HAITI - On-going Attacks & Threats Against Twice Militarily-Ousted President Aristide
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The Haiti Action Committee (HAC) and some of its collaborators are circulating the letter below, calling for an end to attacks against President Aristide of Haiti. I am signing the letter, because first, I believe that President Aristide is in danger, and second, I fear that my colleagues at the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Haiti, especially human rights lawyer Mario Joseph, face similar risks.
I would appreciate it if you would consider signing this letter too. HAC is asking for both individual and organizational signatures. If you have any questions, let me know, and if you would like to sign, simply send me your name and your affiliation (noting whether the affiliation is to denote an organizational sign-on, or just for identification.
TO SIGN ON, WRITE TO: Brian Concannon, firstname.lastname@example.org
AN URGENT CALL: STOP THE WITCH HUNT AGAINST FORMER HAITIAN PRESIDENT JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE
It is a little more than a year since the joyous return of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, his wife and colleague Mildred Trouillot, and their two daughters, to their homeland of Haiti. On March 18, 2011, tens of thousands of people followed President Aristide's car as it drove from the airport to his home. They then climbed over the walls into the courtyard of the Aristide's residence to continue an emotional and heart-felt greeting for Haiti's first democratically elected president.
Yet today, Aristide once again faces a concerted campaign of defamation in the international and Haitian media - including threats of an indictment against him on corruption charges. Historically, attacks of this kind have preceded physical attacks on Aristide and his supporters. We denounce them in the strongest possible terms.
In his speech at the airport after his return, President Aristide focused on education and the importance of inclusion for all Haitians in the process of restoring democracy.
A broad sector of Haitian grassroots organizations, women's groups, human rights activists and educators had initiated the call to end President Aristide's forced exile in South Africa. A petition circulating among Haitian women gathered well over 20,000 signatures within a few days, calling for the return-a broad-based international campaign echoed that call.
Over the last year, President Aristide has done exactly what he promised to do - reopen the University of the Aristide Foundation's Medical School (UNIFA). On September 26, 2011 the Medical School once again opened its doors - this time to a new class of 126 future Haitian doctors. Seven years after the school's forced closure by the U.S.-orchestrated coup in 2004, and four months after the return of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti, medical education resumed at UNIFA.
And this is just the beginning of a determined initiative to improve health care for all Haitians, which has become even more urgent now with a cholera epidemic sweeping the country, which has already taken 7,000 lives and sickened half a million people.
In spite of this powerful and important work, there are rumors circulating throughout Haiti, spread internationally in a coordinated attack by elite U.S. newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, that both the United States and Haitian governments are preparing to indict President Aristide on corruption charges.
These politically motivated accusations, first promoted by the Bush Administration, are re-surfacing now as Haiti's current government, under President Michel Martelly, has taken ominous steps which many Haitian fear signal a return to dictatorship.
Martelly has called for the return of Haiti's dreaded armed forces, allowing them to reoccupy former bases, and appear in public in new uniforms and bearing weapons. He has placed former Haitian Army officers and death-squad paramilitaries in key security positions. On February 24, Martelly unilaterally, and unconstitutionally replaced 13 elected mayors with his own appointees. Martelly treats Parliament, the press and the public with open disrespect while embracing the brutal former dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Human rights organizations estimate that Duvalier and his father, Francois "Papa Doc", ordered the deaths of some 20,000 to 30,000 citizens during their 29-year rule, yet Haiti's justice system recently denied his victims the right to seek justice in Haitian courts.
It is nightmarish that Duvalier now circulates freely, and was even recently greeted in public by Bill Clinton, the UN Special Envoy to Haiti, while President Aristide is threatened.
Haiti's ever-resilient grassroots movement perceives the rumored indictment against President Aristide as part of a campaign to intimidate and silence them. In response, on February 29, 2012 they mobilized a massive demonstration to commemorate the anniversary of the 2004 coup d'etat, and proclaim their opposition to both the return of the former military and the threatened indictment of Aristide.
We call on the Haitian government, the United Nations forces in Haiti (MINUSTAH), former President Bill Clinton, the Obama Administration, and members of the international community to repudiate this witch-hunt against President Aristide and the people of Haiti.
Enough is enough. It is time for reconstruction, education and renewal in Haiti, not a resurgence of political repression.
- America's subversion of Democracy in Haiti, by Mark Weisbrot, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/mar/13/america-s...
- Radio interview by Kevin Pina on KPFA/Flashpoints, http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/78755
Brian Concannon ( email@example.com )
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