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a620: December 17 Events: A Report of CEDH (Part III) (fwd)

From: Stanley Lucas <slucas@iri.org>

----- Women's Rights Organizations: ENFOFANM, KAY FANM, SOFA, "No, No, No! "*.The communiqué issued by the Government announces that there has been an attempt to overthrow the Government during the night of December 16th to 17th, and that in order to protect the Lavalas government, the "population" has reacted.  What population?  Since when is the population armed?  How many persons have the means to be transported, more particularly in these times of insecurity? * Population of Haïti, let's never forget how Duvalier established his dictatorship!  The events that occurred during on Monday December 17th and Tuesday December 18th, and continue to occur throughout the country are none but an operation directed against all that seems to oppose the Lavalas government" (Dec. 20, 2001).

-----EVANS PAUL, Leader of KID (Komite Inite Demokratik):

" Stop the bloodshed throughout the country! *" (Dec. 18, 2001)


" I wonder what happened at the National Palace? It seems to have become pretext to massacre the opposition."

-----The Parliamentarian of the 3rd circumscription of Port-au-Prince, SIMSON LIBERUS, claims "to plead in favor of the death penalty which must be applied against putschists, thugs and kidnappers, when caught in the act."  That Senator states that he intends to draft a bill in this sense, and to submit it before the Lower Chamber". Article 20 of the Constitution of 1987: "The death penalty is abolished in all cases". (December 21, 2001).

-----Dr DUNOIS CANTAVE, a political leader :  "* Under pretence of an aborted coup, we are witnessing yet another aspect of the famous order, which in addition to the assassination of politicians as well as civilians, and of journalist, disguised as lynching, we are now seeing the sacking and burning down of the offices of political parties and homes of members and leaders of the Haitian opposition." (Dec. 18, 2001).

-----GUY PAUL, Minister of Culture and Communication:

"The burning down of the offices of political parties a regrettable incident, but the people is outraged; it is difficult to avoid these kinds of things."(Dec. 19, 2001)

----The Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH), Dr Santiago A. Canton, energetically condemns the violent situation that prevails in Haïti.  He reminds the Haitian Government that "The American Convention on Human Rights, to which that Government is a party, stresses that it is the Government' s duty to prevent, sanction and further duly conducted investigations, any violations of the rights recognized in that Convention, and to warrant appropriate reparations to the victims" (Washington, Dec. 19, 2001).

-----"The Haitian authorities cannot allow themselves to give free way to street violence without intervening" declared José Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director of the Human Rights Americas' Division.  He adds" "The Haitian Government must act so that investigations on these attacks are rapidly conducted, that they are complete and impartial, and that those responsible are brought to Justice." (New York, Dec. 18, 2001).

----- From Canada, DROITS and DEMOCRATIE directly addresses the Chief of State:
"Your Excellency, you only have e power to bring an immediate stop to the doings of those who claim to be acting in the name of the party which you represent, Fanmi Lavalas.  They perpetrate serious attacks against the most fundamental rights, such as the right to life, the right to physical integrity, freedom of association, and freedom of expression, while Haïti, in ratifying Conventions and Agreements which warrant the respect of these rights, has undertaken to defend and promote these rights." (Montreal, Dec. 20, 2001).

-----From MICHA GAILLARD, leader of Konakom, "under pretence of a "coup", which remains a mystery for almost everyone", the Lavalas government has seized the occasion to muzzle the democratic opposition. For him, "the events of December 17, is Act II of the theatrical scene, while Act I had unfolded on July 28th, and both had  the objective of silencing Convergence Démocratique". (Dec. 18, 2001)

-----Senator YVON NEPTUNE, President of the Senate'

"** the people has identified its enemies *." (Dec. 18, 2001).

----- In his address on Radio Vision 2000's network, former Haitian Army Colonel HIMLER REBU, has sifted out the arguments put forth by the National Police and by the Presidency in their attempt to justify the "attempt to overthrow the Government"*.. "the escape of the assailants of the National Palace, allegedly controlled by the Security service and an immense crowd mobilized for the circumstance, is technically impossible, unless the Government wants to accuse all the members of the National Palace's Guard of being accomplices or cowards". (Dec. 22, 2001).

-----"When the president of the Republic says that he is in control of the situation and continues to call for mobilization, the contents of that expression is to "uproot", burn down, pillage and beat up".  Attorney Fritz CANTON, at Vision 2000 (12/23/2001)

-----Former Police Commissioner GUY PHILIPPE, on a broadcast of Radio Carnivale in Miami, denies any participation in the attempted coup, while maintaining his opposition to the Lafanmi Lavalas Government (Dec. 18, 2001).

-----JEAN-CLAUDE BAJEUX, Executive Director (Centre Oecumenique des Droits Humains) :
And now we see the monstrous face of the Leviathan flaunting before us, on December 17, as it had appeared in Petit-Goâve, before the horrified eyes of Brignol Lindor.  And now, commandos were setting afire the offices of political parties and homes of political figures, crimes for which the Penal Code calls for the death penalty (changed in life imprisonment by the current Constitution)* Everything became again possible:  every citizen became again guilty by the mere fact of existing.  The worst became again possible. (In "Seeing again the face of the Leviathan", Le Nouvelliste, Dec. 28, 2001).

------Note issued by the EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE.  "We believe that the events of December 17 call upon the whole country to reflect, in all its components, and at all levels.  Whatever their nature, whatever their origin, what occurred has offered a pretext for acts of unacceptable violence which we deplore and condemn.  Because, violence to which, in an most irresponsible manner, minors were associated, was unleashed, without the forces of law and order being able to curtail, thereby causing great suffering to the country*" (December 16, 2001)

------ANMH (National Association of Haitian Media) * "condemns the explosion of violence in all its forms, and regardless of its origin, which marked the day of December 17, 2001, and which resulted in the loss of human lives, and in acts of vandalism of all sorts. (Dec. 21, 2001).

-----ISC (Civil Society's Initiative), has condemned the appearance on the national scene of "groups of armed and violent civilians very much akin to political militia".  In the same declaration, ISC demands "that the government shed light on the events that occurred at the National Palace."(Dec.19, 2001)

-----PAPDA (Haitian Advocacy Platform for Alternative Development), "raises its strongest protestations against the destructions perpetrated during that nightmarish day*. What lessons do they want to teach our children, when these children are the witness of the unpunished destruction of libraries, of documentation and reflection centers, by arson? *. These murderous and destructive operations are a sad reminder of the epoch of bayonets, and of the recent past of the Duvalier dictatorship which used the same error as a weapon to destroy and silence any opposition as well as any inclination to critical speech." (Dec. 21, 2001)

 -----POHDH (Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations), "* condemns with utmost rigor the sacking of the Economic Research, Social and Training Center (CRESFED), an institution that is a member of the Platform, and demands reparation measures from the authorities"     "...notes and records certain inconsistencies in  the relation of facts by the authorities involved, and demands that an independent commission be set-up to shed light, for once, on the events of the night of December 16 to 17,2001*" (Dec. 18, 2001).

-----THE COMMITTEE FOR BRINGING DUVALIER TO JUSTICE questions :  "If the government was so easily able to curtail the "assailants" of the National Palace, how is then that it was not able to act to protect the premises that were so odiously ransacked?  What a beautiful occasion for or "President" to appear (through what we will call a wittingly organized "provocation"), as the one who holds everything in perfect control, and who with a honeyed voice calls to stay calm and to abide by democratic values.
We firmly denounce these maneuvers that undermine the case of democracy in Haïti.  We call upon all the men and women which have taken-up the cause of Human Rights as their own, to block the way against this neo-dictatorship which is more and more overtly implanting itself in the country.  Stop the lies and the sugary declarations." (Paris, Dec. 18, 2001).

-----RSF (Reporters sans Frontières) :  "Situation remains tense for the Press, four days after an alleged "coup" attempt* According to the information collected by RSF, the Haitian Press' situation is still not normalized four days after the alleged coup attempt of December17.  Feeling threatened, nearly ten journalists are still in hiding.  Five of them have allegedly sought refuge in embassies and are trying to leave the country.  At least two of the four radio stations that had been forced to cease their emissions on December 17 affirm that the Police has not offered them any protection.  During his speech given in the afternoon of Monday however, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide had undertaken to that freedom of speech would be warranted." (Dec. 21, 2001)

-----Amnesty International:  "The Haitian government is under the obligation to protect all citizens without exception, and to act decisively in order to stop the violence perpetrated as reprisal*. Demands that President Aristide to continue his call to his partisans for calm, and to warrant that the forces of law and order act in within the framework of the law, and respect human rights in their efforts to reinstate public order." (Dec. 18 2001)

-----LE DEVOIR (Editorial) "Who should we believe? What should we believe?  These are the questions with the Haitian community obviously asks in the wake of an attempted coup which about thirty individuals, led by a former Police commissioner, have attempted this Monday.  If one believes the official version, written and reviewed by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, this contingent has indeed tried to overthrow the government.  If one believes the representatives of the opposition rather, as well as the testimony of journalists, the coup in question is only a smoky stage production by Aristide and his kin*."
(Montreal, Dec. 19, 2001).

---On the international community's side, reactions vary from the condemnation of the attack perpetrated against the Palace to rejection of the succeeding violence.  The OAS and the Canadian Government has condemned the attack.  Furthermore, the OAS considers that recourse to violence as a serious threat against democracy.  The French Government has deplored the attacks against leaders and headquarters of opposition political parties.  France has also energetically protested against the sacking of the French Institute, in contempt of international conventions.

-----The European Union, "energetically condemns the confusing events which occurred during the attack against he National Palace on December 17* It reproves, without any reservations whatsoever, the acts of violence and intimidation perpetrated recently, and in all impunity, against certain media* Demands that the Haitian authorities fully warrant the protection of lives and private property of all citizens, without distinction, as well as all the rights warranted by the Constitution, a State of right and legality, in abidance by the commitments taken under the Cotonou Accords (Brussels, Dec. 26, 1001)

-----Monsignor Luigi BONAZZI, Apostolic Nuncio, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.  "Concern regarding the protection and respect of human rights, which are the fundamental basis of human society, is growing among numerous observers.  We are preoccupied by certain serious attacks that seem to question the very freedom of expression, including the freedom of the Press, as well as by the impunity which continues to cover certain crimes perpetrated against journalists.  Political parties being the exression of the free and democratic rights of citizens to organize themselves, how can one not reprove the attacks against the headquarters of political parties without the efficiency intervention of the Police?" (Dec. 27, 2001)

-----The United States' Ambassador in Port-au-Prince, Brian Dean Currant, visited the offices of Convergence Démocratique, burned down by lavalas militants on Dec. 17, 2001.  The Ambassador qualified as "unacceptable" these acts of violence, and as "intolerable", the Haitian National Police's passivity.  "That members of lavalas grass-root organizations (Organisations Populaires (OP)) attack the offices of the opposition in presence of PNH offices in all quietude, is irresponsible behavior, and this is very serious". (Dec. 19, 2001)

-----In the afternoon of the 17th, Senator Ruben Berrios Martinez, President of PIP and Honorary President of the International Socialist Party released the Press communiqué:

Communiqué - Urgent:

On December 17th, 2001, in reprisal of an alleged attempted coup in Haïti that occurred last night at the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, ferocious persecution was unleashed throughout the country against political leaders of the opposition, and independent journalists, which threatens to turn into a bloodbath.

In presence of the National Police, armed groups burned down the offices of Convergence Démocratique and of KONAKOM in Port-au-Prince and in other cities. The home of Gerard Pierre-Charles, one of the political  leaders of the opposition, a well renown and respected personality, was set afire.  Convergence Démocratique regroups political parties affiliated with the International Socialist party.

I call urgently upon President Aristide for him to warrant the security of the leaders of Convergence, as well as that of the premises of the parties, of journalists, and independent radios who were forced to stop their news broadcasts.

I call upon the international community so that voices to the Haitian Government its concern and preoccupation as in the face of the events that just occurred in this sister republic that has already suffered so many tribulations.

Ruben Berrios Martinez

N.B.  At the time this Press release was being drawn-up, the destruction of the home of Victor and Jessie Benoît and of CRESFED had not been confirmed.

-----M Richard BOUCHER, spokesman for the STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE UNITED STATES, "We have condemned the attack against the Palace, as well as the violence that exploded in the streets.  We have made it clearly known that armed attacks, in particular against offices of political parties are preoccupying events. We therefore expect the Haitian Government to identify the assailants of the Palace, and also those who incited street violence. We expect all efforts undertaken to bring them to a Court of Justice, be made in conformity with the Law".  (Washington, Dec. 19, 2001)

-----Dominican Ambassador ALBERTO DESPRADEL CABRAL, made a declarations negating all implications if his country in the attack carried out on Monday against the National Palace.  "We have no problem with the legitimacy of President Aristide's Government*"  (Dec. 17,2001)

-----FRENCH SOCIALIST PARTY - (Communiqué)  "The Socialist party very firmly condemns the absurd attempt to take-up control of the Haitian presidential palace by armed individuals on Monday December 17.  It reminds the authorities in charge of the State that they must warrant the security of all citizens. The brutal destruction of the headquarters of democratic opposition parties Convergence Démocratique and KONAKOM, the aggressions against the Press and its representatives, are inadmissible.  The authors of these crimes must be sought and brought before Justice. The reinstatement of a government legitimated incontestably by vote is the only means capable of reestablishing the balance among citizens as wanted by eth Haitian people."  (Dec. 18, 2001)

-----The French Government protested energetically against the sacking of the French Institute, in contempt of international conventions. (Dec. 18, 2001).

A vast majority within the population has repudiated the acts of violence as perpetrated by armed groups, over December 17, and is very skeptical, and even ironical, as concerns the coup, which it is calling a "coup de theatre".  The expression of this felling is found over and over in anecdotes, pre-carnival songs, and even in the Diaspora, which sent the cartooned version of the events*.