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7719: RSF Protests Attack on Radio Stations (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <maxblanchet@worldnet.att.net>


April 25 2001

Three radio stations attacked

In a letter to Minister of the Interior Henri-Claude Ménard, RSF protested
the attacks on Radio Vision Nouvelle, Radio Lumière and Radio Vision 2000,
during which Fritz Antoine Jean, Radio Vision Nouvelle's guard, was killed
and two other watchmen were injured. RSF asked for an inquiry into each of
these incidents in order to establish the motives for these attacks and
punish the authors. "These events illustrate the degree to which the
reigning climate of violence in Haiti seriously undermines press freedom,"
stated Robert Ménard, RSF's secretary-general. Ménard recalled that Jean
Dominique, director of Radio Haïti Inter, was assassinated on 3 April 2000.
In an April 2001 report, RSF denounced the fact that th inquiry into the
assassination had nearly been cut short several times.

According to information obtained by RSF, on 20 April nearly 300 people
armed with revolvers, machetes and clubs attacked the long wav transmitters
of Radio Lumière and Radio Vision Nouvelle in Ménélas, in the suburbs north
of Port-au-Prince. Antoine Jean, Radio Vision Nouvelle's guard, was killed
by the attackers with machetes. Another guard at the station, Alcis Delce,
as well as a watchman at Radio Lumière, Félix Jean Charles, were also
injured in the attack. The assailants put the installations out of service
and took away some of the equipment. Radio Vision Nouvelle estimates the
losses at US$200,000 (about 220,000 euros). The radio station, which only
transmits on long wave, had to stop its broadcasts.

The attackers reportedly said they were looking for criminals hidden in this
area. Two days earlier, a punitive raid took place in the nearby
neighbourhood of Bois Neuf, suspected of sheltering numerou delinquents. In
the opinion of Pierre Joseph Louissant, director of Radio Vision Nouvelle,
it is very difficult to identify those responsible for the attack. However,
the radio station's manager does not rule out the hypothesis of a
"premeditated act," emphasising that the radio station has recently been
receiving threats. He adds that the end of the broadcasts represents "a hard
blow for the peasants," for whom the programming was aimed. Luviaud
Duvernard, director of Radio Lumière, also considers it to be a "troubling
act," noting that the same transmitter was the target of an attack in 2000,
during which one of the station's guards was injured. Radio Lumière, an
evangelical station, had to close for several months in 1992 after soldiers
burst into its premises.

Furthermore, on the evening of 15 April, a group of armed men illegally
entered the premises housing the studios of the private radio station Radio
Vision 2000, as well as Radio Express and Télé Express, in Jacmel. The
attackers stole some equipment.

Jean Dominique, manager of Radio Haïti Inter, was assassinated on 3 April
2000. Although six people have been arrested for their presumed
participation in the assassination, those behind the murder still have not
been identified. The inquiry has nearly been cut short on several occasions.
In June, Jean Wilner Lalanne, suspected of having acted as an intermediary
between those who ordered and those who committed the crime, died in
suspicious circumstances after being arrested. For several months, the
Senate opposed the summoning of Senator Dany Toussaint as a witness by the
examining magistrate. In addition, the magistrate was a victim of acts of
intimidation, while his predecessor had preferred to abandon the case after
also being subjected to pressure. Following the 7 February inauguration of
Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president, many observers believe that the
inquiry's outcome depends above all on the resources that the new
administration is ready to put into it. The assassination of Dominique, the
country's most famous journalist, is seen by the profession to be a warning.