Stop the UN Killings of Civilians in Haiti
Condemn massacre carried out by UN ‘peacekeepers’
On the morning of July 6, 2005, a full-blown military attack on a densely-populated neighborhood, which multiple sources confirm killed at least 23 people, was carried out by UN "peacekeepers" in Haiti. Published estimates indicate that upwards of 50 may have been killed and an indeterminate number wounded, and that more than 300 heavily armed UN troops took part in the assault on the neighborhood.
Dave Welsh, a delegate with the San Francisco Labor Council who was in Haiti as part of a labor/human rights delegation, said, “This full-blown military attack on a densely-populated neighborhood, which multiple sources confirm killed at least 23 people, is a crime.” Published estimates indicate that upwards of 50 may have been killed and an indeterminate number wounded, and that more than 300 heavily armed UN troops took part in the assault on the neighborhood.
The attack took place in Cite Soleil, an extremely poor area that is staunchly supportive of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Aristide was forced from office by the U.S. embassy in collusion with U.S.-backed paramilitaries on February 29, 2004 and is now in exile in South Africa.
Seth Donnelly, a California teacher with the same delegation, visited the scene of the massacre and spoke to traumatized survivors of the attack. “This operation started early Wednesday morning at 3am, with Jordanian and other troops on foot and in tanks and helicopters with machine gun turrets. It was a full-scale attack. Survivors told us that when they saw UN troops they felt that, unlike Haitian police, they would not fire on civilians, but that the ‘peacekeepers’ soon began shooting into houses and at civilians.“
The Labor/Human Rights Delegation from the United States, sponsored by the San Francisco Labor Council, had been in Haiti since late June to attend the Congress of the Confederation of Haitian Workers (CTH), the country's largest labor organization, and met with hundreds of Haitian workers, farmers and professionals, interviewing scores of them about the current labor and human rights crisis in Haiti.
Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee noted, “This latest attack, in which people in their homes and on the way to work were killed for no reason, is beyond the pale. Such atrocities must not be accepted by the international community. Those responsible for these killings of civilians must be brought to trial.”
Labossiere concluded that the U.S.Embassy should immediately refrain from more statements which provide a ‘green light’ for slaughter of civilians. “By recently calling grassroots activists ‘gang members’ and ‘terrorists’, U.S. Ambassador James Foley sent a signal that it’s open season on civilians. The real terrorists in Haiti are the UN troops, the Haitian police and the paramilitaries who are killing civilians. Under its most recent mandate, the UN has supervision of the Haitian police. But instead of stopping the killing of civilians, the UN is stepping up the slaughter,” said Labossiere.
Please contact as many of the following as you have time to and tell them that the killing must stop.
Lt. General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira, UN Military Commander in Haiti:
Damian Onses-Cardona, Spokesperson for Gen. Pereira: 011-509-527-5118
(cell), 011-509-510-2563, ext. 6303.
Touissant Congo-Doudou, Head of Communications, MINUSTAH: 011-509-557-5906,
David Beer, Commissioner of CIVPOL, the UN Civilian Police in Haiti:
firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 011-509-244-9366.
Juan Gabriel Valdes, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to
Haiti: 011-509-244-9650 or 9660, fax 011-509 244 3512.
Cite Soleil Community Turns Out En Masse For Funeral of Dread Wilme
Credible Estimates of Civilian Casualties during July 6th UN Military Operation in Cite Soleil Continue to Mount
US Labor and Human Rights Delegation
July 9th, Port-au-Prince
For further information, contact Delegation Member Seth Donnelly: 650-814-8495
Hundreds of people of all ages turned out for the funeral of Dread Wilme, a leader of the Cite Soleil community in Port-au-Prince. Wilme was reportedly killed in a UN military operation in Cite Soleil during the early morning hours of Wednesday, July 6th. The funeral ceremony was held in the street and involved speeches by community activists, music, dancing, and carrying a
coffin to the people. White banners were draped up and down one of the main streets in the community. Media, mostly Haitian, were present. Speakers expressed respect for Wilme as someone who embodied the hopes of the community, someone who attempted to stand up for and protect his community. They vowed to continue the struggle for the rights of the poor in Haiti to healthcare, education, and democracy. In this spirit, they also vowed to fight for the return of President Aristide. One young female speaker stirred the crowd with her words affirming the dignity of the people of Cite Soleil and their rights to be treated as human beings. Another speaker addressed the issue of kidnappings in Haiti, claiming that they were being used by the
coup regime to scapegoat poor communities like Cite Soleil. Armed young men seemed to provide security for the ceremony.
At least twice during the service, people began to urgently run away, turning into a collective stampede, when rumors circulated that MINUSTAH forces were coming. MINUSTAH APCs (tanks) were stationed at several checkpoints in the neighborhood. People appeared to be terrified of MINUSTAH forces.
One older, Haitian-American woman who recently moved to Cite Soleil one month ago to practice her ministry gave an interview to a US human rights delegation and Haitian journalists, stating that the youth of Cite Soleil are not animals or "chimeres", but intelligent human beings who are struggling to deal with the most harsh oppression. She described Dread Wilme
as someone who worked on behalf of these youth, providing them with education and food when the larger society was willing to throw them away.
Credible Estimates of Casualties During the July 6th UN Military Operation in Cite Soleil Continue to Mount
In contrast to the claim made by the UN high military command in Haiti that they were unaware of any civilian casualties from Cite Soleil during the July 6th operation, the staff at the Medecines Sans Frontieres Hospital in Port-au-Prince reported that they received a wave of wounded civilians from Cite Soleil on July 6th. This is one of the few, if not the only hospitals in Port-au-Prince where people can from Cite Soleil can go because it provides free health care.
Ali Besnaci, "Chef de Mission" of the Medecins Sans Frontieres program and hospital staff member Olivia Gayraud met with a US and Haitian human rights team on July 9th, sharing the hospital registry records with the team. The records indicate that on July 6th, starting at approximately 11 AM, the hospital received a total of 26 wounded people from Cite Soleil who were transported to the facility by Red Cross "tap taps" (local trucks). Of these 26, 20 were women and children and 6 were men. Half of the total number were seriously wounded by abdominal gun shot wounds and were routed into major surgery. One pregnant woman lost her baby. Other victims seem to be in recovery, according to the hospital staff. All reported that they had been wounded by UN military forces during the operation and some spoke of their
homes being destroyed. This number of 26 stands in contrast to the hospital's records of Cite Soleil residents admitted on other days when the figures are much lower, such as 2 people on July 7th and none on July 8th. One Haitian human rights worker present during the meeting with the hospital staff speculated that the number of men from Cite Soleil who were admitted to the hospital was low because many men would fear being arrested by the authorities while in the hospital.
Meanwhile, one Haitian journalist who was an eyewitness to the damages in Cite Soleil on the morning of July 26th claims that he personally saw 20 bodies, and that 5 additional victims were buried by their families, and that 5 families were searching for loved ones who have been missing since the morning of July 6th. Additionally, a Reuters reporter covering Dread Wilme's funeral told a human rights team that he had personally seen and taken pictures of 7 bodies when he entered Cite Soleil at some point after the operation. Moreover, he took video footage of gun shots through roofs in the community, indicating that perhaps there had been helicopter fire from UN forces, as many community members allege. The US human rights team also saw what appeared to be many gun shot holes through the roof of a community school and an adjacent building.
Another estimate on the death toll from one community member who spoke during the funeral ceremony ranges as high as 80 community members killed.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -