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Charges Dismissed Against Haiti Solidarity Activists; Suits Filed to Stop Deportations
On January 19, charges were dismissed against 16 San Francisco Bay Area residents who were arrested Sept.30 at the San Francisco Federal Building while demonstrating in solidarity with the people of Haiti.
The September 30 nonviolent civil disobedience action was taken as part of a coordinated series of protests in 47 cities,17 countries and 4 continents (Africa, Europe, North and South America) calling for an end to the UN/U.S.-backed bloody repression of Haitian dissidents in opposition to the current illegal government.
Dave Welsh of the San Francisco Labor Council said, “What's happening in Haiti is a monstrous crime -- an all-out war on the poor majority. The US has prepared the crime, and now the National Police and UN forces are committing it -- slaughtering people in the poor neighborhoods that support Aristide and his Lavalas Party, the majority political movement in Haiti. These mass killings, including the July 6th massacre of civilians by UN troops in Cite Soleil, have been well documented on videotape and by witness testimony. International supporters of peace and justice need to keep the pressure up to stop systematic repression by the Haitian police and death squads.”
Also on January 19, immigration attorneys and advocates on behalf of Haitians facing deportation in removal proceedings in key cities throughout the United States simultaneously submitted motions to stop deportations to Haiti. Those motions ask immigration judges to administratively close cases due to catastrophic and ever-deteriorating human rights conditions in Haiti. The motion asserts that an immediate decision “protecting Haitians from forced return is imperative.”
The coordinated effort on behalf of Haitians facing deportation comes after unsuccessful attempts by immigration advocates to get the Bush administration to grant temporary protected status, known as TPS, to thousands of undocumented Haitians living in the United States.
The motion states that ``despite the ongoing chaos that continues in Haiti, including brutal civil strife, documented bloody political conflict, indisputable countrywide insecurity and the proven inability of the Haitian state to protect its own people, the United States continues to refuse refuge to fleeing Haitians.''
National organizations, and personalities endorsing the legal campaign include World Service Immigration and Refugee Program, Dr. Paul Farmer, TransAfrica Forum, Ira Kurzban, Esq., American Immigration Lawyers Association, Church World Relief, National Council of Churches of Christ USA, Mark Dow, Jonathan Avirom, Esq., Haitian Lawyers Association, Episcopal Migration Ministries, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Justice and Accountability, and the Jesuit Refugee Service.