Haiti journalists Kevin Pina and Jean Ristil arrested by masked police at Father Jean-Juste's church
September 9, 2005
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Haiti journalists Kevin Pina and Jean Ristil arrested by masked police at Father Jean-Juste's church

Port au Prince, Haiti (HIP) - International journalist and Flashpoints Radio correspondent, Kevin Pina, was arrested at about 5:00 PM today according to Jean Ristil another Haitian reporter, who was arrested shortly after he reported on the situation from St. Clare's Church in the Delmas district. Haitian Lawyers Leadership chair, Marguerite Laurent, Esq stated that Kevin Pina is in "extreme danger" and concerned people should call the U.S. Embassy ( 011-509-222-0200 / 011-509-222-0354 / 011-509-223-4711 from USA ) and demand his release and safety.

Heavily armed and masked SWAT members of The Police Nationale d'Haiti (PNH) had arrived at Rev. Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste's church to serve a search warrant today with a juge d'instruction and juge de paix. The PNH were ostensibly "searching for weapons" in the church rectory where 600 - 800 children are fed. Many children were present when the SWAT police began destroying the rectory as they were "terrorizing the parishioners" with their search. Pina and Restil had arrived separately after they were called by members of St. Clare.

Kevin Pina began questioning the officials of the coup government as to why they were destroying the church property and was arrested. "You're nothing but a troublemaker! Your friends in California are always causing us trouble ..." claimed the officials as they put Pina under arrest. Reporter Jean Ristil was present during this and was reporting the scene to Marguerite Laurent when he said that he couldn't talk anymore and was also arrested.

Even though the "search" may have been considered legal, it was obvious that the PNH weren't expecting to find any weapons. These searches have been served at St. Clare's several times since the US-sponsored Coup d'État of February 29, 2004 with the same charges that security weapons were not returned to the coup government. One search was made when Fr. Jean-Juste was imprisoned for a 40¢ crime - http://www.HaitiAction.net/News/FrJJ/10_20_4.html - for six weeks after his arrest October 16, 2004 when a couple children that were being fed were shot - http://www.HaitiAction.net/News/HIP/10_13_4.html .

"Kevin Pina, he's that lone voice in the wilderness ..." stated Laurent on KPFA-Berkeley Flashpoints program. Since the USA has been trying to force Haiti to conduct presidential elections this November, pro-democracy activists have put Fr. Jean Juste's name on the ballot as their choice for president even though he has been in solitary confinement since July 21, 2005 - http://www.HaitiAction.net/News/HAC/7_21_5.html. The official leaders of Fanmi Lavalas have considered the coup government this election to be constitutionally illegal and refuse to participate in the sham elections. http://www.HaitiAction.net/News/FL/8_14_5.html

Today Pere Jean-Juste stated from his imprisonment that "... he is with the poor and has heard their call ..." It's also reported that his condition is improving and that he's healing from the injuries that he sustained before when he was taken into "protected custody" by UN troops and imprisoned. There have been rumors, recently that Fr. Jean-Juste would be released before the elections as there are no credible charges by the Latortue government for his incarceration.

It is thought that the premise for todays "search" was a pretense to fabricate charges to keep him in custody. Fanmi Lavalas is the overwhelming choice of Haiti's citizens. Many Lavalas leaders have been imprisoned, forced into exile or assassinated since the coup d'État. Kevin Pina has been reporting on this situation all along and released a documentary - Haiti: The Untold Story - last month, that focuses on the repressive and murderous role of the UN occupation while acting as a proxy for U.S. interests. The documentary has graphic footage showing the victims of the recent Citè Soliel massacres conducted by the UN (MINUSTAH) forces and is currently being shown internationally.

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