Activists Across U.S. Launch Week of Protests
Haiti Action Committee - Press Release
Aug 10, 2004
For Immediate Release
August 10 - Beginning a week of non-violent demonstrations in the United States, representatives of the Bay Area-based Haiti Action Committee today called for people of conscience to support the Haitian people's ongoing struggle for basic freedoms.
Candlelight vigils, pickets and teach-ins are planned throughout the United States in support of he Haiti demonstrations held in Cap-Haitien and Milot in Northern Haiti from August 12 - August 14. That region has seen brutal crackdowns on the nonviolent mass movement Lavalas.
A candlelit march to demand an end to the persecution of Mayor Jean Charles Moise and other Lavalas members in Milot, and the return of President Aristide, will take place at 9pm on Friday August 13, starting from the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Church at the corner of Cedar and Bonita in North Berkeley. The vigil will follow the "How did you Become an Activist" series at the church. Noted media activist Maria Gilardin will be speaking before the vigil.
Robert Roth, a San Francisco educator who recently participated in a human rights delegation to Haiti, said, "The democratically-elected Mayor of Milot, Jean Charles Moise, is now in hiding after soldiers illegally stormed his home in the middle of the night on June 14. In 1998, Mayor Moise visited California, where he was received by the Board of Supervisors of Alameda County and the Mayors and City Council members of Oakland, Berkeley and Davis. These cities proclaimed a day in Mayor Moise's honor, recognizing his extraordinary contribution to the Haitian people's struggle for justice and democracy."
Roth added, "actions in Cap-Haitien and Milot will include a Caravan of Justice, in which people will place candles at sites of military attacks on civilians. This cycle of protest will conclude with a march on August 14, commemorating the beginning of the Haitian Revolution. Due to the extreme repression in the region, there will be international human rights observers to monitor the protests and help insure safety of participants."
On February 29 representatives of the Bush Administration kidnapped the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and flew him to the Central African Republic. President Aristide now lives in involuntary exile in South Africa. The Haitian people overwhelmingly elected him twice, only to see both terms of office brutally interrupted by military coups.
President Aristide's ouster was the culmination of a U.S.-led destabilization campaign which included withholding of loans, funding of political opposition groups, and arming and training of former military officials and death squad leaders.
Since the military insurgency began in late January, militias have murdered hundreds of people, burned hundreds of homes, and forced tens of thousands of activists in President Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas Party to flee for their lives. Food prices have skyrocketed, with the price of rice doubling, creating an unspeakably horrible situation for the overwhelming majority of Haitians.
An occupation force led by the United States, France, Canada, and Chile replaced Haiti's legal government and installed as President a Haitian exile, Gerard Latortue, who had not set foot in Haiti for 15 years. UN "peacekeepers" lend undeserved legitimacy to the coup government. Former military officials currently control the police, while formerly exiled and jailed death squad leaders again spread terror.
The U.S.-engineered coup in Haiti is in clear violation of international and federal laws. The Caribbean CARICOM countries and Africa Union have repeatedly condemned this removal of Haiti's democratically elected president.