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Poverty proves an obstacle to recovery efforts in Haiti

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Haiti (MNN) – Haiti is in trouble. Between back-to-back natural disasters, a regular revolving door in government, a failing economy,and frequent unrest, recovery seems a long way off.

The European Union just released over nine million Euro in humanitarian aidbecause the food security situation perches at the edge of crisis. According to the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, almost a quarter of Haiti’s population faces critical food shortage.

That situation doesn’t look to improve in the near future, either. Already acknowledged as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, almost 75-percent of Haiti’s population exists on less than $2 a day. Smaller ministries with a long history on the Caribbean island nation find themselves spread too thin to cover everything.For Haiti With Love is an excellent example of what Non-Government Organizations (NOGs) face with the ongoing issues.

Making difficult decisions

Once, FHL had a food program where staff regularly distributed black beans and rice packets to the poor. Today, when asked how they are addressing the increasing food needs, Executive Director Eva DeHart hesitated a moment before saying, “In a one-line answer, ‘we aren’t.’”

She went on to explain that as poverty increased, so too did desperation. “When hunger hits this level, we can’t afford the amount of security that would be required for Roseline (FHL’s Vice President Haiti Operations) to handle a food program.”

Other costs related to the food program skyrocketed, and, DeHart says, they had to make a decision. “We need to stay focused; it’s how we can best glorify God, and not get extended over our heads to the point where we have to be more concerned about our security and our staff security, then we are the help we are  giving.”

(Photo courtesy For Haiti With Love)

Other larger NGOs are tackling the food issues, but those dealing with the frequency of burn emergencies were far and few between. Where there are a lot of people and a lot of open fires, there are a lot of burns. FHL offers a free burn clinic where patients get much needed and specialized medical care.

However, that too presents challenges. “Pharmaceutical companies used to give us the burn cream they used to give us bandages; pharmaceutical companies are no longer philanthropic. So big part of my job is finding the best possible price that I can find for the items that are needed to keep the burn clinic operational and fully functional.”

Facing other challenges

(Photo/Logan Abassi. unmultimedia.org/photo/)

The EU’s help is timely, but the issue of poverty goes much deeper than answering a food shortage. Poverty magnifies every issue in Haiti. DeHart shares concern over another problem that will soon manifest in disease. “Streets are so full of trash and garbage now that it is really difficult to take out a vehicle and come back without tires all shredded from broken glass and tie and nails and stuff.”

Sanitation challenges complicate public health issuescreated by the garbage, explains DeHart, and circle back around to tie in with the food shortage. “With the population constantly that knee-deep with garbage, you’re going to start seeing all of the old diseases activate because their nutrition level is down. They’re getting weaker; they’re more vulnerable to the diseases that are going to be created by all that waste product around them.”

From despair to hope

After so many decades of desperation in Haiti, DeHart says people respond to hope. It’s a hope in Christ reflected by their staff as they work in the burn clinic and build houses. One question often asked, says DeHart, is ‘Why are you helping me?’ The privilege of serving the poorest of the poor as the hands and feet of Christ opens the door for a lot of other questions about Christ as Savior and what it means to follow Him.

To that end, DeHart admits that each day is a challenge for a ministry like FHL, and it’s a monumental task to be part of the solution. “Pray for all of Haiti. It is just so sad what is happening, and the people are so helpless to change it. There’s going to be a lot of people who die before it gets turned around. We need to touch as many souls as we can.”

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Haiti News

The Lasalin Massacre and the human rights crisis in Haiti

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by Judith Mirkinson,
National Lawyers Guild, and Seth Donnelly, Haiti Action Committee

Introduction

On Nov. 13, 2018, police and other paramilitary personnel
entered the neighborhood of Lasalin in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. What followed was
a massacre of the civilian population. Buildings, including schools, were fired
upon and destroyed, people were injured and killed, with some burned alive,
women were sexually assaulted and raped and hundreds were forcibly displaced
from homes. Bodies were either burned, taken away to be disappeared, buried,
never to be found, or in some cases left to be eaten by dogs and pigs.

There has been widespread acknowledgement from the Haitian
government, mainstream human rights groups and even the United Nations
occupiers in Haiti, known by the acronym MINUJUSTH, that something terrible
took place in Lasalin. However, in every case, there has been an attempt to
downplay and obscure what actually happened. The numbers of the dead and
wounded have been minimized, the extent of destruction to communities and
displacement downplayed, and the violence has been primarily blamed on “gangs
fighting over territory.”

The Lasalin massacre was designed to punish and destroy a
neighborhood long known as a stronghold of the grassroots Lavalas movement and
center of opposition. Our investigation determined that the narrative of “gang
warfare” obscures the reality that the attack on Lasalin was
government-orchestrated and supported, with police collaborating with and
weaponizing criminal elements.

According to many Lasalin residents and survivors, the
coordinator of the massacre was Pierre Richard Duplan, alias Pierrot, of the
PHTK (Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale, the ruling party of Jovenel Moise). Duplan had
failed in his bid to become the mayor of Port-au-Prince and was now the
government delegate for the West Department of Haiti.1 A UN human
rights report released on June 21, 2019, also implicates Duplan.2

The Miami Herald disclosed in a May 15 article that a police
investigation had confirmed the involvement in the massacre of high-level
government officials in the government of Jovenel Moise, tracing an assault
rifle assigned to the National Palace to the massacre.3 These are
just some of the examples of government involvement in the massacre.

On April 1, 2019, members of the Haiti Action Committee
(HAC) and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) went to Haiti to investigate the Nov.
13 massacre in Lasalin as well as the ongoing pattern of repression and
extrajudicial killings targeting the people of Lasalin and other neighborhoods
known for their activism against the government. We found a clear pattern of
paramilitaries and death squads being armed and abetted by the government in
order to terrorize the population and prevent opposition. This level of
violence and repression has not been seen since the 2004 coup against President
Aristide which, according to a study published in the medical journal The
Lancet, resulted in an estimated 8,000 deaths in the Port-au-Prince area alone.4

Our team included Judith Mirkinson, president of the San
Francisco Chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild; Margaret Prescod, producer of
the “Sojourner Truth” radio program nationally syndicated on Pacifica Radio and
member of Women of Color, Global Women’s Strike; Ramiro Funez, assistant
producer of “Sojourner Truth”; and Seth Donnelly, member of Haiti Action
Committee and the California Teachers Association. Margaret Prescod provided
coverage of our delegation’s findings on “Sojourner Truth” and on “The Real
News Network” television program.5

Report methodology

On April 1, 2019, our team went to Lasalin and conducted
interviews with residents who had witnessed the killings and/or who had lost
loved ones in the massacre. We also gathered physical evidence of the killings.
That same afternoon, we went to an abandoned market in Waf Jeremy and
interviewed some of those residents who had been forced to flee from their
homes in Lasalin.

Street scene in Lasalin – Photo: Judith Mirkinson

We followed up these direct interviews on April 2 by
speaking to Haitian investigative journalists who had been closely following
the situation in Lasalin, from before the massacre to the present day. We also
met with Haitian human rights workers.

After our visit, another U.S. human rights delegation went
to Haiti between April 24 and April 27 to follow up on our investigation. This
second delegation included U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, investigative
journalist Margaret Prescod, Haiti Action Committee co-founder Pierre
Labossiere, actor Danny Glover, and NLG human rights attorneys Walter Riley and
Brian Concannon. The additional evidence gathered by this second delegation
confirms the findings of this report.

As Walter Riley expressed: “We have eyewitness reports that
these attacks are not simply gangs as they are being referred to by the press
and the US embassy, but part of militias backed by some in the Moïse
administration. The murder and brutality is a policy of the Haitian government,
which is backed by the United States.”

Similarly, Brian Concannon stated: “I have worked on
political violence cases in Haiti for 24 years and the witness reports from
Lasalin, Tokyo and Site Vincent are all too similar to other notorious acts of
state sponsored oppression … With the Duvaliers’ TonTon Macoutes, the FRAPH
death squads and now the violent groups under the Moïse administration, the
motive for each has been silencing calls for justice and democracy and
terrorizing government opponents, while disguising government participation.”6

Congresswoman Waters said she was “appalled and shocked” at
the killings and promised to engage with her colleagues in Congress to use “whatever
leverage and power we have to help make the violence cease because this is not
conscionable and not tolerable.”7

In addition to the information collected from these steps
and sources, we have also read and analyzed reports by Haitian human rights
organizations on the Nov. 13 massacre. Furthermore, we have extracted
corroborating evidence for our findings from investigative Haitian journalists
and from a public interview with one of the key perpetrators of the massacre,
former police officer Jimmy Cherizier, aka “Barbecue.”

Why Lasalin?

Lasalin is a neighborhood with a population of about 5,000
in the downtown section of Port-au-Prince. It is part of the West Department of
Haiti and borders the infamous port of Croix des Bossales where enslaved
Africans were first brought to Haiti by the French. The port is still heavily
used for commercial traffic.

Aristide era housing in Lasalin – Photo: Judith Mirkinson

Lasalin has been known as a stronghold of Lavalas – the mass
popular grassroots party of President Jean Bertrand Aristide – ever since
President Aristide was a parish priest there in the St. Jean Bosco Church.
During the Aristide period, hospitals, housing and schools were all built there
in accordance with policies enacted throughout the country. These buildings
were particularly targeted during the massacre.

The attack on Lasalin comes at a time of increasing violence
and repression. Starting in July 2018, there have been massive demonstrations
protesting the theft of $4.2 billion of PetroCaribe money – oil lent by
Venezuela to Haiti which could then be sold for a profit. The extra money could
then be used to fund social programs in Haiti.

Instead, this money simply vanished. Over three days in July
2018, tens of thousands protested in the streets demanding an end to gas price
hikes, an accounting for the missing funds and the resignation of President
Jovenel Moise. The demonstrations brought Port-au-Prince to a virtual
standstill and resulted in the resignation of Prime Minister Jacques Guy
Lafontant. The demonstrations, which are met with tear gas, rubber bullets and
live ammunition, continue to the present day.

Timeline of events

Based upon extensive interviews with Haitian human rights workers, journalists and the residents of Lasalin, we have constructed the following timeline of events leading up to and following the Nov. 13 massacre.

  • On Oct. 13, 2017, a government delegation including Haitian First Lady Martine Moise and then Minister of the Interior Roudolphe Saint Albin went to Lasalin and met with Herve Bonnet Barthelemy, known as “Bout Jan Jan,” and other community leaders. Among other matters discussed, the government delegation asked these leaders not to allow anti-government, opposition demonstrations within and through Lasalin, as well as in Saint Jean Bosco, an area in front of the nearby Tokyo neighborhood, close to an intersection frequently used for protests.8
  • On Oct. 15, 2018, representatives of the political opposition held a press conference in Lasalin, supporting the PetroCaribe movement and demanding the end of the government of Jovenel Moise.9
  • On Oct. 17, 2018, a national holiday commemorating the death of Haitian revolutionary leader Jean Jacques Dessalines, people in Lasalin refused to welcome President Jovenel Moise who came to the neighborhood in order to lay the traditional wreath at a monument for Dessalines. Instead, Moise’s presence was protested vigorously by the community. Police responded with gunfire. Moreover, there was a massive Petro Caribe protest that occurred within and passed through Lasalin that day.10
  • According to Lasalin residents, First Lady Martine Moise visited Lasalin in October 2018 days before the killings started in November. She reportedly tried bribing the community with offers of money. Her attempt to secure their loyalty was unsuccessful.
  • On Nov. 1, 2018, a holiday known as “All Saints Day,” Serge Alectis aka “Ti Junior,” leader of Chabon – a paramilitary force working with the government – led an attack on Bout Jan Jan and Julio Pyram, aka “Kiki” in Lasalin, killing Kiki along with four others, and wounding Bout Jan Jan.11 Police subsequently arrested Bout Jan Jan in the hospital despite community opposition and he remains imprisoned to this day. According to community members who met with us, Chabon was the only group in the larger area that had wanted former President Michel Martelly (who had picked Jovenel Moise to be his successor) to come to the neighborhood to perform during the past Mardi Gras festivities.
  • On Nov. 13, 2018, Ti Junior and his group Chabon returned to Lasalin –  heavily armed – and carried out the massacre. They were accompanied by other government-backed paramilitary elements, including the police officer Jimmy Cherizier, alias “Barbecue,” police officer Gregory Antoine, alias “Ti Greg,” and other police officers. The perpetrators used several vehicles, including an armored truck given to them by the Brigade of Operation and of Departmental Intervention (BOID), and several public transport vans. The residents reported that several police units, including one from BOID and Departmental Unit to Maintain Order (UDMO), involving officer Gustave Jouspite, were heavily involved in supporting Chabon, including providing them with munitions. The massacre, which started on Nov. 13, continued intermittently for the following several days.12 On June 21, the UN finally issued a report on the massacre that implicated Pierre Duplan as a coordinator, just as Lasalin eyewitness survivors had been doing since November. According to the UN report, Duplan reportedly admitted to direct communication with perpetrators of the massacre on the ground in Lasalin.13

Lasalin residents and Haitian journalists with Radio Timoun
reported that there were as many as eight attacks by government-backed paramilitary
forces on the people of Lasalin between the Nov. 13th massacre and our arrival
in Lasalin. In an interview with a Radio Timoun journalist who has reported
consistently from Lasalin, we were told that over the last week in

March one paramilitary attack burned down a popular market
and killed 13 people. While in Lasalin, this reporter saw the remains of people
who had tires put around their necks and were then burned to death.14

The police and right
wing activists boast of their roles in the massacre

Former police leader Jimmy Cherizier (Barbecue) publicly
stated that he had a number of police officers in his group block escape routes
from Lasalin during the November operation. This statement corroborates the
testimony given by survivors in Lasalin accusing him and other police officers
of participating in the massacre.

They also took us to a small school riddled by bullets. We were told that five students and two teachers had been killed there. – Photo: Judith Mirkinson

Cherizier has denied support from the government for his
organization, correctly identified as a death squad by survivors. Yet, this
denial is to be expected given Barbecue’s high profile status as a member of
the PHTK and as someone who remains uncharged and at large. Significantly,
Barbecue does publicly thank Reginald Boulos – widely regarded by the Haitian
public as a right-wing oligarch – for his financial support. Boulos had been integral
in financing the 2004 coup against the democratically elected and popular
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. During a radio interview, Boulos admitted
that he was financially supporting paramilitary elements, claiming that they
were providing social programs when the state was absent.15

Counting the victims

The methodology employed by the RNDDH to reach these findings involved, among other steps, interviewing 439 community members of Lasalin including victims and victims’ relatives. The Dec. 1, 2018 report concludes with a decisive classification of the Nov. 1 killings as a “state massacre” and categorically states that the killings could not have occurred without the current government’s support – on all levels – for the perpetrators. Due to the fact that so many bodies were taken away and so many people displaced, it has been difficult to get an accurate number of those killed, injured and/or sexually assaulted. The ages of those attacked on Nov. 13 and the days following ranged from 10 months to 72 years.

Bullet hole in the chalkboard of the school in Lasalin – Photo: Judith Mirkinson

One Haitian human rights organization, RNDDH (Réseau
National de Défense des Droits Humains), did interview many residents, and was
able to identify 71 murdered. However, residents and local human rights
defenders maintain that this number is deplorably low, based only on the number
of bodies actually left on the ground and not taking into account either those
buried or taken away.16 The RNDDH report lists the names of the
victims and describes in detail how each victim was killed, some being hacked to
death with machetes with their body parts fed to pigs, some being burned alive,
others being riddled with bullets.17

French journalist Amelie Baron, reporting for Agence
France-Presse from Haiti, initially placed the number at 283 in an article that
no longer seems to be available online.

Journalists and human rights workers who visited the scene
shortly after the massacre told us: “We will never know how many were killed”: Many
bodies were not identified, their surviving family members having been forced
to leave the area. Other bodies and remains were soon disposed of; religious
leaders claimed some, while many others, including those burned beyond
recognition, were simply taken away by garbage trucks and dumped somewhere.

Many people were also brought to hospitals: it’s estimated
that hundreds were wounded in the attacks. Then there are those who were simply
jailed, no records being taken. None of these additional numbers are accounted
for in any issued reports. Since the PetroCaribe protests, which began in the
summer of 2018, hundreds have randomly been thrown in jail, without charges,
never having seen a judge.

Women were assaulted and raped – some left pregnant. One
14-year old girl raped by Ti Junior actually went to radio stations to report
the crime, but could not get help. Due to the continuing stigma surrounding
rape and because many were forced to flee, the true numbers of those sexually
assaulted is not known.

Interviews with
residents of Lasalin conducted on April 1, 2019

Our human rights delegation visited Lasalin on Monday, April
1, during the late morning and early afternoon. The neighborhood, usually
teeming with people, was eerily empty. No one was on the streets, and the
houses – many of which were shot up, burned and/or completely destroyed – were
abandoned. Upon our arrival we were told that the situation was still
precarious and that people had to be off the streets completely by 4 p.m.

We were met by a group of about 15 to 20 community members,
consisting mostly of women of different ages who were anxious to give testimony
about the massacre. They guided us down a main street, showing us housing,
including affordable housing units built during Aristide’s presidency, that had
been shot up by heavy munitions with bullet holes measuring 2-3 inches across.

One person after another described how their relatives were
killed, many hacked and/or burnt to death. People we interviewed said: “This
neighborhood has been made a mausoleum. There is no water, no hospital and no
school.” They repeatedly told us: “This is a humanitarian crisis. People are
not living as human beings.” Photographs of the aftermath document bodies being
left to rot, to be eaten by pigs or dogs. Others show bodies that had been
hacked and then burned.

What follows is testimony we gathered from community members
during our visit to Lasalin. Translation was provided on the ground during our
meeting in Lasalin by a professional Haitian translator. The names of the
people who provided testimony have been altered for their protection.

From Mildred,
a young pregnant woman:

“On Nov. 15, my husband was in the house with me and they
grabbed him and used the machetes to kill him … I lost my husband while I’m
pregnant.”

She thinks she’s due next month and has no access to
healthcare. She pointed to her shoeless, swollen feet. She’s sleeping now by
the ocean where there’s “bad breeze” and no proper food.

Young pregnant woman in Lasalin with swollen feet. – Photo: Judith Mirkinson

From Jeanne:

“I lost my 28-year-old son. He was burned and I also lost my
husband. Why?

“This community, Lasalin, has a reputation of revolution. We
don’t stand with dictatorship since the Macoutes and Duvalier. And still now.
Children, youth and adults here have the blood of revolution. That’s why the
government doesn’t like this community …

“So what’s happening is that the death squad involved in
these killings has been living in a [nearby] neighborhood, Na Chabon. They’ve
been involved in sexual assaults, they’ve been involved in raping women, and
because of this, the community [Lasalin] decided that they would keep them
away. But because of this, they [the death squad named Chabon] got together
with Martine Moise, the first lady of Haiti, who helped them to come back after
six years to really terrorize the population and kill people.

“One thing that is very important for us – you can see these
houses – they were houses that President Aristide built … People who were
living there had to leave and go into a displaced community because they can’t
live here.

“On March 13, 2019, there was a huge incident where they murdered
some people in this community and even burned them. Right now the place where
this happened … you can see some of the skeletons that were burned. But also
this community is using the place as a mausoleum in memory of all the people
who died. It is the house where the people were living and we decided to keep
it as a mausoleum.

“So the whole community … is essentially living through the
women being vendors on the street, selling whatever they can find. Like a young
child here in Lasalin is selling something. It can be a small fish, it can be a
little bit of fried food, street food. But since this happened, if the children
can no longer be involved in these kind of vending activities, it can be worse.
This makes the situation of hunger really awful in this community. I have not
had anything to eat since Saturday. [She was speaking to us on Monday.]

“So right now people in Lasalin aren’t living as human
beings should be living. They [the death squad] steal everything that people
own in this community. Now the people have no resources to take care of
themselves. And during the day you can see that there’s still a lot of people
in the community, but when it gets to be 4 or 5, you will see that people will
be spreading, looking for places under bridges, next to the water, to leave the
neighborhood, because it will be dark and anything can happen with the same
group coming back just to attack …

“Yesterday there was shooting going on, but today not yet.
But at any time, around 2 p.m., they might come back.”

From Daniel:

“I lost my son. Right now, the community of Lasalin has lost
everything. Over there you can see the building without the window. It’s a
building that used to be a well-known hospital. Now it’s gone …

“Lasalin used to have water access. Now we don’t have it
anymore. The people in Lasalin used to find their own ways to survive, but
after the incidents, things got worse. That’s why the people of Lasalin aren’t
just calling for legal assistance for what happened, but also calling for
humanitarian assistance. …

“Most of the people in this community have escaped and fled
because they fear so much from new attacks … I’m under threat because I’ve been
involved in reporting to human rights organizations. We’ve heard threats. …
Since the massacre, no one from the government comes here to really talk with
us. The prime minister at the time [Ceant] said that all of the pictures [of
the massacre] that were in the media and the social media were not real
pictures from November, but that these were pictures from 2004 [the year of the
coup]. …

“We need to find justice for what happened, for people who’ve
lost loved ones, for people who didn’t even find the bodies of their close
friends and relatives to even have a decent funeral. For all of this, the
people of Lasalin want justice. And they know justice won’t come from this
government.”

From Annette:

“I had a child who was 24. And he was not someone involved
in any trouble activity. He was an artist and a DJ who helped with music. He
was inside, the group came in, killed him, cut him up with machetes, and burned
him. Many others have lost loved ones like this.

“My house was ransacked. I’m now dealing with hunger. After
all of these massacres have happened here, it’s nonsense that people have to
escape from the community they were born in and have to go live by the ocean
where there’s bad breeze [toxic air] …

“The President should have someone sent here, maybe a
minister or maybe a director of somewhere, to talk to the victims, but the president
is actually working with the death squad. They become his entourage. They
become his people and this way the people of Lasalin constantly live under
fear, the threat that something can happen.”

Woman with a rash from trauma of seeing her son cut up and burned in the Lasalin Massacre – Photo: Judith Mirkinson

From Paulette,
an older woman with a skin rash:

As explained by a man next to her, “Her son was cut up in
front of her and because this trauma was so bad, she had all of this [rash].

In her words, “They shot him, then cut him up and burned
him.” He was 32 years old.

Jeanne went on
to say:

“The people you see here are the fearless. They want to come
here [to talk with you] because they have no fear. There are people who … don’t
want to come back to this community. They’ve seen too much. They stay by the
water …

“The group that perpetrated this is Chabon. They are connected with the government and are working with the government in the Ministry of the Interior. This group [Chabon] was supportive of Martelly during the election. They [the people of Lasalin] did not want Martelly to come into Lasalin, but this group was very supportive of Martelly … What they [Chabon] claim is that they have to control this community because this way they would really control the situation. And they want this community to become PHTK. But this will remain opposition.”

From Jean, a
young man:

“I want to see more follow-up from this human rights
delegation because what’s going on in Lasalin right now is something that needs
to stop, because what’s going on here in Lasalin is political. It’s really
orchestrated by the actual government that pays these guys to perpetrate all of
these violations …

Photo at Lasalin ‘mausoleum’ of the remains of a pregnant woman burned alive and then left on the floor – Photo: Judith Mirkinson

“And now they have all kinds of systems to torture people,
like the burning of people. They would set the person on fire while alive. This
has really traumatized the whole community. All of this is being orchestrated
by a department delegate named Pierrot who is under the PHTK [and] who wanted
to become a mayor under the party but couldn’t get elected … [so] he assigned
guys like Junior who used to live in the community but who was kicked out
because of his involvement in sexual abuse … All the people who participate in
the massacre, they have pictures.”

Jean further explained to us that community members are also
demanding that Bout Jan Jan, a leader of the community who provided protection,
be freed. “Martine Moise, the wife of President Jovenel Moise, tried to bribe
Bout Jan Jan so that he would discourage people to protest against the
government. Bout Jan Jan did not do this. Consequently, he was arrested. While
he was arrested, the opportunity was created for Chabon –  armed with weapons from the government – to
attack the community.”

Another young man showed us a photo of his brother who had
been killed, knifed to death, and then had his naked body put out on display.

The conditions of Lasalin refugees now
living in Waf Jeremy

After leaving Lasalin, we travelled to Waf Jeremy, an area
next to the sea port. There, we interviewed refugees from Lasalin who were
barely surviving in an abandoned market. Men, women, children, and babies were
all living together below cold, damp concrete market stalls draped with
blankets or just cardboard on cement floors. The floors were teeming with bugs
that would bite them on the cement floors where they slept. There was no
plumbing, no toilets, no source of potable water and no food. The air was thick
with a toxic, burning plastic smell which was making people sick. This was the
place they were forced to call home. Thus far, no one from the government had
visited them and/or attempted to offer any relief or reparations.

Lasalin refugees take shelter in abandoned market by the sea port. – Photo: Judith Mirkinson

People explained that they had to flee Lasalin, many of
their relatives having been killed and their homes destroyed. There were
perhaps 50 people living on the floor under the stalls in one large room.
Adjacent market rooms were also packed with people. We estimated that hundreds
were living, with scant resources, in these conditions.

As one older woman put it: “This is the worst situation in
my life. I have nowhere to live as my house was burned. I left with no clothes
– someone had to give me a dress. I have no money and only one person to help
me at all.”

Below one stall we encountered a young mother and her 1-month-old
baby daughter. The mother told us she had delivered her daughter right there on
the concrete floor. Without food for herself, she was unable to properly nurse
the baby, who appeared ill and despondent. There was no medical care. To our
delegation, it appeared that the baby was on the verge of death.

Young mother with 1-month-old baby daughter, Lasalin refugees staying in abandoned market – Photo: Judith Mirkinson

The killings and massacres
continue

On April 2, we interviewed women active in grassroots organizations.
Betty, a founder of the popular organization Conscious and Devoted Women, told
us: “The repression is reaching new heights and the country is going deeper
into chaos. We’re facing a wall. There is a deep feeling of insecurity and
terror, even felt by those with money! Just on my way to this interview today,
I saw three bodies with bullet holes in their heads.”

On April 24 and 25, there were attacks on the nearby popular
neighborhoods of Tokyo and Kafoufey. One Haitian reporter was trapped in Kafoufey
during the attack.

Since then killing and massacres by the police and
paramilitary affiliates have been reported in different parts of the country,
targeting popular neighborhoods and grassroots activists. On June 18, Radio
Timoun reported a massacre in Village de Dieu. Since then, multiple media and
eyewitness reports have documented that the perpetrators – including the group
led by Jimmy Cherizier, alias Barbecue – burned some bodies and removed others,
making it difficult to determine the number of victims.

Though further investigation is required to determine the
number of victims, preliminary reports indicate that dozens of people were
killed. One photograph shows only the legs left of a victim after the remaining
body had been burned. More recently, reports are reaching us that between June
23 and 24, police and paramilitary affiliates perpetrated violence and killings
in both Akay (Les Cayes) and Kap Ayisyen (Cap Haitien). The numbers of people
injured and killed are yet to be determined.

On June 24, as reported by both Radio Timoun, Vision 2000
and other Haitian radio stations, presidential security police units CIMO and
USGPN, working with paramilitary affiliates, opened fire on demonstrators in
Port-au-Prince, killing perhaps as many as 30. Bodies were removed and it is
hard to determine the exact number of those killed without further
investigation. USGPN is infamous in Haiti for human rights abuses.

Political prisoners

As a separate part of our investigation, we also met with
human rights lawyers from the office of Cabinet Masionneuve & Associes in
order to hear about further aspects of government repression. Hundreds of
people have been arrested since the first anti-government demonstrations began
in August. Often, those arrested are summarily thrown in jail with no paperwork
or any charges. Families are forced to wait for days in order to determine
where their relatives are being held. If they are lucky, they can locate them,
but then charges must be filed and lawyers have to go through the complicated
process of even getting a hearing.

Testimony of Madame
Joseph

“There were protests on July 6-7, 2018. However, my son was
not involved. He was not even in the neighborhood on those days. In the
aftermath of the demonstrations, the police were still “cleaning up.” In the
ensuing “sweep” of Arimage, nine were arrested, including my son. After three
days, he tried to get a hearing, but ironically the prosecutor’s office was on
strike and he was sent directly to the penitentiary. I tried to find him for
three days, going from office to office and finally found him. I’ve had to
spend all my money and leave my housing just to provide him with clothes and
food.”

Testimony of Antoine

“I still don’t understand what happened. I was in my house
getting ready to go to church. The police broke into the house and arrested me
– I was arrested with my Bible! I was beaten and taken away. My mother didn’t
know where I was; she thought I had been killed. I was still in school in the 12th
grade and missed my exams. I was in a cell with 40 other people, many of them
criminals. The conditions are horrible, it’s dirty, you can’t even lie down and
there is no food and it’s very violent. I was afraid all the time. I should be
compensated for what happened to me.”

Testimony of Pierre

“I was on Nov. 22, 2018 at 6 AM. I’m a mason and I was
leaving home for a construction job when I was arrested. I was beaten so bad
that I really thought I was going to die. I was kidnapped and disappeared.
There are 50-60 people in a cell and usually there is a ‘boss’ who often is
armed. So it is very dangerous.”

“Thank goodness for mothers. Without mine I would have had
no food or clothes because the prison gives you nothing.”

These scenarios are repeated again and again.

One of the attorneys, Marc Antoine Maisonneuve, summed it
up: “There is no paper trail, no facts, no case, no record. Sometimes we get
lucky and get a sympathetic judge or halfway decent prosecutor and we can get
them out. But the number of prisoners is overwhelming and we don’t have enough
attorneys to help them.”

Conclusion

It is our finding, based upon our investigation, that the
Lasalin massacre was directed and facilitated by the Moise PHTK government.
Lasalin was chosen as the target for this massacre because of its significance
as a base of resistance and a staging ground for anti-government protests. This
was certainly a reason why First Lady Martine Moise went to Lasal in October
2018 and attempted to convince community leaders to stop the protests.

The massacres are continuing. Due to a lack of systematic
data collection, it is still unclear how many have been killed, how many
injured and how many displaced. However, it is not overestimating to say that
these numbers may actually be in the hundreds and perhaps more. It is essential
that complete data must be obtained and analyzed.

The evidence of government and paramilitary collusion is
clear. At first, the government and others in the media claimed the killings
were horrific but that they were just the result of gangs fighting over turf.
However, it has been confirmed that leaders of the killings arrived with the
police and the subsequent massacre had both police protection and
participation.

Street in Lasalin – Photo: Judith Mirkinson

Reginald Boulos has also publicly admitted to financing
paramilitary leaders involved in the massacre. Pierre Duplan, the PHTK delegate
for the West Department of Haiti, has also been implicated as a coordinator of
the massacre. While the government may support his prosecution and try to paint
the massacre as one carried out by a “rogue” official and “rogue” police
officers in coordination with “gangs,” it is clear that responsibility extends
to the highest level of the ruling party and government. A thorough
investigation must be held and those responsible must face charges. The people
injured and displaced should receive reparations and be guaranteed the right to
return to Lasalin and their homes with full security.

It is also imperative that there be an investigation into
the role of the US embassy and government in both the election of Jovenel Moise
and the ensuing corruption and human rights abuses. Jovenel Moise was placed
into power through a fraudulent November 2016 election held under UN occupation
and aided by the U.S. government. Despite overwhelming evidence of fraud, the
U.S State Department immediately heralded the elections as legitimate and
proceeded to continue to provide the Haitian government with financial
and diplomatic support.

At the same time, the United Nations, while announcing
preparations to leave Haiti, continued to train and create a militarized police
force.18 “Since 2010, the United States has provided $259.9 million
to train, equip and provide technical assistance to the Haitian National
Police.19

Clearly, without the U.S. government’s active intervention
in the domestic affairs of Haiti, the Moise government would never have come to
power. As the toll mounts from the atrocities committed in Lasalin, it is time
for both the United States and the United Nations to be held to task for their
continued support of the repressive and illegitimate regime now in power in
Haiti. The people of Haiti deserve the right to live without the daily threat
of state-directed violence.

Report authors

Seth Donnelly is a public high school teacher in the Bay
Area of California, where he has taught social studies for nearly two decades.
He has been an activist with the Puerto Rican independence and Black liberation
movements, doing solidarity work with prisoners from those movements. He has
also been involved in the Haiti Action Committee since 2004. He is the author
of the 2005 report, “Growing Evidence of a Massacre by UN Occupation Forces in
Port-au-Prince,”

Judith Mirkinson is a long term women’s and human rights
activist. She has spent decades doing international solidarity work and is a
co-author of the NLG 2007 report, “Seeking Answers: Probing Political
Persecution, Repression & Human Rights Violations in The Philippines.” Her
most recent article is: “We
Are Seeing Ourselves Being Dragged Back Into a Time
When
Women Were Dehumanized: Sexual Violence As a Tool of Repression in Haiti
.”
She is president of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

All photos by
Judith Mirkinson for the delegation.

Cover image:
Part of a wall within an elementary school that was shot up. Two teachers and
five students were killed as a result.

Endnotes

1. RNDDH, “The Events in La Saline: From Power Struggle
between Armed Gangs to State-Sanctioned Massacre, December 1, 2018,” p.13.
Lasalin residents also told our delegation that Duplan was involved in
coordinating the massacre.

2. https://minujusth.unmissions.org/en/minujusth-and-ohchr-release-report-violent-events-13-and-14-november-la-saline,
full report in French: https://minujusth.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/minujusth_hcdh_rapport_la_saline.pdf.

3. “Dozens brutally killed, raped in Haiti massacre,” police
say. “Even young children were not spared,” Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald,
May 15, 2019, updated May 17, 2019, https://www.miamiherald.com/
news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article230380739.html.

4. Athena Kolbe and Royce Hutson, “UN Peacekeepers in Haiti,”
The Lancet vol. 368, issue 9538 (September 2, 2006). Eight thousand people were
killed within a one and half year period after the 2004 coup.

5. For coverage on “Sojourner Truth,” see https://soundcloud.com/sojournertruthradio/sojourner-truth-radio-april-5.
For coverage on the “Real News Network,” see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6kQH-_IrAg&amp=&t=529s
and https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=Vz64mWYpO9Q.

6. Margaret Prescod, “Human Rights Delegation Condemns
Political Massacres Tied to Haiti’s Government,” Press Release, May 8, 2019.

7. Rep. Maxine Waters, “Congresswoman Waters Leads
Delegation to Haiti; Finds Both Inspiration and Evidence of Violence,” press release,
May 13, 2019.

8. RNDDH, “The Events in La Saline: From Power Struggle
between Armed Gangs to State-Sanctioned Massacre, December 1, 2018,” p. 5.

9. Ibid, pp. 5-6.

10. Le Nouvelliste, “La Police Tire a Hauteur D’Homme au
Pont-Rouge,” Oct. 17, 2018. Also, see Le Nouvelliste’s video coverage, at https://
youtu.be/UX-ac8kDFzM.
For additional video evidence of police shooting at demonstrators on
demonstrators, see Kodinasyon Depatmantal Lwes Fanmi Lavalas https://www.facebook.com/1421526351403611/videos/2276771565875806/.

11. RNDDH, “The Events in La Saline: From Power Struggle
between Armed Gangs to State-Sanctioned Massacre, December 1, 2018,” p. 6.

12. Ibid, p. 7

13. https://minujusth.unmissions.org/en/minujusth-and-ohchr-releasereport-violent-events-13-and-14-november-la-saline,
full report in French: https://minujusth.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/minujusth_hcdh_rapport_la_saline.pdf.

14. Interview with Radio Timoun staff, April 1-2, 2019.

15. The interview with Barbecue was published on YouTube on
Dec. 27, 2018, under the title “Massacre ‘La Saline’ Jimmy Cherizier (Barbecue)
Les Bandits ‘Legal’ dans la police Haïtienne.” The interview was conducted by
Bob C, a Haitian radio host and well-known PHTK supporter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BILs2IflG-A.
The interview with Reginald Boulos was conducted by a reporter with Radio Sans
Fin, a progressive media outlet, on April 25, 2018. One journalist, Rospide
Petion, with this radio station was subsequently assassinated on June 10, 2019.
Translations provided upon request.

16. RNDDH, “Massacre d’Etat à La Saline: Révision à la
hausse du bilan des personnes tuées et violées le 13 novembre 2018,” Dec. 20,
2018.

17. RNDDH, “The Events in Lasaline: from Power Struggle between
Armed Gangs to State Sanctioned Massacre,” p. 8.

18. Here are but a few examples of the fraud uncovered:

After Fanmi Lavalas, Haiti’s most popular political party,
successfully challenged the elections in Haitian court, Lavalas obtained a
court order to investigate the election results. Dr. Maryse Narcisse, the
Lavalas candidate for president, then visited the Vote Tabulation Center
shortly after the elections to investigate the results. She was joined by
election officials, observers, representatives of another contesting smaller
party Meksepa and of the ruling PHTK party. They examined 78 randomly selected
vote tally sheets (proces verbaux), and all present agreed that every one of
the 78 tally sheets was fraudulent, without exception. The US-backed CEP Election
Commission then abruptly ended the legally-mandated verification process – invalidating
those 78 particular tally sheets, but failing to check the over 13,000 tally
sheets remaining to be verified. With that, the CEP inexplicably accepted the
fraudulent election “results” as legitimate.

Deputy A.R. Bien-Aime and two other PHTK candidates made a
startling revelation about UNOPS, a U.N. agency assigned to transport ballot
boxes to the Tabulation Center. They charged that while in U.N. custody, the
ballot boxes were switched en route with boxes of pre-filled-out ballots. In
addition, a National Palace official was involved in a vehicle accident in
which pre-filled-out ballots, marked for the presidential candidate of Martelly’s
PHTK party, Jovenel Moise, were spilled on the road.

Fifteen prominent Haitian intellectuals, outraged by “clear
involvement of U.N. agencies in the fraud that marred the elections,” wrote an
Open Letter to the U.N. Mission stating, “The whole world is discovering, under
pressure from the street … the truth of the biggest electoral fraud operation …for
the last 30 years in Haiti.”

Also see: The Editorial Board, “Opinion: Haiti Deserves a
Legitimate Election.” The New York Times, 19 Jan. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/opinion/sunday/haiti-deserves-a-legitimate-election.html?_r=1.

19. As quoted in a letter dated April 18, 2019, by Charles
S. Faulkner, United States Department of State, to Representative Anna Eshoo,
United States Congress.

Resources on Haiti

Articles

We
Will Not Forget: The Achievements of Lavalas
,” by Haiti Action Committee, https://politicaleducation.
org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/wwnf.pdf.

“The Haitian Revolution: A Past Forever Present,” speech by
Mildred Trouillot Aristide, March 31, 2017, https://haitisolidarity.net/voices-from-haiti/
the-haitian-revolution-a-past-forever-present-bymildred-aristide/.

“Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age
of Globalization” by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, https://www.powells.com/book/eyes-of-the-heartseeking-a-path-for-the-poor-in-the-age-of-globaliza
tion-9781567511871/2-6.

“Crisis and Resolution: Fanmi Lavalas Statement,” Nov. 15, 2018,
https://haitisolidarity.net/crisis-andresolution/.

Books

“The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San
Domingo Revolution,” by CLR James, https://politicaleducation.org/wp-content/
uploads/2017/04/CLR_James_The_Black_Jacobins.
pdf.

“An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping
of a President,” by Randall Robinson, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001AQJ2XO/ref=dpkindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1.

Films

“Haiti: Harvest of Hope” by Kevin Pina, https://haitiinformationproject.net.

“We Must Kill the Bandits” by Kevin Pina, https://haitiinformationproject.net.

“Massacres in Haiti” by Margaret Prescod, available upon
request.

Haiti Action
Committee
is a Bay-Area based network of activists who have supported the
Haitian struggle for democracy since 1991. Learn more at haitisolidarity.net.

National Lawyers
Guild (NLG)

Dedicated to the principle that human and civil rights are
more sacred than property rights, the National Lawyers Guild seeks to unite
lawyers, law students, legal workers and jailhouse lawyers to function as an
effective political and social force to protect and defend communities, social justice
movements, and political and grassroots organizations and activists advocating
and organizing for those rights. For over 80 years, the National Lawyers Guild
has served as the legal arm of movements leading the fight for meaningful
social change in the United States. As a progressive and leftist legal
organization, the NLG has represented and defended activists in the courtrooms
and on the streets. Learn more at nlg.org or
nlgsf.org.

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Haiti – FLASH : China at the UN calls the international community to help Haiti

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Haiti – FLASH : China at the UN calls the international community to help Haiti
16/10/2019 13:33:42

Haiti - FLASH : China at the UN calls the international community to help Haiti

Tuesday, speaking at the last Security Council debate, ending the 15 years of Peace Mission in Haiti https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-29017-haiti-un-the-minujusth-is-finished-beginning-of-the-binuh.html Wu Haitao, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of China to the UN, urged countries with a significant influence on Haiti to pay closer attention to political, economic, social and humanitarian, and called on the international community to help Haiti maintain stability, stimulate economic growth and improve the livelihoods of the people.

Wu recalled that eight Chinese peacekeepers died while carrying out their duties in Haiti, during these missions, making the ultimate sacrifice for peace in Haiti.

Adding “It pains us to see that the country’s political crisis has escalated again lately […]

China calls upon the Haitian authorities to be committed to resolving differences properly through consultation, strengthen the rule of law and its own development capacity, and resolve the current political crisis as soon as possible […] “

Recognizing that “the road to achieving stability in developing Haiti would be long and hard” Wu said that China hoped that the Haitian Government would put the interests of the people at the top of its agenda, would be committed to autonomy and would effectively assume its responsibility to maintain national security and stability and to promote economic and social development.

HL/ HaitiLibre

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Haiti – UN : OHCHR calls on Bahamas to suspend deportation to Haiti

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Haiti – UN : OHCHR calls on Bahamas to suspend deportation to Haiti
16/10/2019 10:35:26

Haiti - UN : OHCHR calls on Bahamas to suspend deportation to Haiti

In a note, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva expresses concern about the expulsion of 112 Haitian migrants from the Bahamas to Haiti on 10 October https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-28987-haiti-flash-6-weeks-after-dorian-bahamas-resumes-deporting-haitians.html including survivors of the Abaco Islands, 85% destroyed by Hurricane Dorian https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-28767-haiti-flash-bahamas-more-than-300-haitians-missing-after-the-passage-of-dorian.html

“We call on the Government to refrain from deporting individuals who lack documentation, without the individual assessments and due process guarantees to which they are entitled under international law,” recalling that many of them lived in informal settlements that were destroyed by the hurricane, losing their documents, jobs and belongings.

OHCHR recalls “[…] Bahamian authorities had initially said immigration enforcement activities would be suspended in the affected islands, this position was publicly reversed at the end of September, when they announced that all migrants without valid documents would be apprehended and deported https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-28906-haiti-flash-the-bahamas-ask-the-haitian-illegal-to-leave-the-archipelago-of-will-or-force.html

We encourage the Government to put in place procedures that facilitate access to documents for all those who had legal documents prior to Dorian – particularly those who may be either stateless or at risk of statelessness – and to ensure they have access to independent legal counsel. We call on the authorities to halt any further deportations to Haiti at the moment.

See also :
https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-28987-haiti-flash-6-weeks-after-dorian-bahamas-resumes-deporting-haitians.html
https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-28906-haiti-flash-the-bahamas-ask-the-haitian-illegal-to-leave-the-archipelago-of-will-or-force.html
https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-28904-haiti-flash-after-the-passage-of-dorian-the-haitians-without-paper-in-the-bahamas-risk-the-expulsion.html
https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-28809-haiti-flash-the-government-recognizes-not-having-the-ressources-to-help-the-haitian-victims-in-the-bahamas.html
https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-28767-haiti-flash-bahamas-more-than-300-haitians-missing-after-the-passage-of-dorian.html
https://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-28703-haiti-flash-the-record-of-dorian-likely-to-be-very-heavy-in-the-haitian-community-in-the-bahamas.html

HL/ HaitiLibre

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