas was banned from elections last April, the polling stations were empty due to a boycott. The same action was due to happen this February 2010, because once again the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) decided to bar the country's most popular political organization (Fanmi Lavalas). To add insult to injury the Council approved the candidacy of Guy Phillippe's party. Guy had been one of the thugs leading the "rebels" calling for the ousting of Aristide. Astonishingly, Guy is supposedly the target of a DEA warrant.

MINUSTAH must have gauged that things would be coming to a head this month with the elections, and probably protests and boycotts. There were propaganda posters posted warning people that if they did not come out to vote, they could expect an increase in hunger for their country. The earthquake has preempted all that and now the elections have been postponed by the Haitian government.

Back to the convoy incident, it's hard to believe that the earthquake has so effected the aim of the "peacekeepers." Just this past November a man was shot who was part of a group of curious Haitians who approached a UN helicopter operating in the dead of night. Why was the UN mission that night so important that deadly force had to be used to repel unarmed townspeople?
"Residents of this quiet seaside town an hour west of Port-Au-Prince were awoken at about 1 a.m. on Nov. 10 by the sound of helicopters flying low overhead. A curious crowd amassed around the aircrafts.

One of the helicopters had mechanical trouble and had to make an emergency landing, said U.N. spokesperson Sophie Boutaud de la Combe. To lighten the load on the damaged helicopter, the Chilean crew moved white boxes of supplies into the other helicopter for several hours.

She also said, in a radio interview broadcast here in the capital city, that troops only fired once into the air in attempt to disperse the crowd. They had called for backup from the local platoon of Sri Lankan U.N. troops."
Rinvil Jean Weldy, 50, has a wound on his right shoulder as a painful reminder of the very real bullets aimed at the crowd. The incident begs the question: Who are the frightful monsters that people must be cautioned against -- the Haitian people who are dying by the hundreds of thousands or MINUSTAH's heavily armed military contingent? The Haitian people for one, know the answer to that question. They don't want MINUSTAH. They don't need MINUSTAH. They can't see what MINUSTAH has done for Haiti since they've been there. Even during this earthquake crisis, the UN was seen conducting military exercises, ignoring the acute suffering of the Haitian people. Why was the UN in a convoy with food supplies anyway? Who are they delivering it to--it can't possibly be for the Haitian people.
"Edmond Mulet, as the organization's Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and interim head of MINUSTAH. Mulet clarified on January 22 that MINUSTAH will concentrate on assisting the Haitian Nation Police in providing security within the country after the earthquake, while United States and Canadian military forces will distribute humanitarian aid and provide security for aid distribution."
Since MINUSTAH's "peacekeepers" claim to be securing the peace in Haiti, it's natural to wonder what casualties they have incurred as a result of their clashes with these violence prone Haitians- - the bandits, gangs, Chimeres and desperate criminals. It's been four long years since MINUSTAH has occupied Haiti. The fearsome native gangs must have taken a toll on the UN forces? After all, they are reportedly armed and dangerous. Nope. Not so much. There is a staggering imbalance when one looks at the numbers. The Lancet documented in 2006 that the conservative estimates of the carnage in Haiti since 2004, following the removal of the democratically elected government were: 8,000 dead and 35,000 raped. On the UN side, the documented deaths are 2: one suspicious "suicide" of a Brazilian UN Commander (suspicious because he had argued with members the repugnant and immoral oligarchy just before his death) and one Philippino soldier. This mission has been a breeze for the men in blue helmets. It's as if the threat of violence has been extremely exaggerated.

The most casualties sustained by the UN forces in Haiti are the 100 reportedly killed when the UN building in Port-au-Prince collapsed during the earthquake.

The actions of the UN Destabilizing mission in Haiti as described by HLLN in Nov. 2005 were as criminals preying on members of Fanmi Lavalas.
"HLLN comment on the continuing occupation of Haiti:
In what should be a community police function, military soldiers from the multinational UN contingent [...] are executing, not arresting, "suspected criminals" in Haiti with no judicial oversight and against the Geneva Convention and other well established rules for military engagement and clearly beyond "peacekeeping" functions which normally means MEDIATION between two political different armed groups. But because Haiti is weak, poor and Black, profiling of Lavalas supporters is the standard to determine whether a Haitian male is "a gang member" standards of law seem suspended for this nation by the international community (US, Canada, France) and the UN."
In the aftermath of the catastrophic 7.0 earthquake of Jan. 12, so-called "isolated" incidents of violence by the Haitian population are being pointed to by the media and the US Pentagon as a pretext for keeping Haiti under a brutal military lock-down. So with the blessing of these two American institutions, these "criminals," who are masquerading as a "peacekeeping" force and who have had zero accountability for all the crimes they have committed in Haiti, have the license to go on operating as they have in the past -- as a brute force.

Bon chance Haiti.. Bon chance.. by Drax WD.

Anti-UN graffiti Fort Liberté, Haiti (2009).
Photo credit: Drax WD - read his story on Flickr

It is evident that MINUSTAH is the culprit for much of the violence and death in Haiti since its brutal occupation began in June 2004. The people feel no security from the presence of MINUSTAH's armed forces. See Mediahacker's piece: "Mistrusting of Their Government and UN, Haitians Place Their Hopes In US Troops, Aristide."

However, the tiny one percent of the Haitian population which monopolizes Haiti's wealth, do feel very secure; as do the NGOs, hypocritically pious churches, the multi-national business interests, foreign government agencies, sweatshop owners, charities... they by and large have felt very comfortable with the hunting down, killing and criminalizing of Fanmi Lavalas members. A democracy really does not work very well for them. It would impinge on their turf and they might have to answer to the people for their actions in Haiti. Why, they might even be expected to pay taxes!

In the interview quoted at the beginning of this piece, President Aristide talked about the "hoodlums" who were the instrument of fear and panic used to create the impression that he had lost control of his government. The same scenario is unfolding in Haiti now. The media covering the events in Haiti are constantly anticipating and predicting violence. It's as if they act as an arm of the US Pentagon in times when the Empire is ready to make interventions in hapless countries like Haiti. Haiti is ripe for the picking because it has been crippled by the US' economic, social and foreign policies -- not a "natural" disaster.
"It was never really about me, it’s got nothing to do with me as an individual. They detest and despise the people. They refuse absolutely to acknowledge that everyone is equal. So when they behave in this way, part of the reason is to reassure themselves that they are different. It’s essential that they see themselves as better than others. I’m convinced it’s bound up with the legacy of slavery, with an inherited contempt for the common people, for the petits nègres. It’s the psychology of apartheid: it’s better to get down on your knees with whites than to stand shoulder to shoulder with blacks."
President Aristide understands the dynamics of the forces aligned against Haiti. He is the only one who can finally unify the people. President Aristide must be allowed to return to Haiti. The international community has no right to keep a former head of state landless and exiled. Moreover, President Aristide is needed to help in the reconstruction and rebuilding of Haiti and in the establishment and maintenance of Haiti's institutions. He only needs to have his Haitian passport restored. President Preval, are you listening? Now that your handlers are no longer heaping praise on you for the improvements you have made, please stop kowtowing to them. President Aristide must return home to his country in Haiti's time of need.
"The South African government has welcomed us here as guests, not as exiles; by helping us so generously they have made their contribution to peace and stability in Haiti. And once the conditions are right we’ll go back. As soon as René Préval judges that the time is right then I’ll go back."
      –Jean-Bertrand Aristide/Pretoria, South Africa 2006
Vive retou Aristid.

UPDATE 7:00pm 02.03.10:
In early 2005, MINUSTAH force commander Lieutenant-General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira testified at a congressional commission in Brazil that “we are under extreme pressure from the international community to use violence,” citing Canada, France, and the United States. Later in the year, he resigned, and on 1 September 2005, was replaced by General Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar as force commander of MINUSTAH. On 7 January 2006, Bacellar was found dead in his hotel room. His interim replacement, Chilean General Eduardo Aldunate Hermann.

In January 2006, two Jordanian peacekeepers were killed in Cité Soleil.

Source: Wiki.

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