The Fascist Police State Surfaces In Haiti
August 27, 2005
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Photo: ©2005Haiti Information ProjectThe St. Bernadette soccer field. Gran Ravin-Martissant, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti the site of the now infamous soccer game massacre August 20, 2005

by Tom Luce

view all 14 images for this special report to the Haiti Information Project

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti - Now that the shock of the unbelievably brazen broad daylight police and "attaché" massacre of innocent people from a poor, but 100% peaceful community in Haiti's capital is taking hold here, we have a very nasty taste in our mouths of the strength of the movement toward a fascist police state in Haiti's future. Everyone here is stunned that the non-violent, development-minded, community of Gran Ravin-Martissant has been tossed into the cauldron of wholesale slaughter of people labeled with the death warrant of "pro-Aristide" supporter. There are no "armed-gangs" here. Only citizens armed with the conviction that poor people have rights and that they the right to determine their own future through democratic government. No fascist state can allow even this kind of "armed" citizenry.

As you walk around Gran Ravin-Martissant there is a conviviality, an up-beat feeling to this poor community of 120,000 people, a majority of whom seem to be "pro-Aristide" supporters. This in spite of the abominable "lynching" atrocity that has just taken hold of their lives. An elder statesman of these people, a native and a volunteer leader, spoke today in eloquent French and with in-depth knowledge of Haitian politics and international involvement in Haiti at a gathering of victims and members of victim's families expressing his disbelief that something like this could have happened to his people. He has volunteered his time over the years to educate and motivate the young leaders of his community to use non-violence as the most powerful weapon to obtain their rights. He pointed out the many community benefit projects that have been undertaken with the cooperation of community leaders. He has been instrumental in bringing all the service organizations into play here. An example of this work is an amazing water distribution system that provides oodles of water for bathing and washing from stations on street corners with kids splashing themselves to cool off.

One of the stark symbols of the shredded fabric of the Lavalas movement toward one of the basic human rights, that of universal access to education, stands high on one of the hills of Gran Ravin-Martissant. It is a four story modern building of classrooms, a high school built under the Aristide administration as part of its commitment to build "national schools," or public schools, open to all. One of the UN Civilian Police officers investigating the soccer massacre remarked that "this is a building on a par with any good school in the states." But it is empty, idle, and stripped of everything that could possibly be pried off its walls. A crying shame that such an effort also is rubbed into non-existence in a country where poor children cannot go to the private schools because they cannot afford private school tuition. A quite distressing potential mob scene comes to mind when certain wealthy people who run the National School Sponsor Fund (FDP) and even UNICEF tout this program of scholarships which support mainly private schools all the while knowing that thousands of poor children could wait in line as they grow too old for school simply because there aren't enough scholarships to go around. The education system here is built around the impossible model of private schools and Lavalas dared to challenge this system. Not a healthy thing to do.

The sinister hand of murderous terrorism has now clawed at the backs of these peaceful people. Our eloquent speaker spoke at length about how his community has taken special pains to avoid the violence that has occurred in other communities. His generation of leaders have always taught the upcoming generations that arms only beget more violence and while it is reasonable to take up arms in self-defense, there are other ways to defend oneself. The dread on his face weighting his words as he acknowledged the grave threat of violence facing his people was palpable. He nevertheless intends to persevere in his convictions about non-violence. His young leaders are not sitting idly by. They are well organized, connecting every zone of the community by cell phone, receiving constant calls pinpointing possible trouble brewing. But they are also very concerned about their own safety and they feel highly at risk of being targeted in subsequent waves of police vengeance. They are clearly Lavalas militants and that is a death sentence. Even the police chief of the zone is implicated by witnesses directly in the now infamous soccer game massacre Aug. 20th and the subsequent house burnings and further assassinations on Aug. 21. And known criminals have been identified as the "attachés" who carried out the soccer massacre.

In downtown Port-Au-Prince and in Pétionville these days you can see banners stretching across the street that seem to be an open call to a fascist state. They say, "MINUSTAH + Civpol = Problems, PNH (Haitian National Police) + the people = solutions." Now that we're witnessing a "lynching" style of taking care of "problems", at first somewhat hidden, but now with the Gran Ravin rampage in broad daylight with uniformed police and machetes engraved with PNH (Haitian National Police), these banners are spine tingling. The steamroller election machine is pushing forward consciously pushing aside the blatant persecution of the Lavalas party as irrelevant to credible elections. With people like former army colonel Himmler Rebu running for President on a campaign assuring the people that a re-established army will bring stability and prosperity to Haiti, there is a real possibility that a group of neo-fascists are lining up to capture the power of "elected" office for their minority views to be carried out. How else can the license-to-kill just exercised by the Haitian National Police be explained?

There is still much to be done to resist this trend. The international, pro-democracy community should be inundating Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur from the office of the UN High Commissioner for human rights in Geneva. His specific job is to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions:

Contact the CIVPOL (U.N. Civilian Police) commissioner, David Beer. His responsibility is to investigate and protect people from police abuse:

Contact Thierry Fagart, head of U.N. Human Rights in Haiti:

Contact Huntley Medley, CARICOM 226-9280, Contact Dr. Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), 202-458-6836, and demand that he review the legitimacy of Haiti's elections.

Some will say that it is a waste of time bothering with anyone in the U.N. Many suspect that the U.N. in Haiti, dominated by the US, Canada, and France, simply is directly supportive of the interim government and its outlaw practices. They point out, rightly to the historic impotence of UN Troops in stopping Haitian police killing of innocents. They point out rightly that little if anything has resulted from investigations promised by UN authorities into the many atrocities committed here by state authorities.

In conversations, though, in the past several days with residents and witnesses of the soccer massacre, a distinct separation has been made between the Haitian National Police and the U.N. Forces. Witnesses generally feel secure with the U.N. troops. Not so with the Haitian Police, especially with the soccer massacre now a fait accompli. Witnesses do say that Sri Lankan UN Troops were observed close by the soccer field — they have a series of outposts on the major thoroughfare running in front of the soccer field. They report that the Haitian police lied to the UN troops about their purpose in going to the soccer game. The Haitian police told the UN troops, according to witnesses, that there was a disturbance at the game and they were going there to handle it. Whether or not the U.N. troops actually were aware of what did take place is not clear at this point. Human rights investigators are demanding that the U.N. command deal with this question and take steps to secure the entire area and protect vulnerable witnesses from further Haitian police vengeance.

Many human rights workers point out that it is only through unrelenting pressure from the international community on the UN that has moved the UN to strengthen and to abide by their mandate. Those who are on the ground working hand-in-hand with Haitian militants like those in Gran Ravin-Martissant observed today that the only protection Lavalas militants recognize right now against the Hatian police is the UN. Within the various UN agencies there is solid support coming from the CIVPOL and the Human Rights Units. These people need all the backing they can get to do their job. They have put their lives on the line defending innocent people in Gran Ravin-Martissant. They are an antidote to the fascist police state rearing its ugly head in Haiti these days. To run them out of Haiti now would leave Haitians to a terrible fate.

view all 14 images for this special report to the Haiti Information Project

by Tom Luce - President Hurah, Inc. (Human Rights Accompaniment in Haiti)

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