US-UN-backed Haitian police massacre teachers and students demanding money for schools, not the army

Port-au-Prince Haiti mass protest march against remilitarization

By Haiti Action Committee, San Francisco Bay View, Nov. 18, 2017

Monday, Nov. 13, was a day of extra-judicial killings of men and women estimated by community residents to total 14, not counting a number of disappeared, according to Radio Timoun (Youth Radio).

The reporting was live from the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Gran’ Ravine on the Maranatha school grounds and nearby, where eight of the bodies, including those of a teacher and the school caretaker, still lay as of two hours ago this morning, Tuesday, Nov. 14. Other bodies were stated by witnesses to be in nearby bushes.

Many are reported wounded by police gunfire and beatings with hammers. In addition, news reports make mention of 31 arbitrary arrests.

These killings were conducted by units of the Haitian police according to a number of survivors beaten by the police and other witnesses interviewed by Radio Timoun. It is also reported that at the early hour when the police attack against the community took place, many children and adults were injured by the very potent tear gas used by the police.

Also on Monday, Nov. 13, in the northern city of Cap-Haitien, marching students shouting, “Down with the army, long live education, long live schools!” were brutally attacked by the police using tear gas and batons. Many teachers and students were beaten and severely injured.

Schools have been closed there for the past week. The students were saying no to the government’s plan to restore the old disbanded Haitian military. They are demanding that the money instead should be used to pay long overdue salaries to the already much-underpaid teachers.

The demonstrators are also denouncing a reported plan by the corrupt U.S.-U.N. occupation government of Jovenel Moise (PHTK Party) to fire teachers en masse, replace them with his supporters and not pay them the overdue wages.

Nevertheless, the students were back in the streets today, setting up desks and chairs in the middle of the street to illustrate that learning continues, even in the face of brutal repression, unpaid teachers and police tear gassing classrooms.

 

Unreported news from Haiti

The relentless attacks on democracy in Haiti continue as Haitians, who have lived under United Nations MINUSTAH military occupation since the 2004 coup d’etat against popularly elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, rise up to demand governmental accountability and economic justice. The most recent wave of protests began in early September, marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 1988, St. Jean Bosco massacre.

Oct. 24 – Demonstrations continue to erupt throughout Haiti, braving the terror of the Haitian National Police (PNH) and affiliated paramilitary forces. The demonstrators assert that Jovenel Moise and his illegitimate government are no different than the old Duvalier dictatorships, and they refuse to accept it. They demand the resignation of Moise, along with the resignations of similarly imposed corrupt members of Parliament.

Oct. 17 – The Moise regime attacked demonstrations throughout the country marking the anniversary of Haiti’s first coup d’etat in 1806 and the assassination of its first head of state and founder, General, later Emperor, Jean-Jacques Dessalines. He is revered as a personification of Haiti’s independence and for his relentless campaign to distribute land to the formerly enslaved African majority, the chief reason for the coup against him.

Oct. 12 – Members of BOID, the militarized unit of the Haitian National Police (PNH), trained and supervised by the U.N.-U.S. occupation with U.S. taxpayer dollars, rampaged through the Port-au-Prince community of Lilavois, burning down houses and terrorizing the population in yet another case of repression and collective punishment.

The short video posted on “HaitiInfoProj” on Oct. 25 was filmed in the dark during the police terror and is accompanied by a plea: “BOID terrorists set fire indiscriminately to cars, homes and businesses of people struggling to make ends meet …, shooting tear gas that is greatly harmful to children with asthma … How can we blame people for leaving Haiti …?” Radio and witnesses reported that one person is known to have been executed, others have disappeared, and many others severely beaten.

Community organizations, women’s groups, unions and political parties, including the largest, Fanmi Lavalas, the political organization founded by former President Aristide, who was the priest at Jean Bosco in 1988, have been in full support of the popular mobilizations against the miserable living conditions and blatant government and generalized corruption associated with the disastrous 14-year U.N. occupation.

In October, the U.N. rebranded its MINUSTAH army of occupation to become MINUJUSTH, a smaller force which will rely more on a rebuilding of the despised Haitian army, disbanded by President Aristide in 1995, to maintain control; see Edwidge Danticat in the New Yorker, “A New Chapter for the Disastrous United Nations Mission in Haiti?”

Widely supported general strikes took place on Sept. 11 and Oct. 2. Teachers have not been paid in months, and the regime is attempting to destroy the informal economy by squeezing out the market women, taxi drivers and other sectors to force people to rely on the ruling elite-owned supermarkets and corporate services that make profits for the wealthy and further marginalize poor people.

The Haiti Information Project reported that a Sept. 25 general strike was called off by union leaders who were bought off by the government, but many people participated in the strike anyway.

The occupation government has met these demonstrations with savage repression, attacking demonstrators with batons, bullets, tear gas and an irritant shot from water cannon that stings and burns the skin. The police and government-organized militia also follow people after protests, beat them with baseball bats, and frequently arrest them without cause and detain them without trial as is the case of the co-host of the Radio Timoun (Youth Radio) show “Political Education.”

Death squads operate with impunity. L’Initiave des Avocats pour la Promotion et la Defense des Droits Democratiques (Initiative of Lawyers for the Promotion and Defense of Democratic Rights) reported in a Radio Timoun interview on Oct. 7 that 15 people were killed and over 40 arrested, with many others wounded.

During the protests on Sept. 21, government forces killed a young protestor in Port-au-Prince; another was killed the day before in Hinche. Many were arrested and wounded also in Trou-du-Nord as the infamous militarized police unit BOID assaulted demonstrators in Arcahaie, destroying taxi-motorcycles and other businesses of community residents.

Children in school in Les Cayes were attacked with tear gas because they supported the general strike. The outraged community responded with rocks against the police in defense of their children.

The State University of Haiti has closed the schools of Humanities, Law and Ethnic Studies due to ongoing strikes and protests. Many young people who want to pursue higher education are forced to leave the country. This highlights the importance of UNIFA, the University of the Aristide Foundation, as a center of learning dedicated to advancing the needs of the country and engaging Haitian youth to that end.

After an “electoral coup” that brought to power the Moise administration without any pretense of a democratic process (see the new Haiti Solidarity page 6 “Haiti 2017: From Demonstration Election to Electoral Coup”), the illegitimate government imposed by the U.S.-U.N. occupation now targets the very right to vote, by implementing taxes that would make voting itself a commodity out of the reach of poor Haitians.

It will now cost a minimum of about $254 to obtain a voting card; the cost is associated with the payment of new excessive fees and taxes that have outraged the Haitian public. When the minimum wage hovers at around $4 per day, these taxes are one more form of electoral corruption, as many will not be able to afford to vote.

This is what the “democracy” being imposed on Haiti looks like.

 

Besides robbing Haitians of the right to vote, the new taxes will also rob them of their very land, because new taxes on land would cost the average farmer from $3,900-$5,200 per year, way more than they can possibly afford. If the farmer cannot pay, their land may be confiscated. In addition, Haitians living outside the country will reportedly have to pay $186 in additional taxes to enter Haiti.

As the Moise regime attempts to destroy democracy and extort money from the impoverished population, it continues the tax holiday and lucrative no-bid contracts provided to the rich. It can pay a $20,000 per diem for the president to travel and similarly obscene rates for his family and entourage, and it can lavishly pay off members of Parliament for their vote, pay for death squads and restore the brutal military dubbed the new “Tonton Macoutes.”

But it has no money for education, healthcare, trash removal or the basic needs of the population. A mafia is in power in Haiti, imposed in full collaboration with U.S.-Canadian-U.N.-European designs on Haiti’s land and resources.

Despite the repression, resistance grows, as more people demonstrate in more and more places. The situation is very grave and demands active solidarity.

 

Contact the Haiti Action Committee at www.haitisolidarity.net, on Facebook at Haiti Action Committee, on Twitter @HaitiAction1or by email at action.haiti@gmail.com.

 

Posted Dec. 6, 2017