This weekend’s massacre in Haiti

There were several armed attacks in Haiti over the weekend in which people were massacred. Preliminary reports from the National Coalition for Haitian Rights, broadcast on Haitian Metropole radio on Feb 25: “Village de Dieu district, which caused the deaths of at least eight people by bullets, seven injuries and the destruction of three houses by fire….The NCHR notes that this massacre took place less than eight days after armed bandits, in complicity with the prison guards, facilitated an invasion and allowed 481 prisoners to escape (from the National Pentientiary on 19 February), most of whom are dangerous criminals who killed people and set fire to people’s homes.” I believe that the NCHR is a partisan and pro-coup group – funded by the Canadian International Development Agency, among others. But I don’t doubt that these people were killed, I just think they were probably Lavalas people and that the ‘armed bandits’ are the coup forces… this is a gambit used in murderous propaganda the world over, and was used for example in Venezuela in 2002 during the coup against Chavez: Bolivarians were killed and then ‘claimed’ by the opposition as victims of Chavez, when in fact they were victims of the opposition itself.

The jailbreak last week, which the NCHR mentions, was very strange. At first I thought it was the beginning of an armed struggle against the dictatorship, but I had good reason from the beginning to know I had thought wrong. Pro-Lavalas politicians were taken out of the prison – later it was discovered they were taken out at gunpoint. Yvon Neptune, the former Prime Minister, has been on hunger strike for several days now, demanding to at least have a trial. [As an aside: how can he have a fair or legitimate trial, since the government that jailed him and would be trying him is illegitimate?]

Following the massacre on Feb 25 was another massacre on the 26, reported by Radio Vision 2000 Port-au-Prince in Creole:

“The police carried out an operation today 25 February in Cameroun Base Bel Air , a stronghold of armed Lavalas pro-Aristide gangs. Some reports say that six bandits have allegedly lost their lives and also two Intervention and Maintenance of Order Company CIMO members, allegedly during exchanges of gunfire.

We must say that the Brazilian commander of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti Minustah has confirmed that an operation was carried out but he did not wish to give details on the number of victims. Minustah went to the scene after everything was over, according to Heleno Ribero. He says that members of the population were demonstrating against this intervention by the Haitian National Police PNH . Ribero answered the questions of Marie-Lucie Bonhomme.

Ribero – recording, in French The operation was not a joint operation. We were called after the police – pauses They called us because they were in difficulty. When we arrived there, the police were already in the process of leaving. The operation was already over. So, we did not participate jointly with the police.

So the death toll is around 20 for Thursday and Friday, some by ‘bandits’, others by the police (backed up by the United Nations with its Brazilian commander, thanks again for that to all those progressive Latin American governments), some identified as ‘innocent civilians’, others as ‘bandits’ themselves, depending on who killed them.

As I said, I don’t doubt that people were killed. But I do have doubts about whether the ‘bandits’ that were killed were really ‘bandits’. Heleno’s story sounds very convenient, as well. What a lucky thing for the UN to have been there to ‘back up’ the police, but not have been there when the actual killing happened.

Once upon a time there was an island called Haiti

On that island they had some elections. They chose someone to be their President. Then some people from some other countries decided to get rid of that President and pick a new one. Some of the people from the island disagreed – so they were killed.

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Mechanisms of Denial: Interviewing Ilan Pappe

lan Pappe is a professor of History at Haifa University in Israel. He is an activist for Palestinian rights. He was in Toronto in February to give the keynote speech at ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ at the University of Toronto. He was interviewed by telephone on February 5, 2005.

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Free Speech continues

Of course I forgot the Lynne Stewart case in my attempt to chronicle the decline of such liberal traditions as exist in the US. Here’s a piece on it by David Cole of the Nation. It’s not the most solidaristic piece, but it’s got info.

And another decent piece about the turns the Ward Churchill attacks are taking by Lyons.

I will try to get to the Chavez-Uribe meeting that happened on the 15th and some Nepal stuff tomorrow.

What to do with torturers and tortured

A bizarre story from the Los Angeles Times, David G. Savage yesterday (Feb 15). Some US pilots – presumably engaged in the high-tech mass murder of some 100,000 people in Iraq in 1991 (see Blum’s ‘Killing Hope’ for some introductory documentation) – were captured as prisoners of war.

They were awarded $1B from Iraq by a US federal judge as compensation for their treatment by Iraq. The US government is now trying to prevent that $1B from going to the pilots.

According to Savage, this action by the US government pits it “squarely against its own war heroes and the Geneva Convention”.

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