News Release

Haiti: One Year After Aristide Coup

Late February and early March of last year witnessed the ouster of Jean Bertrand Aristide from Haiti. Several groups are holding events on Monday, Feb. 28.

BILL FLETCHER
SELENA MENDY SINGLETON
President of TransAfrica Forum, Fletcher said today: “One year after the coup in Haiti displaced the democratically-elected government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide, the country is in political and socio-economic chaos. President Aristide is in exile in South Africa and his supporters in Haiti are being murdered. The poor have little access to health care and other basic services that will keep them from dying. Tragically, there is no coordinated international movement to restore democracy. The U.S. government claims a commitment to fighting for democracy around the world, yet supports the destruction of a democracy just a few hundred miles from our shores.” Singleton is executive vice president of TransAfrica Forum. She said today: “In the United States, Haitians who attempt to escape the turmoil and reach U.S. soil are arrested and placed in detention facilities. Processed and jailed like criminals, most are returned home to an uncertain future.” Singleton coordinates the ONE STANDARD! project, which presses for the U.S. government to treat Haitian refugees with the same standards set for Cubans and other asylum seekers. (TransAfrica Forum is having a town hall meeting on Monday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. at Plymouth Congregation Church, 5301 North Capitol Street in D.C.)
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BRIAN CONCANNON, Jr.
Cancannon is director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. He has been involved with the prosecution of a number of human rights cases in Haiti. He said today: “After Haiti’s democratic governments struggled for nine years to break with the country’s dictatorial, violent past, today’s power brokers embraced the worst chapters of that past in one short year. The hated army returned and resumed its trademark brutality, a presidential election deadline was ignored, political prisoners filled the jails, and the justice system was attacked and ignored. Execution returned as a routine police tactic, rape as [a] means of political persuasion. Journalists are executed and arrested, radio stations attacked and shut down.”
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THOMAS GRIFFIN
Griffin is the principal author of a recent human rights report on Haiti released by the Center for the Study of Human Rights at the University of Miami School of Law. Griffin has volunteered in Haiti for humanitarian and human rights projects for many years and speaks Haitian Creole. Among the report’s findings: “Haiti’s security and justice institutions fuel the cycle of violence. Summary executions are a police tactic, and even well-meaning officers treat poor neighborhoods seeking a democratic voice as enemy territory where they must kill or be killed. Haiti’s brutal and disbanded army has returned to join the fray. Suspected dissidents fill the prisons, their constitutional rights ignored.” The report, which includes many photographs, is available via the above web page. A piece on the report, headlined “Report reveals horrific truths of life in Haiti,” was recently published in the Miami Herald.
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EUGENIA CHARLES-MATHURIN
Charles-Mathurin is director of Fondasyon Mapou — an organization that promotes sustainable development, human rights and protection of the environment to enhance the quality of life for marginalized Haitians — and is co-editor of the book Let Haiti Live: Unjust U.S. Policies Toward Its Oldest Neighbor. She said today: “[It’s been] one year since the United States, France and Canada shattered any hope for democracy to flourish in Haiti, when they orchestrated the kidnapping of President Aristide and implanted the Boca Raton de facto government against the Haitian people’s wish. … Activists from across the U.S., Canada and Haiti are standing up on Feb. 28, … call[ing] for the return of democracy in Haiti, including the physical return of President Aristide; [and] an end to mass execution and illegal arrest of Lavalas supporters. I believe it is time for these countries to admit that they were wrong and put their differences aside as we work toward restoring democracy in Haiti.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167