Sunday, March 31, 2013

The "Freedom Fighters" behind the 2004 coup in Haiti

Teenagers killed in Belladères: Louis Ramil, 14 years old and Natalie Souverain, 17 years old - killed by 2 bullets in the vagina - were assassinated by former military. The armed groups of ex-soldiers and members of the paramilitary group FRAPH who served in the pay ofthe U.S. and France organized extremely murderous campaigns against the border population

Haiti Information Project (HIP) 
Human Rights Archives

"Nou pap janm bliye!/We will never forget!"

Remembering Gerard Latortue's "Freedom Fighters"

The Victims of the Haitian "Contras" Testify

Haiti Progres   August 4-10   2004

Original story was published on the centerfold spread in French and appears for the first time on the web here. This version will have additional information that did not appear in the original printed version. All photos and story provided by Haiti Information Project to Haiti Progres.

Story in kreyol: Rapò sou sitiyasyon kite pase nan Beladè nan mwa jen pou rive nan desanm 2002

The series of deadly incursions by ex-soldiers and members of the terrorist organization, FRAPH and other mercenaries, especially on the Haitian-Dominican border, didn't just start a few days before the kidnapping and forced exile of President Aristide. Equipped and armed with expensive heavy weapons by agents of the Bush Administration, benefiting from the active complicity of the Dominican government and army, and working in coordination with the internal "opposition", these criminals have spread terror in the border region and led harassment operations which have claimed dozens of civilian victims during the last two years.

Here is a brief report on the attacks led by the former commissioner, Guy Phillipe and Louis Jodel Chamblain, the former death squad leader, who were presented as "freedom fighters" by the government of Gerard Latortue. This is the summary of a document published by the Haiti Action Committee entitled "Hidden from Headlines."

"In the morning of July 28, 2001, commandos in military uniforms attack five police stations in Haiti, including the Police Academy in Freres, a suburb of the capital. During this action the head of this police training center was killed along with four other police officers.

On December 17, 2001 a commando unit of 30 heavily armed men attack during the night and take control of the National Palace. They declare that Aristide is no longer president and try to force the Palace security guards to join forces with them to carry out a coup d'etat. The scoundrels are surrounded and finally dispersed by the police and thousands of civilians who take to the streets to defeat this attempt."
However, most of the assailants managed to run away and get to the Dominican Republic where they get political asylum to again take up their seditious and destabilizing activities which ultimately served as the pretext for the governments in Washington and Paris to move to the kidnapping of President Aristide on February 29, 2004.

At the end of 2002 and in 2003, army veterans organized attacks against the border towns from the Dominican Republic, killing police officers, civil servants and representatives of the Fanmi Lavalas party, and terrorizing the population.

On May 7 2003, some men who identified themselves as ex-soldiers attack the Peligre hydroelectric center, the most important source of electricity in the country. The commandos torture and execute two security guards and set the control room on fire, causing a worsening of the electrical crisis. The paramilitary group takes several employees hostage from the Partners in Health hospital and steals an ambulance. In response to this attack Dr. Paul Farmer, the director of the hospital, declares: "As you know, this isn't the first time that our medical team is a victim of these Contras. In December they used the same threats and same language, accusing Aristide (rightly) of having dissolved the Army and accusing our staff of being anti-military (again, rightly) It's worth remembering that the so-called human rights organizations in Port-au-Prince told the Miami Herald that these events didn't take place and that this is just "government propaganda."

After the overthrow of President Aristide by the United States and France, the file on a horrible massacre which was carried out by the "freedom fighters" in Belladeres in 2002 resurfaced. Cleodor Souverain, a Lavalas coordinator who has been underground since the February 29 coup, courageously gave this testimony to the Haiti Information Project (HIP), with supporting photos. It comes as a condemnation of the foreign policy of the United States, which aids and encourages the killers, a condemnation of the Dominican government and army who have allowed their territory to be used as a base, and finally a condemnation of the current de facto regime which has embraced these terrorists as "freedom fighters."

Eyewitness accounts of the toll of the former soldiers in Belladères:

The armed groups made up of ex-soldiers and members of the paramilitary group FRAPH, who served at the behest of the U.S. and France for the coup d'etat, organized extremely murderous incursions against the border population from their base in the Dominican Republic starting much earlier. These accounts that we have received give an idea of the toll exacted by these bandits starting in 2002 against members or reputed members of Lavalas in the Belladeres region. Several people have since had to again go underground, such as: Cleodor Souverain, Levelt Rival, Eliodor Denaud, Israel Jean, Felix Bruno, Rodolphe Remarais, Vilceme Rosalvard, etc.

Eyewitness Account of Cleodor Souverain, Belladères

"I am the coordinator of Fanmi Lavalas in the Central Department of Belladeres. In December 2002 I had to leave my house in Belladeres and take refuge in Port-au-Prince because a group of men, armed to the teeth, had arrived at my house to kill me and my family. Since I wasn't there, they assassinated the 5 people who were in my house:
  1. Rosita Souverain, my sister, 24 years old
  2. Nathalie Souverain, (17 years old, killed with two bullets in the vagina)
  3. Mimose Brizard, 38 years old, a friend of the family
  4. Dubuisson Brizard (35 years old, brother of Mimose)
  5. Louis Ramil (14 years old, servant)
Hussein Bertrand, a four year old boy was shot with a bullet in his spine and he remains paralyzed. All of these events took place before the kidnapping of President Aristide. After the departure of the President the situation got worse. We can't go out any more even in Port-au-Prince where the ex-soldiers and members of FRAPH are looking for us in order to kill us. The people who participated in the massacre of my family are:
  1. Clotaire Jean-Baptiste (ex-soldier)
  2. Remicinthe Ravix (ex-soldier)
  3. Voltaire Jean-Baptiste Alia Poitille (former chauffeur for Colonel Michel Francois who caused a reign of terror during the coup d'etat from 1991 to 1994)
  4. Bell Panel (armed civilian)
  5. Edouard Casimir (armed civilian)
All these individuals are currently members of the Resistance Front of Gonaives and they participated in the assassination of the regional police director Mr. Jonas Maxime in Hinche on February 15, 2004. Today Clotaire Jean-Baptiste and Remicinthe Ravix work on recruiting former soldiers for the National Police of Haiti (PNH).
A group of ex-soldiers arrived in Belladeres and came to my house on February 17, 2004 to rob and pillage. When they left, they left seven children orphans. I've thus become responsible for these kids, which is a huge problem for me. Here are the names of these little orphans:
  1. Micheline Brizard
  2. Robecca Brizard
  3. Chantale Brizard
  4. Miradelle Nestor
  5. Pharma Nestor
  6. Gilene Nestor
  7. Bussein Tito
I'm sending an SOS message to all our compatriots to help us because we cannot take refuge in the Dominican Republic. That's where the criminals have their base. We launch an urgent appeal for Hussein Bertrand, the four year old who was paralyzed.
On November 28, 2002 Judge Christophe Lauzama was going to hold a hearing in Kinpe. He was accompanied by Cleonor Souverain, Remarais Rodolphe and the magistrate, Jean-Robert Paldomaire. On the way they met some demonstrators from the Democratic Convergence. A former "Leopard" (an elite military unit for repression under the Duvalier dictatorship) by the name of Serge Etienne opened fire on them. Judge Lauzama died and his three companions barely managed to escape.

On December 10, 2002 in Penal, in the third section of Riyarib, armed civilians attacked the house of Eliodor Denaud, coordinator of the Casec of Fanmi Lavalas. The assailants destroyed everything he had. Since then Mr. Denaud, his wife and his nine children have been forced to return to clandestine hiding. On the same day, former soldiers and members of FRAPH killed: Erezman Joseph, Leonie Laverne, Caridor Dorinvil, Sincere Joseph, Jean Harry. On June 23, 2002 they had already killed Wilfrid Denaud, Marrus Pierre and Felix Bomo.

On December 13, 2002, still in the third section of Riyarib, after a confrontation between the police and the ex-soldiers, the soldiers came to Levelt Rival's house, coordinator of Fanmi Lavalas, at one o'clock in the morning. He had to take refuge with his wife and seven children in a banana field. They destroyed everything in his house as well as the small school he directed.
During the same night, at about 3:00, the bandits arrived at Isael Jean's house, a member of Casec. They destroyed everything. Even the goats in the courtyard were killed. Moise Celestin and someone named Golman pointed out Isael Jean's house to the commandos.

Following all these attacks, the supporters of Guy Philippe had decided to go to Las Cahobas. During their trip they ransacked and pillaged the house of Felix Brunel. They also killed Colean Pradel and Dadou Pierre.
On June 26, 2002, the former soldiers who were occupying Wasek Square had kidnapped and killed four members of my family, among which was my cousin whom they accused of being a militant with Lavalas.
Here is the situation in which I find myself. There's no need to tell you of the hardships endured at the hands of the FRAPH members and the ex-soldiers since the departure of President Aristide. Rodolphe Desmarais experienced the same situation."

Testimony of Isael Jean

"My name is Isael Jean, member of the Fanmi Lavalas Casec in the Central Plateau.
In the month of December 2002, ex-soldiers and their accomplices entered Pernal. They came to my house. A friend saved my life and sheltered me with my wife and children. After the kidnapping of President Aristide, my situation got worse. On March 17, 2004, the ex-soldiers came to our house saying they wanted to exterminate all the members of Lavalas. They destroyed everything in the house.

On February 17, 2004 after the assassination of the police chief Maxime Jonas, all the policemen had abandoned the Belladeres commissariat, and a group of soldiers and FRAPH members had taken control of it."

Photos and story provided by:
Haiti Information Project
all rights reserved

Hussein Bertrand,
a 4 year old boy was hit by a bullet in his spine and survived

Rosita Souverain, 24 years old was the sister of Cleodor Souverain a Fanmi Lavalas official in the Central Plateau.

Nathalie Souverain,
17 years old. Five people, who were at the home of Cleodor Souverain were brutally assassinated when the former soldiers discovered that he was not there.

Mimose Brizard, 38 years old, a friend of the family

Dubuisson Brizard
35 years old, brother of Mimose

Louis Ramil - 14 years old - worked in Cleodor Souverain's home