As the US continues to push Haiti towards sham elections, its popularly elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide remains in exile in South Africa, after being flown out of the country at gunpoint by US troops in a 2004 coup. Father Gerard Jean-Juste, an Aristide supporter & would-be candidate, was jailed last summer on trumped up charges. Violence runs rampant on the streets while UN troops look on as police violence is repeatedly directed against  the country’s poorest citizens. The number of polling places in the country has been reduced from 12,000 to 800, according to Stephen Lendman in an article which puts current events in the context of Haiti’s tortured history.

Amy Goodman reports this morning: U.S. & Brazilian Governments Sued Over Killings in Haiti  

This story does not appear in the mainstream media. A press release last week explains:

A coalition of human rights attorneys, elected officials, and academics will convene a press conference to address the wave of recent massacres in Haiti and the culpability of the U.S. and Brazilian governments in these atrocities. The massacres have been perpetrated by US-financed and armed security forces under the supervision of UN “peacekeeping” troops led by Brazil. The human rights attorneys at the press conference will file lawsuits that morning against the U.S. and Brazil before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Video and eyewitness evidence will be presented.

Participants include:

Representative Barbara Lee, US Congress
Gilda Sharrod-Ali, National Co-Chair, National Conference of Black Lawyers
Lionel Jean-Baptiste, Esq., National Conference of Black Lawyers, elected official from Evanston, Illinois
Kasey Corbit, Esq., National Lawyers Guild
Thomas Griffin, Esq., author of Haiti: Human Rights Investigation: November 11, 2004,
Pat Clark, Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Shirley Pate, Board Member, Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean

Supporters of the lawsuits include noted historian Howard Zinn, MIT professor Noam Chomsky, and Medea Benjamin, founder of the anti-war group Code Pink.

Why, they ask?

The Human Rights Crisis in Haiti is of Epic Proportions

Over the past year-and-a-half, untold numbers of Haitians have been summarily executed or arbitrarily thrown in prison, tortured or driven into hiding. The political violence is widespread, systematic, and directed; the urban and rural poor suspected of being Aristide supporters are the primary targets. Perpetrators of this violence include the Haitian National Police and death squad elements working with the police, as well as UN “peace keeping” troops. The violence has continued unabated over this past summer. On July 6th, 2005, UN troops carried out a massive assault on the poor community of Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, killing unarmed adults and children. In August, the Haitian police joined by “civilians” armed with machetes carried out massacres in three poor communities in Port-au-Prince, shooting and hacking to death civilians and reportedly targeting suspected Aristide supporters. The UN occupation troops failed to intervene and stop these massacres, despite their mandate to protect the civilian population. Press conference participants will explain why the US and Brazil bear particular responsibility for this human rights crisis.
For More Information: Seth Donnelly ph: 650-814-8495.

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Barbara Lee successfully sponsored an amendment to a House foreign aid spending measure that “bans the sale and transfer of arms for use by the Haitian National Police and requires a State Dept. report on the involvement of Haitian police in criminal activity.” It awaits action in the Senate.

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