Haitian human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine discusses last week’s UN raid of Cite Soleil. Published reports put the death toll as high as 17 but Pierre-Antoine said the actual death toll could reach 80. [rush transcript included]
In Haiti, more than 1000 people marched through the streets of Port Au Prince Thursday to protest the presence of UN forces in the country, and to call for the return to power of the democratically elected former President Jean Bertrand Aristide. Aristide lives in exile in South Africa after his ouster in a US-backed coup nearly three years ago.
Thursday’s march followed the deaths of as many as seventeen civilians who were shot by UN troops in the capital city’s impoverished Cite Soleil neighborhood last week.
Demonstrators expressed outrage at what witnesses called indiscriminate firing by UN forces. Many suggested that the UN’s intention was to suppress popular support of Aristide and his Lavalas political party.
The UN has denied charges that it fired indiscriminately, saying that it was targeting armed gangs involved in recent kidnappings in the city. Under control of the UN force, Cite Soleil has been plagued by kidnappings and crime. Well, to discuss the situation, we are joined by Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine and Kim Ives. Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine is a Haitian Human Rights Activist and head of the September 30th Foundation–an advocacy group for coup d’etat victims — And Kim Ives is an independent journalist who specializes in Haiti. we welcome you both to Democracy Now!
- Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, Haitian Human Rights Activist. Head of the September 30th Foundation–an advocacy group for coup d’etat victims. He lives in Haiti and has just flown into New York.
- Kim Ives, Independent Journalist who specializes in Haiti
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, to discuss the situation, we are joined by Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine and Kim Ives. Lovinsky, is a Haitian human rights activist and Head of the September 30th Foundation, an advocacy group for coup d’etat victims. Kim Ives is an independent journalist who specializes in Haiti and he’ll also be translating for Lovinsky. We thank you both for joining us. Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, what happened? Were you in Haiti at the time or were you here when this happened last week?
LOVINSKY PIERRE-ANTOINE: Yes, I was in Haiti.
AMY GOODMAN: You were in Haiti. Tell us what happened.
LOVINSKY PIERRE-ANTOINE: Yes. I’m going to speak Creole…
KIM IVES:Yes, go ahead.
LOVINSKY PIERRE-ANTOINE: [TRANSLATED]What happened in Haiti is a continuation of a war of genocide against the poor population. And that is an expression in fact of the class struggle in Haiti. What happens is that the United Nations by what is called the MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) is an accomplice of this war against the poor in Haiti. We can see what happened in Cité-Soleil on the 6th of July of 2005—what happens every day in Cité-Soleil where soldiers kill the poor for nothing, and what happened this past 21st, 22nd of December of this year. This campaign against the poor in Haiti where they give them some kind of pejorative name. The way that the United Nations soldiers were trying to resolve the insecurity problem in the country, even if this is a real problem, the way they resolve it is not appropriate.
JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask, in all my years as a journalist in terms of seeing how the United Nations operates in peacekeeping missions, I’ve never seen such periodic reports of the UN troops involved in aggressive, violent actions against populations as there has been in Haiti over the last few years. Do you—any sense of, on your part, why the UN is playing such a role in Haiti, so different from what it’s done around the world?
LOVINSKY PIERRE-ANTOINE: The problem is that the United Nations is supposed to maintain peace, it’s supposed to be a force of stabilization. In fact, the presence of the United Nations forces is just an expression of the continuation of the 2004 coup d’ etat. Because all the people who were doing crimes at the end of 2003 and all the former military, they don’t have any problem. They are just circulating freely in the country. But the people who are victims today of the United Nations forces, are compatriots who are in Cité-Soleil and the other popular quarters who stood up to Guy Philippe. The MINUSTAH cannot play the role of peacekeeper because they’re not neutral.
AMY GOODMAN: MINUSTAH being the UN Forces?
KIM IVES: Yes, it’s the mission to stabilize Haiti.
LOVINSKY PIERRE-ANTOINE: And we feel in the situation there’s too much influence from the U.S. Embassy, and the Special Representative of the United Nations Edmond Mullet. And to our mind the United Nations represents an occupation force, which is pursuing repression against the population and weakening institutions of state’s such as the police and justice—and putting the country under tutelage.
AMY GOODMAN: The BBC just did an expose on the rape and abuse of kids in Haiti by the UN Forces. Before that we did the Wayne State University report on the massive number of rapes in Haiti and specifically looking at UN forces. Now the UN forces say they went into Cité-Soleil in this last shooting because of the gangs there and the kidnappings. Your response?
LOVINSKY PIERRE-ANTOINE: It is not that they were looking for gangs in Cité-Soleil doing kidnappings. The phenomenon of security and kidnapping in the country is purely a political phenomenon. One of the last acts of kidnapping in the country was a guy — a Senator called Andris Riche, and this was a complete piece of theater. And they did this precisely so that they could target Cité-Soleil, to give the impression that they were trying to fight against insecurity. But in other areas where there’s insecurities, such as in Carrefour-Feuilles where you have the Little Machete Army, neither the National Police, or the minister soldiers did anything to stop that.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Can’t the, what power does the legal elected government of Haiti have now to — can’t they just request that the UN troops leave? Why haven’t they?
LOVINSKY PIERRE-ANTOINE: Presently there’s a campaign that we’ve undertaken, which will go between the first and15th of February to demand that the Security Council remove the UN Troops from Haiti. And where the Haitian government has not taken the responsibility to stop the genocide there, we in the population, in the democratic sector, have taken on the responsibility.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m looking at the press release from the United Nations, and they say they are working with the security forces of Haiti, and in their press release that was released last Friday after the killings in Cité-Soleil, they say the operations have resulted in the arrests of 24 kidnap suspects and the liberation of six victims, a number of weapons were also seized. Final comment?
LOVINSKY PIERRE-ANTOINE: Last killing that was done in Cité-Soleil, the people who died were not people with guns in their hands. They were pregnant women and children among them. According to journalists on the ground, there were between 30 and 40 people who died. But we think it’s between 60 and 80 people because the people when they run, they take the people who fell to run with them.
AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much for being with us. Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, the Haitian human rights activist and Head of the September 30th Foundation, who just came back from Haiti, and Kim Ives. Thank you very much for joining us. That does it for today’s broadcast, the last of the year. We want to thank all of you because you are at the heart of this broadcast, the largest public media collaboration in this country as it continues to grow in this country and around the world. I am Amy Goodman with Juan Gonzalez. We wish you a very happy new year.