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a266: Haitian Journalists
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
MIAMI, Jan 7 (AP) -- At least six Haitian journalists fled their
homeland and are preparing asylum cases in the United States following last
month's failed coup.
Dozens of journalists had to keep a low profile for a time after
supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide attacked reporters outside
the National Palace on Dec. 17, the day of the coup attempt.
Radio journalists Phares Duverne and Yves Clausel Alexis, among the six
who have come to the United States, told The Miami Herald that a mob held
them at gunpoint and forced them to yell "Long live Aristide!"
"They let us leave, but they told us, 'If you ever give news critical of
the government, we will kill you,'" said Duverne, who is in South Florida
on a temporary visa.
At least a dozen journalists were assaulted following the coup attempt,
according to the French-based Reporters Without Borders.
Aristide condemned the violence and urged his supporters to "respect the
rights of journalists." Later that day, a radio station run by Aristide's
private Foundation for Democracy said, "Unfortunately, some of the press
prepared people psychologically for the coup."
Conditions for Haitian reporters have steadily worsened since the April
2000 assassination of Haiti's most prominent journalist, Jean Dominique. On
Dec. 3, Aristide supporters hacked provincial journalist Brignol Lindor to
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Haiti said the office has received
dozens of calls for help. The four Haitian journalists in Florida said
they'll seek political asylum.
"Our security is not guaranteed," Duverne said. "There are elements that
will attack us anyhow."
On the Net:
Reporters Without Borders: http://www.rsf.fr/