UN accommodates human rights abuses by police in Haiti
May 8, 2005
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This is the deceitful image the Haitian police wanted the world to see after planting a handgun on the corpse of an unarmed demonstrator on April 27, 2005
Nearly 10,000 demonstartors hit the streets on May 4 demanding the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and freedom for political prisoners.
February 28 - Protesters flee as PNH fires into the crowd
Bodies of three victims gunned down by Haitian police on April 28, 2005. Note: there is no gun in the hand of demonstrator on right as a police vehicle enters the frame
Before protestors leave from Bel Air on May 4 to march to UN headquarters on Rue Pan-Americaine, a cameraman with Chinese police unit takes video images of the leadership of the march.
This participant in the May 4 march was shot in the head by US Marines on March 12, 2004. When asked why he continued to protest he replied, "Because no matter how much they try to legimize this coup, we voted for our president and what they are doing is immoral and wrong. We will not stop until our elected president is returned!"
A Brazilian soldier stands behind symbolic bonfire started by Bel Air residents before the marchers assembled on May 4.

(HIP) Port au Prince — The images of the killings by the U.S.-armed and U.N.-trained Police Nationale de Haiti (PNH) are stark and undeniable. Peaceful demonstrators slaughtered in cold-blood as the U.N. pontificates and postures to justify its role in legitimizing the coup in February 2004 against the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

On February 28, 2005, the first anniversary of the coup against the constitutional government, the PNH fired at unarmed demonstrators as the U.N. stood by. Video footage and photographs from that day show the U.N. was close enough to see the police open fire on peaceful demonstrators, yet unexplainably, not close enough to do anything about it.

Following the carnage of Feb. 28 the U.N. representatives from Chile and Brazil, Juan Gabriel Valdes and General Heleno Ribera, tell the world they will intervene to stop the police from what appears to be an unspoken mission to decapitate and imprison the leadership of the majority political party known as Lavalas. The documented indiscriminate killings of Aristide supporters in the poor neighborhoods of the capital expose a sinister campaign to stifle dissent amongst those who oppose the regime change of Feb. 29, 2004.

Further more, the political decisions and acts taken by this US-installed government, with the complicity of the UN, clearly points to a strategy to annihilate the popular movement of the poor in Haiti. Despite the qualified objections of human rights organizations, the OAS and the UN, the politically motivated incarceration and impending death of Prime Minister Yvon Neptune is testimony to the sullied political reality in Haiti. Since Feb. 29, 2004 there have been reports of thousands upon thousands of killings, rapes, torture and widespread human rights abuses if the countryside and rural areas are included where no official tally has ever been taken by a credible international human rights organization. This does not even begin to address the thousands murdered in the capital for their political affiliations. There are thousands of political prisoners in Haiti who have never been charged with a crime. The families of these political prisoners have been demonstrating daily to demand that they be brought to trial or released. In the meantime, the UN and the US-installed government have remained silent in the face of these flagrant and gross violations of basic human rights.

The world believes the UN when they object to the killings by the police on February 28 as the corporate media and their pundits begin to spin images of the impartial and dauntless humanitarian role the U.N. continues to play in Haiti. This chorus is encouraged by the ferocious and power drunk reactionaries who rule the country and claim that with limits placed on the police by the UN the "center will not hold" and poor Haiti will fall back into anarchy. The majority of poor suffering black people will some how suffer even more than the real and brutal images of the victims of the Haitian police. The uninformed buy and sell the message. The U.N. utters disingenuous sound bites challenging the Haitian police for committing these killings that were never taken seriously in Haiti. How could they be since the U.N. mission to "restore" democracy to Haiti has never resolved its own dysfunctions and contradictions? The UN's stabilization mission to Haiti is composed of about 7000 soldiers, 1000 civilian police and 3000 technical and support staff for a cost of $500,000,000.00 to back up a police force of 3000. This price tag seems extravagant when compared to the UN's special mission's budget of $700,000,000.00 in the war-torn Congo which supports an army of over 20,000 soldiers and 4000 civilian staff backed up by a fleet of military helicopters, airplanes and private airstrips. Nothing close to these strategic resources has been deployed in Haiti.

The truth is the only thing holding the U.N. coalition together in Haiti today is backroom deals of power, politics and foreign military aid promised by the Bush administration. How else can you explain the inclusion of Jordanian troops and Chinese cops in the venture? Jordanian soldiers, notorious for their viciousness and racisms, surround the Aristide stronghold of Cite Soleil. When was the last time the monarchist dictatorship in Jordan held democratic elections meeting the same standards demanded of Haiti by the Bush administration? The People's Republic of China can't even pretend to be democratic, past repression at Tiananmen notwithstanding, while they are teaching killers in the PNH sniper techniques under the banner of the United Nations. All appears to be well for freedom and democracy in the world and Haiti as long as there is a political, financial or military advantage the Bush administration can sell.

Valdes and Ribera's bluffs to intervene to stop the PNH from killing unarmed demonstrators is called when Lavalas organizes yet another massive demonstration on April 27, 2005. The Haitian police strike again on cue. An innocent bystander's leg was blown to bits by the PNH on the same day as he was leaving a local pharmacy in the vicinity of the demonstration after buying insulin for his ailing mother. After killing unarmed demonstrators the PNH then tries to plant guns in the hands of the corpses. An anonymous journalist declared, "I filmed the dead bodies of demonstrators killed by the police before the U.N. arrived with ambulances. The police put a gun in the left hand of one of the corpses. After they saw me filming they asked me to come and film the gun in his hand. I couldn't believe it." An unnamed official working with the UN mission stated, "The attempts to cover-up these killings and the feeble justifications of the Haitian police are unbelievably stupid and transparent. The UN mission is well aware of the unacceptable pace of recruitment of former military into the Haitian police, as well as the parallel emergence of death squads within the institution."

More U.N. lip service is given to an impending investigation of the PNH for their gross violations of human rights on April 27. Despite journalist's testimony and eyewitness accounts, the U.N. ignores the testimony and images of April 27 because they say they were conveniently and conspicuously absent when the killing started.

Haitian police spokeswoman Gessy Cameau Coicou, who is by now widely ridiculed for always claiming that civilians killed by the Haitian police are all "bandits", declared that "only 2 persons were seriously injured during a gun battle with a police patrol" on April 27. She added the laughable notion that Lavalas activists who were killed "were not shot during a demonstration since police authorities had received no notice of a demonstration." Standing by her side to lend credence to the farce was Canadian UN-Civilian Police spokesperson Dan Moskaluk, who called the march an "unauthorized, illegal demonstration". Moskaluk at least had the decency to admit to finding five corpses despite the corroboration of nine killed after UN peacekeepers finally showed up on the scene. The truth is the march was announced for several days before it took place on radio stations throughout the capital. What Coicou and Moskaluk failed to disclose was that the courier, with the official request for the permit to demonstrate on April 27, was beaten and arrested by the Haitian police when he tried to deliver it.

All of this leads to May 4, 2005 when yet another large demonstration by Lavalas takes place. The leaders of the demonstration were photographed and videotaped by the U.N. and a Haitian police officer wearing a UN blue helmet before they left the Aristide stronghold of Bel Air. After a brief and symbolic protest in front of the U.N. headquarters on Rue Pan-Americain (Avenue John Brown), the demonstration continued down the same street. At a certain point the U.N. forces stop and allow the protestors to continue without them for about 100 yards. Suddenly, the PNH appears with M-14 and M-16 military weapons and points them towards the crowd. Without the presence of a few press cameras and journalists to dissuade them, it is clear the police would have opened fired on the crowd. When questioned on camera, the U.N. military officers on the scene refused to answer questions and later dismissed the incident as yet another coincidence. Is this the new UN strategy of inter-institutional cooperation with the Haitian police to enact crowd control?

Following the Lavalas demonstration on May 4, U.N. troops drive by as sharpshooters of a Haitian SWAT unit enter Bel Air with high-powered telescopic rifles. The U.N. leaves the scene as if it is "business as usual" as Haitian police began pointing their weapons, meant to kill specific targets, at residents of the neighborhood. The presence of a news camera makes them angry but keeps them from shooting at the population. Given that the UN and the international community have tolerated the abuses of the Haitian police thus far, journalists and photographers have to wonder how long it will be before they become victims of trigger-happy Haitian policemen or deliberate targets? The presence of journalists naturally places constraints upon the behavior of the police and, if their reactions on May 4 are any indicator, they are not happy about it. Nevertheless, controlling the unjustified violent impulses of the Haitian police should not be the job of journalists alone.

To date, no serious investigation of the Haitian police for shooting unarmed demonstrations or well-documented cases of murder sprees into poor neighborhoods of the capital, has been undertaken. The UN has done little more than make noise while not one single name of a policeman or SWAT team member who committed these acts has been made public. The message is that the UN mission, to prop up the unelected regime of Latortue, foregoes any serious investigation into human rights violations of the Haitian police. Not even a modicum of justice and fair play by the UN where the police are concerned. This can only send a message to the Haitian police that they have free reign to commit murder and tell tall-tales about it. They now assume the UN will keep supporting them by remaining silent because no one is being held accountable for killings and human rights abuses by the organization. For many observers on the ground this gives the appearance that the UN mandate to "restore democracy" to Haiti is providing the police with cover to commit murder with impunity. It can certainly be argued this has been the reality thus far.

Many people in Haiti are also asking how the UN can seriously expect Lavalas candidates to participate in the next elections when they might expect the same treatment from the Haitian National Police during a campaign rally? How can the masses of poor Haitians who continue to support Lavalas, despite more then 13 months of repression and brutality, be expected to feel secure to register or even cast their ballots for the next election?

The UN relationship to the illegitimate Latortue regime and the human rights violations committed by the Haitian police has done little to inspire confidence for the much-touted elections scheduled to begin in October. Putting the question of the legitimacy of the upcoming elections aside, the climate for real democracy in coming years is bleak with a UN special mission that offers lofty words about democracy and justice and fails to hold the Haitian police accountable for documented human rights violations.

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