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Urgent Action: AI supports death squads?

On the page  http://web.amnesty.org/pages/hti-index-eng as of Sat 27
March 14:00 GMT, ambiguous wording wrongly suggests that (1) Amnesty
International opposes President Aristide (2) death squad leaders are
opposed to US-French occupation, (3) Amnesty favours reestablishing an
army in Haiti. Please urgently write polite letters to Amnesty.
AMBIGUOUS WORDING

On the page

 http://web.amnesty.org/pages/hti-index-eng

as of Sat 27 March 14:00 GMT, there are several choices of wording
which are ambiguous and lead to confusion, even non-neutrality.

(1) "post-Aristide era"

(2) confusion which suggests that Chamblain/Tatoune/Duperval/Valmond/
Dorelien/Joanis/Cenafils/Avril are in *opposition* to the US-French
occupation.

(3) political choice in favour of reestablishing an army in Haiti

Please remember that researchers in the "International Secretariat"
of Amnesty International are under pressure from information
from many sources. This includes the internet-active Haiti groups
supporting the death squads (with support from NED, IRI, ...). It is
only by polite, careful, referenced, accurate requests to researchers
that this extremely dangerous error will be corrected.

However, a predicted slaughter is happening right now and Amnesty
International's responsibility is to urgently provide as clear as
possible information to Amnesty members and to the world.



(1) "POST-ARISTIDE ERA"

The term "post-Aristide era" suggests that Amnesty International
supports the military coup d'etat by USA marines and diplomats against
a democratically elected president and considers Aristide to no longer
be president of Haiti. This is in opposition to the reported facts on
Democracy Now!, to what President Aristide himself says, and
ignores the point of view of the 68 members of the Caricom and the
African Union:
 http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&e=4&u=/ap/20040326/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/caribbean_summit_7
Apart from presenting Amnesty International as an organisation
opposing democracy, this also risks presenting the organisation as an
overtly racist organisation, ignoring the pro-democratic viewpoint of
leaders of most of the nation-states with mostly "black" citizens.

This could even be interpreted as an invitation to assassinate
Aristide.

It is clear that Amnesty should be neutral regarding the status of
political leaders following military coups, wars, etc..

However, at the moment the situation is far from clear. The TRUTH (The
Responsibility to Uncover the Truth about Haiti) Act - H.R. 3919 was
introduced to the USA House of Representatives on 9 March 2004

 http://www.haitiaction.net/News/bl3_9_4.html

More accurate terms than "post-Aristide era" would be "post-coup era"
or "post-invasion era" or "post-recolonisation era" (France was thrown
out of Haiti in 1804 - 200 years ago), but many powerful politicians
(like Colin Powell) would find these to be biased terminology.


**********************************************************************

Suggestion for a neutral term:
"post-rebellion era"

**********************************************************************


since probably everyone could agree that there was a rebellion.



(2) DEATH SQUAD LEADERS OPPOSED TO US-FRENCH OCCUPATION?

There is confusion which suggests that Chamblain/Tatoune/Duperval/Valmond/
Dorelien/Joanis/Cenafils/Avril are in *opposition* to the US-French
occupation.
(info on Chamblain/...  http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR360132004 )

While some people might find it biased to say that Haiti is now
occupied by US-French soldiers, it is extremely misleading to suggest
that the US-French soldiers are *opposed* to
Chamblain/Tatoune/Duperval/Valmond/ Dorelien/Joanis/Cenafils/Avril
given that the US supplied them with guns via the Dominican Republic,
and the US marines + diplomats kidnapped Aristide.

There is some chance, under pressure from Amnesty and many other
groups - including Haitians - that the US-French occupation will
arrest such people instead of reestablishing an army and making them
leaders. However, at the moment there is no evidence that this has
happened, and ambiguity and confusion in our online reports will not
help.

> Impunity
> Take action!
> Convicted human rights violators must not be allowed to walk free
>
> Haitian judicial institutions have been further weakened by the recent
> political turmoil, making it difficult to hold authorities and armed
> opposition groups accountable for the deaths and other acts of

Here, "opposition" is ambiguous: opposition to Aristide or opposition
to the US-French military occupation?

> violence which have occurred since 5 February. Furthermore, former
> military and paramilitary leaders responsible for serious human rights
> violations have taken up leadership positions within Haiti's armed
> opposition and may play a significant role in defining Haiti's

Here, "opposition" is ambiguous: opposition to Aristide or opposition
to the US-French military occupation?

> future. If Haiti is to overcome the cycle of violence that has plagued
> the country during the past decade, it must move quickly to ensure
> impunity does not take hold in the post-Aristide era.

See (1) above: "post-Aristide" is not neutral.

It seems that these leaders referred to as "opposition" are now killing
about 50 people per day in just one city - Cap Haitian - this is like
the terrorist attack in Spain happening every four days! (Yet, it does
not make world headlines every four days: the victims are "only" black
people.)

 http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=55&ItemID=5145

> Jean Charles Moise
> Pacific News Service
> March 14, 2004

> The journalists are in Port-au-Prince, but here in the north no one is
> reporting what's going on, that the former Haitian military is killing
> people. They are killing about 50 people a day in Cap Haitian. It's
> happening not just in the northern department but also in the central
> plateau, in the Artibone region.


**********************************************************************

suggestion: what would be better wording is not clear, but it must be made
clear that these same armed groups that Amnesty is criticising are
now in **physical control** of much of Haiti, especially the countryside
(where they are allegedly assassinating pro-Aristide groups).
They are *not* opposition.
Please correct the wording to make it clear and neutral.

**********************************************************************



(3) political choice in favour of reestablishing an army in Haiti

> Disarmament
>
> If Haiti and the international community are to learn from the
> mistakes made following the 1994 multinational intervention in Haiti,
> every effort should be made to disarm all unofficial armed groups,
> including rebel forces, armed pro-Aristide militias and armed
> activists affiliated with opposition political parties. An effective

By ignoring the fact that the army has been de facto reestablished,
and is composed of known death squad leaders, this is in effect taking a
political choice in favour of reestablishing an army in Haiti, and is
ambiguous regarding Chamblain/Tatoune/Duperval/Valmond/
Dorelien/Joanis/Cenafils/Avril - which suggests a contradiction with the
previous sentences.

Part of the problem is again the ambiguity in "opposition", and
similarly in "rebel forces". Are Chamblain/Tatoune/Duperval/Valmond/
Dorelien/Joanis/Cenafils/Avril rebel forces or government forces?

The fact is that President Aristide dissolved the army in 1994, and
the coalition of groups that were in opposition a month ago are now in
power, hand-in-hand with US-French occupation forces, and they hope to
reestablish the army.


**********************************************************************

Suggestion: Add a sentence or paragraph something like:
The army in Haiti was dissolved by Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1994.
Amnesty International takes no position on whether or not an
army should be established in Haiti, but insists that if the army
is reestablished, then extreme care would have to be taken that no
person convicted or suspected of human rights violations is appointed
to any position of responsibility in the new army.

**********************************************************************


This suggestion would probably require quite a bit of discussion in
the IS - it might be the first time (?) that Amnesty has to decide on
its neutrality regarding whether or not an army should exist.

However, surely Amnesty International has no mandate from its members
to promote the creation of an army, especially when the majority of
citizens of the country concerned wished (in 1994) for the army to be
dissolved. Amnesty probably cannot oppose the creation of an army, but
supporting the creation of an army is hardly in the spirit of Amnesty
International's normal actions.

> disarmament process will minimise the risks of ongoing human rights
> abuses and ensure much needed security on the streets across the
> country.

Again, given the fact of convicted human rights violators being the
main actors in the rebellion which has now (temporarily, at least)
succeeded, this wording suggests that those convicted human rights
violators who succeeded do *not* need to be disarmed, only those
groups opposing the US-French occupation and opposing the death
squad leaders need to be disarmed.

Surely the wording should be improved?



RECOMMENDED ACTION

Please urgently email, fax or snail-post send polite, clear,
referenced letters regarding the above suggestions (shown by ******)
or similar to the International Secretariat (or you could ask your
local group to relay info up the chain, but it may not be fast enough
to stop the slaughter which is happening right now and is being
ignored by Amnesty International with a deafening silence).


email (via web):
 http://web.amnesty.org/contacts/app.nsf/contact+us?readform&language=eng&presence=international+secretariat

Telephone: +44-20-74135500

Fax number: +44-20-79561157

Snail Mail: Amnesty International INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT, 1 Easton Street London WC1X 0DW, UK

local groups:
 http://web.amnesty.org/contacts/engindex (requires javascript)
 http://web.amnesty.org/web/links.nsf/A.I.%20sites?OpenView (without javascript)

homepage: homepage: http://web.amnesty.org/contacts/app.nsf/contact+us?readform&language=eng&presence=international+secretariat