UN in Haiti accused of second massacre


HIP – Port au Prince, Haiti — A Cite Soleil community activist, Samuel Leconte, was arrested at gunpoint by Brazilian soldiers on Jan. 18th and was turned over to the Haitian police. The first questions posed to Mr. Leconte by the UN were whether he has information connecting former political prisoner Annette Auguste, aka So An, and exiled president Aristide to large demonstrations in the seaside shanty town of Cite Soleil. While Mr. Leconte has responded that he has no such information and that the demonstrations are taken at the initiative of the community, the information Mr. Leconte does possess is eyewitness testimony of the killings executed by UN forces in his community on December 22. 2006.

 

Weeks before his arrest, Mr. Leconte spoke at a funeral for the victims of what residents of Cite Soleil are calling a second massacre by UN military forces in their community. Mr. Leconte condemned the killings while sitting in front of a large banner that read “Thank you President Preval for this Christmas gift,” an obvious reference to Preval’s having reportedly approved the deadly raid. “They killed women, children and old people. They shot them like animals” states Mr. Leconte as he begins to weep into the microphone. He concluded, “They will never stop our demands for the return of President Aristide. We will keep demonstrating and will never stop until the land of Dessalines is truly free and independent!!” As of this writing, Mr. Leconte is being held without charges by the Haitian police in the notorious Delmas 33 prison which is called Fort Dimanche, alluding to a former prison run by the Duvalier dictatorship.

 

According to residents of Cite Soleil, UN forces attacked their neighborhood in the early morning hours of Dec. 22, 2006 and killed more than 30 people including women and children. For many this was a repeat of UN military operations on July 6, 2005 when more than 26 people were killed in a successful assassination attempt on Emmanuel “Dred” Wilmer and four of his closest followers. Wilmer was openly hostile to the UN military occupation of his country and opposed the ouster of the constitutional president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He led armed resistance and inspired others to do the same against the brutal Haitian police and the irreparably corrupt legal system.

 

This time the target was a purported kidnapping gang led by a young man named Belony. The military operation was said to have been personally sanctioned by President Rene Preval, who was elected last year with support from Aristide’s Lavalas movement. Tens of thousands of Lavalas supporters paralyzed the capital for more than a week to challenge the 76 million dollar UN-sponsored elections fiasco. The UN-backed Provisional Election Council(CEP) attempted a ballot counting fraud meant to keep Preval from assuming office.

 

The irony is that the attack on Dec. 22 seems to have been triggered, not by a surge in kidnappings as claimed by the UN, but by another massive demonstration of Lavalas supporters that began in Cite Soleil.

About ten thousand people demonstrated a few days before for the return of president Aristide in a clear condemnation of what they called the foreign military occupation of their country. These huge demonstrations are not to be confused with smaller protests of the so-called “student demonstrations” of the “testicles up your derriere” movement or GNB that helped to oust Aristide on Feb. 29, 2004. The protesters in Cite Soleil were offered a far different treatment by the UN than the so-called “students.”

 

Footage taken by HIP videographers shows unarmed civilians dying as a result of indiscriminate gunfire from UN forces on December 22, 2006.

Although the UN denied firing from helicopter gunships, an unidentified

28 year-old man dies on camera stating that he was shot in the abdomen from a circling UN helicopter raining death upon those below. This is not the first time the UN has denied murdering unarmed civilians in Cite Soleil. The occupation force also denied killing unarmed civilians on July 6, 2005. Eloufi Boulbars, a UN spokesperson stated on July 8, 2005, “We saw five people killed, that’s what we could count. Armed bandits who had tried to resist were either killed or wounded.”

Documentary evidence finally forced the UN to admit that unarmed civilians had been killed by UN forces despite their attempts to cover it up.

 

The scene December 22, 2006 was not all that different with the UN feeding the corporate media a story of military intervention against kidnappers and denying once again the disproportionate use of force resulting in the heavy loss of life among unarmed civilians. Another similarity was the UN’s utter disregard in planning for civilian causualties. As in July 2005, not a single medical unit accompanied the UN forces as residents hit by indiscriminate and sustained gunfire bled to death in the middle of the street or managed to crawl back to their homes to die in the arms of their families.

 

“I couldn’t count all the victims,” states one survivor who asked to remain anonymous due to fears for her safety. “They came in shooting.

Look at that pregnant woman they just shot. Look at that young man. Are we all bandits? Are we all kidnappers?” Annette Auguste, who was a political prisoner in Haiti for more than two years added, “We saw young men and women gunned down by UN forces in Cite Soleil. Young people shot dead . Were they all kidnappers too?”

 

More than three hours of video footage and a large selection of digital photos, illustrate more than words ever could what the UN is doing in Haiti. The wounded and dying on the video tape all express horror and confusion at the reasons UN forces shot at them. A 16 year-old young man asks why UN forces shot him as he clearly realizes he is going to die. Less than an hour later we see his lifeless corpse replace what once was an animated and articulate young man. HIP Founding Editor Kevin Pina commented, “It is clear that this represents an act of terror against the community. This video evidence shows clearly that the UN stands accused, once again, of targeting unarmed civilians in Cite Soleil. There can be no justification for using this level of force in the close quarters of those neighborhoods. It is clear that the UN views the killing of these innocents as somehow acceptable to their goal of pacifying this community. Every demonstration, no matter how peaceful, is seen as a threat to their control if it includes demands for the return of Aristide to Haiti. In that context it is difficult to continue to view the UN mission as an independent and neutral force in Haiti. They apparently decided sometime ago it was acceptable to use military force to alter Haiti‘s political landscape to match their strategic goals for the Haitian people.”

 

The people of Cite Soleil now view president Preval as having the blood of innocent victims on his hands along with UN Special Envoy to Haiti Edmond Mulet and the recently replaced Brazilian General Jose Elito Carvalho de Siqueira. In the minds of the survivors they now join the ranks of General Heleno Ribera, former UN Envoy Juan Gabriel Valdes and the former US-installed prime minister Gerard Latortue all of who are implicated in ordering and covering up the first massacre of July 6, 2005.

 

 

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