Can UN shoot at unarmed civilians inside a Haiti Church and get away?


– by Shenali D Waduge

It was in May 2009 that the Sri Lankan armed forces eliminated the terrorist movement known for decades as the LTTE including its leadership. That achievement made Sri Lanka the only nation to have defeated terrorism militarily. That LTTE support-bases were infuriated at the denouement was no understatement and their international lobbies unleashed their wrath instead of commending Sri Lanka because 20million people could finally live without bombs and suicide missions. The onslaughts of allegations were many and continue without proof in a global tarnishing campaign. The alternate option UN and the West has chosen to adopt is military intervention of nations. Haiti is just one unfortunate example. Yet, by the same yardstick that the UN unabashedly issues derogatory statements against Sri Lanka we demand what excesses UN is guilty of in Haiti and the coverup that UN commits to while pointing fingers.

18 June 2009 was the funeral of Father Jean-Juste. He was known as the Martin-Luther King of Haiti. Father Jean-Juste was also the leader of Lavalas. Yet, despite having served the Church for 30 years, struggling to help the poor the Catholic Church had stripped Father Jean-Juste of his right to perform as a priest and suspended him. He had no resources to pay for his hospital treatment and health problems and ended up in prison for speaking out against rule by force, UN occupation and the US-imposed Boca Raton regime from 2004-2006. He died while in prison after being arrested in 2006 and was not permitted to travel overseas for medical attention.

Over 2000 mourners attended the funeral. It was not a demonstration or a protest – it was a funeral. Mourners did not possess any arms – they were unarmed civilians. But why did the UN peace mission choose a funeral to arrest the musician Yvon ZapZap? Why did the UN peace troops need to arrive all in armor to a funeral – mourners are not protesters or demonstrators? More importantly why did the UN peace mission fire upon unarmed civilians? One man died. His name was Jacob Desir.

The UN did not apologise. The UN did lie and the UN did attempt to cover-up the crime.

The UN spokeswoman for UN forces in Haiti (Sophe Boutaud de la Combe) said : “It seems that one person was killed close to the cathedral. The first reports we have show that the soldiers fired in the air.” Searching for some sort of excuse, she added: “The blue helmets were apparently attacked by stone-throwing demonstrators from different parts of the town center.”

The UN spokeswoman did not stop there.

She told Reuters “We can confirm that our troops shot about five times in the air. But only a ballistic test could finally determine whether the victim was killed by bullets fired by U.N. troops or not.”

She told the Associated Press “that the shooting was under investigation and that an autopsy would be quickly carried out.”

But later news reported quoting from the UN that the young man died not from a gunshot wound but due to a “head injury inflicted by a stone or a blunt object.” A look at the photo of the young man lying in a pool of blood from his head would put the lie to that statement.

Yet, there was the other evidence. Photos and video footage also show UN soldiers strangling an unarmed funeral attendee right before the shooting – why would UN wish to provoke these people at a funeral of a priest they are accused of being complicit in killing and then claim they were attacked?

The real shock was to follow. Radio Tele-Ginen, Haiti’s largest privately owned TV station released a video footage contradicting the DENIALS by the UN. The UN said that its troops fired shots INTO THE AIR during the funeral for Catholic priest Father Gerard Jean-Juste on June 18, 2009. Yet, the footage relayed showed 2 shots fired by UN troops from the back of a small pickup truck at crowd level. The first shot was fired in the direction of the Cathedral where one of the mourners was killed by a single shot to his head.

Why would such a responsible and accountable entity as the UN lie and cover-up its crime?

Then came eyewitness Jean Mathieu : “I saw several U.N. troops firing gunshots and immediately after I saw the man laid on the ground. I did not see anybody else shooting. I am sure the U.N. soldiers are the ones who shot the demonstrator.”

But the world media and the international community would prefer not to believe Jean Mathieu and would instead accept the version of the UN spokeswoman.

UN’s other crimes in Haiti  : Massacre in Cite Soleil

The June 18, 2009 killing of an unarmed civilian at a funeral is not an isolated incident. It was in 2005 that UN troops launched a raid on the community of Cite Soleil where another massacre took place. 22,000 rounds were fired upon the community in 7 hours by UN troops!

Father Jean-Juste was extremely critical of the UN mission in Haiti, he accused the UN of killing unarmed civilians in Cite Soleil and for training Haitian police to shoot at peaceful demonstrators and to perform summary executions. These are all that UN is supposed to be committed to NOT doing.

It was on 6 July, 2005 that more than 350 UN troops stormed a shantytown of Cite Soleil even a helicopter was involved. The mission was to assassinate a 31 year old man and his lieutenants. The reason given was that he was a supporter of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. UN troops fired killing numerous people. The UN statement issued was “Armed bandits who had tried to resist were either killed or wounded”. UN response was that they ONLY opened fire after being fired upon and have even discounted non-combatant casualties. End of the story!

Both the UN Secretary General and the UNHRC head were not in the least bothered that its troops had killed women and children (a 1 year old baby and mother and her 4 year old son were amongst the dead), they were not bothered to send a three-man team to appraise the Secretary General, they did not call for any probe or inquiry. There were hardly any admonishes from foreign powerful governments of the type Sri Lanka experiences. The people of Cite Soleil did not go to the UN troops – the UN troops came to their homes! Can we gage the fear of these people who despite being wounded feared even getting medical attention in case of being rounded up and further manhandled!

It is not just Cite Soleil that has come in for attack – poor neighborhoods of Bel Air, Solino are said to have been turned to cemeteries. Not a single nation in the West is bothered. They were bothered up until the time they overthrew President Aristrade in 2004 after that it appears to be a slow campaign to exterminate the poor of Haiti.

Yet, there are tons of evidence of UN criminality in Haiti since 2004. Scores of cases of UN raping, molesting and sexually abuse of Haitian children abound. Ms Pillai has more important statements to issue and Haiti often escapes her radar. But, she does have time to issue a statement accusing the Government of Sri Lanka of supposedly attacking a journalist when it emerges it was a personal affair but then the original fanfare of attacking journalists ends up on the scoreboard.

There is no justice for Haitians. There is no democracy slogans used in Haiti. There are no international conferences on justice for Haitians and UN Secretary General has not chosen to send a Darusman panel to Haiti. Haitians in their own land are aliens and the country is today taken over by the UN and NGOs. Haitians are virtually disenfranchised people. Even Bill Clinton the UN’s new appointed representative overseeing the Haitian operation is silent – he was also silent during the Rwanda Genocide.

Even the June 2009 election was a sham – what is an election when only 2% of Haitians participated costing $12.5million to hold and the rest didn’t because they demand the return of President Aristide! The Fanmi Lavalas party represents 70% of the Haitians. If the majority of the people are asking for the return of its President why is the UN and the rest of the internationals silent? President Aristide is living in exile in South Africa since he was kidnapped by US Marines during a coup d’etat on 29 February 2004 – in the 21st century kidnappings can still happen to democratically elected leaders and powerful nations can kidnap people still! Since the coup 9000 UN troops are stationed in Haiti.

As for the UN coup itself declassified Canadian documents reveal that its officials planned military intervention weeks before the Haiti coup which questions Canada’s role in ousting President Aristide. The memo which discusses options for military intervention are blacked out but “duty to protect” is another word for the controversial Canadian sponsored “Responsibility to Protect” (R2) doctrine which was adopted without a vote by the UN General Assembly at the UN World Summit in 2005. It is with shame that we remind US, Canada and EU of their funding of “civil-society-organizations” to create the necessary background to portray the need for Aristide to be deposed. Complimenting these plans were the human rights reports claiming the 3600 troops could not prevent killings and kidnappings by Aristide’s supporters. The National Lawyers Guild was happy to issue that hundreds of bodies were dumped and buried – is it then a surprise why patriots of countries do not worry about other memos and R2P plans using these “civil society organizations” ever ready to be pumping lies and doing the necessary dirty work but showered with international awards just to boost their credibility?

UN’s other crimes in Haiti

Cholera outbreak 2010: UN emerges the prime suspect in the introduction of the bacteria in Haiti. UN quickly denied it but journalists found UN sewage tanks, latrines overflowing liquid into Haiti’s largest river. Despite continued UN denials several scientific journals have found the UN base as the source. Over 4300 Haitians died from the cholera outbreak in 2010 while UN maintained its innocence! By November 2011 the death toll reached 7700 in a country that did not suffer cholera before UN troop arrival. Now over 600,000 suffer from it. Since UN troops enjoy immunity the Haitians demanded compensation and better water facility after over a year of dodging in February 2013 the UN Secretary General issued a BRIEF statement that Haiti’s claims were “not receivable” under Section 29 of the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN. UNHRC head was again silent on UNSGs statement and instead chose to issue a statement on the same day asking Haitians to move Haiti courts to prosecute ex-dictator Jean Claude Duvalier. UN decisions cannot be even appealed – keep in mind, this is the entity demanding human rights, democracy, transparency and accountability. We can but wonder which was more important to the UNHRC head – the cholera deaths or a former dictator?

The UN Independent Panel of Experts eventually appointed to investigate the cholera determined that the bacteria were not caused from the UN mission compound. The chapter was closed.

UN may enjoy immunity but let us remind the UN that according to Article 105 of the UN Charter, the UN and its officials shall enjoy in the territory of each of its Members such privileges and immunities as are necessary for the fulfillment of its purposes. This immunity can always be waived. But the UN has maintained stoic silent and instead the UN created a Status of Forces Agreement that limits the jurisdiction of the Haiti courts over its UN mission.

Can UN walk away from its obligation under international law to provide reparation for injuries caused by an internationally wrongful act? If in 1996 the UNSG said that the UN assumes liability for damage caused by members of its forces in the performance of their duties what makes Haiti an exception? A documentary on the outbreak, Baseball in the Time of Cholera, won Best Documentary Short at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. You can watch it here:

Sri Lanka’s situation

The UN peace mission in action in Haiti is a good example for people thinking the UN is their savior. Any takers for UN peace missions in other countries if this is the fate that is likely ensue? This question is directly posed to the Sri Lankan Opposition who does not appear to have the intelligence to draw solutions to any of Sri Lanka’s issues and is happy to go crying to the West at every turn and issue statements calling for international probes, international intervention – do they not have the backbone to sit and assess situations and come out with their solutions without going crying to foreign climes and begging for foreign intervention. Do they want to barter Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and turn Sri Lanka into another Haiti? This is something the supporters of the Opposition Parties would well do question their leaders about.

The parallels are not hard to miss. It was Haiti’s wealthy elite that called for the UN action against Haiti’s popular President and the campaign against this was run by the elite-run media. Is there anything different in Sri Lanka’s scenario?

Haitians are angry that their nation is occupied by foreign forces who refuse to leave. Sri Lanka knows too well how IPKF, Indian troops ended up returning the garlands they were adorned with eventual gunfire, killing and raping scores of civilians. Sri Lanka does not want a repeat of any such intervention by foreign forces.

Yet, 4 years on UN is still silent on its killing upon mourners attending the funeral of Father Jean-Juste. The entity that enjoys pointing fingers, the countries that enjoy lobbying for selective justice are all silent and Haitians are suffering in their own country.

Haitians repeatedly appeal for “mete Minista devo” – throw these UN “vampires of leisure” out of Haiti!