[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

7653: This Week in Haiti 19:3 4/4/01 (fwd)

From: "[iso-8859-1] Haiti Progrès" <editor@haiti-progres.com>

"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For the complete edition with other news in French
and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100,
(fax) 718-434-5551 or e-mail at <editor@haitiprogres.com>.
Also visit our website at <www.haitiprogres.com>.

                           HAITI PROGRES
              "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                      * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                        April 4 - 10, 2001
                          Vol. 19, No. 3


April 3, 2001, the first anniversary of the assassination of
Radio Haiti Inter's director Jean Dominique and his guardian
Jean-Claude Louissaint, was commemorated by events all over

Memorial masses, sit-ins, special radio programs, film showings,
petitions, photo exhibits, art shows, marches, and press
conferences were held in many towns including Croix-des-Bouquets,
Gonaïves, Anse d'Hainault, Thomassin, and Port-au-Prince.

KOZEPEP, a peasant organization to which Dominique was
politically close, has been one of the leading organizations in
the national mobilization demanding justice for Jean Dominique.
In an April 2 press conference, Charles Suffrat, the group's
chief spokesman, said that KOZEPEP had received numerous threats
from sectors which he did not identify. Faced with the
possibility of violence, the organization canceled a march
planned for the anniversary. Over one thousand peasants from
different provinces were to have converged on the capital to
demand justice for Dominique and the revival of efforts for
agrarian reform, a cause which Dominique championed.

"Our delegates around the country have been the target of
intimidation and pressure in the course of their consciousness-
raising among peasants, in making sure that the state apparatus
functions in the interests of the peasants, and in following how
national production advances," Suffrat said. He also vowed that
peasants would not allow themselves to be bowed by such

The Association of Haitian Journalists (AJH) did manage to
organize a peaceful march through the capital on April 3 to
demand justice for their assassinated colleague. Chanting
"Justice yes! Impunity, no!", the demonstrators marched from the
Champs de Mars, the city's central square, to the Justice
Ministry, where AJH secretary general Guyler Delva demanded that
Justice Minister Garry Lissade take swift and determined action
to advance the investigation. The demonstrators then continued
their march through the city to a final rally in front of Radio
Haïti Inter.

The day before, the AJH and other journalists had met with
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide at the National Palace. Aristide
agreed to endorse the "Declaration of Chapultepec," an
Organization of American States (OAS)-sponsored document drawn up
in Mexico in 1994 which sets forth principles for a free press in
the hemisphere. Aristide also agreed to decree April 3 as the new
"National Day of the Haitian Press," another journalist demand.
Nothing more than these symbolic gestures came out of the
meeting. In his remarks, the president emphasized that Jean
Dominique, in the days before his murder, was focusing his
investigations on and editorials against a foreign-instigated
"electoral coup d'état."

Tributes to Dominique even came from overseas. Former executive
secretary of the MICIVIH, Rodolfo Maratorollo, called Radio Haiti
from his new post in Sierra Leone. "Jean was a leading figure,
Haiti's most brilliant journalist, a great intellectual, and a
militant for the cause of human rights and democracy,"
Maratorollo said. "I hope that one day this assassination will be
truly explained, that an investigation will be concluded, and
that the guilty will be brought to trial. Enough journalists have
died under assassins' bullets."

Director Jonathan Demme also premiered his new documentary film
«The Agronomist» about Dominique's life and death. In showings at
the Impérial Theatre on April 2 and the Rex Théâtre on April 3,
Haitian audiences were moved to tears. Interviews with the
journalist before his murder and with his family and friends
afterwards are intercut with verité footage of recent Haitian
history to offer a deeply personal portrait of Dominique's
political passion.

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) presented a report
entitled "Haiti: Who Killed Jean Dominique?" after a week-long
mission of inquiry into the assassination from March 19-25.

The RSF met with people such as the Dominique's widow and
journalistic collaborator Michèle Montas, investigating judge
Claudy Gassant, and Senator Dany Toussaint, who has been called
more than anyone else to testify before investigators.

The RSF report comes shortly after a controversial one released
by the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), the OAS press
arm, and written by Ana Arana. Her report alleges that Toussaint
is the principal suspect in the case. Last week, Toussaint wrote
an open letter refuting Arana's charges and story.

"Jean was killed because he was uncontrollable," Michèle Montas
told the RSF. "And he had the means to prevent many people from
making lots of money."

Dominique had many enemies, declared and potential, the RSF
report makes clear. He had questioned whether Léopold Berlanger,
the director of right-wing USAID-supported Radio Vision 2000, was
preparing an "electoral coup d'état" when he headed the National
Council of Observers (NCO) in last May's parliamentary elections;
he did exposés about poisoned medicines distributed by a medical
firm, Pharval, implicating the powerful businessman Reginald
Boulos; he made a scathing editorial against Dany Toussaint; and
the Duvalierist Radio Liberté of Serge Beaulieu even made on-air
threats against Dominique.

"The assassination was planned over the course of several
meetings," the RSF revealed. Of the 70 to 80 people investigated,
six have been indicted, including two policemen.

"The delegation of Reporters Without Borders noted that on
several occasions the investigation has been met by stonewalling,
pressure and troubling episodes," the report concludes.

The RSF made the following recommendations: 1. That the Haitian
government should guarantee the protection of all persons linked
to the investigation and devote more financial resources to the
investigation 2. That the legislative branch should respect the
independence of the judicial branch (last month, some
parliamentarians argued that Sen. Toussaint should be immune from
investigation). 3. That the executive branch should enforce the
decisions of the judicial branch no matter whom justice indicts.

All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.