THE EVENTS OF DECEMBER 17, 2001.
FOREWORD: THE NORMATIVE CODE
In this crisis that has lingered for years among political and social institutions in this country, what is at stake is the privilege of transgression and the means to be used in order to force that transgression upon and against everyone and all.
In lieu of introduction it is important to explicitly state which normative code we refer to.
Without the acceptation of that code, in the absence of that link, the furtherance of the issue would be meaningless.
EXODUS: ?Thou shall not kill?, Ex. 20,13.
THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS:
Article 3.- Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person.
CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC, MARCH 29, 1987
?It is the State?s imperious obligation to warrant the right to life.? article 19
?The right to ownership of private property is recognized and warranted?. Article 36
THE PENAL CODE
Art. 356.- Anyone who has willfully set fire to buildings, ships, boats, stores, construction sites, whenever they are inhabited or serve as habitation, and generally speaking to inhabited locations or serving as habitations, whether they belong or not to the arsonist shall be punished by death.
(The Constitution having abolished the death penalty, the enforceable punishment is life imprisonment).
Art. 361.- Any looting, all damages willfully caused to produced, merchandise, real property, perpetrated in by pillagers in groups or in bands and with the open use of force, shall be punished by a time sentence to forced labor.
Monsignor Luigi BONAZZI, Apostolic Nuncio, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.
?We are preoccupied by certain serious attacks which seem to again call in question the freedom of opinion, including freedom of the Press, as well as by the impunity which continues to cover certain crimes committed against journalists
Political parties being the expression of the free democratic organization of citizens, how can one not reprobate the attacks perpetrated against the headquarters of political parties without any decisive intervention of the Police? (December 27, 2001)
Amnesty International: The Haitian Government is under the obligation to protect all citizens without exception, and must act decisively in order to put an end to acts of violence perpetrated as reprisal: (Dec. 18, 2001).
THE EVENTS OF DECEMBER 17, 2001
The events of Monday, December 17, 2001, come within an historical context. They cannot be interpreted outside of a retrospective that includes, firstly, the coup attempted by Roger Lafontant, on January 7th, 991, which was checkmated by a general uprising of the population. Seven month later, the coup of September 30th, 1991, occurred which lasted until the return of the Constitutional President on October 15, 1994.
These two events occupy a primordial place in the ?lavalassian? discourse, in its imaginary, and its propaganda. They are in no way foreign to the call made by Aristide for a ?Zero tolerance? policy, a coded expression aiming at immediate physical elimination. Spreading the rumor of a ?coup” not only becomes a means of periodically provoking and blocking attempts to mobilize citizens, but also to keep on the alert groups of intervention acting upon command of the Lafanmi Lavalas party. During the weeks preceding the elections of May 2000,which were on several occasions deferred by the Préval Government, the slogan is launched for mass mobilization against an ?electoral coup?.
One must recall that:
– At end of January 1991, less than two weeks after the Lafontant event, the rumors of a new attempted coup causes popular uprising and is going to cost, among other things, the live of three blind musicians who were ?necklaced?.
– On May 28th, 1999, the large gathering organized by civil society to protest against insecurity, is brutally interrupted and denounced by the spokesmen of Lafanmi Lavalas as an attempt to destabilize the government by old and new ?putschist? agents.
– On July 28, 2001, the mysterious attack against the Petion-Ville Precinct and the Military Academy is immediately presented by the government as an attempt to overthrow the government. Up to this date, no explanation corroborating these declarations has been provided by the authorities.
– More recently, on November 22nd, 2001, Senator Dany Toussaint has publicly declared: ?all the circumstance favorable to the occurrence of a coup prevailed?. (Le Nouvelliste)
Starting in the month of July 2001, pursuant to the successive failures of the negotiations led with the view to solve the political impasse resulting from the serious irregularities that stained the last elections, to which must be added the dramatic consequences of the ?Zero tolerance? policy, dissatisfaction rise and is voiced openly.
Throughout the country, radio stations broadcast the opinions, interventions, open discussions where the government is more and more criticized and summoned to speak-up on the issues that spread exasperation among the population. In the meantime, international Pressure is strengthened on President Aristide to make fulfill the eight points contained in his letter to President Clinton.
On a background of crucial problems of daily survival: 56% of the population is underfed, the local currency is constantly depreciated, prices on are on the rise, generalized insecurity in the populated section, the aborted re-opening of schools for a large number of children, issues that contributed to enhancing the seriousness of the crisis are mainly: impunity, the consequences of the ?Zero tolerance? policy, as well as intimidation and the obvious waste of the country?s resources and corruption.
—————— IMPUNITY, symbolized by the clamping of the Jean Dominique murder investigation.
In spite of the numerous protests addressed directly to President Aristide, by both, groups of civil society and by international organizations, no progress has been registered in the attempts to bring the murderers of Jean Dominique and Jean-Claude Louissaint to Justice.
The investigation launched by Judge Claudy Gassant stands impeded. The lynching of Padel Rénélus , a suspect in the assassination of Jean Dominique, in Léogâne on November 9, while he was in police custody, provokes a new wave of indignation. As RSF reporter, Robert Ménard?s declarations, calling the Police and Justice officers ?gutter-snipe?, and threatening to include of the Chief of State on the list of ?Predators of the freedom of the Press? are largely divulged.
At the same time kidnappings occur one after the other, without any reaction from the law enforcement authorities. Low-income neighborhoods are not exempted, as armed ?local warlords? persecute and ransom the population pitilessly. ?In total impunity, massacres are perpetrated. The needy, the mass of poor, of the voiceless are being bled?. (Le Devoir, editorial of December 11th,1001).
In Cité Soleil and La Saline, the population revolts against the impunity which their persecutors enjoy, and more particularly Roland Camille, a.k.a. as Ronal Kadav, against whom a warrant for arrest has been issued since September 10th, 2001 for the assassination of a man named Jean Fritzner. For days, these gigantic shantytowns are the scenes of violent confrontations. The outcome is weary, numerous dead, many hurt, about one thousand homes burned down (AP Nov. 3, 2001).
—————— ZERO TOLERANCE AND INTIMIDATION
Since President Aristide?s declaration of June 20, 2001, on the occasion of a visit to the Administrative Offices of the Police and calling for the enforcement of the ?Zero tolerance? policy, the most murderous acts of violence were perpetrated, either directly by policemen, or by groups of civilians, in most cases in association with local authorities. Not counting those, which did not receive much echo in the Press, an estimated 40 summary executions were conducted during the past few months in the Capital and in the provinces. In the sole locality of Cabaret, 15 persons were victims of the ?Zero tolerance? policy.
In an overwhelming testimony published in Le Monde (12/11/01), a policeman declares: ?Ever since the launching of the ?Zero tolerance? policy by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, I have been living a nightmare?.? In two months? time, he declares having witnessed the summary and clandestine execution of over fifty individuals; ?these operations must not leave any trace??.
It is from the willful intimidation and enforcement of the ?Zero tolerance? policy that one must examine the measure used by APENA (penitentiary authorities) in managing the protest that occurred at the National penitentiary on the night of November 15 to 16, 2001. The humiliating display of prisoners to the representatives of the Press, which is evocative of the treatment inflicted upon slaves during the centuries of slave trade, made gorges rise and raised general protest among the population. The now famous ?Enough is enough!? cry of former Prime Minister Smarck Michel resounded both within the country and in the Diaspora as the expression of nationwide indignation.
During these last months, as a reaction to the rising criticism and protest, the government, either directly through its official spokesmen, or through leaders of so-called grass-root organizations, makes more and more frequently use of verbal or physical intimidation methods.
A negative campaign has been intensifying against journalists who are qualified as “unprofessional.” As manifestations of dissatisfaction amplify and tension increases between the Laval powers and the opposition, attacks and threats against journalists multiply. (Le Monde, 12/10.01). Le Nouvelliste?s last edition of the year titles : ?2001 : The year of all woes for the Press?.
The atrocious death of journalist Brignol Lindor on December 3rd, 2001 in Petit-Goâve, pursuant to the call by Adjunct Mayor Dumay Bony, asking the enforcement of the ?Zero tolerance? policy to punish a member of the Press guilty of animating radio broadcasts deemed too critical of the government, tragically illustrates the ravages caused by that policy and raises the indignation in all sectors of society. Terror reigns in the city of Petit-Goâve. At Brignol Lindor?s funeral, the police intervened violently.
As second targets of this intimidation policy come political parties, their militants and spokesmen.. All attempts to make meetings, gatherings, and marches are systematically and violently interrupted or disbanded. A few examples illustrate the situation that prevails during the year 2001:
– Port-au-Prince, March 20, 2001: A group of men, armed with guns and incendiary bottles, attack the headquarters of Convergence Démocratique, howling: ?It?s not Gerard Gourgues who can stop us from burning down Convergence??
– Hinche, March 21st, 2001: ?Mouvement Paysan Papaye? (MPP) organizes a pacific march of Papaye in Hinche. Early in the morning, the city is invested by armed men driven by Mayor Déra Simon. Vehicles that were coming from neighboring communes to take part in the march were prevented from entering town, and their passengers beaten. The organizers were force to cancel the march.
– Cayes, March 31, 2001: A day of reflection organized upon initiative of Convergence Démocratique in the promises of a night-club had to be suspended without prior notice A small group of about fifteen men, throwing rocks, attacked the premises were the meeting was being held, while threatening the burn down the place if the meeting was not immediately closed. The owner had to ask the participants to leave the premises.
– Cayes, May 21: A meeting is called at Saint Louis Hall by Convergence Démocratique on the occasion of the first anniversary of the events of May 21, 2000. Before the time scheduled for the meting, barricades of burning tires and gunshots forced the cancellation of the meeting.
– Marigot, November 18: The city?s mayor, accompanied by two civilians armed with UZIs, members of the escort of Senator Prince Sonson Pierre, a Senator of the Lavalas party for Jacmel, stepped into a meeting held inside a building by Edgar Leblanc, a former Senator and former President of the National Assembly. Pursuant to Leblanc?s refusal to obey the command to close the meeting, his car is riddled with bullets.
– Plaisance, November 25: A number of marchers of Convergence are arrested by the police. One of these marchers, SenPque, is beaten and dies at the precinct on November 28, 2001.
– Saint-Marc, November 29, 2001. Gunshots are fired against a march organized by Convergence. One of the marches, Samuel Augustin is killed. Another, Oscar Pierre, dies two weeks later, as a result of his wounds.
– Cap-Haitien, December 15, 2001: On December 14, three days before to the next Monday?s ?Coup?, a day of reflection organized by youths of ?Initiative Citoyenne? at the Law School in Cap-Haitien, with the participation of Micha Gaillard, is violently interrupted by screams, chairs turned over, projectiles launched by a group of about fifteen men claming to belong to the Lavalas regime, thereby violating the University?s premises. This intervention was organized by the city of Milot?s mayor, Moise Jean Charles and by Lafanmi?s spokesman M. Amos Zéphirin, Assistant Director of the Cap?s Airport.
—————— PILFERAGE OF the country?s resources ? Corruption
in its daily struggle to cope with the growing precarious living conditions, the population manifests more and more its dissatisfaction in the face of the deployment of the luxury surrounding the men at the Lavalas power. Harsh and persistent criticism is also exPressed towards public scandals, which taint the policy makers? probity and methods of operation.
Attention is called among other things, on the purchase, made according to unclear procedures, of three houses wit h an estimated value of 7 million dollars (U.S.)
– One villa for former President René Préval : 1.4 MM US$
– One house for the new Prime Minister Jean-Marie Chérestal: 2 MM US$
– One house for the Haitian Embassy in Rome: 3 MM US$.
On every radio station, the scandal of ?sumptuary? expenses and doubtful procedures, more particularly at the Internal Revenue Bureau (Direction Generale des Impôts) as well as the theme of ?lavalassian big eaters” (thugs, embezzles, thieves)? is discussed more and more openly.
On Saturday December 8th, in an interview that lasted for two hours, on a very large audience program called ?Ranmase? broadcast by Radio CaraVbes?, Michel Soukar, a professor of History who animates a program on Haitian and Latin American History, speaks up directly to President Aristide on the issue on the origin and size of his fortune, and on the expenses incurred by the Presidency. It was like lightning had struck, and Mr. Soukar?s ?peremptory questioning? is quickly reproduced by hundreds and broadcast throughout the country and in the Haitian Diaspora.
It is in this context that on Sunday, December 16th, the anniversary date of the JB Aristide?s election, the celebration of that event culminates in the afternoon with the inauguration of a new public square on Place Saint-Martin, a populous borough of Port-au-Prince.
On that occasion, the President, after having celebrated the ?electoral victory? of the year 2000, although the subject of a deep political crisis which resulted in the ceasing of international aid since three years, addresses the assistance on the theme of ?patriotism? and insists on the slogan that he makes the crowd repeat many times: ?A lavalas is a patriot, A lavalassian is a patriot, a good lavalassian is a good patriot!?.
At the beginning of the evening, tension is manifestly high; rumors are circulating and blocking is reported in certain neighborhoods of the Capital and in the provinces.
The day of December 17th, 2001
1.- The announcement of a coup
As soon as 3 a.m., on Monday the 17th of December, a ?flash? is aired on radio stations (Radio Cara (Radio CaraVbes) spreading the news that the National Palace had been attacked by a commando
At about 6 a.m., Jacques Maurice, a member of the Press Bureau of the Presidency makes the first declarations: There is an attempt to overthrow the government (?coup d?État?) and 80 heavily armed men have sneaked into the National Palace. From conversations heard on walky-talkies, stripped from policemen guarding the Palace, these men, speaking Spanish, English and Creole, reveal that they are headed by Guy Philippe, one of the police commissioners who had taken refuge in the Dominican Republic.
According to information collected by AP, Jacques Maurice also mentions a simultaneous attack against the National penitentiary and, still according to him, one of the intellectual authors of the Coup would be Lucien Gervais (a former military?) imprisoned at the National Penitentiary at the time of the revolt of the detainees and since then transferred to another detention center. Lucien Gervais is purported to have Dominican mercenaries in his pay, ready to act. During that intervention, Jacques Maurice specifies that President Aristide and his family are safe and at their Tabarre residence.
During these first hours, radio stations widely broadcast declarations, news, and first reactions. Journalist are posted at the Champs de Mars square, in front of the Palace and give a live account of the situation?s evolution. Radio HaVti-Inter announces at 9:00 a.m. that ?7 men are ambushed in the Palace?s basements?. Calls to violence and for the hunting down of those ?responsible? for the coup are let loose by the spokesmen, (René Civil) of Lavalassian groups with shouts of ?Cut their escape road up there, cut their escape road down there!?
A few hours later, Jean Auriel, the officer in charge of presidential security, answers the Press? questions and announces that the assailants have fled aboard two pick-up trucks. Elite troops of the Haitian National Police have regained control of the National Palace. The confrontations left one dead on the assailants? side , and two amongst the policemen.
Around noon, the Minister of Culture and Communication, Guy Paul, speaking on the State owned and operated radio ?Radio Nationale? announces that the President had control of the Palace, thereby marking the end of the cop. He calls the crowds to calm and condemns the acts of violence recorded in the country.
In the afternoon, the National Police?s spokesman, Jean Dady Siméon, in a Press release given at the National Palace, confirms the attempted ?coup? by some 30 assailants, who were driven off, an attack which left 5 dead among which two policemen, one assailant, and two ordinary citizens. He also mentions that one of one of the assailants was captured in the area of Morne B Cabrits.
The President also speaks in a long Press conferred to condemn the coup. ?The weapons that are used in these types of coups are the poison that kills democracy ? , to reprove violence ?We condemn acts of violence, on whatever side they are committed?. Furthermore, he confirms that that there exists a connection between the events of July 28 and those that just occurred by affirming that: ?The events of December 16-17, 2001 are connected with those that occurred on July 28 ? We have proofs that show they are linkable, and the people must be praised for having known how to act consequently.
? When the events of July 28th occurred, there was more confusion which caused some people to doubt whether it was true or not. And we had stayed watching because of the confusing, and they were much more timid than this time. Yesterday, the people?s manifestation was brightly expressed to defend democracy. Today, the peaceful manifestations show once again how it understands the role it must play, not to cross is arms and to wait and later have to go into hiding. But, we are going to stand up peacefully put-up peace barricades where it is necessary, when it is necessary, without violence, in respect of everyone?s rights, in dialogue??
(text in French and Creole)
Immediately after the Press conference, the Chief of Sate addresses a ?Message of Peace?. He starts by saluting the Police and all the citizens, who, with determination, have erected the Barricades of Peace and defeated the assassins of democracy.
?Honor and respect to you!??. I have just toured Port-au-Prince, and I was able to see the numerous barricades of Peace, which you have erected to prevent the terrorist from fleeing, so that they no longer continue killing people. You have done so because you believe in your country, in democracy, because you are the sons of Desaslines, of Toussaint Louverture of our ancestors, you are brave! Peace?s flag floats everywhere! Tonight, I ask that you organize a patriotic vigil, everywhere, to protect Peace.?
(text in French and Creole)
?And, at this very time that we are speaking, we are proud to see the beautiful solidarity that exists between the people and the Police, and we encourage you to continue providing to the Police all information concerning these criminals who are attempting to flee so that they are not taken in, and have to speak? It is a coup that we were quickly able to control and it is to avoid that there are other attempts that we ask the population to mobilize peacefully to defend democracy peacefully.?
(text in French and Creole).
?We remain united in hunting down with the Law in our hands, under the banner of Peace, all terrorist criminals who wanted to force us into hiding?
(text in French and Creole)
2- THE FACTS: The attacks against the Press, political parties, political leaders and cultural Centers
From the various declarations made by the representatives of the Presidency, groups of partisans of Lafanmi Lavalas are organizing themselves in Port-au-Prince and in the provincial cities, attacking, pillaging and burning down the offices of political parties as well as the homes of their leaders. Radio stations are invested and threatened to be destroyed, journalists are violently taken to account, and some only make it by the skin of their teeth. Many persons fall victim to these acts of violence in the course of that day.
In the provinces
– The furniture of Pastor Milton Chery?s residence, a member of OPL?s coordination for the North, and a former candidate to senatorial elections is thrown out on the street and burned down.
– Eluscat Charles, a spokesman for OPL in the North, had his residence pillaged and burned up as well as a neighboring house.
– The Tanis?s brothers? house, both of Convergence, as well as that of Jacques Etienne, a known critic of Lafanmi Lavalas, were also ransacked.
– A man by the name of Célius, close to FADH, was nearly lynched, were it not the intervention of a few passers-by, and for the confrontations, which occurred when the lavalas demonstrators tried to attack Gregory Joseph of Convergence.
– OPL?s headquarters for the North were pillaged.
– The assailants also attempted to set Radio Maxima on fire, but had to abandon their project when faced with the riverains? reaction as they stood-up in defense of the radio station.
– The construction company managed by Gabriel Fortuné, a former Parliamentarian and departmental spokesperson for Convergence is pillaged and two tow trucks are burned-down.
– The home of Jean Robert Jeune, a member of OPL ?s departmental Coordination committee is partially ransacked.
– A member of OPL?s departmental Coordination committee, Wilfred Jean-Baptiste?s home, is damaged and pillaged.
– A member of Convergence, Kessel Cilius? home, is pillaged.
– A member of Convergence, Pierre Richard?s home, is pillaged.
– The residence of Pastor Luc Mésadieu, President of Mochrena, and member of the Directory of Convergence démocratique is burned down; 3 cars are burned down; two sympathizers of the Pastor are killed then burned.
– The residence of Pastor Sylvio Dieudonné, Vice President of Mochrena, is burned, as well as a neighboring house. A church and a school directed by the Pastor are also burned down.
– The furniture of AnouPs Difficile?s home, a member of Convergence démocratique, is burned down.
– Radio Metropole?s correspondent for Artibonite, Duc Jonathan Joseph is missing.
GRANDE RIVIERE DU NORD
– OPL?s headquarters are attacked and ransacked.
– The home of Milot Gousse, a Convergence démocratique?s spokesman for the Southeast, was pelted with stones.
– Lensky Cassamajor, OPL representative, is sequestrated, beaten-up, and barely saved from being lynched.
– Centrale autonome des travailleurs haVtiens (CATH) ?s office are burned-down ; numerous members of Convergence were forced into hiding.
Note that two state owned vehicles (National Education and Finances) were involved in these events.
– The home of Jean Jasmin, a teacher, member of the local OPL Coordination, is burned-down, as well as that of Déus Jean-François, MDN, a former Parliamentarian, member of Convergence, and communal officer. Confrontations occur between groups of lavalassians and partisans of Convergence. During that day, 15 houses were burned down and 5 were ransacked. The first reports indicate that : Yvon Jean, René Jean-Michel, EligPne Derosiers, Jean Wilio Manéus, Dieusibon Jean, Yves Rigaud, Denis Osias, InPs Coicou, Genisei Ejan, Diréus Antoine, Prosper Jeanty, MontigPne SincPre, Serge Bouzile, Wilbert Pierre, would thus have totally or partially lost their homes.
– Gabriel Davidson, an OPL leader, as well as about fifteen other militants were forced into hiding.
In the Capital
a) The Press
Throughout that day, journalists in the Capital, reporters, radio stations are the object of threats, of acts of violence, that force many representatives of the Press to go into hiding, some to even seek asylum in embassies. According to Reporters Sans FrontiPres: ?The systematic nature of aggressions shows that the demonstrators had been instructed to go for the Press?.
Thony Bélizaire, a photographer for Agence France-Presse, Patrick Moussignac, Guérin Alexandre, Jean-Elie Moléus, respectively Director and reporters for Radio CaraVbes, and Guyler Delva, President of the Association of Haitian Journalists, as well as reporters for Telemax were violently taken to side by demonstrators kin of Fanmi Lavalas, armed with revolvers, machetes, and sticks. They forced these journalists to leave the premises under threat.
?We would have gunned you down if you were at Radio CaraVbes? declared the partisans of the government to Maxo Exil, of Haiti Press Network Agency, held at gunpoint.
Roger Damas, of Radio Ibo, was forced to surrender his Press identification card and cell phone to the demonstrators who assimilated Radio Ibo with the opposition.
Journalists of Radio Vision 2000, among which PharPs Duverné, Robert Philomé and Yves Clausel Alexis, while covering the events unfolding at the National Palace, were forced to yell ?Long live Aristide, Long Live Lavalas?, by members of grass-root organizations close to the government.
According to Arins Bellevue, Director of Radio Galaxie, their colleague, Abel Descollines had to go into hiding after having been threatened and informed that his name as well as those of other representatives of the Press was on a list of journalists to be executed. A journalist of RECAP, Gaston Janvier, also found himself in the same situation.
Reporters for Radio Metropole were aggressed and held at gunpoint by partisans of the government who were aboard vehicles belonging to state-owned enterprises. The glass windows of Radio Caraibes? bus were broken by pro-Lavalas demonstrators. Numerous radio stations? employees were threatened with death and the stations had to stop emitting that day: Radio Quisqueya, Radio Metropole, Radio Vision 2000, Radio Signal FM and Radio CaraVbes. The latter had to suspend its emissions for several days.
The professor-historian, radio program animator, Michel Soukar, was the object of repeated threats.
a). Political parties? headquarters
OPL?s headquarters (Organisation du Peuple en Lutte), originally Organisation Politique Lavalas), founded in 1991, and headquarters of Convergence, were pillaged and burned-down. The encircling wall and entrance gate were brought down with a CNE (State owned public works equipment) bulldozer. The groups of assailants were also aboard CNE vehicles. OPL is member of the Internationale Socialiste and is coordinated by Gérard Pierre Charles.
NB. A neighboring house was also looted and burned downs..
– Konakom?s headquarters (Comité National du CongrPs des Mouvements Démocratiques), a member of Convergence and of Internationale Socialiste, coordinated by Victor Benoît, was looted and burned down.
– KID?s headquarters (Confédération Unité Démocratique), a member of Convergence, coordinated by Evans Paul (a.k.a. as KonpP Plim) was ransacked and burned down.
N.B. It is the third time that KID?s headquarters are devastated: in 1991, two months before the coup and in April 2000.
– ALAH?s headquarters, (Alliance for the freedom of Haiti) a member of Convergence, who are housed the law firm of Attorney Reynold Georges, its coordinator, were also burned down.
b.- The family homes of the Convergence leaders
– The residential home of Professor Victor Benoît, located in Bon Repos, on the northern outskirts of Port-au-Prince, was looted and burned down (see details in the testimony included hereinafter).
– The residential home of Gerard Pierre Charles, located in Morne Hercule in Petion-Ville, was looted. His private library was set on fire with a cocktail Molotov. The house was besieged and at the end of the morning by members of CIMO corps and armed civilians aboard CNE vehicles.
– In both cases, government officials were recognized, and vehicles were identified. (See testimony hereinafter.)
c), Cultural Centers
– CRESFED, a Training, Research and Documentation center, a member of the Human Rights Platform, directed by Suzy Castor, a University professor, a historian by training, founded in 1986, was attacked, burned up and looted. (see testimony hereinafter).
– The offices of Caisse de Coopération Française, which presently houses the French Institute?s computer school (during the time of this Institution?s renovation works), a building adjacent to the Konakom offices, was looted.
.- Declaration of Jessie Benoit to the Press, Wednesday December 19, 2001
I, Jessie Benoit, wife of Victor Benoit, Coordinator of KONAKOM and one of the leaders of Convergence Démocratique, certify and attest that:
1.- On Monday, December 17, 2001, at 12:00 a.m., (noon) a commando of mercenaries, acting in the name of Lavalas, appeared at our residence located in Lilavois. Four (4) vehicles loaded with heavily armed men:
– one black Four Runner Toyota not carrying any license plate;
– one Official white Nissan Patrol, carrying a license plate No. O824
– one double cabin Toyota pick-up truck, not carrying a license plate
– one brown Rava Toyota.-
The commando?s mission was to assassinate, in addition to Victor Benoit, all living things (humans and animals) found on the site. We were all present at the house, Victor Benoît and myself, as well as three (3) adult relatives and four (4) adolescents, when the commando arrived.
After having spread terror at our neighbors?, our assassins invested the and the house. They set fire to the house, room by room, paying more attention to closed rooms. Our lives were only saved by the solidarity chain spontaneously organized by the inhabitants of Lilavois.
3.- I accuse the Haitian National Police, and more particularly the Bon Repos Precinct, for NON ASSISTANCE TO PERSON IN DANGER.
I accuse Lavalas of attempted murder on my person, and on that of my husband Victor Benoît as well as on of our family members who were in the house with us.
4.- I say to the Haitian population at large: Yesterday, it was the Pres, with Jean Dominique, Brignol Lindor. Today, it is Convergence Démocratique, with Victor Benoît, Gerard Pierre-Charles and other leaders and members of Convergence. Tomorrow, it will be all the sectors of Haitian society who fight for a free and democratic society .
Let?s all move forward, let?s not be afraid, let?s support one another to build-up that wall that will block the way against dictatorship.
HEADS TOGETHER, HEADS IN PLACE, WE ARE GOING TO CHANGE THE SITUATION
Jessie Ewald Benoît_________________
.- Testimony of Suzy Castor: Sacking of Residency of Suzy Castor /Gerard Pierre Charles
On Monday December 17, Suzy Castor was listening to the morning news inside the residence where she lives with her family in Petion-Ville, in the neighborhood of Morne Hercule, when she received a phone call from a friend, insisting that she leaves her home immediately. He had just heard that a group of armed men were headed for the house, probably to set it afire. Without taking anything with her, Suzy Castor fled with her three grandchildren to seek refuge at friends? house.
It is 9:30 a.m.. Half an hour later, the group of assailant, consisting of an estimated one hundred individuals, arrived at Charlemagne Péralte Street, which it tramped up and down, before being able to identify the house. That troop, among which one inevitably noticed the presence of children and adolescents, were armed with guns, revolvers, machetes and piques. They massed in front of the house and began throwing rocks. A few policemen then arrived, there were 5 or 6 of them, placing themselves in the back of he assailants and stood there without intervening against the attempts to destroy the encircling wall.
It is at that moment that the security guards, inside, shot in the air, to disperse the group. Then, the assailants asked for backup: calls on their radios were heard by numerous witnesses. Very quickly, 2 CNE trucks and other pick-up trucks of Police, among which one marked ?Cité-Soleil? arrived and unloaded armed civilians, some carrying machine guns. The inhabitants of the house, among which Suzy Castor?s daughter, abandoned the house, climbing over the back fencing wall in the garden. It is at that moment that a CIMO team arrived.
The assailants try to force the front gate. Having succeeded in penetrating in the yard, they set the two cars that were there on fire while shouting: ?There?s no way they can escape, we are going to get them, we are going to chop them down one by one?. As no one came out, the assailants entered into the neighbors? house, looking for its occupants who had fled. Using a cocktail Molotov, they set one the main rooms afire. According to numerous testimonies, during the course of these events, Senator Prince Sonson Pierre, Petion-Ville?s mayor, Sully Guerrier and Parliamentarian Felito Doran were present and observing the unfolding of operations. All this happened with either the police or the CIMO agents intervening to control or curtail the assailants to avoid the worst.
Pursuant to numerous calls from alarmed friends and other citizens, the firemen arrive, the first time without water. They are finally able to control the fire. Soon after, at about 4:30 p.m., the is given ?up to the looters. Everything was either pillaged or destroyed. Some spectators who have tried to raise a protest or to intervene were given a rough handing and hit. Many witnesses saw the pillagers climb aboard the Police vehicles with they plunder. To persons inquiring about these facts however, Pétion-Ville?s Precinct declared not to be informed of the matter.
NB.- That Monday 17th of December, Professor Gerard Pierre-Charles was in Miami attending a seminary on political parties organized by the O.A.S.
– Suzy Castor?s testimony: The destruction of CRESFED
On Monday December 17th, at about 1.00 p.m., a group of individuals, most of them very young, almost children, armed with guns, head for CRESFED? headquarters, located at 10, Jean-Baptiste Street in Canapé-Vert. Obviously, they are not familiar with that address, as they walk by the building without recognizing it, and question the inhabitants of the neighborhood in order to identify the house.
The only watchman of the building having fled upon arrival of that troop, the latter penetrate the main yard without any difficulty. Two trucks of the Police Department accompanied the group and witnessed the looting and setting the building afire. The presence of City Delegate for Canapé-Vert, AnalPs Obas was also noticed. The premises were totally ransacked. The rooms are set afire one by one. What cannot be looted is destroyed, then set afire. For example, all the printing equipment, as well as transmitters needed for the operation of an educational radio?. The toilets were filled with copies of the Constitution, and large number of books were systematically burned. The building itself is vandalized: floor tiles, doors, windows, air-conditioning equipment, wrought ironworks.
CRESFED?s watchdog, according to witnesses, was wetted with gasoline and burned alive.
On the next day, scattered samples of CRESFED?S specialized collections of books were already being sold on the Capital?s sidewalks. It must also be noted that priceless archives on the political and syndical History of the country were destroyed, as well as the collections clandestine periodicals under the Duvalier regime. It is therefore part of the memory of the Haitian people that has disappeared.
– A witness on the Champ-de-Mars square public square
?Very early in the morning, almost at daybreak, I heard rumors about a coup. I wanted to go see with my own eyes. I went to the Champ-de-Mars square with a friend at about 5:30 a.m. Having arrived on the site, near the Mupanha Museum, I saw a Police Toyota pick-up truck, in which two policemen were weltering in their blood, apparently dead. There were about a thousand people there. It was not the same huge crowd as before. ?Leaders?, dressed in pea-green outfits, and heavily armed, roamed the Palace?s courts.
We arrived near the Court House (Palais de Justice), at the main gate. There are no traces of breaking-in on the gate. I say, parked nearby, a white Chevrolet bearing a governmental license plate (?Service de l?État?). Men dressed in black, with hoods over their heads, were distributing weapons: Galil, G3, M16 guns, UZIs. At about 6:30 a.m., the arms distribution was completed. Around me, people were talking about ?Dominicans? who were inside the Palace. One Swat Team policeman walked-up to the gate to say that the situation was under control, and that there was one dead, and two persons captured.
At about 7:30 a.m., official cars arrived with people armed with revolves and guns. A tractor was trying to force the Palace?s right gate. Vehicles bearing the inscription ?Cité-Soleil 1,2,3, Delmas? arrived and began patrolling the surroundings of the Palace. A little later, some journalists entered into the Palace?s court. They said that they saw one person dead. They were told that the assailants had fled that ?specialized? policemen had gone to search for them in the area of Morne-B-Cabrits.
At about 10:00 a.m., there was heavy fire near the Palace. Rumors circulated that someone had shot into the crowd. We see a man running and the crowd running after him. A few minutes later, I saw somebody brandishing a forearm?.I caught sight of Parliamentarian Ernst Vilsaint with some demonstrators. He sent into the Palace with a few ?chimeres? (pro-government armed thugs). Around me, there were groups discussing that were going to burn down the headquarters of opposition parties. Talking about Convergence: ?There cannot be two Palaces?. Some were saying that Gerard Gourgues? school should no be touched: ?Only if we could get our hands on Gérard Gourgues himself ?.!?
I must say that was chocked seeing arms being distributed such young people, almost children, having the appearance of ?chimeres?: filthy, neglected, wearing ?torn-up shorts?, sandals, and headbands. Some wore hoods with holes around the eyes and mouth. Vehicles from the Telephone company (Teleco) and Governmental vehicles (?Service de l?Etat?) were driven by drivers wearing these same hoods. They could be seen roaming town until 5 p.m.
I saw Senator Toussaint who in the crowd giving orders. He was standing near Ronal Kadav. Then the latter left. Later, there was a rumor according to which his vehicle had broken-down on the heights of Morne Lazarre, on the Bourdon-Pétion-Ville road. During that all the time that I was there, until about 1 p.m., I did not see the CIMO intervene as they were in the
?Anti-Gang? building, across The Internal Revenue Office (DGI). They answered to the ?chimeres? who were calling upon them that they had not received any orders and that wouldn?t move. When I left, at about 1:00 p.m., there was a large crowd on the square?.
– Testimony of Chavannes Jean-Baptiste
On Monday 17th of December, a group of ?chimeres? arrived in two trucks with Jerry-cans of gasoline in front of the Mouvement Paysan Papaye (MPP) headquarters in Hinche. Numerous militants and sympathizers notified of what was being prepared massed in the yard. Their presence and determination disconcerted the assailants upon their arrival and the latter decided to back-up, cutting-down the telephone wires which connected the foundation which has been since deprived of a telephone line.
.- Testimony of a resident of Capois Street
? I moved towards the people who wanted to set afire the parties buildings to try to discuss with them, but I had to give up that idea when saw commandos of youths arriving on the site.
In the afternoon of the 17th, at about 4:00 p.m., I wanted to tour the neighborhood, but as I was leaving my home I stopped in order to observe strange maneuvers that were taking place. The neighbor was behind his pick-up truck?s wheel, and that vehicle was loaded with young men, all armed with long weapons, they were being followed at some distance by a police car. They went back and forth, then the pick-up truck left but then it was one of the youths driving. In fact, the neighbor had been ?kidnapped? and had come back to the house to find some money in exchange for his release. They had ?borrowed? his pick-up truck. The rumor was circulating that they were systematically disarming all security guards in the area, like those for example of Royal Market in Turgeau.
– Testimony of residents of Martissant-Fontamara
On Sunday, December 16th, at about 7pm, residents of Martissant-Fonamarra who were heading back home, had to negotiate their passage at several checkpoints established by groups that were busy installing barricades in various locations in these neighborhoods. The were surprised to face such situation that nothing announced, as that Sunday had unfolded without any particular incident, these people tried to inquire as for the reason for these preparations. The answer was laconic: ?We?re going to let you go through, but don?t ask any question, just go home?.
– Testimony of a resident of Delmas #32.
At about 6:00 a.m. we were alerted that there was ?coup?. At 7:00, I went out and saw that there were many people on the streets. Groups armed with local fabrication guns (?Zamm kreybl), Twelve mm guns, had massed in front of the Delimart Supermarket between Delmas #3 and #34. Then Police vehicles arrived and the crowd gave way to them; addressing the crowd, the policemen were telling the people: ?Hang in there, stay firm?.
A group of armed men entered into Delmas #32 to call upon their affiliates to joined them with their guns and to go to the Palace? ?The Government is threatened, whatever you have (guns), use them. It is at that moment that I was able to see the large number of weapons (Twelve mm guns, caliber 38 pistols) that were in the possession of the neighborhoods residents. I was shocked. All these people left, leaving a totally panicked population, not knowing what to expect. I went back home to stay with my family and only came out of the house the next day.
– Testimony of a teacher in GonaVves
During the Sunday, 16th of December, a series of festivities, gatherings had been organized by the Government, which on that occasion, had distributed Gdes 15.000 to female street food-vendors, within the framework of the Ministry on Women?s Issues (?Condition féminine?).
Around 9:00 p.m., ?authorities? that had come from Port-au-Prince distribute guns, ammunitions, and money to leaders of grass-root organizations. Delegate Kenaz Jean-Baptiste St. Pierre, Mayor Stephen Moise and Adjunct Mayor Beauvoir Ulysse are present. Around 4:00 a.m., Police (PNH) and Town Hall vehicles transporting used tires are seen and barricades are erected.
At 8:3- a.m., Delegate Kenaz J.B. St. Pierre announces the closing of schools, of business and Indus try.
At 9:30 a.m., Rev. Luc Mésadieu?s (MOCHRENA) home in Gattereau, at the city?s north entrance, is set afire. The group seizes two men, and necklaces them. One of the victims was a security guard named Ramy, the other man could not be identified.
At 11:20, we learn that the Manassé school of Rev. Sylvio Dieudonné in Bigot, at the city?s west entrance, was also burned down.
At 11:35 a.m., Rev. Sylvio Dieudonné?s private home is invested and burned down. Among the assailants were: a renown group leader by the name of Amyot Métayer (a.k.a. ?Cubain?), Mayor Stephen MoVse (a.k.a. ?Topa?), Adjunct Mayor Beauvoir Ulyssse, Gracia Joseph (a.k.a. ?Tot?), coordinator of Fanmi Lavalas, and local administrator of the Port Authority (APN), as well as William Joseph, also from APN, and coordinator of Organisation Démocratique de Raboteau (OPDR),
At 12:30 p.m. that same group set afire the home of AnorPs Difficile, a sympathizer of Convergence Démocratique. From 2:00 p.m. and on, the demonstrators and partied and dined in street restaurants with the money distributed by the Ministry on Women?s Issues.
During the events that were talking place, the Police stayed cantoned at the Departmental precinct of Artibonite.
– Testimony of a University professor.
Between 10 and 11 a.m., I left the house on foot, head towards Teleco?s building on Pont-Morin. The residents of that neighborhood were in front of their doors. The groups that stood facing the headquarters of Convergence and Konakom came visibly from other places. I see pass by a pick-up truck loaded with groups of youths; some are wearing a black kerchief-headband. Most are dressed in torn-up shorts, and rags. They are all armed with pistols. I did not stay watching.
– Testimony of Senator Gerard Gilles, ?Guest of the day? on a Vision 2000 Radio broadcast (excerpts)
RV 2000 ? ?I want to talk about the sources from which you obtained your information, the first information?:
GG- ?This first information, be kind enough my dear friend, to remind them to me, and in light of the events, take-on responsibility for them, once more?.
RV 2000- ?Very well, ? 12 pick-up trucks have taken over control of the National Palace, namely?
GG – ?Exactly ! ? at about 1 or 2 in the morning, a friend who lives near the National Palace, called me to inform me that he had seen some double-cabin pick-up trucks who have attacked the National Palace, and he has seen with his own eyes, as he was very close to the Palace, that there was a car in which there were policemen which was simply attacked by these men armed with M-50 machine guns. These are the information that I was given by a friend who lives near the National Palace?.?
RV 2000 – ? ?then the first information that were available to you mentioned some pick-up trucks which allegedly had taken-over control of the National Palace, however, in the end, Police sources mention only 2 or 3. How do you explain this discrepancy??
GG ? ?..at about 1 ?2 a.m., I told you, a friend who lives near the National Palace talked to me, not even of 12, but of several vehicles with M-50 machine guns on their top, which were attacking the National Palace.?
RV2000 ? ?I imagine that your informant is a specialist in weaponry??
GG- ?No.. he spoke about machine-guns, ?he did not specify that they were M-50s, it is a young university student who informed me ?.?
RV 2000 ? ?..where did these people find ?these guns??
GG ? ?Yes, I am preoccupied by this fact, it is not only these people, one must say that there also children, adolescents, who have ?found?? at gun point, thousands of armed people, we have seen it also on TV, who have defended, who ? normally ? have permitted that this be aborted?. Where did they find these guns. Since 1986, efforts were made to disarm the population, people spoke about it, you remember? nothing was done in this sense; I feel that the National Police must give more serious consideration to this a4rming that we have seen?..?
RV 2000 ? ?But, GG, allow me? poor country, filled with poor people? where were they able to find money to but these weapons?.?
GG ? ?Be careful, Valery, since 1986, it was always asked that the population be disarmed, the Haitian people has always asked that the population be disarmed?.:
RV 2000 ? ?Do you fear that these guns may turn against you one day??
GG ? ?Never!??
– Testimony of merchants on the Champs de Mars public square
Around 8:oo p.m., a patrol from the National Police ordered the vendors working in the area of the squares located near the Palace to leave the area.
III.- REACTIONS: Déclarations, Interventions, after the events of December 17
In the hours following the official announcement of the ?coup?, foreign governments reacted instantaneously to condemn such an initiative. The unfolding of the events of December 17th however, were, as soon as the next day, cause a second wave of reactions, both at the national and international levels, where we see a questioning of the facts as reported, but also the categorical condemnation of acts violence perpetrated against the media and their representatives, political parties and their leaders, and this, in most cases, in presence of the National Police force.
Since then, numerous reactions from various sectors are ceaselessly being registered:
—– 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 HaVti, 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 HaVti. 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 HaVti, 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 HaVti. 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 FrontiPres) : ?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 HaVti 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?.
V.- THE ?AFTERMATH? OF DECEMBER 17
The events of December 17 continue making the headlines. The repercussions and consequences of what happened, as well as all the interrogations resulting there from, are constantly seen in the news.
According to various testimonies, reported by the media among other sources, in the days that followed, much turmoil could be seen within various Ministries, and even at the Presidential palace, as a result of the violent protest of groups of partisans of Fanmi Lavalas claiming their remuneration ?for the work done on December 17?. They sowed turmoil inside the premises of the Ministries of Women?s Issues, of Social Affairs and Culture. The situation in some instances could only be controlled by the Police intervention. On radio stations, one could here warnings launched by demonstrators: ?if they don?t pay us soon, the stick that beat the Convergence is going to beat them too!?
Losses of human lives
On December 21, an 8-page long detailed account of the events, released on the Presidency?s Internet site, described how the assailants entered into the Palace, and how one of their vehicles was chased by a helicopter up to Morne B Cabrits. That account was also released in English in translation signed by MichPle Karshan.
The narration concludes that the attack, perpetrated by twenty-five (25) men, had left eight (8) dead, of which five (5) on the assailants side, one (1) at the Palace, and four (4) in Thomazeau.
?A few days later, the population of Thomazeau apprehended four men in that locality and killed them because they bore gunshot wounds on their bodies?. None of the victims were identified.
Based on the information collected by the media, and on o her testimonies, the assailant killed at the National Palace, who had first been identified as ?Perez?, would in fact have been a man named ?Chavre Milôt?. The two murdered policemen are allegedly: ThéagPne François, and Raymond Jean-Eustache, both attached to the Port-au-Prince Precinct.
The events that took place in Thomazeau, to which must be added those that occurred in Croix-des-Bouquets and Ganthier, resulted in five (5) injured: Guy Astrel JEAN, Jean Roma Brévil, Wesly Cineus, Hermann Renauld, Frantceau Lahens, and five (5) dead: Auxilia Eteinne, Elinel Etinel, Delinois Augusme, Altine Marius and Altanas Cineus
Justice: The arrests
—–Pierre Richardson, according the official version, apprehended and surrendered to the Police, by the Terre Rouge population, former soldier Pierre Richardson, recognized his participations. The admitted having conspired and taken part in the operation in order to seize the power and that former police commissioners Jacky Nau, Guy Philippe, and former Colonel Guy André François had been involved in the preparation of the operations. When interrogated on TV on the circumstance of his arrest, Richardson explains? ?Well, ? the Police conducted its investigation, they found me, they arrested me, ? and that?s it?!?
—-On December 19th, Guy André François is arrested within the framework of the investigations on the attempted coup. On Monday January 7th, 2002, pursuant to a hearing held at the First Civil Chamber, a Decision was issued ordering the immediate Mr. François? immediate release, which was not acted-up upon before several days.
—–On December 26, Jean Dumesle, accused ?of not having reported to the police that meetings had occurred at the house residency of which he is the watchman? is arrested for being an accomplice in the coup. The house in question belongs to Albert Dorélien, brother of former colonel Carl Dorélien, who has been living in Florida for several years.
—–On December 27, the Government appoints Mr. Bernard Saint-Vil as Examining Judge in charge of investigating the attempted cop of December 17, 2001.
—–On Tuesday, December 18, former Haitian police commissioner, Guy Philippe, is arrested by the Equatorian authorities and sent to the Dominican Republic. Having arrived in Dominican Capital, he allegedly would have escaped out of the airport. Found in Bonao, he allegedly is awaiting deportation to Venezuela. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, Mr. Hugo Talentino Dipp, until February 4, 2002, the Haitian Government had not presented any request for his extradition.
—–The Saati affair. On December 27, Mr. Antoine Saati, an American businessman is arrested by the Police under the accusation of being implicated in the attempted coup of December 17. In spite of numerous interventions, and of the diligence of his attorneys, his release was only ordered by the Court on January 14th, putting forward that there had been errors in the processing of the Saati file?.
The Industrialist family’s warehouses were totally pillaged.
—–On January 3, the Examining Judge Bernard heard three individuals accused of conspiracy in the attempted coup of December 17th: Jean Dumesle, Enéus Préval, and Jean-Max Louis, both security guards of Attorney Jehan Colimon. The latter petitioned for immediate discharge due to the lack of proof.
—–That same day, the Minister of Justice, Attorney Garry Lissade, declared to the Press that two policemen were detained in isolation. They had been posted at the Palace?s entrance gate through which the assailants had penetrated during the attempted coup of December 17?. Minister Lissade did not want to reveal their names.
The Press: Exile, threats, and intimidation
After the assassination of Brignol Lindor, and the threats they came under, especially on December 17th, the journalists were forced to take precautions in their work, more particularly when they cover events. About ten of them have left the country, some with the special status of political refugees, and about ten of them are still in hiding. Two journalists from Vision 2000, PharPs Duverné and Clausel Alexis were notified before their departure that if relayed news criticizing the government, ?we will kill you, we will ?Brignol-Lindorize? you.?
Many of these journalists have temporarily settled in Florida. Others have left for Spain, Guadeloupe, and France. Robert Ménard, from Reporters sans FrontiPres had to leave Hotel Plaza and stop his Press conference of Saturday January 12, when a threatening group, headed by René Civil and Paul Raymond, invaded the premises, in order to shut his mouth once and for all, according to their threats. From Mirebalais, it is learned that the journalists of Radio Eben Ezer have decided to stop broadcasting news. This decisions follows a series of threats, which they claim to have received from grass-root organizations close to the government.
—–On December 20th, in a letter to the President, RSF declared: ?The absence of measures to protect the radio stations that were threatened, as well as the public that participates in local programs against the intimidation campaign is the negation of the promises you have made this December 17th, to warrant that freedom of the Press would be respected??.
—–On January 4, three Ministers of the Government, Faubert Gustave (Finance), Gary Lissade (Justice), and Ernst Laraque (Public Works), came to the office of Convergence and Konakom, under the pretence of assessing the damages in view of an indemnification. Former Senator Paul Denis denied them entrance and making the point that damages could only be
allocated by a Court Decision.
—–In the meantime, the Senate?s President, Yvon Neptune, in an interview over Vision 2000?s network, on January 4th, 2002, speaks of a ?new type of long term coup?, orchestrated by the enemies of the People with their accomplices of the International Community, aimed at destabilizing the Government.
—–On Monday, January 7th, in a meeting with representatives of the media, at the National Palace, President Aristide tried to reassure them by reaffirming his will to respect the freedom of the Press. He however advised the journalist that they should not give in to the panic caused by a ?psychological fear?. In their reply, the journalists tired to evoke concrete and serious issues which require the intervention of the Chief of State, among which, the renewal of Judge Claudy Gassant?s mandate in the Jean Dominique affair.
—— On January 10th, at the Palace, President Aristide received representatives of all the private sector associations, who remitted to him a compelling memorandum, outlining concretely the indispensable measures that the Government must urgently take on issues of Justice, Security, Communications, Fiscality and Government Expenditures.(annexe 2)
—–That same day, that is Thursday January 10th, Senator for the West Department, Dany Toussaint, denounces before the Senate, the presence attested by photographs, of his colleague Prince Sonson Pierre, Senator for the South-East Department, in front of the home of Gerard Pierre-Charles, at Morne Hercule, on the moment where, in presence of members of the CIMO Corps and of the Police, groups of thugs were attacking the house to set it fire and pillage it. Senator Pierre?s presence could also be noted at ChavanneS where Radio CaraVbes is located and at Pont Morin, where the offices of Convergence and Konakom are located.
—–After Robert Ménard?s departure, Guyler Delva, Secretary General of the Association of Haitian Journalists, publicly received death threats from René Civil, Paul Raymond, leaders of JPP (?Jan l pase li pase? / ?Things will go as they will?) and TKL of Jean Bosco. In the morning of January 16, Figaro Désir, the spokesperson for a group based in Saint-Marc, called ?Bale Wouze? (?Gun?em down?) threatened Guyler Delva that he would ?necklace? him if he set foot in Saint-Marc.
—-On Saturday January 12, Micha Gaillard, leaving for Washington, almost met with ill faith at the airport. It seems that a group of ?chimeres? were waiting there for Robert Ménard to ?settle his account?. In the meantime, OPL announces in a communiqué that former Senator Paul Denis? life is on danger, as has been notified of a plot to kill him.
—–In the evening of Wednesday January 16, 2002, Radio CaraVbes broadcasted Michel Soukar?s comments, as the latter was reacting, in Montreal, to the violent interruption by lavalas partisans, of the conference he was making on the situation in HaVti. One learns also that Radio Eben Ezer in Mirebalais had suspended its news broadcasts. The journalists inform the public on the threats they are receiving from grass-root organizations close to the Government.
4.- THE NATION WONDERS: WHOM TO BELIEVE? WHAT TO BELIEVE?
Repeating Mr. Himler Rebu?s comment in his interview with Vision 2000, ?There is a problem. Now, what is the nature of that problem, maybe no one has informed us on that problem?!? This comment summarizes in essence the questioning which since December 17, has defied logic and the collective imaginary, and provokes a burst of questions, that for the most part, remain unanswered.
These interrogations bear both on the details of he events, as related in official declarations, and on the unspoken truths, the orchestration of reprisals, on the designation of alleged culprits, and the psychological conditioning of militants.
1.- Concerning the alleged authors of the ?Coup?
-How many of them were there: 80? 30? 25? 17?
-Who were they? The presence of ?foreigners? amidst the group of assailants, had been mentioned early on Monday morning. The dead body of a man first identified as ?Perez?, was later then presented as being that of ?Chavre Minot?, nothing else being said on the subject.
-How many vehicles were in the assailants use? 12? 5? 2? If these vehicles were taken back, were their owners, or the car rental agencies to which they belong identified?
-How did the commando enter into the Palace, come out of it, and then disappear. What is the material proof of an attack against the Palace with the inevitable marks left by a military attack? Why was there sustained fire around 10:00 a.m. near the Palace?
-What types of weapons did the commando use?
-According to official declarations, it is certain that there is a connection between the attacks of July 18, 2001, and that of December 17th. What is that connection since to date, no investigation has established the facts, et responsibilities, identified and prosecuted the authors of that first incident, which has also been qualified as an ?attempted coup?> One of the proofs would be that the heavy weaponry used on December 17 would be the same as that used during the first attack? How was this conclusion arrived at?
-Why does silence surround the dead and injured, fallen during the attack? Why wasn?t there any funeral service? What exactly happened in Thomazeau?
-On what proof were Messrs Guy François and Antoine Saati arrested, and released from jail after more than two weeks? What ever happened to Jean Dumesle and to the two policemen placed in isolation?
2.- About the reprisals
There is first of all the issue of the utilization of vehicles owned by various departments of the Public Administration: cars bearing official license plates, CNE?s vehicles, Police vehicles, Teleco?s vehicles, Service Plus? bus, etc. Who gave the authorization for their utilization?
-Actions taken. While the President of the Republic, as Guarantor of lass and institutions, in his speech delivered in the afternoon of the 17th, praised the fact that barricades of Peace were being erected in abidance with the laws and rights of each and everyone?, the transgressions reached the highest levels of offence punished by the Penal Code: murders, violations of private property, destruction, arson, pillage, use of authority and government assets for criminal purposes, death threats?.. How in this case, can one speak of ?Peace?, of ?Law?, and of ?Rights??
-The actors and their weapons.- The groups of individuals who were transported aboard vehicules comprised civilians, youths, children, while the Constitution specifies that only specialized Police Corps can have access to automatic war weaponry, and ?long weapons?. The question that must be asked is to what Police Corps did these individuals belong?
-How can the presence and passivity of the police force be explained, as well that of the CIMO Corps in locations where private homes, libraries, offices of political parties or Research centers, were being set afire, pillaged and destroyed considering that these are criminal acts defined and punished by Articles 346 and 361 of the Penal Code?
-The same question can be asked from the Ministry of Justice concerning the use of radio broadcasts to threaten citizens designated by their names with death?
-Where do the weapons that were seen being distributed from a pick-up truck on the Palace?s corner come from? Why were security guards disarmed by the groups that were being transported?
-Why, during the preceding evening, were preparations noted in some neighborhoods of the Capital and in GonaVves?
-How can the failure of certain telephonic systems during the early hours of December 17 be explained?
-What is the connection between the assailants of the Palace, and the victims of reprisals, namely opposition parties? How was this connection established?
These are the questions that are awaiting to be answered.
To this general request, OAS? permanent Council of January 15, answers, in article 4 of Resolution 806.
RESOLUTION OF OAS? PERMANENT COUNCIL (CP/RES. 806 1303/02)
DATED January 13, 2002 (Original in English)
THE SITUATION IN HAITI
THE PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES, DEEPLY PREOCCUPIED by the acts of violence that occurred in HaVti, namely the events of July 28th and those of December 17th, 2001, as well as by the deteriorating political, economic and social situation in that country;
4. To call upon the Government of HaVti to continue diligent efforts aimed at reestablishing a secure climate propitious to the creation of the conditions necessary for resuming the negotiations held under OAS? auspices, that is:
a. Completion of an in-depth, and independent investigation on the events connected to December 17th, 2001, and the following days;
b. Prosecution of any person and dismissal, should it be the case, of any individual whose complicity will have been established in the acts of violence perpetrated on December 17, 2001, and on the following days;
c. Completion of an in-depth investigations on all politically motivated crimes;
d. Payment of damages to organizations and individuals who suffered losses as a direct result of the acts of violence of December 17th.
whether in the way events are reported,
statements elicited pondering citizens? behavior,
or in the way social and political conflicts are dealt with
or in the way security of property, of families, of the entire city are handled,
identity of offenders is being discovered
and sanctions applied
December,17th 2001 has generated
that one month later have yet to begin receiving an answer
Ecumenical Center for Human Rights (CEDH), Port-au-Prince, January 15, 2002