Another incidence of violence involving UN troops occupying Haiti is being reported (Fr.). This latest involves the death (Sp.) of 16-year-old Gérald Jean Gilles. His body was found in the base of Nepalese soldiers of MINUSTAH's Formed Police Units (FPU) in Cap-Haitien on August 17.
The death is being called a "suicide" by MINUSTAH. A UN spokesperson claims the youth hanged himself. Gilles, who did odd jobs at the base for food and money had been heard by people at the nearby Roi Henri Christophe hotel shouting, "They're strangling me."
This year alone there have been a number of incidents of violence involving UN troops leading up to this latest alleged torture and killing of young Gérard Jean Gilles.
March 30, 2010:
Women Tear Gassed by UN Troops as Security Concerns Shape Relief Effort + audio
According to witnesses, during the distribution of food to a group of women, the U.N. peacekeepers sprayed tear gas on the crowd.
May 24, 2010:
Outside Haiti’s National Palace, U.N. Troops’ Clash with Frustrated Students Spills into Camps
Students at the Faculty of Ethnology at the State University of Haiti (UEH) in downtown Port-au-Prince plan to file complaints with international agencies about a May 24 incident involving Brazilian soldiers from the 9,000-member United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The soldiers invaded the campus and arrested a student, Frantz Mathieu Junior, for allegedly throwing rocks. MINUSTAH released the student the same day, and the force’s acting head, Edmond Mulet, apologized on May 25, but the students question why more than three months later no UN soldiers have been disciplined.
Following the March 25 incident, organizers of a protest march released a press statement titled, "Let's mobilize to get the country out of the rubble of foreign aid and the rubble of the occupation" on May 26 signed by ten organizations [Gwoup 77 et al.] which stated, "After the January 12 catastrophe, the occupation has been strengthened with other foreign soldiers and MINUSTAH, on the pretext that they are helping us… [T]hey did nothing to help prevent more than 300,000 people from dying under rubble… Now on the sixth anniversary of the occupation, we are taking to the streets of Port-au-Prince to get the country out from under the rubble of MINUSTAH.”
May 28, 2010:
Violence in Cap-Haitien (Fr.)
On May 28 at least four people were reportedly wounded when MINUSTAH forces fired on a demonstration protesting lack of power in the Cité Lescot neighborhood of the northern city of Cap-Haïtien. The incident was also reported here.
Every day, there is growing dissatisfaction with the operations and the military presence of the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti - MINUSTAH. The most recent event that sparked outrage in the Haitian population was the death of Jean Gérald Gilles, barely 16 years. Security forces said the case was suicide, however, strong evidence indicates asphyxiation or drowning.
Gerald's body was found on Aug. 17, hanged inside the base Formed Police Units (FPU) of MINUSTAH, located in the center of Cap Haitien. According to information provided by some youths at Haitian media Réseau Citadelle, Gérald was tortured to death because the military suspected that he stole $200.
More incidents of violence and abuses by MINUSTAH and protests
A fuller accounting of accusations "of killings, arbitrary arrests, and human rights violations throughout the duration of the [UN] mission can be read here.
Most protests have been of the Preval government’s handling of the quake disaster and the Interim Electoral Council (CEP), but many protests have also targeted the military occupation of Haiti by MINUSTAH.
Radio Kiskeya reported the largest protest to date was held in Port-au-Prince on August 26 "to demand that authorities take immediate measures to provide decent housing. The protesters threatened not to take part in presidential and legislative elections scheduled for Nov. 28. 'There can be no elections with 1.5 million people living in tents,' demonstration organizers said."
According to AlterPresse, MINUSTAH puts the number of camps at 1,354 in the Port-au-Prince area alone.
Although troop levels are down seven months after the earthquake, when 12,600 U.N. troops, 20,000 U.S. troops, 2,000 Canadians, 600 French, and more from other countries were amassed in Haiti, there is a very heavy presence of foreign military in Haiti.
Reportedly, Israeli police forces have deployed to Haiti to serve "under the command of UN" military forces. Question: If these "special patrol officers" that make up this task force are only in Haiti "to fulfill policing roles, assist in quelling public disturbances and maintain public order, as well as securing the personal safety of Haitian residents," then why will they reportedly be living "in field conditions, spend the night in sleeping bags and tents, and will be equipped with army rations, special uniforms and wide-ranging personal equipment that will allow them to remain there for an extended period." Won't this camping out arrangement make it rather difficult for MINUSTAH to "command" these fourteen "specialist?"
As for the continuing oppressive UN military presence, many "manifestations" or demonstrations have been organized to protest MINUSTAH this year alone: here (Feb. 5), here (Feb. 11), here and here (July 28), and here (Aug. 21).
Various groups are planning a large demonstration against the UN occupying force on Oct. 15, the date on which the UN Security Council is expected to renew MINUSTAH's mandate for another year.
It is because of the continuous abuses by MINUSTAH and violent incidents like the one in Cap-Haitien on August 17 that Haitians are demanding an end to the UN occupation of Haiti.
At least one Haitian official has demanded accountability. Senate president Kélly Bastien has demanded a thorough investigation of the case. The Haitian government must stand in solidarity with the Haitian people and demand that an independent international authority carry out the investigation, since the UN authorities lead by Edmond Mulet have not in the past charged a single MINUSTAH unit with any serious crimes for continued violations of the human rights of Haitians. Any member of MINUSTAH found guilty of this latest deadly incident, which took place on their own military base, should be punished to the full extent of the law.
Source: Death of Haitian youth sparks new protests against MINUSTAH | by Thalles Gomes
1. According to the Jerusalem Post, 10 Israeli officers traveled to haiti "to help with policing challenges" in the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake.
- Weekly News Update on the Americas
- SCOOP FM
- The UN mission accused of torture and hanging in Haiti (French)
- Keeping the Peace in Haiti? - Harvard Law School (pdf)
- Human Rights Watch – “Haiti: Events of 2008”
- The Association of University Graduates Motivated For A Haiti With Rights (AUMOHD) on Human Rights Situation in Haiti– 2005 (AUMOHD is HLLN's legal partners in Haiti)
- Haiti Human Rights Report |
- Presented to the International Association of Democratic Lawyers – 2005 (pdf)
- University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Investigation – Nov. 11-21, 2004 (pdf)