Haiti: Revelations of UN's role in massacres
January 29, 2007
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Haiti: Revelations of UN's role in massacres

Flashpoints Radio transcript — January 23 2007

Dennis Bernstein: We now present a very significant story in our continuing series of significant stories in our continuing coverage of Haiti. Since the US led overthrow of the Aristide government, the United Nations has been in Haiti as a killing force. An enforcer of US policies in Haiti if you will. since the exile of Aristide

Flashpoints has been reporting on the UN violence that has cost hundreds if not thousands of lives in Haiti of very poor Haitians. As we go to air the killing fields of Haiti are continuing. Flashpoints correspondents on the ground are reporting that the UN is involved in still further killings on the ground. This is on the heels of an investigation of an alleged UN massacre in Cite Soleil on December 22, 2006.

Meanwhile, Flashpoints Special Correspondent Kevin Pina along with theHaiti Information Projecthave obtained documents that support claims of an earlier UN massacre on July 6, 2005. On that date, human right organizations claim the UN forces killed as many as seventy people during a prolonged and intensive raid on Cite Soleil, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the world.

Joining us to talk about the FOIA documents and the alleged December massacre is Flashpoints Special Correspondent Kevin Pina. In one moment we're gonna be going to Miami Florida for a special report on the latest killings on the street in Haiti. And we'll be hearing through Miami from our reporters on the ground in Haiti. Kevin Pina, welcome back to Flashpoints.

Kevin Pina: Thanks Dennis. It's great to back here. Great to see Robert in the chair here again and great to have you back brother.

Dennis Bernstein: Well, good to be back and it's important we get right on to this story. We have a lot to get in here. First of all, you've been investigating a massacre, an alleged massacre, claimed by activists to have occurred in December 2006. Tell us about that massacre.

Kevin Pina: Well, what we received is video documentary evidence...I don't how alleged it is when you see a twenty four year-old woman bleeding on camera just shot in the abdomen by UN forces. Six months pregnant. Lost her child. Making it very clear on camera that she was felled by a single shot from a United Nations Armored Personnel Vehicle. She said there was not any sign of anyone firing towards the UN when it happened as the UN had claimed. They said that they had gone in there to attack a base of kidnappers and claimed that most of the causalities were the result of gunfire that they received from gang members that they then returned fire to. This woman states very clearly that there was no gunfire happening in the area. The UN was not under attack when they opened fire from an Armored Personnel Vehicle shooting her in the stomach, killing her six month old baby. luckily she is a survivor and she'll be able to more information on the ground.

We also have testimony of Jonel Bonhomme who is a sixteen year-old. We have him lying in a pool of his blood just after being shot by UN forces on December 22. Before he died...before this sixteen year-old died...he described in detail how the United Nations opened fire on unarmed civilians in his neighborhood within Cite Soleil. Now, of course, the United nations also denied..because we heard many reports come out from people in the neighborhood...that the United Nations was firing from helicopters. Which, of course, is undirected fire because you can't really aim at targets from that high in the air.

Dennis Bernstein: This a poor densely populated, heavily populated neighborhood. You can't miss you'd have to hit two people with one bullet.

Kevin Pina: Well. We have a twenty eight year-old man on camera...again...bleeding to death in his home and the very last thing he said on camera...before he dies is "I was shot by the helicopter."

So obviously the United Nations, again, is not being forthcoming with the truth. Again, obviously, the spin is occurring in order to cover this up. All I can say is I literally wept when i saw this footage. It was hard to contain my emotion when, again, you see victim after victim bleeding to death in their homes stating that they were clearly shot down by indiscriminate gunfire from United Nations forces.

Dennis Bernstein: Now, of course, thats what makes the next part of this story quite significant. The fact that you have now obtained, through theHaiti Information Projectdocuments that show, seem to indicate, that a July 6, 2005 attack by the United Nations was in fact a massacre. You have received documents through your application. These documents show, among other things, that UN officials were aware that the weaponry they were using was going to cause so-called "collateral damage" and casualties well beyond the people who they were firing at. not even to get into what the actual, ostensible claim was. You also have in these documents an indication that the US Ambassador was aware and doubting the statements of the United Nations that they only..only killed five or six people when the activist say as many as seventy. Talk a little bit about these documents.

Kevin Pina: Let's just talk really quickly about the similarity of UN military operations between July 6, 2005 and what occurred this last December 22, 2006 in the same neighborhood, Cite Soleil. The United Nations came in with hundreds of forces, heavily armed...we're talking about M-50s mounted to Armored Personnel Vehicles. We have reports of as well of M-60s being used and lots of automatic gunfire as well as a Gatling Gun type machine that fires armor piercing bullets. These are these are these little round...very hard metallic...hard tipped bullets which we understand are irradiated actually. So that they will pierce armor

The similarity is that anyone, who would undertake a military operation in such close quarters, i think would have to assume that there would be a certain amount of "collateral damage" and civilian casualties. Just like July 6, 2005, on December 22 the United Nations when they cam in shooting did not bring in a single ambulance or medical unit with them. People, again, are reported to have been shot and then bled to death in the streets or crawled back to their homes to bleed to death in the arms of their family. That's the similarity.

Dennis Bernstein: Now we've got in one those documents..we've got I believe it's the US Ambassador suggesting that with firing 22,000 rounds of ammunition in a short period of time is going to lead to the death of a lot of people.

Kevin Pina: That's right. Former US Ambassador James. B. Foley, in this document says, "It remains unclear how aggressive MINUSTAH was, though 22,000 rounds is a large amount of ammunition to have killed only six people."

Dennis Bernstein: This is a US official...

Kevin Pina: He's the former US Ambassador stating this. Because remember after the UN committed that massacre, they claimed that they had only killed six bandits in that raid.

Dennis Bernstein: Six bandits.

Kevin Pina: It wasn't until we had released the video documentary that they finally came to admit that something larger had occurred in that neighborhood. They denied that they had [intentionally] targeted civilians. But again, the video documentation we have from that date shows head shot after head shot. These are head shots being taken at individuals, individual civilians, by high-powered telescopic rifles. That is not indiscriminate gunfire, that is targeting of unarmed civilians in Cite Soleil.

Dennis Bernstein: And these documents, these FOIA documents that you got under the [Freedom of Information Act], of the alleged July 6, 2005 massacre, these documents show that the United States and the United Nations had information...knew that there were many human rights activists saying something else happened and they continued to deny the massacre. They continued to minimize the amount of people killed and wounded and the kind of weaponry used.

Kevin Pina: Well, it's interesting because there were early reports that came before this where it was really clear, it was clearly said, by whoever was the author of this in the US Embassy, that the MINUSTAH forces...UN forces...were not acting forcefully enough against bandits in Haiti. And what they said was that the Canadian Embassy, the French Embassy and the United States in Geneva, and the United States in the United Nations in New York, needed to put more pressure on the UN to more aggressively pursue military operations in places like Cite Soleil.

Dennis Bernstein: Okay let's talk...let's stay with the July 6, 2005 massacre which you report on in your documentary that you've actually just finished...

Kevin Pina: Sorry, the evidence is in there.

Dennis Bernstein: But remind people what you were able to document in terms of what really happened on that day July 6, 2005 when as many as 70 people were killed according to activists.

Kevin Pina: I'm sure people remember... and I just want to emphasize again...22,000 bullets being fired within a period of seven hours. Again, the former US Ambassador acknowledging that is a large amount of ammunition to have killed just six people.

We have video testimony again of Fredi Romelus sitting over the corpses of his wife and his two sons stating clearly that they were shot at close range by MINUSTAH, United Nations forces. That he had gotten separated from them. We have video documentation of a four year-old having taken a head shot within the home. we have video documentation of his wife Sonia Romelus who was holding her small one year-old son Stanley. The bullet passing through the one year-old killing he and his mother immediately. Testimony after testimony after testimony of survivors again, stating clearly that the United Nations targeted them within their own community.

Dennis Bernstein: And it is important to talk about this weaponry in terms of the violence it does in a neighborhood like this because they don't need to hit people...specifically target people. These bullets go astray, these buildings...Cite Soleil is.....

Kevin Pina: Cinderblocks...

Dennis Bernstein: It's cardboard...

Kevin Pina: Cinderblocks, cardboard and tin roofs.

Dennis Bernstein: You drop this advanced weaponry... you shot these missiles...you shot from a helicopter you're gonna bring down whole parts of neighborhoods.

Kevin Pina: That's right and that's exactly what they did July 6, 2005. That's exactly what they seemed to have done ... and again we are sifting through this evidence. We want to be clear about it. We're taking down all of the testimony that appears in this video documentation so that we can slowly release it. Slowly release it clearly so that people can listen to that testimony...read that testimony themselves...and make up their own minds about exactly what role the United Nations is saying in Haiti today.

Dennis Bernstein: And I know you've put up an article on the haitiaction.net website. The article that's just the basic bare bones where people can see the documents...see the quotes from the documents that you managed to obtain under the FOIA.

My name is Dennis Bernstein, you're listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio. We're talking about about an exclusive story based on FOIA documents that show that the United Nations participated in a massacre on July 6, 2005 in Cite Soleil. In the studio with me is the esteemed Robert Knight.

Robert Knight: In the December and the summer attacks you refer to there having been intimidation from Western powers, international forces in Washington, for the United Nations forces to make an effective show of some kind or another. Then you have this tremendous escalation where there is about a bullet being fired every second on average over that seven hour period [inaudible]. With the targeting of the impoverished community in that way...were there is no clear way to distinguish among people with this kind of assault. Within human rights circles...have people begun raising the term "collective punishment" which would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions?

Kevin Pina: Absolutely. That term has been raised several time before but mostly in reference to the pattern that has been established. Which is, July 6, 2005 the United Nations claimed that they were going after armed bandits. Those armed bandits were actually people who were leading armed resistance to the United Nations. Because remember that the Haitian police had slaughtered many people in those neighborhoods prior to that. After Aristide was ousted Feb. 29. 2004. Paramilitary death squads had gone into those neighborhoods in Cite Soleil and slaughtered people. And there were people there who decided enough was enough and they decided to defend themselves against those onslaughts. And was exactly this group of people who resisted and the United Nations went after July 6, 2005. Now December 22, 2006...what is clear...is that [days] prior to that there was a massive demonstration of more than 10,000 people demanding the return of president Aristide in Cite Soleil. So it's really clear to us that this was as a direct response, again, to that movement within that community.

Dennis Bernstein: Alright, Kevin Pina, joining us now is one of our radio colleagues Andre Joseph. He is the host of Variety and Vibrations on 1320 AM WALQY in Miami, a major Haitian community there. Andre Joseph has extensive connections. He has a team on the ground reporting from Haiti. And we're now getting reports today of further killings by the United Nations. Andre Joseph, are you with us?

Andre Joseph: I'm here Dennis. How you doing sir?

Dennis Bernstein: I'm doing good. it's good to have you with us on the show today. Why don't you see if you can update us. We're getting reports of at least one dead, maybe as many as ten. We just don't know. What information are you getting from your team on the ground?

Andre Joseph: Well, first I'd like to congratulate and say thank you to Kevin Pina. Somebody who has really put his life in danger for Haiti. He has been shot at. He's been jailed. He's been beaten and manhandled and he continues fighting for us. Without Kevin we would not have evidence of atrocities in Haiti. I was on a show just a few hours ago about 5:30 Miami time, with Haiti for the news, and my reporters were under fire. He said he was running for my life and he [reported from Delmas 18] as well in Cite Soleil, nearly a mile away. There were people for their lives from bullets flying from Cite Soleil. [Bullets were flying] all the way to Delmas 18 from Cite Soleil. There were kids cutting their hair playing marbles... and then those kids were picking up bullets that were coming from Cite Soleil. [My reporter played a statement] from the MINUSTAH, who said we are in the neighborhood because bandits have entered and we are trying to force them out. Could you [force] people out...bandits while they are shooting at everybody. And people are dying...at the time we confirmed nine or ten dead people. The atrocity is that bullets are flying miles away into other parts of the capital...MINUSTAH is shooting at everybody right now. It's still happening right now in Cite Soleil. Usually when they go there they for eight hours...ten hours shooting at people. So I wish that neighbors...reporters from the foreign community would go over there and verify what we are saying because my reporters saying right now...and you can hear the echo of big big firearms being. People are running from all over the place trying to stay inside their houses because they are being shot at anyway. Two helicopters in the sky, machine guns are killing those people right now!

Dennis Bernstein: Do we have any indication of exactly who the dead are...reports of names . People who are actually...have gone down under the UN fire?

Andre Joseph: Right now it's tough to find out the names because they are shooting and nobody dares approach the area because you'll be shot at. You'll be targeted too. They are shooting from helicopters and there's no way you can get to those dead bodies. And also sometimes they have a tactic after they shoot so many people they come and get the bodies. And whatever is left is a [small fraction of those actually killed]. If they kill 200 they may [only leave] 10 bodies on the ground. They've done it before. But fortunately we have cameras all over the place taping these atrocities.

Dennis Bernstein: Now I imagine those reporters working with you, on the ground, are in fact risking their lives to hold up those cameras...to hold up that recording equipment. How is it that they are out there. What kind of equipment and protection they have...what do you know about the reporting situation?

Andre Joseph: They have no protection at all. Some of them live in the neighborhoods. We have invested in cameras, given them motorcycles so that they can be on site to film the atrocities. They have no protection because like you say and Kevin says these are shanty-towns. Made out of tin roofs and one bullet can go through ten houses and kill twenty people. One bullet alone. Some of these bullets are as big as Heineken bottles. They are big bullets so they are very tough. So these people have no protection, they are risking their lives. Some of them have lost family members in the massacres.

Dennis Bernstein: You are listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio, my name is Dennis Bernstein and this is your daily investigative news magazine on Pacifica Radio. We're speaking about ongoing killing by the United Nations forces on the ground in Haiti, in Cite Soleil. If you've ever been to Haiti, and you've ever been to this city you'll understand what we're talking about when we say poverty...when we say poor. When we say cardboard houses. When we say an infrastructure that could crumble in the face of a...relatively mild windstorm...and we're talking about a series of killings. We're talking about two massacres we are now documenting on..in this program...and an ongoing situation of killing.

Kevin Pina: And in some in some circumstances it is intentionally being covered up. I know for a fact that Telesur had a camera crew on the ground on Dec. 22. They went after the firing, they took extensive interviews. They videotaped the bodies of the victims and not one image of that has that has made it to Telesur so far. There were other reporters who were there who took images...who were from Reuters and other international news agencies may as well have been sitting on this material. They know what we are saying is the truth. They have not released it. It is unconscionable and I question their journalistic credibility at this point.

Dennis Bernstein: And we already have information that the Associated Press, Reuters tend to listen to the right wing..they are not gonna go out and get their heads shot off...

Kevin Pina: There are so-called human rights organizers, one who's from the Bay Area right now that are doing their best to cover this up. Because these are people who have...are using Preval's election as a cover for their unqualified support for United Nations operations on the ground...these are people who are not willing to make the psychological break with the United Nations that was our father's with what they are actually committing on the ground in Haiti today.

Dennis Bernstein: Andre Joseph, let me ask you. Let me step back and ask you this political. philosophical question. It is hard to imagine why the United States government, one of the most powerful militaries in the world...and a lot of money is still in there..,they've gotten rid of the president...Aristide for the second or third time...why do you suppose they're in there. The UN doing the US bidding...why is it so important for the US to shut down this poverty-stricken people that has stood...perhaps more than any people in modern history fro democracy...for self-rule and died in such numbers...why are they still killing them?

Andre Joseph: I have no idea my friend it's kind of tough to put your finger on it. Without Haiti there would not have been the United States of America because we helped them get their independence in Savannah Georgia by going and dying for them so that they could beat the English and win their independence. So they owe us a big gratitude by they are not showing it. I don't know what they are looking for as far as any oil over there in Cite Soleil. If they are trying to steal it....I have no idea. But the chief of police one time recently said that if the people of Cite Soleil don't want to be shot at they have to move out of there. So I don't know exactly what they are looking for. But it seems like Haiti being the first republic...Black republic of the world...it was said by Teddy Roosevelt if you actually want the black man to be staying where they are you have to start with Haiti because that's probably the example of liberty for the black people. You have to actually start with Haiti by causing them to fight among themselves all the time. So we can say this policy has been followed to cause us to be divided. To go in there...the US, France and Canada the billions of dollars they spent to do the coup and set up all those people to die...could have been used to develop the country. I have no idea why they are doing such evil things in a poor nation to even impoverish themselves. They could have used that money to help us out of the rut we are in. With the coup, instead of helping us, with a little bit of money, they spent ten times more money to destroy us. The ambassador in Haiti has one job... to cause problems. When there were demonstrations against Aristide, the US ambassador was at the head of all the demonstrations with the opposition against Aristide. An ambassador is not supposed to be doing that. He's supposed to bring peace to a country yet they are the ones causing all the problems. They are the ones who are actually pushing the [opposition]. I don't know exactly what they want if it's gold or oil in Cite Soleil I have no idea. It's hard to pinpoint.

Dennis Bernstein: Andre Joseph we want to thank you for the good reporting and we hope the people you are working with on the ground in Haiti manage to stay bas safe as possible. Please let them know that the people listening to Pacifica Radio care about this information and want to know what's going on. They are not interested in being lied to by the Associated Press.

Kevin Pina I want to tell people to check the haitiaction.net website for the new story based on the FOIA documents...we've got ten seconds....

Kevin Pina: The gold in Cite Soleil is the gold of national liberation and the oil of Cite Soleil is popular resistance.}

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