30th September, anti-government protest, Port-au-Prince

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30th September is the anniversary of the first coup d’ stat  against President Aristide. To mark the occasion, thousands of Lavalas supporters took to the streets of Port-au-Prince to call for the resignation of the government of Michel Martelly and an end to the persecution of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

All photos and videos licensed under Creative Commons to Association des journalistes Haitien freelance tête ensemble

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PRESIDENT ARISTIDE CURRENT SITUATION 9 28 14 by Attorney Ira Kurzban

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From Haiti Solidarity 

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti in March 2011. Upon his return he stated that he would commit himself to help educate Haiti’s citizens through the Aristide Foundation. He has kept that promise by opening a medical school, a law school, a nursing school, and early next month, in partnership with the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the first School of Physical Therapy designed to assist the victims of the 2010 earthquake, all under the national university at the Aristide Foundation known as UNIFA. The medical school is now in its third year and the Dean is a former Minister of Health and former Director of the Red Cross in Haiti. The law school is in its second year and the former Dean of the University of San Francisco Law School, Jeff Brand, has served as an international visiting dean.

Over the past weekend, while both President Martelly and his Prime Minister were out of the country, threats were repeatedly made on the radio and in public that the government will close both the Aristide Foundation and UNIFA. Simultaneously, police officers in black uniforms, some apparently hooded, appeared to surround President Aristide’s home at Tabarre. They have returned this morning (September 29, 2014). These actions followed the unexplained decision to remove Presidential security at President Aristide’s home in August. Under Haitian law, former Presidents are granted security for themselves and their family and former President Preval apparently continues to receive such protection. At present, neither President Aristide, nor his U.S. citizen wife and children are receiving government protection.

Other forms of harassment have been applied to the Aristide family since Martelly assumed the Presidency in Haiti. The Haitian government has initiated three separate criminal complaints against President Aristide in the past 20 months. On each occasion the warrant was leaked to the press before being served on the former President. “In January, 2013, the charges were so patently unjustified that when Aristide’s lawyers pushed back, the prosecutor dropped the case.”[1] In May 2013, Aristide was properly summoned in an investigation of the April 2000 murder of journalist Jean-Dominique and attended the hearing while thousands of supporters appeared at the courthouse. “Lacking any merit to the allegations, the prosecutor let that case drop as well.”[2]

The current investigation, which has been used as a pretext to remove Aristide’s presidential security, place him under “house arrest” (non-existent under Haitian law), and threaten him with physical incarceration and closure of the Foundation and UNIFA, is a classic example of a political prosecution. In a report issued by the National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) in Haiti, the prosecution has been described as “defying all logic,” “acts of provocation,” and utilizing the case “for political ends.”[3] The investigation is ostensibly one involving 10-year old money laundering charges that are time barred, and trafficking in illicit drugs charges that were originally pursued by the U.S. and found to be meritless. However, it has been used to cast a wide net, not only against President Aristide, but many members of his political party, Lavalas, and even some U.S. supporters. The magistrate conducting the matter is widely viewed as a political weapon wielded by Martelly, who did not meet the 5 year bar qualifications under Haitian law to be a magistrate and has been disbarred by the Haitian Bar Association in Port-au-Prince for 10 years the day he steps down as a magistrate.

Every action in the prosecution from the service of the summons to the declaration that Aristide is under house arrest has been in violation of Haitian law. [4] Many in Haiti believe that this political prosecution is a smoke screen to divert attention from the failure of the Martelly government to hold elections. The unwillingness of Martelly’s government to take the appropriate steps toward an election will mean that in January there will be no functioning parliament and Martelly, like his protégé Duvalier, will be able to rule by decree. It is also an attempt, once again, to exclude the Lavalas Party from participating in elections that many observers believe they would win.

The escalation of events against President Aristide are viewed as efforts to see how far Martelly can push without response from the international community. If a loud chorus of disapproval is not heard against the tactics of the Martelly government, both Aristide’s life and the future of democracy in Haiti are at risk.

sent by Haiti Action Committee
see HANDS OFF ARISTIDE ACTION ALERT for what you can do
[1] Lauren Carasik, Haiti’s Fragile Democracy, JURIST-Forum, Aug. 31, 2014, http//jurist.org/forum2014/08/lauren-carasik-haiti-democracy.php
[2] Id.
[3] Marie Yolene Gilles Colas, National Human Rights Defense Network, “In the matter of Jean-Bertrand Aristide/Lamarre Belizaire: Who is protecting persons before the justice system from arbitrary conduct of Magistrates?
[4] Id.

Masked police surround the home of former President Aristide

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Press Release from Haiti Action

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30th – 5PM

SF/BAY AREA EMERGENCY DEMONSTRATION
MARKET & MONTGOMERY ST, SAN FRANCISCO
ON SATURDAY MORNING, MASKED HAITIAN POLICE SURROUNDED FORMER PRESIDENT JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE’S HOUSE, AS HAITIAN RADIO STATIONS BROADCAST NEWS THAT HE WOULD BE IMMEDIATELY ARRESTED. HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE RALLIED IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE, VOWING TO STAY THERE TO PREVENT HIS ARREST.

THIS IS THE HAITIAN GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE TO THE LAVALAS MOVEMENT’S CALL FOR DEMONSTRATIONS ON TUESDAY TO MARK THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE SEPTEMBER 30TH, 1991 COUP AGAINST PRESIDENT ARISTIDE. IT IS PART OF A PATTERN OF INTIMIDATION THAT HARKENS BACK TO THE DAYS OF THE DUVALIER DICTATORSHIP.

ON SEPTEMBER 12TH, AT 1 A.M., THE HAITIAN GOVERNMENT REMOVED THE SECURITY DETAIL THAT HAS BEEN GUARDING FORMER PRESIDENT ARISTIDE AND HIS FAMILY SINCE HIS RETURN TO HAITI IN 2011. THIS CAME A DAY AFTER A JUDGE ORDERED PRESIDENT ARISTIDE, HAITI’S FIRST DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED PRESIDENT, TO BE PLACED UNDER “HOUSE ARREST.” UNDER CURRENT HAITIAN LAW, “HOUSE ARREST” DOES NOT EXIST, BUT IT WAS USED FREQUENTLY AS A FORM OF REPRESSION BY THE DUVALIER REGIME.

WE VIEW THIS WITH THE GRAVEST CONCERN AND CONSIDER THESE DEVELOPMENTS A DIRECT THREAT TO PRESIDENT ARISTIDE AND HIS FAMILY.

PLEASE CALL THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT’S HAITI DESK.

THE UNITED STATES HAS BEEN A KEY SUPPORTER OF THE HAITIAN GOVERNMENT OF MICHEL MARTELLY. LET THEM KNOW — GIVEN THEIR INFLUENCE ON THE MARTELLY GOVERNMENT – THAT WE HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE SAFETY AND WELFARE OF PRESIDENT ARISTIDE AND HIS FAMILY, AND THAT WE DEMAND AN END TO THIS HARASSMENT AND REPRESSION AGAINST PRESIDENT ARISTIDE AND THE LAVALAS MOVEMENT.

Please Call:

Haiti Special Coordinator Thomas ADAMS

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE

202 647-9510

AND

Pamela White, Ambassador of the United States in Haiti

Embassy of the United States

Tabarre, Haiti

Tel: 011-509-2229-8000

Fax 011 509 2-229-8028

Residents protest against the murder and shooting by BRICOR, Delmas

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Friday 25th September AM – Members of the Delmas BRICOR shot three people on the street outside Camp Acra by the Shalom church. One of the women, CARLENE JEAN,  was shot dead as she passed the street on the way to the main road to collect one of her children from school. She is survived by 6 children one of whom is a baby of 6 months. Two other people were shot and injured, an elderly woman and her grandson and are both in hospital.

Young boy who was shot by the BRICOR along with his grandmother

Young boy who was shot by the BRICOR along with his grandmother

Following the shooting camp residents gathered to protest against the BRICOR who regularly harass street vendors, and shoppers on the streets of Delmas and other parts of Port-au-Prince, destroying and confiscating peoples, produce, beating vendors and driving them off the streets.

In this case the BRICOR came to remove the vendors who gather at weekends to sell to members of a local church, using sticks and armed with automatic weapons.

The police were possibly called by the Pastor of the church by which time hundreds of camp residents and church members had gathered on the street in protest against the shootings and beatings. The police tried to disperse the crowd many of whom responded by throwing stones at the police after which they used tear gas to disperse the residents.

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Members of Chanjem Leson and CHAL, two action groups based in the camps, went with family members to make a formal complaint to the Mayor of Delmas, Wilson Jeudy.

UPDATE to follow

The mayor of Delmas has said he will pay for the funeral, and pay the children’s school fees and give the father a job – Shameful, the poor are disposable, Haiti, USA, Nigeria, there IS NO JUSTICE

Remise de certificat a un representant de sister cities par l’organisation de CHAL

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Remise de certificat a un representant de sister cities par l’organisation de chal coaolition pour humaniser les actions aux logements dans le camp acra de delmas 33 sur la reflexion des personnes sans abris qui vit encore sous les tentes dans le camp acra de delmas 33 le dimanche 31 aout 201410384119_502334396570084_3851369014364363653_n

 

 

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Haiti Action dismisses charges against President Aristide

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UPDATED 24/08/14

Jean-Bertrand Aristide

On August 12th, the Haitian government through magistrate Lamarre Belizaire issued a summons to President Aristide requesting his appearance at court. According to Aristide’s lawyer, Mario Joseph, the summons was never received and therefore Aristide did not attend the court. Joseph himself only managed to attend the court after hearing about the summons on the radio, however the judge who issued the summons was not present. Despite the judge’s absence, an arrest warrant was issued to President Aristide showing clearly that this latest summons and arrest was planned in advance otherwise why would the judge be absent but still manage to issue an arrest warrant?

This last point is important because he is not the original judge assigned to the case. The original judge had done nothing because there was nothing to pursue. However Belizaire took over the case without it being handed over to him and then proceeded with the summons and later the arrest warrant.

The charges against the former president which center around corruption, money laundering and drug related, are part of an on going politically motivated harassment against him.  To put into context this latest summons and arrest warrant which is far more threatening that the previous one in May 2013, US journalist Kevin Pina spoke with Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee and an updated interview with Pierre on Thursday 14th August [35.36]  August 21st interview with Attorney for Aristide,  Ira Kurzban
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