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Indybay Feature
1/22 Haiti Update
by Michelle Karshan
Thursday Jan 22nd, 2004 3:53 PM
1. Gigantic pro-government march supports right to attend school and 5-year mandate
2. Senator Dany Toussaint to be called before the Courts for threats to government
3. Head of university student association to answer in court for attack on TNH
4. Maurice Geiger, justice systems expert, writes Herald responding to Sen. Dewine
5. US praise of Dupreval after Raboteau Massacre questioned by Orlando Sentinel
Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison
National Palace, Haiti
Email: mkarshan [at] aol.com

Haiti: Foreign Press Liaison Update - January 22, 2004

1. Gigantic pro-government march supports right to attend school and 5-year
mandate
2. Senator Dany Toussaint to be called before the Courts for threats to
government
3. Head of university student association to answer in court for attack on
TNH
4. Maurice Geiger, justice systems expert, writes Herald responding to Sen.
Dewine
5. US praise of Dupreval after Raboteau Massacre questioned by Orlando
Sentinel

1. Yesterday's peaceful, pro-government march, which was briefly shown on
CNN, was reported by foreign press as having 20,000 marchers while Haitian press
(of all political pursuasions) reported a range of numbers from 80,000 to
200,000. The march, which left a church in the popular neigborhood of Belaire,
wound its way through to Delmas, through Nazon, to Bourdon, crossed to Canape
Vert and down Lalue to the National Palace. The lively march, in support of
schoolchildren's rights to attend school and respect for the President's mandate
of five years, was composed of men, women, elderly, pregnant women, students,
popular organizations, parliamentarians, and members of civil society, was
carried out peacefully. A helicopter followed the demonstration and filmed the
procession. The marchers, with branches for peace, and pictures of Aristide in
hand, could be heard chanting their support for schools to remain open, for
the president's five year mandate to be respected, no to a coup d'etat, yes to
elections, we won't hide again (reference to coup d'etat period when hundreds
of thousands were forced to flee from the military and FRAPH), and also could
be heard urging the opposition to follow the democratic way by gaining power
through elections, not by force.

2. Senator Dany Toussaint is being called before the courts for questioning
regarding threats he made last week during a radio broadcast in which he said
he was going to send 200,000 persons to forcefully take the Palace and that
Aristide would end up either "in prison or dead." He is scheduled to appear
before the Parquet on Monday, January 26th.

3. Regarding the assault on Haiti's National Television station (TNH) during
an opposition demonstration, the courts will convoke Lucmanne Delile, of the
national university student association, on January 22nd for questioning into
the January 18th violence. Small merchants were also attacked and their
products and stalls destroyed during this incident.

4. Unpublished letter to editor of Miami Herald by Maurice D. Geiger, JD:
Senator DeWine's article on Haiti (New Policies Needed... Jan. 13 op-ed) contains
several valid points, but it also rings a bit hollow. It fails to mention
how the US government's three year freeze on funds to the Haitian government
has contributed to Haiti's current troubles. It also mischaracterizes the
nature and roots of the violence in Haiti. Poverty, disease, drug trafficking,
police abuses, and criminal gangs plague many nations, and historically Haiti's
legacy compounds those problems.

Senator DeWine has an excellent record in support of human rights and good
government. And he knows that non-governmental organizations can only do so
much. Only established governments can perform certain functions, and must have
the resources to fund education, disease control, road construction and to
reduce and control crime and drug trafficking. Should we honestly expect the
poorest country in our hemisphere to overcome these obstacles without foreign
assistance? While Senator DeWine rightly praises the Haitian government's
strategy to fight HIV/AIDS, he overlooks its achievements in housing developments,
new hospitals and clinics, public schools, literacy campaign, safe drinking
water projects, and highway construction. How much more could have been achieved
with appropriate international assistance?

More bewildering still is Sen. DeWine's failure, despite his presence on the
Senate Intelligence Committee, to recognize the complex causes and diverse
cast of players behind today's violence in Haiti. The OAS has praised the Haitian
police for its recent handling of anti-government demonstrations, yet
criminal gangs with their own anti-Aristide agendas, have terrorized entire
communities. Shadowy anti-government forces have engaged in a string of terror that
would have triggered a violent crackdown by less a democratic government.
Since the US-led sanctions campaign began, Aristide opponents have staged a lethal
attack on the National Palace, attacked police stations, broken down the
walls of a prison to free their comrades, killed officials of the interior
ministry, burned down homes of Aristide supporters, and much more, yet these
incidents are rarely reported in our mainstream media.

Pres. Aristide has already made extensive political concessions. He rarely
misses an opportunity to call for dialogue that can lead to elections and stem
the violence. He has repeatedly invited the opposition to the table, calling
for consultation, not confrontation. The political opposition long bent on
bringing down the government without elections has rejected every offer, refuses
all negotiations, and rarely misses an opportunity to taunt and provoke Aristide
supporters during demonstrations. It takes two to tango. And the other side
has refused to dance. The President cannot drag them to the dance floor when
their condition is that he leave the room.

The Haitian government, like most, has responsibility for serious human
rights violations by some elements within its security forces, and has not yet
succeeded in calming grassroots supporters whose personal experiences of
repression compel them to protect their freedom at any cost. They say they will never
go back to the dark days when they were hunted like animals under the military
coup which the US. helped to end. All Haitians suffer today. The Aristide
government, can and should do more but it cannot do it without adequate resources.
It is time to look beyond blame and offer our neighbor the solidarity and
assistance she deserves.

Mr. Geiger is the Director of the Rural Justice Center and is a recognized
expert on Justice System Reforms and has visited Haiti over 20 times since 1994.

5. U.S. once praised war criminal, The Joint Chiefs leader backed the Haitian
general after a massacre by Jim Stratton, Orlando Sentinel, January 21, 2004:


A convicted Haitian war criminal arrested last week in Orlando was once
considered "a loyal and faithful partner" of the United States by the former head
of the U.S. military former head of the U.S. military.

In a 1997 letter, Gen. Henry Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, praised Jean-Claude Duperval and urged that his application for political
asylum in the United States "be given every possible consideration."

The letter -- on Joint Chiefs stationery -- said Shelton worked daily with
Duperval in 1994 as U.S. forces sought to calm the politically explosive island.

Immigration agents picked up Duperval last week at his Orlo Vista home, and
he is expected to be deported to Haiti within days. Duperval had been living
quietly in the blue-collar neighborhood for about three years -- working at one
time as a Disney boat pilot -- after coming to the United States in 1995.

Duperval, a major-general in the Haitian military, was convicted in absentia
by a Haitian court in 2000 for his role in the 1994 massacre of dozens of
political dissidents. In the attack, soldiers rampaged through the seaside town of
Raboteau, beating and shooting at least 25 men, women and children.

Duperval's arrest was celebrated by human-rights activists, but it has
angered some members of Orlando's Haitian community. His friends have planned a
protest rally for Friday.

They likely will point to Shelton's past support of Duperval to bolster their
case. In his letter, Shelton said Duperval was "instrumental in facilitating
the smooth transition" to a democratic government.

His cooperation with the United States, Shelton wrote, "undoubtedly made him
many enemies" in Haiti.

Duperval's supporters said he is innocent and was convicted only because of
his position in the military. They claim he will be killed if deported, though
that hasn't happened to other military leaders who have been returned to the
island.

"My brother," said Jeanette Duperval, "will not be safe."

An American lawyer who helped prosecutors investigating the massacre said
Duperval was not accused of ordering or directly participating in the killings.
He was convicted, said Brian Concannon, because as the army's
second-in-command, he did nothing to stop the violence.

In fact, said Concannon, Duperval and other military leaders encouraged it.

"This was a very brutal regime," Concannon said. "And he stood by while
people in his command did these things."

But if Duperval, 56, was so bad, his family asked, why did top U.S. officials
work with him during their time in Haiti and later allow him to enter the
country?

Shelton's letter, they point out, was written in 1997, several years after
key players in the massacre had been identified. Handwritten notes in the margin
suggest Duperval sent it to then-first lady Hillary Clinton.

Shelton, now an executive with a Virginia-based manufacturing company, did
not return repeated calls from the Orlando Sentinel. Officials with the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, however, confirmed that Shelton sent the 1997 letter and two
years letter wrote a personal note to Duperval.

They would not reveal what the note said.

Duperval's family sees the correspondence as endorsements from the United
States. As Joint Chiefs chairman, Shelton was a presidential appointee, chief
military adviser to President Clinton and the highest-ranking military officer in
the country.

"Gen. Shelton and the others know he's a good soldier," said Eli Biece,
Duperval's brother-in-law. "He is not a criminal. They have to try and save his
life, or history will condemn them."

Amnesty International said the Duperval case illustrates a long-running
problem with U.S. foreign policy. To achieve political or military goals, U.S.
officials sometimes choose questionable friends, Amnesty's Vienna Colucci said.

In a report released two years ago, the group said at least 150 known or
suspected human-rights violators were living in the United States, but the
government had done little to prosecute them.

"At times, they're willing to make deals," said Colucci, an
international-justice expert. "They'll look the other way or even reward
perpetrators of some
very serious abuses."

Still, word of Shelton's letter surprised some human-rights activists.
William O'Neill, who once monitored human rights in Haiti for the United Nations,
said Duperval's position in the military and the military's role in the massacre
were common knowledge.

"They were basically a bunch of thugs," he said. "Somebody really should have
done their homework" before vouching for Duperval.

Duperval's supporters insist he is not guilty, and they have scheduled the
Friday afternoon rally outside U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's Orlando office to
protest his arrest.

Organizer Franck Charlot said marchers will try to pressure U.S. lawmakers to
intervene on Duperval's behalf. Charlot said Shelton's support of Duperval
may become a central part of their argument.

"If they send him back," he said, "they're turning their backs on a good man."
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