In the News: Police kill unarmed peasants in another controversial eviction

by Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté

Haitian police have killed four people and destroyed seven homes in an attempt to clear peasants from a remote mountain-top park where they have lived and farmed for the past 70 years. The bloody confrontation, which occurred (July 23, 2012) exactly 25 years to the day after an infamous 1987 peasant massacre near the northwestern town of Jean-Rabel, has incensed the Southeast Department’s population and redoubled charges that the President Michel Martelly’s government is resurrecting the repressive tactics of the Duvalierist and neo-Duvalierist dictatorships which ruled and scarred Haiti over two decades ago.

The incident was first reported and photographed by Claudy Bélizaire of the Jacmel-based Reference Institute for Journalism and Communication (RIJN). His photographs of bloody corpses and burned houses in Galette Seche/Seguin, a remote locality near the peaks of some of Haiti’s highest mountains, have gone viral on the Internet, Twitter and Facebook. Meanwhile, the mainstream media has largely ignored the story to date.

Continue reading In the News: Police kill unarmed peasants in another controversial eviction

In the News: Brazil delegation meets with Defense Minister, demands withdrawal of UN Troops from Haiti

by Kim Ives, published in Haiti Liberte (print weekly), July 25, 2012

On July 10, a delegation of parliamentarians, unionists and Haiti solidarity activists met with Brazil’s Defense Minister Celso Amorim at the Defense Ministry in Brasilia and grilled him about the continuing UN military occupation of Haiti.

Brazilian generals head the military component of the 9,000-member force known as the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) and Brazilian troops predominate.

Markus Sokol, a member of the national directorate of Brazil’s ruling Workers Party (PT), told Amorim that over 600 people, with representatives from seven countries, had gathered in São Paulo last November for a congress which launched a “Continental Day of Action” against the UN occupation of Haiti on June 1, 2012, the date of the eighth anniversary of MINUSTAH. There were anti-occupation actions in ten countries (including 20 Brazilian cities) on that date.

“What are we doing in Haiti?” Sokol asked Amorim. “Former [Defense] minister [Nelson Jobim] said that we were training to scale the hills of Rio; that can’t be!

Continue reading In the News: Brazil delegation meets with Defense Minister, demands withdrawal of UN Troops from Haiti

In the News: UN ‘should take blame for Haiti cholera’ – US House members

by Mark Doyle
originally posted at the BBC

More than 100 Democrats from the US House of Representatives have called on the UN to take responsibility for introducing cholera to Haiti.

It is the latest twist in the allegation that UN peacekeepers unwittingly introduced the disease.

The United Nations’ envoy to Haiti, Bill Clinton, has accepted UN soldiers may have brought cholera.

But with more than 7,000 deaths so far, the UN said tackling the disease is more important than attributing blame.
Outbreak source

Continue reading In the News: UN ‘should take blame for Haiti cholera’ – US House members

In the News: Cholera case against UN stalls in Haiti

by Jason Hayes
Originally posted at Global Post

Mojes, a cholera victim who spent five days in the hospital to survive the diarrheal bacterium, and the UN, a conglomeration of 193 countries that will spend $793 million on MINUSTAH this year, might appear to be a mismatch. But Mojes is not alone.

With over 7,000 dead and annual epidemics after the rainy season, more than 15,000 cholera-affected Haitians joined together to file a legal complaint against the UN on November 3, 2011. The case asserts that UN troops from Nepal brought cholera to Haiti when their sewage contaminated a tributary of the Artibonite River in October 2010. Asked what he hopes for from the case, Mojes said, “Make the damages better.”

Now, seven months after the complaint was filed, their case sits idle because the UN denies responsibility for bringing cholera to the country. So, where will Mojes and his fellow Haitians go now? When it comes to the largest international organization in the world, one built on the shoulders of almost every country in the world, there is no appeals court: there is no higher governing body.

Continue reading In the News: Cholera case against UN stalls in Haiti

Short Film: Baseball in the Time of Cholera

A mailing from the IJDH alerted me to this powerful short film, Baseball in the Time of Cholera. Brian Concannon writes:

Baseball in the Time of Cholera is a powerful 29-minute documentary that tells the true story of 14 year-old Joseph Alvyns and the ways in which the cholera epidemic changed his young life forever. Baseball also prominently features BAI’s managing attorney, Mario Joseph’s tireless work to achieve justice for victims of cholera. This film will bring Haitians’ fight for justice to the world stage.

By making this film freely available online, our partners at Ryot, led by Directors David Darg and Bryn Mooser and Executive Producer, actress Olivia Wilde, are igniting a global campaign to share the message with as many people as possible: it’s time for the UN to “UNdeny.”

Ryot decided to feature our work in their film because they recognized that the fight for justice is an essential part of the solution to Haiti’s cholera epidemic. As IJDH supporters, you are an important part of this opportunity. Social media is changing the face of advocacy, and showing the UN that huge numbers of people support our clients’ fight.

The film includes many good moments with Mario Joseph and Brian Concannon.

One of the important points that Concannon makes in the film is that the UN is quick to find funding for an elaborate and long-term MINUSTAH presence in Haiti, but that it’s comparatively sluggish about finding funding to halt the spread of a disease that it caused.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the IJDH takes donations to support their case to hold the UN accountable for its role in the cholera epidemic. Sadly, the IJDH is not a registered charity in Canada, so Canadians can’t get a tax deduction. But the IJDH’s work is incredibly important and they can use anything you can offer.

In the News: United Kingdom to establish first embassy in Haiti since 1966

Haiti will soon be home to the first United Kingdom diplomatic representation in Haiti since 1966, according to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. The new British Embassy in Haiti will report to the UK’s Ambassador in the Dominican Republic.

“It will place us in a stronger position to support our objectives in Haiti and the region,” Hague said in a statement. “The UK is a major contributor both to reconstruction and development in Haiti through multilateral agencies.”

The UK is also one of the major financial contributors to MINUSTAH, the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti. “It is in Britain’s interest as a P5 member of the UN Security Council to play a more active role in guaranteeing stability and creating the conditions for growth and prosperity,” he said.

Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said he welcomed British authorities’ decision, according to a release from his office. Lamothe said he saw the move by the United Kingdom as an opportunity for Haiti to move closer to the UK through “fruitful cooperation for the benefit of the Haitian people.”

Caribbean Journal