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8655: Slobodan Milosevic and Prosper Avril (fwd)
From: Carl Fombrun <email@example.com>
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, the Hitler of the Balkans, was
flown to The Hague, Netherlands for crimes against humanity. He was brought
to a jail enclosed in the tribunal. The extradition came as "the United
States threatened to withhold aid unless Milosevic was given up" for all his
war crimes and ethnic cleansing. The next day after his extradition $1.28
billion in reconstruction aid, more than $30 million over what the Balkan
country requested, was given by international donors. How ironic.
The worst, most horrible genocide or ethnic cleansing in the world took
place right here in the United States against millions of American Indians.
We can not afford to live in the past, but a people without a memory is a
people without a future. I am elated that the U.S. government is now moving
morally and financially in the right direction.
Justice has not been served yet in Haiti either. Many criminals of previous
Haitian administrations are still under the protection of the U.S.
government. Fate has it that ex-president Prosper Avril of Haiti is
presently incarcerated in Port-au-Prince.
I have with me Prosper Avril's dossier and the civil suit against him in the
United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, presented to the
Court on May 4, 1994, by plaintiffs Evans Paul, Jean-Auguste Mesyeux, Marino
Etienne, Gerald Emile Brun, Serge Gilles and Fernand Gerard Laforest, which
I understand they won.
The Minister of Justice in Haiti presenting the case at that time was Guy
Malary who was himself assassinated a short time later. Reading the
complaints of Evans Paul (13 pages) Exhibit 1, and Serge Gilles (16 pages)
Exhibit 5, translated in English, signed by their very own hands against
Prosper Avril, the horrors they went through, how they were dragged and
beaten between November 1989 and January 1990.
In his suit Evans Paul wrote: "They stomped, punched, kicked and beat us
with their weapons. They hit me on my knees with the butt of revolvers so
many times and so viciously that I could hardly stand. The beatings did not
cease throughout the long ride to police headquarters... I was pushed out of
the truck and fell to the ground. I was ordered to stand, but my legs gave
out from under me. The soldiers began to beat me even more ferociously than
before.. A soldier took off my pants and began to beat me in the groin. He
pulled and struck my testicles with open hands. He seemed trained to do it
because he took the time to undress me and prepare me for the torture. Since
the torture and mistreatment I received in 1989 under General Avril's
government, I have chronic pains." And the beat goes on.
Serge Gilles wrote: "While in detention, I was tortured by military
personnel under the direction and control of Lieutenant General Avril. They
said that I had been talking about democracy and that there would be no
elections. They told me that my involvement in politics hindered Avril's
work and that they were going to send me away so that I would not bother
“After I was severely beaten, in extreme pain, and bleeding, I was forced to
watch the soldiers beat my brother, Yves Duval, and friends, George
Werleigh, Phillipe Stephenson, and Reverend Jackson Noel. These men were
sadists. One of the men picked up a heavy, marble ashtray and beat me,
joking that he was being careful not to open up any wounds... They smashed
my face against the floor, they handcuffed me, and kicked me incessantly in
the head, stomach, and other parts of my body." And the beat goes on.
It's hard to believe that those two ferocious present anti-government
leaders and political actors are not at the forefront of the judgement
against their ex-torturer, Prosper Avril, taking place right now. What's the
French saying : "Deux poids et deux mesures." Politics certainly make
strange bedfellows. Or is it just plain masochism? Are they nostalgic for
their jail days? Justice will prevail in that case though, with or without
I also have the Declaration of Marino Etienne (Exhibit 3), 17 pages, from
Paris, which is in the same mode. Let's hear him a bit: "For awhile the
soldiers concentrated their beatings on my testicles, but they also beat me,
mainly with truncheons and guns on my back, kidneys and the soles of my
feet. Fritz Pierre, a lieutenant in the presidential guard at that time,
taunted me, jeering: "You have got balls and now I am going to break them."
He proceeded to hit, pull, twist and squeeze my testicles. I lost
consciouness for some time because of the excruciating pain. When I could
no longer stand and my bloodied body collapsed to the ground, the soldiers
continued their sadism by lightning cigarette lighters in my nostrils and
singeing my hair with the flames." And the beat goes on.
Let's pray that this precedent in the Milosevic case by the U.S. Government
will be applied too for all Haitians guilty of criminal acts in Haiti, and
presently living in the United States and abroad.
The clock is ticking so fast that it does not take a genius to realize what
is in store with this "new world order."
Cuba will again soon be the front page story with an ailing Fidel Castro at
74-years-old who may either resign or pass on. Fidel: "I ask the people's
forgiveness beforehand for the day that something happens to me, for the
passing unpleasantness that it could cause them ... I don't know what day I
will die, but I am not worried about it; I enjoy celestial tranquillity."
The repercussions will be felt undeniably in South Florida which gets a cold
every time Havana sneezes.
Oil rich Venezuela with President Hugo Chavez leaning to the left is in for
plenty of rock and roll in the near future with internal problems and the
U.S. as his villain.
We could continue with Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, just to name those
big four in South America. It's not a pretty picture worldwide mostly in the
Middle East and Latin America.
Haiti itself will also be on the front page if finally an arrangement is not
concluded between the different opposition groups and Aristide. Time is of
the essence for opposing forces inside Haiti to put up or else...
>From day one of its independence, Jan. 1, 1804, Haiti was not promised a
rose garden. Yes, she was never forgiven by the world for daring to be free
from slavery. Yes, the U.S. did not recognize her until 1860 although she
rightly won her freedom since 1804. Yes, Thomas Jefferson could praise the
French revolution and the French in Haiti, but refused support for the
revolting Haitian slaves. Yes, Haiti was obliged to pay an enormous "debt"
to France for recognition, although winning the fight for freedom against
Napoleon was fair and square by heroic former slaves. And yes, the
Declaration of Haitian Independence was signed by a majority of urban
So just like in 1804 urban and rural Haitians have to unite to save their
country. If no compromise is found politically, Haiti is in for a rougher
ride than Somalia.
Outside forces are patiently waiting to make Haiti a province of Santo
Domingo or a non-state. The signs are everywhere and if I am called an
alarmist or a pessimist, so be it. The correct word should be a realist with
a penchant for idealism.
I leave it to the " experts," foreign or domestic, for practical solutions
to this perpetual national crisis. To be candid it's hard to have faith in
them and their judgement. But solutions are the order of the day. Solutions
like a Brian Concannon, a dedicated human rights lawyer who wants to put our
justice system in order. Solutions like a Bobby Duval, getting involved with
the day to day poverty of the country. Those solutions are daring in their
goals to inspire an entire people. Let's keep hope alive and to quote one of
Bobby Kennedy's favorite citations: "Some men see things as they are and ask
why? I dream things that never were and ask why not?"
Aristide himself, as well, must direct his charisma towards nobler and
clearer directions or he will be a footnote in history. The "zenglendo"
problem is definitely a megathon bomb, and it must be solved. President
Aristide is correct in his outburst,( you don't make an omelet without
breaking eggs) although he ignored the legalities where democratic
I give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that his outrage was
genuine, when he declared in a police station that such lawlessnes must be
eradicated on the spot. There is a strong suspicion that "zenglendos" are
for the most part residues of the old army ... Reading the testimony of
messieurs Evans Paul, Serge Gilles and company, where many low level
butchers' names are mentioned, one again has a sixth sense that today's many
"zenglendos" are ex-members of the presidential guard and police
headquarters of the old regimes. It would be interesting to find out where
all these killers are today.
However, Aristide's statement was a tactical and political "faux pas " and
his enemies took advantage of it claiming potential, for personal and
political revenge by Aristide against them. The opposition is always the
first to invoke Law and Order when it suits its purpose. The international
community, mainly the U.S., is playing a cat and mouse game with Aristide.
He is between a rock and a hard place. "Pito ou solda nan paradi ou pa chef
nan lanfe." Better to be a soldier in paradise than to be a chief in hell.
There have been times in the U.S. and other countries when national problems
required drastic solutions. This is such a time with the "zenglendo"
situation. Haiti does not have adequate legal tools and for that matter an
efficient police force to fight the "zenglendos,” as the U.S would for
instance fight the mafia in a court of law with effective FBI assistance.
The question is how to go about it without upsetting the legal sytem;
without deceiving people like my devoted friend, human rights lawyer Brian
Concannon, who is sincere in his goal to establish "la force du droit" as
opposed to "le droit de la force."
The justice system is still crawling and the backbone of the "zenglendo"
problem must be broken ASAP in order to stabilize the country. Zero
tolerance must be the solution. "Pot te pa goumen ak pot fe." A clay pot
will not fight with an iron one.
Carl Fombrun may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.fombrun.com
Published in " The Haitian Times ", New York, N.Y., online edition July 11 - July 17, '01.
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