Irish Activists protest UN role in Haiti with protest in Dublin
March 07, 2005
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Irish Activists protest UN role in Haiti with protest in Dublin

The Irish Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC) began its campaign of solidarity with the people of Haiti with a picket outside the Brazilian Embassy in Dublin, on Saturday March 5th 2005.

LASC delivered a letter to the Brazilian Ambassador, which follows

Your Excellency,

We, the Latin America Solidarity Centre, have always supported the people of Brazil, in their struggle for democracy, human rights and independent economic development, free from outside domination or pressure.

We were therefore greatly saddened to hear that Brazil had accepted the deposition of President Jean Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, especially coming as it did so shortly after the 200th anniversary of Haiti's independence, which had been the harbinger of freedom for all the countries of Latin America, most especially of their many citizens of African descent.

It was with bitter disappointment that we heard that Brazil had accepted the leadership of MINUSTAH, the United Nations' Mission for Stabilization in Haiti, which involved "co-operating with the transitional government". This government, in our view, has no legitimacy whatever, having usurped power from the elected President of Haiti.

Nevertheless, the forces of Minustah, under Brazilian command, have the duty to protect the people from illegal and oppressive acts on the part of the forces of the régime.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. MINUSTAH is only obliged to act in support of the Haitian National Police when the HNP is acting legally. It is not part of its remit to provide back-up for extra-judicial executions or uncontrolled police killings.

In fact the force is mandated "to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, within its capabilities and areas of deployment, without prejudice to the responsibilities of the Transitional Goovernment and of police authorities"

On September 30th 2004 in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Bel Air, the HNP fired on a peaceful demonstration, killing a number of people. MINUSTAH forces, who were present, failed to intervene.

On an October 1 radio interview, interim Prime Minister Latortue conceded that police had shot and killed protesters, and indicated authorities would continue to attack dissidents. Nonetheless, UN Special Representative Juan Gabriel Valdès reiterated, " UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti will continue to work in support of the Haitian police in maintaining public order, thereby helping to ensure the security of Haiti's citizens and respect for the rule of law."

According to the report written by the U.S. lawyer Thomas Griffin for the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, Minustah forces provided logistical back-up to an operation of the HNP on November 18th 2004, in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Bel Air, during which, with much indiscriminate firing by the HNP, many innocent people had been killed. Subsequently, a badly wounded man was denied medical attention and died.

Can the Brazilian armed forces, and the Brazilian government, regard this as acceptable policing? It is not an isolated incident.

We are particularly disturbed also by the case of young Jimmy Charles, who was shot dead on January 13th 2005, after being arrested by MINUSTAH and handed over to the HNP.

In a report of January 26th, Minustah spokesperson Damian Onsès Cardona is quoted as saying that MINUSTAH has no responsibility in cases of individuals turned over to the police, who are later found dead. Does this represent the attitude of the Brazilian government, which has accepted responsibility for the leadership of MINUSTAH?

The failure of MINUSTAH to confront the murderous behaviour of the HNP and other forces alligned with the régime sullies the good name of Brazil.

It is incompatible with the principles and policies, for which the Workers' Party and President Lula da Silva were elected.

We urge Your Excellency to convey to the President our demands:

  • that he order Brazilian forces neither to allow, nor to participate in, serious human rights violations, such as are being committed against Haitian citizens,
  • that he will uphold the right of all political parties and groups, including the Fanmi Lavalas party, to campaign politically
  • that he will insist on the freeing of all political prisoners, including Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and all the elected representatives, political activists, and trade unionists who are being held,
  • that he will withdraw recognition from the illegal Latortue régime
  • that he will recognise Jean Bertrand Aristide as the rightful President of Haiti, and support his immediate return to office and the restitution of constitutional government,
  • that he will offer assistance to the President and the people of Haiti in the restoration of order, the disarming of illegal armed groups, and the organisation of free and fair elections in accordance with the Constitution of Haiti
  • We earnestly believe that such a course of action would best serve the interests of the people of Brazil and of all nations. It would be a major step towards the restoration of the rule of law in international affairs, the principle on which the United Nations was founded.

On behalf of the Latin America Solidarity Centre

Seán Edwards can be reached at

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