Opening For Real Peace In Cité Soleil
by Tom Luce, President, Human Rights Accompaniment in Haiti
An opening for real peace in Cité Soleil, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, has appeared on the ground there in the weeks following the violent assault there on alleged kidnappers, December 22, that resulted in an estimated dozen people slain and dozens injured. Two .50 caliber machine guns confiscated from a disabled UN armored car on that date by residents of Cité Soleil were turned over peacefully to the UN on Jan. 12 as the people demonstrated peacefully for just treatment from the UN and the Haitian police, i.e, no more daredevil military incursions, and reparation for the loss of life and damage of property resulting from these incursions. It is not yet known how many of the dead and injured were in fact armed and suspected of kidnapping.
This handover of such powerful and frightening weapons was a genuine sign of a will among the wider community to work non-violently toward a real peace with justice in their home territory. Unfortunately the spokesperson for MINUSTAH (UN mission in Haiti), Sophie Boutaud de Lacombe, on Wednesday, Jan. 17, rejected out of hand the idea that this return of weapons could be taken seriously as a step toward a lasting peace in Cité Soleil. She noted that the guns couldn't be used without their connection to their armored car. Ms. Boutard stated the UN will not stop its actions and is relying on a hot line for people to inform the UN about the whereabouts of kidnappers.
This death penalty for unnamed persons accused, but not convicted, as kidnappers, has recently been handed down by the Haitian government and is being executed by the Haitian National Police jointly with MINUSTAH forces in Cité Soleil. Prior to Christmas on the heels of a rash of kidnappings of children there was an outcry by victims and their supporters demanding that the government crack down on the kidnappers. The Haitian government under this pressure, reversed its earlier non-violent approach and has authorized the police and UN to shoot to kill all people fingered as guilty of kidnapping by unknown sources. This action has been solely focused on poor neighborhoods suspected of harboring kidnappers. "This excessive and illegal action to deal with the real crime of kidnapping must be stopped and justice must be observed for all, especially the innocent victims of these incursions, " says Atty. Evel Fanfan, President of the Haitian Human Rights organization, AUMOHD, based in Port-Au-Prince.
AUMOHD, supported by the U.S. human rights group, Hurah (http://www.hurah.revolt.org), played a key role in this negotiation that resulted in turning in the machine guns. AUMOHD, a non-violent and non-partisan human rights agency, has established grass-roots groups in several poor areas of the capital called Community Human Rights Councils (CHRC). composed of victims of political persecution, people jailed without arrests or trials, street kids piled up in local jails, church and school representatives. The CHRC serves as a forum and an advocacy group for poor folk who don't have the means for any legal representation.
The Cité Soleil CHRC has gained more visibility now as a peaceful, neutral, non-partisan force for advocating for human rights, and as a result it has created more hope for resolving conflicts, peacefully. Thus these brave people took the risky step in December to facilitate a non-violent solution to the government's violent, illegal approach to the crime of kidnapping. Community leaders committed to rising above politics and to insisting on lawful means for fighting crime engaged those who confiscated the machine guns and suspected as criminals with a view to creating a space that would allow for a believable process for dealing with alleged kidnappers. This process would also prevent further damage to property and life. "The victims of reckless government attacks deserve justice as much as the victims of kidnapping," notes Atty. Fanfan. "Even people accused of kidnapping deserve the same justice as any other person," he says.
Human rights observers point out that grossly destructive weapons don't have any place in any residential neighborhood no matter what the nature of any alleged crime, but certainly not in a densely populated area of very poor people. The UN definitely has never introduced it in rich neighborhoods along with the other warlike tactics used in Cité Soleil. In addition to the killing of innocent people, schools and water systems have been disabled. One of the oldest and most respected high schools in Cité Soleil, Lycée Diecee, was almost totally demolished in a shoot-out between MINUSTAH and armed men on Dec. 22. The same school had been attacked by oversized canons in February of 2006. Now the 300+ students of this school have no where to go. An American volunteer who has set up water delivery systems in Cité Soleil has seen his work shot full of holes.
AUMOHD. with Hurah, Inc's support, is working on promoting a non-violent grouping of individuals and organizations who can assist in the hard work of dealing with violent conflicts. Without being completely dissociated from political parties and without a total commitment to non-violence as a way of advocating for justice, there is no way to rise above the skirmishes that have been being waged in these poor communities. AUMOHD has had a very positive meeting with a representative of Prime Minister Alexis. AUMOHD has pledged to help them pursue their agenda of non-violent conflict resolution. "We want to counteract the pressure to take the hard road that they are receiving as reported widely in the press," says Atty. Evel Fanfan, President. "The individuals we met with participated in the Raboteau trials and have the same vision for Haiti now. They support a just resolution of the War by Proxy that has played itself out so mercilessly in Grand Ravine, Cité Soleil and other communities."
This writer believes the people of Haiti are a peace-loving people and want justice to be served non-violently. The terrorist tactics being used in recent years are not a native Haitian practice but are imported from abroad." This writer is completing a two-week in-depth investigative mission accompanying AUMOHD.
Tom Luce, President
Hurah, Inc. - Human Rights Accompaniment In Haiti
In Partnership with AUMOHD, a Haitian Human Rights Advocacy Group
900 US Advocates
1515 Fairview St. Apt. 3
Berkeley, California 94703-2317
Skype Name: tomluce / Skypeln # (510) 342-5696
1 post • Page 1 of 1