Violent Repression of President Aristide's Legacy
Street Children who supported President Aristide are still being imprisoned and killed by former military.
Summary: Street Children - living in poverty - along with Aristide party leaders have been illegally arrested, mistreated, and killed with the collaboration of the Haitian National Police; the youth radio and t.v. stations and the Aristide orphanage have been ransacked and shut down.
[ this is a close translation directly from kreyol with minimal editing ]
On February 29, 2004 the American authorities forced the constitutional President, Jean Bertrand Aristide, to leave power and the leaders and members of his Lavalas Party began suffering all sorts of persecution. This happened because the de-facto government in Haiti didn't need any arrest warrants or charges against Lavalas leaders and members to arrest them and put them in jail. In this way Jocerlerme Privert, who was Minister of the Interior, found himself arrested on April 6, 2004. Annette Auguste, alias So Ann, also was arrested in the same fashion, May 10, 2004. So Ann was a very active Lavalas supporter, a very well known artist in Haiti. It must be noted that it was American Marines who arrived at her house to arrest her. They brought her directly to the Central Penitentiary under the pretext that they had an arrest warrant from the National Haitian Police. Yvon Neptune, Prime Minister with the Lavalas government, was arrested June 27, 2004 and since that time has not had any opportunity to present his case before a judge. Many other party members are now groaning in prison. This is the case of Aryns Laguere who was a cameraman-journalist at Tele Timoun (Youth Television Station) who has just spent several weeks in the Port-au-Prince police station. He was freed following much pressure from his family and friends. After his release Aryns Laguere has been forced to live in hiding because he didn't know what plans his enemies continued to have for him.
In this atmosphere, the Fanmi Selavi (Family Is Life), an institution set up by President Aristide in 1986 to take in children living on the street and give them an appropriate upbringing, has always had extremely difficult experiences. During the period of the first coup against Pres. Aristide in 1991 soldiers entered the Fanmi Selavi building on Camileon Street, Port-au-Prince, tortured the adult staff who worked in the institution, and set fire to the house. Five children died in the fire and many others were paralyzed. The results of the latest coup of February 2004 are no different than those of the first coup. Even if the military didn't burn the house, they still have killed children. Kenold Raymond and Anel are two children from Fanmi Selavi killed by the police this year from the Canapè Vert station. Many other children from Fanmi Selavi are currently living in hiding because armed gangs accompanied by the police are looking to assassinate them. According to the gangsters themselves these children from Fanmi Selavi are Aristide's children. At this time Jeremi Dupain, a young man from Fanmi Selavi who also worked for Radio Timoun has had to leave Port-au-Prince because the armed thugs came to his home and, not finding him there, killed his aunt.
The Haitian National Police had already taken it upon themselves to close the Radio Timoun station after February 29, 2004. Then on March 20, 2004 the police landed at Fanmi Selavi, broke down the gate, and proceeded to arrest many people including children from the Fanmi Selavi. These children tried to protect their home non-violently against the bandits who wanted to break up the place and steal everything. There is no doubt that these bandits who had pillaged the place were working for the police because immediately after my arrest* [Lolo Reagan, who is a child of Fanmi Selavi and a worker at Radio Timoun] it was the police themselves who came with trucks to take away everything from the home. Since that time a 30 kilowatt generator which the insitution used was taken by the police and is being used by them.
The persecution against Lavalas not only affects the leaders and members of the party but also the children who live in the streets of Port-au-Prince under terrible conditions. These children are sometimes the principal targets of the police. From the time of February 29, 2004 it can be noted that many of the centers in the city where there used to be lots of children have been emptied out and there are few left. Today they are labeled with all sorts of hateful names, "kokorat" (dirty rats), "bouled kaoutchout" (burners of rubber tires), "ratpakaka" (shitty rats), "Selavi" etc. The police use all these names against the children who live in the streets of Port-au-Prince with the aim of finding a way to justify hunting them down. In the context of an operation called, "Arimay" (random pickup) the police are in the habit of landing in the spots where the children live in the middle of the night and then of proceeding to arrest them, and killing them. This doesn't, however, interest the Haitian press since it is a matter of a group of people with no importance. So it is not a serious matter.
Lately the campaign of the persecution borrows another form especially when the popular organizations of Lavalas have announced a long mobilization called, "Mobilizasyon manch long" (Ongoing Mobilization/March) which is meant to denounce persecution against the leaders and members of the Lavalas party and then to demand the release of Lavalasiens who are currently in prison without any valid reason. They demand naturally a return to consitutional rule. Every time Fanmi Lavalas plans a demonstration the people in the poor neighborhoods experience difficulties with repression by the police. In this way on July 13, 2004 in the middle of the night 10 young men who were living in Bel Air, a poor neighborhood where Lavalas remains the most powerful sector of the party, were arrested because these young men had always participated in these demonstrations and had mobilized the people to join them for the Fanmi Lavalas party. It is important to point out that these illegal, arbitary arrests, which the young people from the poor neighborhoods experience, are meant to intimidate and persecute the party members and leaders. The arrests of these young people were meant to stop the demonstration planned for July 15, 2004.
*Lolo Reagan was arrested without a warrant and held in prison without charges for several months. He was released a couple weeks ago due to the efforts of Haiti activist, Tom Luce and Haitian attorney Evel Fanfan. This is the same situation facing an untold number of Lavalas activists throughout the country.
Mr Fanfan was confronted in front of the court by an individual who exclaimed, "Why are you working to get that Lavalas criminal asssasin out of jail?"
Since his release - and being cleared of all charges - the Haiti Information Project is proud to invite Mr. Reagan to join our staff to bring news to the public about issues that aren't reported anywhere else.