This is the English version of an article published in

the Nouvelliste for the weekend of April 9-10 under

the headline “A Propos du massacre de la Scierie”.

The February 2004 Killings in La Scierie. This version

appeared on Bob Corbett; reproduced here by author’s


By Anne Fuller 

I spent two and a half days in St Marc in late March

of last year looking into the killings that were

reported to have happened there the previous month.  A

number of foreign and Haitian reporters had passed

through the city in February as the opposition to the

Aristide government swelled, and they described a

place of fear, empty of most of its citizens. 

The Haitian human rights group NCHR had already spent

many days in St Marc, pursuing the facts and helping

the victims of what was already known as the Massacre

of La Scierie to get organized and tell their stories

to the justice system.  NCHR readily shared its

contacts with me (and later its lists of victims), and

these were very useful.

But NCHR to date has not made a public report of its

findings in St Marc.  And its use of the word

?genocide? to describe what happened in St. Marc,

along with the claim that ?at least 50 people? died

have tended to shape public perception and feed the

very political debate that has ensued, concerning

especially the role of then Prime Minister Yvon

Neptune in the events at La Scierie.

Associates of the former president scoff at NCHR?s

claims and cite reporters? mention of ?a few? bodies. Meanwhile, supporters of the movement that forced

Aristide out, including many people in St Marc, insist

that Neptune was responsible for the crimes committed

there and must respond to the charges in court in St


International human rights observers inside and

outside the country, and diplomats, tend to see the

Neptune arrest as a bad mistake of the Latortue

government and surmise that the Haitian justice

authorities have little or no evidence against


I have no information about who may have given what

orders to commit violence in St. Marc in February. But I can report in some detail ­although much more

could be discovered — on what happened there, who

died and under what circumstances.

The killings in St Marc occurred in the last days of

the Jean-Bertrand Aristide government, in a context of

an armed rebellion that made common cause with a

broad-based civilian opposition.  Throughout 2003,

that opposition had been growing in strength, as the

government?really the President ? sometimes allowed

and at other times saw to it that protests were

repressed by police, gang members or paid vagrants

known as chimères.

In St Marc, the President?s leading proponents were

the members of Bale Wouze or Clean Sweep.  This

increasingly heavily armed group was organized around

the elected Lavalas Deputy Amanus Mayette, a man of

intemperate language and little understanding of the

meaning of democracy.  Mayette and his group had

supporters in St Marc?there are always those who

benefit from ties to the powerful?but they were quite

unpopular as a whole and acted as if they were above

the law.

The best organized group opposing the government was

RAMICOS, the Rassemblement des Militants Consequents

de la Commune de St. Marc, founded in 2001 and based

in the La Scierie neighborhood of east central St


On February 5, 2004, the heretofore mainly nonviolent

and broad-based national civilian opposition movement

was transformed by the appearance at the side of the

prickly and dangerous Gonaives Resistance Force

(formerly the pro-Aristide Cannibal Army) of

ex-soldiers of the disbanded Haitian military,

declaring their intention to force Aristide from


These armed groups overwhelmed the Gonaives police in

two days and drove them out of the city, killing seven

policemen in the fighting, and losing perhaps two of

their own.

In St Marc that same day, a large crowd led by

RAMICOS, according to reporters, stormed the main

police station, freeing all the prisoners as the

police fled.  The streets filled up with barricades

and hundreds of people looted shipping containers

along the port.  Two people were reported killed that

day, one of them Linda Senatus, 34.

Opposition forces controlled the city for two

relatively calm days. But on Monday, Feb. 9, police

from special units including the USPGN or Palace

Guard, reclaimed St. Marc with help from Bale Wouze. The only death recorded for that day was Marc Antoine

Civil, said to have been killed by Bale Wouze. 

Prime Minister Neptune flew in by helicopter, viewed

the city, and gave a press conference, much of it in

English to the foreign press.  He is quoted as saying,

among other things :

“What we are doing is to make sure that peace is

re-established. We are encouraging the police to get

together with the population so that the cycle of

violence can cease.”  Also, “We ask all the population

that wants peace to mobilize against the spiraling

violence,” and “We can’t deny the population the right

to defend themselves.” Also, ?The national police

force alone cannot re-establish order.?

An unknown number of police from specialized units

remained in St Marc, and together with Bale Wouze,

cracked down very hard on opposition members around

the city.  Refugees streamed out of the city.  On

February 10, according to several reports, including

the local judge?s, Bale Wouze members shot and killed

Anserme and Wilguens Petit-Frere, then set afire their

house in the Portail Montrouis section.

Meanwhile, in La Scierie, RAMICOS supporters mounted

barricades to prevent Bale Wouze and police from

entering their neighborhood.

Quite early in the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 11,

heavily armed police working with Bale Wouze exchanged

fire with RAMICOS and then broke through the

barricades.  Police also fired from a helicopter that

circled over the area and pursued people fleeing up

the nearby mountainside, Morne Calvaire.  The

government?s forces, led by Bale Wouze by all

accounts, also came into the area on foot and in


Compiling the available information, I believe at

least ten and possibly twelve people were killed in

the La Scierie neighborhood and on the nearby

mountainside that February 11.  Some but not all were

RAMICOS members and sympathizers but they were mostly

lightly or not at all armed

The Bale Wouze group set fire to at least six

buildings in the center of the neighborhood, including

the home of RAMICOS? leader.  Four of those buildings

were burnt to the ground and residents and journalists

distinguished the remains of several bodies in the

ashes?testimonies conflict but there were at least

four and maybe six;  one reporter described three

bodies in the ashes of one building, two in another

and one in a third.

The attackers set a fire in a small warehouse just

around the corner and I heard testimony from the

mother of Kenol St. Gilles, 23, that she saw the

attackers toss her son, wounded but still alive, into

the burning building.

A journalist who ranged up the mountain on February

13th  reported seeing four or possibly five bodies

there.  He couldn?t be sure because the dogs had eaten

much of the evidence. 

Killed that day, along with Kenol St. Gilles, were

Bruce Kener Pierre-Louis, 28, taken from his house and

beaten in front of his sister who says he was not a

RAMICOS member, Leroy Joseph, 23, a RAMICOS leader who

was dragged away in front of his wife by Bale Wouze,

Francky Narcisse, brother of RAMICOS? leader, Stanley

Fortune, Makens Louis, Bosquet Paustin, and Mexil

Cadestin.  That evening a husband and wife who worked

as caretakers for a property at the corner of

Chavannes and Louverture Streets owned by the Paultre

family were burned to death when Bale Wouze forces set

fire to the building they were living in.

There was another incident that same day and it has

been difficult to understand where it fits in the

timeline or if it was reprisal or justification for

further violence.  Several sources say that two

wounded supporters of Bale Wouze sought medical

attention at the clinic belonging to a cousin of

Deputy Amanus Mayette. (According to a Bale Wouze

member interviewed by Haiti Progrès in the United

States, they were hurt when the Bale Wouze

headquarters was fired upon.)  About 9 AM, RAMICOS

members got to the clinic and ordered the doctor to

turn over the two.  When he refused they burned down

the clinic; one of the wounded persons, a woman, is

said to have died anyhow.

From the 11th on, St. Marc appeared deserted.  A

journalist who visited on the 13th reported, ?The city

was as dead.  The only people about were Bale Wouze

types riding around in trucks with guns, wearing olive

green and khaki.?

And the killing continued.  From the 13th to the 17th

seven others were killed or disappeared reportedly by

Bale Wouze: Yveto Morancy, an opposition activist from

Avenue Maurepas, Gaston St. Fleur, Nixon Francois,

Laurestre Guillaume, a well-known middle-aged

community activist nicknamed Blooo, Sandy Cadet,

Wislet Charles, and Guernel Joseph.

On February 21. the bodies of three men identified as

Jean Louis Joseph, Guernael Joseph, and Jonal Joseph

(said not to be of the same family), were found in a

parking area near the port and later identified by the


The last person reported killed by pro-government

forces was Jonas Nelson, beaten and forcibly

disappeared on Feb. 26. 

President Aristide left the country early in the

morning of February 29th.  When the news reached St.

Marc, the tables swiftly turned.  Members of the

population?too many to identify as far as I can tell

and not in an organized manner?rounded up five (some

say four) Bale Wouze members, killed them, set fire to

their headquarters (also the home of Amanus Mayette),

and threw their bodies in. The men have been named as

Judner Emile, Patrick Fleury, Dieulifait Fleury, Jonel

Emile and Jeanty.

Two days later, the Bale Wouze leaders known as Somoza

and Armstrong were caught in nearby Arcahie and


Bale Wouze?s Dauphin Ronald (?Black Ronald?), Harmony

Ronald, and Mathieu Raphael, more fortunate, were

arrested in Port-au-Prince very early in March, as was

Deputy Amanus Mayette on March 29.

Former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune turned himself in

to the police on June 27 after learning an arrest

warrant had been issued based on several charges

including ordering and taking part in the massacre at

La Scierie.

I count a definite 27 people killed before February 29

and seven from Bale Wouze after.  There may well have

been somewhat more than this, their names and

identities lost.  A doctor with an international

mission told me that the hospital treated 27 persons

for bullet wounds between February 2 and 29.  Did all

of them survive?  Haitians ought to welcome further

investigation into the La Scierie Massacre and I hope

NCHR will release a detailed report.

Facts are better than accusations.  They are essential

to building a justice system worthy of popular trust. Haiti?s present government has not done much to

inspire confidence in the blindness of its justice. Fair treatment of those accused in the La Scierie

killings would be a big step forward.