On August 2, MINUSTAH, the Brazilian-led UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, issued a curious press statement concerning a training course it will offer to political parties preparing for Haitiâ€™s upcoming elections. The course will emphasize the harmful effect that conflict has on children and the need for politicians to incorporate concerns of children into party platforms. After months of pleas to the UN by Haiti solidarity activists to investigate sexual abuse and other forms of violence, including murder, against street children in Haiti, the UN wants Haitian politicians to place children in front, and center, of their political agendas. The hypocrisy of the UN is stunning â€“ the only thing they have put children in front of so far is the barrel of a gun.
In the wee hours of the morning on July 6, in the poor Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Cite Soleil, UN troops entered a home during a massive raid and shot, at close range, a mother and her two children, aged 18 months and four years. The four-year old had received a bullet to the head. I know this because I have seen the video footage of the aftermath of this raid in which the shattered husband, and father, tells the story, as his wife and children lie dead on the floor at his feet. UN forces had thrown a colored smoke bomb into his house before they entered. He thought his wife and children were close behind him as he ran from the house.
Only hours before this footage was shot, the UN â€œpeacekeepingâ€ forces entered this poor manâ€™s neighborhood with 300-400 troops, 20 tanks, and two assault helicopters and the stated objective of disrupting â€œgangâ€ activity. This husband, and father, is trying to understand how his whole family could have been mistaken for gang members. Other families are wondering the same thing. Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) runs a hospital in Haiti. Officials at the hospital reported that, in the later morning hours after the raid, they received 26 gunshot victims â€“ 20 were women and children. In a July 25 press statement, MINUSTAH said they killed five gang members on July 6 in Cite Soleil and that any other casualties were due to â€œgangâ€ violence. MINUSTAH lied and men, women and children died.
In the video footage of the carnage left by UN troops, wounded victims and relatives of dead family members state repeatedly that the trigger men were the â€œcasques bleus,â€ or blue helmets, the nickname given to UN peacekeeping troops because of the light blue helmets they wear. If you saw the film, Hotel Rwanda, you may remember the initial relief with which Rwandans received the news that the â€œcasques bleusâ€ were coming to help them. The UN Security Council handcrafted a particularly anemic mission for the peacekeepers in Rwanda and strung the world along for several days by feigning willingness to strengthen the mission, if needed. The Security Council lied and over 800,000 people died.
In Haiti, the â€œblue helmetsâ€ are immersing themselves in a sea of bloody red as they go from impotent bystanders to a proxy army for the permanent members of the UN Security Council. The US and France are the architects of this particular slaughter. Why? The US, France and Canada plotted and implemented the overthrow of Haitiâ€™s democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004, because he refused to play neo-colonial ball. With fall elections rapidly approaching and an overwhelming number of Haitians supporting President Aristide and demanding his return, the coup plotters are starting to sweat. Election fraud is a given. The exact number of young, poor, Aristide supporters who became of voting age since the last national elections in 2000 is unknown, but must pose a serious threat to the victory of a Haitian elite government that the US, France and Canada desperately seek. The problem is that support for Aristide is so massive in Haiti, no amount of fraud can conceal the farce that s about to unfold. So, a potential voter reduction program in poor, Aristide-supporting neighborhoods is underway. Rather than US Marines committing the massacres, the â€œcasques bleusâ€ are doing the deed. The UN dodged a bullet by resisting Bushâ€™s crusade to Iraq. But, Brazil, vulnerable to the USâ€™ treacherous promise of a permanent seat on the Security Council, sold its soul and agreed to head up the UN forces in Haiti. Rather than becoming the first Latin American country to win a permanent seat on the Security Council, Brazil will be remembered for presiding over the most deadly, violent, and destructive peacekeeping operation in UN history.
Haitian street children have always been the victim of unimaginable violence â€“ most often at the hands of the Haitian National Police. Violence against these children has risen markedly since the coup. Demands that the UN investigate these crimes have gone unheeded because the Haitian police are the UNâ€™s partners in the political slaughter in Haiti.
As late as two days ago, Haiti solidarity organizations sent out alerts about a major upsurge in assaults on street children. MINUSTAH, knowing that their massacre on July 6 is still fresh, needed to do some damage control â€“ after all, weâ€™re talking about kids here. So, it comes up with a training course to teach Haitians how to protect their children. How patronizing. How dare the UN use the children of Haiti to cover their murderous ways?
In Haiti, it matters not whether children live in the streets or in homes with their parents â€“ if they are poor, they are targets of the UN â€œpeacekeepers.â€ The US, France, Canada, and their UN accomplices are lying, as they always have and Haitians are dying, as they always have.
-Shirley Pate is a Haiti solidarity activist in Washington, DC.