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#3411: On calling on Aristide to speak out: Fuller comments
Michelle Karshan says that six leading international human rights groups are wrong to call on former president Aristide to take a stand against the violence that is being done in his name in Haiti. She is wrong: they are absolutely on the mark.
In any political system, when groups of people commit violent acts, or even sometimes embarrassing public gaffs, and claim the banner of one man or one group, that leader or that political party is bound by character as well as by political savvy, to take a stand. He or she must speak out and disown the actions or be seen as accepting them. Speaking out is just the beginning, but it can't be dodged.
When a leader fails to do this, everywhere but among his unswerving and unquestioning followers, eyebrows are raised and approval if not responsibility is surmised. For Yvon Neptune, the Fanmi Lavalas spokesman, to condemn violence in general, is not at all the same as the former president condemning violence committed by people who claim to be his followers. If the recurrent outrages are the work of provocateurs, as Michelle and some others contend, let us see real evidence. If Aristide speaks out and violence continues, then we will have a new situation, where more voices and more authority is united against violence. But as those who know Haiti can attest, Aristide's every public word is assigned great importance; he has yet to speak and appear ineffective.
I urge others, especially those who have been and still are his friends and supporters, to join in urging the former president to address the violence that appears to be worsening every day.