Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison
National Palace, Haiti
Email: mkarshan [at] aol.com
Dated: February 28, 2004
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Continues Calls for Peace, non-violence, and Reinforcement of Democracy in Address to Nation
(President Aristide’s Proposed Four Step Process Out of Current Crisis & Key Points on Recent Events with Historical Footnote are Attached at End of Press Release Below)
Addressing the Nation. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide delivered a statement to his nation overnight during a two-hour show on Haiti’s National Television which included a call-in segment. The show began at 11:30 last night and finished at 1:30 this morning.
Called on Terrorists to Leave the Country and Stop Killing People. While the US Embassy limited its call to the armed terrorists to abandon plans to invade Port-au-Prince, President Aristide called on the terrorists to leave Haiti and to stop killing its citizens declaring that, “When terrorists kill, we all suffer.” President Aristide also denounced the opposition for refusing to agree to the proposed peace plan put forth by the international community which would permit power sharing and steps to move forward to police reform and legislative and local elections.
Called on all to Defend their Democracy Through Non-Violent Action. “Rich, poor, public sector, private sector, Lavalas, opposition, come together to defend democracy because democracy is vital to the future of the nation, President Aristide stated. He also called upon his supporters who have been actively defending democracy and their vote, to not use violence in the process. “On the streets, there is vigilance, and vigilance without violence is necessary to protect democracy. The people of Haiti have demonstrated solidarity in this non-violent vigilance. “Non-violent vigilance is good.”
Active Non-Violence – Setting Ground Rules. President Aristide spoke firmly in clarifying acceptable methods for vigilance. Setting ground rules for the defense of the constitutional government, President Aristide said, “What is not good is criminality, stealing cars, looting. No one has the right to steal cars or loot or to violate the law. People should not take the law into their own hands.” He added, "We condemn that! When it's not good we have to say so.”
President Aristide called on the population to lift the barricades each morning that they have placed on roads to prevent the terrorists from advancing on the capital, explaining that people have the right to go to work, and emergency services need to be able to function such as ambulances that need to take the sick or injured to hospitals.
Referring to the terrorists who have been attacking police stations and killing police and Aristide supporters alike, President Aristide said, "Our duty as a people is to be on guard so they do not catch us by surprise. He added, "We can put up barricades at night to ensure they don't attack us." “Use the barricades only to block the path of those who want to kill democracy!” he exclaimed.
Move the Barricades in the Morning So All Can Go to Work and School. Further, he added, "If you think barricades are necessary, yes, you can do that. But when the sun appears and the people have to go to work, the barricades must be moved so cars and people can go get on with their lives and people can go to work,” adding that, "I will also be in my office on Monday." The President called on Haiti’s thousands of civil servants to return to work Monday and for schools to reopen Monday as well. Last week schools were closed for Carnival week vacation.
Be Vigilant But Also Respect the Role of the Police in Their Work. President Aristide called on all citizens to, “Guard against infiltrators who are trying to disrupt this patriotic vigilance.” “Assist the police but let them do their job,” the President stated.
Condemning All Violence. President Aristide made it clear that he opposes all violence when he said, “We continue to condemn all violence and all lawlessness wherever it comes from.”
President Recommits to Serve Out His Five Year Presidential Mandate. President Aristide discounted all rumors purposely being spread by the opposition that he has resigned. “There is no question of my departure. I will leave the National Palace on February 7, 2006. This is the way we show respect for constitutional order. This is the way we build our democracy.” The President explained that, “These rumors are meant to provoke and create a difficult situation,” and he asked the public to, “Distinguish between the truth and lies.”
Once again, President Aristide explained that Haiti has undergone 32 coups d’etat in its history and that the only way to move from a culture of violence from coups is through democratic elections which will “strengthen our democratic experience” as we move from “one elected president to another, not from one coup d’etat to another one.” Earlier this week President Aristide stated at his “life is linked to eight million people” and that it was his responsibility as the elected President to stay in office.”
Called for Calm and Return to Normalcy
Calling on all citizens to return to their jobs, and normalcy, President Aristide urged everyone to, “Be calm, use your energy to mobilize and protect our democracy.”
President Aristide also relayed to the nation that the Organization of African Union had issued a statement supporting Haiti.
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President Aristide has outlined four steps out of current crisis in the following order:
Immediate unequivocal statements of support for the democratic constitutional government
Immediate deployment of stabilizing force of a minimum of 200 persons
Immediate formation of a new consensus government with all necessary security
Commence police reform measures as already agreed to* so security situation can be secured
* Police reforms measures were spelled out in OAS Resolution 822 and its
Terms of Reference and again in agreement President Aristide made with CARICOM in Jamaica a few days before the terrorists attacked Gonaives in early February and again last week when an international delegation came to Haiti.
Key Points on Recent Events in Haiti
January 12, 2004 Special Summit of the Americas, US agreed to support CARICOM initiative to help resolve crisis in Haiti.
January 21-22, 2004 Prime Minister Perry Christie of the Bahamas invited the opposition to participate in a one-day meeting; opposition initially refused, denounced CARICOM as too supportive of Aristide, finally agreed to attend but insisted that they would only go to articulate their grievances against Aristide in furtherance of their demand for his departure. The opposition continued to refuse to enter into any “negotiations.”
January 25, 2004, Prime Minister Perry Christie of the Bahamas came to Haiti to report to Aristide on initial meeting; he issued a positive statement on Government’s willingness to engage in process with CARICOM and launched an invitation to Aristide and Fanmi Lavalas to a future meeting.
January 30, 2004, Andy Apaid, the leader of the platform of opposition parties is invited by Prime Minister of Jamaica for talks in Jamaica; Apaid did not go, and denied that he was even invited.
Apaid is a US citizen born of Haitian parents who has emerged as the leader of the opposition. He is a wealthy businessman who owns several factories in Haiti. After the Sept. 1991 coup, Apaid’s father told the press, he would “strangle Aristide” if he ever returned to the country. Apaid, Jr.’s labor practices have been denounced by progressive labor organizations. Apaid is under investigation for his possession of a Haitian passport since he never renounced his American citizenship and Haitian law does not allow for dual citizenship.
January 31, 2004, Aristide accompanied by several ministers and members of Fanmi Lavalas attended a one-day meeting in Kingston.
The CARICOM Prior Plan of Action was developed and agreed to by all sides:
The Government of Haiti to release list of detained persons presented by opposition (all 24 persons appearing on a first list were released, including 2 individuals arrested at an opposition demonstration with gallons of gasoline that they admitted they were going to use to commit arson on a government building)
Opposition and Government of Haiti to agree to “rules” on insuring peaceful demonstrations (opposition subsequently failed to enter into fruitful dialogue on this point)
Government of Haiti to investigate certain incidents of alleged violence by police (investigation underway)
Disarmament program (continuation of this process already begun)
The formation of a 3-person commission (Government of Haiti, opposition and international community) to pick a “7-person council of wise persons”
This council will designate candidates for a neutral and independent Prime Minister
President Aristide to pick one candidate as his Prime Minister, and together a new government will be named, new police chief, government reform, and the new government, with support from the international community will move toward creating proper security conditions for the formation of the electoral council and the organization of legislative and local elections
The opposition categorically rejected the CARICOM plan, maintaining its “option zero” position that Aristide must leave.
February 5, 2004, armed thugs in Gonaives stormed the police headquarters, burned it down, released all prisoners. Haitian police did not retaliate when thugs pulled children and passersby using them as “human shields.” The thugs were led by Jean Tatoune, a member of the paramilitary organization FRAPH, is an escaped convict who was convicted after trial in the coup-era Raboteau Massacre February 7, 2004, in Port-au-Prince at an event marking the third anniversary of Aristide’s term in office and the inauguration of the 53rd public park built by his administration, 1 million people organized a peaceful demonstration in support of the government.
On or about February 14, 2004, the Haitian press reported the sighting of Jodel Chamblain and Guy Philippe, heavily armed wearing army fatigue uniforms, in Gonaives.
Jodel Chamblain, number 2, right-hand man of Emmanuel Constant, head of FRAPH, paramilitary organization responsible during the 1991-1994 coup for the deaths of the majority of more than 5,000 persons, and the torture of thousands of others.
Constant admitted to the US press that he was on the CIA payroll.
After President Aristide’s return in October 1994, US forces were told to treat FRAPH as a “legitimate” opposition to Lavalas, and in a US Embassy staged press conference, Constant denounced violence before he was whisked out of Haiti. He currently lives in New York having refused all requests for extradition.
Chamblain ran to the Dominican Republic after President Aristide’s return. He was convicted in abstentia for the murder of Guy Malary, the man appointed by President Aristide as Minister of Justice in 1993 after the Governors Island Agreement which called for a “new consensus government in Haiti.” Under this US-brokered agreement, Aristide was supposed to return to Haiti on September 30, 1993, but was prevented by a rapid rise in violence in Haiti. Malary was gunned down in broad daylight on October 13, 1993.
Chamblain was also convicted in abstentia for the murder of Antoine Izmery who was dragged out of a memorial service at the Sacred Heart church and gunned down on September 11, 1993 in front of United Nations human rights observers.
These two murders were part of a wave of violence meant to block the implementation of the Governors’ Island Agreement for the return of President Aristide and constitutional order at the time.
Guy Philippe is a convicted drug dealer. He led an assault on the National Palace in December 2001. He fled the country and was arrested on drug charges in Panama, sent to the Dominican Republic, was imprisoned there before being sighted in Haiti. In 2003, he and other armed bandits killed over 26 members of the Government of Haiti and/or Lavalas supporters in the border area.
From February 5 to date the armed thugs are known to have killed at least 70 persons.
However we have seen the steady refusal to denounce this violence by Andre Apaid and members of the opposition in Port- au- Prince and their public characterization of this as a “legitimate insurrection”, threatening that these assaults would spread throughout the country and would not stop until President Aristide leaves office, precisely what they have been advocating for 3 years.
From Gonaives, the thugs communicated with the opposition in Port-au-Prince, that they “had done their part.” February 21, 2004, the Foreign Minister of the Bahamas headed a delegation to Haiti which included the US Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega, representatives of Canada, the European Union (EU) and the Organization of American States (OAS). The stated purpose of this mission was to “reach a peaceful
settlement to the crisis in Haiti.”
At a morning meeting with the delegation President Aristide reaffirmed his agreement with the CARICOM plan. The delegation offered a variation to the CARICOM plan with a shortened time line. The restructuring of the Haitian government was demanded as a condition precedent to the start of any “police reform measures” or deployment of international police officers, which could assist in the responding to the growing violence. President Aristide, nonetheless, agreed to the plan, urging that the emergency security situation be addressed.
The delegation met with Andre Apaid and members of the opposition afterwards.
The opposition was given until the following Monday (February 23rd) 5:00 to agree to the plan. Secretary Powell is said to have spent 40 minutes on the telephone urging Apaid to accept the plan.
February 21, 2004 in the late evening hours, the armed thugs attacked Cap Haitian. Many people were killed in the gun battle (up to 25.)
Monday, February 23, 2004, the opposition requests an additional 24-hour delay to respond and offers a counter proposal which maintains their “option zero” position – that President Aristide must leave office. Sec. Powell is said to have had a second conversation with Apaid.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004, while France was publicly indicating its willingness to deploy peacekeeping troops in Haiti, it met with members of a delegation of opposition members who traveled to France.
Tuesday, February 24, 2004, the opposition formally rejected the plan presented on Saturday by the Noriega delegation.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004, the French foreign ministry issues a statement that there was no alternative but to establish a “national transitional government of unity” in Haiti and that Aristide must resign before the summer.
Thursday, February 26, 20004 the Security Council met at CARICOM”S urging to consider the immediate deployment of forces in Haiti. CARICOM maintained that its plan offered a peaceful and constitutional resolution of the crisis. The US, France and Canada took the position that there should be “forward movement” on negotiating the “shortening of Aristide’s term” first. They did not call for an immediate resignation, but one within 3 to 6 months, enough time to stabilize the situation. The press is reporting this as “political dialogue” or a “political negotiation,” when in fact it is a move to force President Aristide out of office – the opposition’s option zero.
On July 4, 1993, President Aristide, then in exile, agreed at New York’s Governor’s Island to a “negotiated resolution” to the then crisis in Haiti. Pursuant to the Governor’s Island Agreement, Aristide would return to
Haiti on September 30, 1993. But prior to that he would name a new consensus government, which he did. Included in this new government was an honorable and brave lawyer named Guy Malary. Mr. Malary, a powerful commercial lawyer in Haiti, whose list of clients included the US Embassy, accepted the post of Minister of Justice. However adequate measures were not taken to secure and stabilize the security situation in Haiti. Violence escalated. The army and FRAPH were terrorizing the population. On September 11, 1993 a well known businessman and friend of President Aristide, Antoine Izmery, was killed in full sight of the United Nations Human Rights Mission. On October 13, 1993 Guy Malary, the newly appointed Minister of Justice, was killed.
Jodel Chamblain stands convicted in absentia of these two murders.
Today there are responsible and patriotic Haitian citizens willing to participate in a new consensus government. But no one can be expected to come forward and participate in a consensus government in this climate – except of course Chamblain, Phillipe and the other killers. To do so would be to condemn innocent Haitians to the same fate of Guy Malary at the hands of his same killers. Haiti’s urgent security situation must be addressed immediately as the political solution is implemented.
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