The Double Standard of NCHR
A recent article in a journal called Sobaka attacked journalist Kevin Pina for his criticisms of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR). The attack appeared in an article entitled "Fortunate Son......death squads, warlords and show trials in Haiti" about the recent acquittal of Jodel Chamblain for the slaying of Antoine Izmery. One of Sobaka's publishers Cali Ruchala wrote,
"Even more ominously, the Coalition National pour les Droits des Haitiens (NCHR, in English), claimed that one member of the jury had "FRAPH connections." The human rights watchdog further noted that Chamblain's co-defendant in the Izmery trial, Joanis Jackson, turned himself in just 48 hours preceding the surprise announcement of Chamblain's hurried trial.
The NCHR, it should be noted, was subject to venomous attacks from the likes of Lavalas propagandist Kevin Pina, who said it held an anti-Aristide and pro-coup bias just a few months ago. Their coverage of the country since then, including the disintegration of rebel unity in the north and the occupation of several towns by junior officers, has been extraordinary."
Sobaka describes itself as "a magazine about the world - the good parts, the bad parts, and all the grey matter in between." The attack on Pina must fall under the category of "all the grey matter in between", as the only thing it achieves is the use of name-calling as opposed to real facts to make its point about NCHR.
In a widely read article in the Black Commentator entitled "Propaganda War Intensifies Against Haiti As Opposition Grabs for Power" Pina writes,
"The latest press barrage began on September 2  with the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) release of a story equating elements in Haiti's police force with Duvalier's Ton Ton Macoutes and the former death squads, known as attachÃ©s, under the Cedras dictatorship that overthrew President Aristide in 1991. Peppered with the purported actual names and ranks of members of the Haitian police, the article sought to convince the public that Aristide is just another dictator using time-honored tactics of repression to stay in power. NCHR drove this point home with its charge that, "The impunity that attachÃ©s enjoy and the collusion between members of the special brigades and officers of the Haitian National Police provide incontestable proof that the phenomenon is part of a governmental strategy."
"NCHR asserted in the same piece, "Specialized units called Special Brigades (BS), composed of armed civilians dressed in black t-shirts with the yellow inscription 'BS' on the back, are being integrated into the police stations, at first in the metropolitan zone and now increasingly on a national level." In an effort to add drama and weight to their assertions, NCHR included several photos of gun-toting partygoers individually posing with weapons and beer bottles. The photos were reportedly linked to Rene Civil, the leader of Youth Political Power or JPP movement, allied with President Aristide's Lavalas party. Civil, whose Protestant student movement is a vocal critic of US foreign policy and Haiti's wealthy elite, remains a favorite target of campaigns by the right to discredit his reputation, and by extension, Lavalas. The easiest photos to prove their claim of the existence of this "phenomenon" - namely "armed civilians dressed in black T-shirts with the yellow inscription "BS" on the back" - were conspicuously absent from the exposÃ©. The remaining "proof" could not be corroborated as authentic despite a calculated effort to give the appearance it originated from someone with access to internal Haitian police records."
Indeed Pina was right in that the easiest photographic evidence to prove this proliferation of "Brigade Speciale" under Aristide should have been those famous T-shirts much touted by NCHR. Well guess what Mr. Pina, the photos do exist but they are not from the period described by NCHR as proof of the evil ways of President Aristide. The photo we have of the famous T-shirt was taken on September 9, 2004 outside of the Mayor's office in Petion-Ville. The use of the "Brigade Speciale" under the current regime came to light when HIP reporters visited the Hotel de Ville while covering the recent controversy surrounding a school for the poor that is under threat of closure by the second and third mayors of Petion-Ville, Madame Rene and Msr. Figaro, respectively. Several members of the "Brigade Speciale" were seen in front of the building while one of the mayor's private security team wore their T-shirt under a blue jacket labeled "security." While NCHR was obsessed with proving the existence of the of "Brigade Speciale" under Aristide it has suddenly become deaf dumb and blind to its existence under the U.S.-installed regime of Gerard Latortue. If this isn't proof of a double standard on the part of NCHR we don't know what is.
Pina also quotes police sources in the same article when he writes,
"They noted that NCHR has never called upon the Dominican government to stop using its territories as a base for regular armed killing sprees into Haiti committed by former members of the disbanded military and the dreaded Front for Advancement and Progress in Haiti (FRAPH), created by the CIA in the last days of the Cedras dictatorship."
Is Pina merely being "a propagandist for Lavalas" as Mr. Ruchala would have us believe or isn't it the role of an investigative journalist to serve as a watchdog for organizations such as NCHR? Further investigation of NCHR documents, including frequent press releases during that period, show Pina's sources to be absolutely correct. NCHR never once condemned the attacks of paramiltary forces in the north of Haiti. So now NCHR has stepped up to the plate to condemn Chamblain's acquittal when they completely ignored the earlier human rights violations he and the former military met upon the Haitian people when it could have saved lives? Just because NCHR cannot afford to ignore glaring injustices such as Chamblain's acquittal, a transparent effort to keep up the image of a bonafide human rights organization for their funders, does not mean they always act like one in Haiti.
In addition to this information is the recent release of several revealing books that describe NCHR's current role in the terror being rained down upon supporters of President Aristide. In Ronald St. Jean's excellent books "Une operation de manipulation et d'intimidation" and "Exiger de la NCHR Toute La Verite", NCHR is described as a "demagogic organization" openly leading the campaign of political repression and reprisals. They are also described as serving the role of "police, judge and jury" and of being "modern day inquisitors" in the Bush administration's nation-building nightmare that is reality in Haiti today.
While NCHR should be encouraged in taking principled positions related to protecting human rights in Haiti, the partisan and destructive role it has played in the recent past must also be condemned. Not to do so would be propaganda by omission. Mr. Ruchala and his Sobaka publication would do well to do their homework before resorting to name calling. It is never an adequate substitute for the facts, especially when you are acting as a propagandist for NCHR.
Prime Minister Yvon Neptune says he is a political prisoner as a result of false accusations made by NCHR. He also stated that he will not collaborate with any hearing conducted by the Latortue government which he accuses of wishing to destroy Fanmi Lavalas. AHP News - Aug 24
The Politics of Injustice in Haiti: The Cases of Auguste and Chamblain, Two Sides of the Same Coin - While covicted death squad leader Jodel Chamblain gets an acquittal in a sham trial. Lavalas activist Annette August â"" So Anne âÄ" is still in prison as a result of false charges started by NCHR. Help with the release of So Anne and her music.
|Â©2004 Ronald Saint-Jean - used with permission - click on image to enlarge - Front cover - The cartoon caption is one fellow saying: "The press talks of 3 to 5 deaths. You from NCHR say 50 - where are the other 45?" Pierre Esperance responds: "Uh, they might have been eaten by wild dogs."|
|< Back Cover - "No other human rights organization, either local or international has documented this massacre. The journalists (including Reuters) who arrived at the scene after the events, report having found four or five unidentified bodies. In addition NCHR is not (any longer) very sure of their sources. Where are the bodies? According to the director, Pierre Esperance, they could have been devoured by wild dogs. (Haiti en Marche - July 7, 2004).|
|In Ronald St. Jean's excellent books "Une operation de manipulation et d'intimidation" and "Exiger de la NCHR Toute La Verite", NCHR is described as a "demagogic organization" openly leading the campaign of political repression and reprisals. They are also described as serving the role of "police, judge and jury" and of being "modern day inquisitors" in the Bush administration's nation-building nightmare that is reality in Haiti today. click on image to enlarge - Front and back covers|
|Translation for back cover of CDPH book (at top of page):
"Prime Minister Yvon Neptune went by helicopter to St. Marc and grand Goave to show that the authority of the State remains strong. The Aristide/Neptune administration, weakened by the rebellion by members of the anti-Aristide front are currently seeking to re-establish order in Gonaives where the insurrection began, without causing any more victims among the population. â"¶ calm has, however, returned to St. Marc, which fell into the hands of the insurgents this past weekend after the police headquarters was abandoned. No gunfire was heard on Tuesday morning in St. Marc according to a local journalist. Calm was restored after a police commando who left by helicopter had led an operation to overthrow members of RAMICOS, the armed opposition in the city." (Le Nouvelliste, Tuesday February 20, 2004).
"At least three young people have been killed by gunshots this Wednesday in St. Marc during the outbursts of violence â"¶ two bodies have been identified by neighbors and next of kin. These are Francky Dimanche, 27 and Stanley Fortune, 18. The third body has not been identified." (Le Nouvelliste, Wednesday February 11, 2004).
"Concerning the number of deaths during the recent clashes in Haiti, Mr. Einaudi says it is 'difficult to know.' According to the second in charge from the OAS, there is talk of 40 to 70 people killed in recent days. One of the problems in Haiti is that lies and disinformation are part of the political warfare and the written and televised press are very timid. In Haiti, numbers are poetry." (Le Nouvelliste, Monday February 16, 2004)
"Numerous questions remain unanswered today about the absolute non-involvement of the opposition in this insurrection. The actions of members of RAMICOS, who are close to the opposition, are not reassuring. On this subject, the international media make more of a case for the possibility that the opposition will respond to the Aristide regime by means other than peaceful struggle." (Nancy Rock/Haiti at the Crossroads of No Return, Le Nouvelliste, Monday February 16, 2004.)
"The NCHR reminds us that on February 11, 2004, policemen, members of special units of the Haiti National Police, including the Anti-Terrorist Corps (the CAT team), the Intervention Corps to Maintain Order (CIMO) and heavily armed civilians, members of the Bale Wouze organization, invaded the Syria neighborhood of St. Marc, which is the base of the Assembly of Militants of the Commune of St. Marc (RAMICOSM), an organization close to the opposition. The final tally is still incomplete, but there are more than 50 people killed or disappeared and several dozen houses destroyed by fire." (Massacre in Syria (St. Marc): Three Presumed Murderers Behind Bars, press release, NCHR, March 2, 2004)
"No other human rights organization, either local or international has documented this massacre. The journalists (including Reuters) who arrived at the scene after the events, report having found four or five unidentified bodies. In addition NCHR is not (any longer) very sure of their sources. Where are the bodies? According to the director, Pierre Esperance, they could have been devoured by wild dogs. (Haiti en Marche Vol. XVIII No. 23, Wedesnday July 7, 2004).