Monday, 17 January 2011

Haiti - one year later

Via Molly's Blog, the following comes from the School of the Americas Watch. Click here to send a fax to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to demand a withdrawal of military troops and a redirection of funds to humanitarian aid.

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic earthquake in Haiti that left 230,000 Haitians dead, hundreds of thousands injured, and over 1.5 million homeless. In spite of an initial massive outpour of international solidarity , over a million Haitians remain in temporary shelters and over 90% of promised aid has not arrived.

However, one organization in Haiti is receiving over $1 million dollars a day for its operations. That organization is MINUSTAH, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, created in 2004 shortly after the coup that toppled President Jean Bertrand Aristide . Currently, there are over 9,000 military and 3,000 police in Haiti, from over a dozen countries, including the US, Canada, France, Japan, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Korea, Ecuador, Argentina and Uruguay.

The original mandate of MINUSTAH, according to the UN, was to “establish a secure and stable environment, which would encourage the development of a healthy political process, strengthen government institutions and assist in restoring and maintaining the rule of law and promote and protect human rights”. MINUSTAH itself felt first hand the tragedy of the quake, losing its chief officer, his deputy and the acting police commissioner . However, six years after the arrival of the “blue helmets”, Haitians are calling for an end to what they consider to be a military occupation of their country by MINUSTAH. Among the concerns expressed by Haitians and international human rights organizations are numerous citations of human rights abuses , including responsibility for the killings of slum dwellers, political activists and even a mourner at the funeral of human rights activist-priest Father Jean Juste. Currently, the Brazilian contingent of MINUSTAH is being tried at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for the death of another Haitian activist.

Adding to the wounds of the nation is the recent outbreak of cholera that led to over 2,000 deaths. The outbreak of the disease has been linked to contamination from the Nepal contingent of MINSUTAH.

In addition to concerns for the human rights abuses, the presence of thousands of UN troops in Haiti violates the right to self-determination and sovereignty of a nation under the guise of humanitarian aid after the earthquake. MINUSTAH is the only significant UN military mission in a country with no peace agreement between parties of conflict. Exiled President Jean Bertrand Aristide calls MINUSTAH the “neo-colonial occupation of Haiti.” In a country where 70 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day, MINUSTAH costs the UN more than 1 million dollars a day, and is requesting to more than double the funds, to $850,000,000 when its renewal is up for approval next October.

On the eve of this tragic earthquake, the SOA Watch movement expresses its solidarity with the people of Haiti, and calls upon member nations of the U.N to immediately halt the MINSUTAH foreign military occupation and redirect funds from guns and ammunition to houses, schools and food. We also join people throughout the Americas who are honoring the victims of Haiti’s quake by calling for a complete withdrawal of MINUSTAH from Haiti.

SOMOS UNA AMERICA. We are One America in our struggle to resist militarization and promote a culture of peace.