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#3182: AP on events surrounding Dominique's funeral (fwd)
From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>
April 8, 2000
Violence at Haiti Reporter's Funeral
By The Associated Press
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Violence broke out Saturday following the
funeral of prominent Haitian journalist Jean Dominique, with protesters
throwing stones and setting fire to an opposition party's headquarters
as political tensions continued to flare over delayed elections.
Dominique, 69, was assassinated this week. The jammed memorial service
had just ended at a Port-au-Prince soccer stadium when about 100
militant supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide ran down
the street throwing stones and then set fire to the nearby offices of
the Confederation of Democratic Unity party. Party supporters shot into
the air before fleeing.
Police were present but did not intervene.
A few protesters also gathered outside Radio Vision 2000, a station
known for its anti-government stand, and threatened to burn it down. The
radio station had called on police earlier this week to give reporters
security after repeated death threats.
Street violence has raged in the capital this week as the government
continued to delay calling elections. Officials have been bogged down in
organizing the long-delayed vote to install a new parliament and have
not been able to set a date. At least nine people have died in political
Dominique, the country's most influential journalist and opinion maker,
was gunned down Monday morning as he pulled into the courtyard of Radio
Haiti Inter, the station he owned and directed. He was about to do his
morning newscast when the two unidentified gunmen killed him and the
Police were still investigating the killings but had not made any
About 15,000 people attended Saturday's service, including President
Rene Preval and Arisitide, both allies of Dominique.
"You died for Haiti,'' Dominique's sister, Madeleine Paillere, said
tearfully over his casket. "You died because you told the truth.''
The journalist's slaying, "coming in the midst of an electoral
campaign, is an attack on freedom of the press in Haiti as well on
democracy,'' the Organization of American States electoral observation
The government honored Dominique with a three-day period of national
mourning that began Thursday. Stores shut down Saturday to honor the man who had championed free speech against civilian and military
dictatorships for the past 40 years and was one of most influential
figures in this strife-torn Caribbean nation.
Mourners filed by to pay their respects to Dominique, whose open casket
was displayed under a white canopy in the middle of the soccer field.
"He struggled to change the system radically,'' said Sony Esteus, who
worked at Dominique's radio station. "If he was killed it is proof that
the system has not changed.''
During the otherwise peaceful and solemn ceremony a few dozen militant
Aristide supporters shouted death threats at opposition politician Evans
Paul and vowed revenge on the people who did the killing. After the
service, hundreds of protesters threatened to ransack Paul's party
Dominique was to be cremated and his ashes were to be scattered in the
Artibonite River in central Haiti.
He had obtained a degree in agronomy before his radio career and
passionately followed the government's attempt at land reform to settle
disputes between peasants and landowners.
In the 1970's, Dominique spearheaded the free-speech movement against
the dictatorial regime of Jean-Claude Duvalier. Duvalier shut his
station down in November 1980, and Dominique fled into exile. He
returned after a popular uprising toppled Duvalier and reopened his
station, which was closed down again in September 1990 when the army
ousted then-president Aristide, whom Dominique supported and followed
into exile in the United States.
A U.N. force led by 20,000 U.S. troops moved into Haiti in 1994 and
restored Aristide to power. Dominique was a close ally of the
administration of Aristide and his successor Preval.