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a61: Haiti: Amnesty International condemns attacks (fwd)

From: Robert Benodin <r.benodin@worldnet.att.net>

Latest Press Releases
 Haiti: Amnesty International condemns attacks
AI Index: AMR 36/015/2001
Publish date: 18/12/2001
Amnesty International today expressed concern about the armed attack on the
National Palace in Port-au-Prince in the early hours of yesterday morning
which left at least five people, including two civilian bystanders, dead.
The organization also condemned a series of reprisal attacks by government
supporters on opposition parties and journalists.

During the attack on the National Palace, two police officers were
apparently killed and several others wounded. At least one of the assailants
was killed, and several others were said to have been arrested, while police
spokespeople said that many more had escaped.

Despite President Jean Bertrand Aristide's public calls yesterday afternoon
for peaceful popular mobilization, the attack was followed by numerous acts
of targeted violence at the hands of armed government supporters.

These included the killing of two members of the opposition MOCHRENA party
in Gonaives, and the burning down of the headquarters of Convergence
Démocratique, the main opposition umbrella group, and KONAKOM, another
opposition party, in Port-au-Prince. Crowds also burned the private
residences of opposition figures in Port au Prince, in Cap Haitien and
elsewhere in the country. Opposition members and their families reportedly
went into hiding. According to various sources, police either were not
present or did not intervene during these activities.

Many reporters and radio stations were also targeted yesterday. Several,
including a Métropole correspondent in Gonaives, were attacked in the street
by pro-government crowds. Radio stations Signal FM and Caraibes FM were
surrounded and threatened by crowds, and the latter had windows broken and
vehicles damaged on their premises. Other stations such as Métropole, Vision
2000 and Kiskeya curtailed coverage after receiving telephone threats.

"The government of Haiti has an obligation to protect all of its citizens,
and must act decisively to end reprisal attacks," Amnesty International
said, urging President Aristide to continue calling on his supporters to
exercise restraint and for the security forces to act within the rule of law
and respect human rights in their efforts to restore public order.

"The Haitian National Police, the judiciary and all other authorities must
act on the President's message by fully investigating all acts of
violence, in the National Palace and elsewhere, and by making every effort
to bring those responsible to justice," the organization added.