Monday, July 25, 2005

Growing Evidence of a Massacre by UN Occupation Forces in Haiti

A delegation of US trade unionists and human rights workers to Haiti at the beginning of July received an eyewitness report from local Haitian human rights workers that UN military forces had carried out a massacre in one of Port-au-Prince's poorest neighborhoods.

Since the coup on February 29th, 2004 that toppled the Aristide government, the people of Cite Soleil and other popular neighborhoods in the capital have been the target of systematic repression -- including extrajudicial executions -- by the Haitian National Police. Armed networks established by young adults in Cite Soleil -- labeled "gangs" by the authorities -- have attempted to provide security for a community facing almost daily incursions and shootings at the hands of the National Police. The community networks also provide vital social services such as education and food for the population.

The UN Mission in Haiti – MINUSTAH -- has insisted that these networks turn in their arms, but has not shown the capability or willingness to rein in the police units that have been terrorizing the population of Cite Soleil. The grass-roots networks have refused to disarm under the prevailing conditions, and have clashed with both police and UN military forces on multiple occasions.

The delegation interviewed a Haitian who was present in Cite Soleil during the operation and who got some film footage of the operation as it unfolded. The footage backs up eyewitness accounts of the events.

UN forces launched the offensive, shooting into houses, shacks, a church, and a school with machine guns, APC cannons, and tear gas. The eyewitness reported that when people fled to escape the tear gas, UN troops gunned them down from the back. UN forces shot out electric transformers in the neighborhood. People were killed in their homes and also just outside of their homes, on the way to work. One man named Leon Cherry, age 46, was shot and killed on his way to work for a flower company. Another man, Mones Belizaire, was shot as he got ready to go to work in a local sweatshop and subsequently died from a stomach infection. A woman who was a street vendor was shot in the head and killed instantly. One man was shot in his ribs while he was trying to brush his teeth. Another man was shot in the jaw as he left his house to try and get some money for his wife's medical costs; he endured a slow death. Yet another man named Mira was shot and killed while urinating in his home. A mother, Sonia Romelus, and her two young children were killed in their home, reportedly by UN fire after UN forces lobbed a 83-CC gas grenade into their home.

The eyewitness accounts combined with the videotape demonstrate that UN military forces in Haiti today are not engaged in the work of "peacekeeping" as much as they are in the business of repression.

Supporters of Aristide's party are being targeted for intimidation and terror before the next election is held--an effort to ensure victory for the present governemnt.


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