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7477: Haiti: Outbreak of recent violence should end now (fwd)

From: radman <resist@best.com>

Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2001
From: ai-news@amnesty.org
Subject: Haiti: Outbreak of recent violence should end now

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty
International *

22 March 2001
AMR 36/006/2001

" The authorities should immediately take effective measures to
stop the severe wave of politically motivated violence that
Haitians are facing. " Amnesty International said today in the
light of the recent outbreak of violence in Port-au-Prince which
has reportedly left at least three people wounded and one person

      The latest series of violent incidents began on Saturday
17  March 2001 with clashes between supporters of President
Aristide of the governing Fanmi Lavalas party, and those of the
opposition coalition, the Convergence Democratique. Lavalas party
supporters have been calling for the arrest of Gerard  Gourgue,
the president of  Haiti's self-proclaimed 'alternative'

      Amnesty international is also concerned about reports
of unchecked violence apparently spreading across the country.

       "We urge all political parties to strongly and publicly
condemn acts of violence by their supporters," Amnesty
International said. "We also call on them to cooperate fully in
official efforts to control the disturbances, to investigate acts
of violence, to disarm the perpetrators and bring them to

       Similarly, Amnesty International calls on the
government of newly-inaugurated President Jean Bertrand Aristide
to take all possible steps to end violence by political

       "To this end, the government must support and reinforce
the Haitian National Police so that it can effectively carry out
its duties to ensure public security in an impartial manner that
complies with international human rights standards," added
Amnesty International.

       "The government must also reinforce the capacity and
independence of the judicial officials responsible for
investigating these acts of violence".
"All those involved in the violence must be brought to justice,"
added the organization.


Several violent incidents have been reported since Saturday 17
March 2001.  Among those, Lavalas supporters threw hand made
explosives at the school run by opposition leader, GJrard
Gourgue, whilst he remained trapped inside together with his
family and 50 students. Police eventually arrived and dispersed
the mob with tear gas.  On Tuesday 20, 200 Aristide supporters
pushing for Gourgue's arrest reportedly  threw rocks and molotov
cocktails at the headquarters of the Convergence Democratique,
wounding one opposition leader.

Other Fanmi Lavalas party demonstrators outside the headquarters
of the Convergence Democratique reported that two demonstrators
were wounded by gunfire coming from inside the building.  Police
present at the scene were said to have been forced to take
shelter from the gunfire along with demonstrators.

  Violence is also apparently spreading across the country. In Les
Cayes on Wednesday, armed supporters of President Aristide are
said to have taken to the streets demanding the arrest of a
leading opposition figure. In St Marc on the west coast, an
opposition  supporter died of a bullet wound reportedly received
Saturday when President Aristide partisans attacked a peaceful
protest. In Hinche, the Lavalas Mayors of Hinche and Maissade
lead an attack against members of the Papaye Peasant Mouvement
(MPP), and also on the office of the opposition's Democratic
Consultation Group, allegedly shooting one member in the head and
the other in the hand. These incidents in Hinche are of
particular concern following the event that took place on 2
November 2000, at which an armed group, reportedly lead by the
mayors of Hinche and Maissade, attacked and shot at participants
at a meeting between the MPP and the Convergence Democratique,
injuring five with bullet wounds.