By Ken Epstein
Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ delegation to Haiti visits the hospital under construction at the University of the Foundation of Dr. Aristide in Tabarre, Haiti. Shown are ( L to R): Danny Glover; Mildred Trouillot-Aristide (wife of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, former påresident of Haiti; Walter Riley; Congresswoman Waters; and medical school doctor. Photo courtesy of Walter Riley.
Amid news of continuing atrocities against the civilian population, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and a delegation of activists – including actor and producer Danny Glover and Oakland civil rights attorney Walter Riley – visited Haiti last week on a mission to investigate conditions on the ground in the country and report back to the American public about a Human Rights emergency that remains underreported in the mainstream media.
According to a report in the Miami Herald, “In recent months, gangs have been terrorizing the population, accused of massacring and raping poor Haitians and turning parts of the country (including the La Saline neighborhood of Port-au-Prince into no-go zones.”
As late as last week, there were reports that terrorist groups in La Saline set fire to homes. Hundreds of people have been killed recently in targeted killings.
“When we learned about houses being burned down, and the killings that took place, we were appalled and shocked. We listened directly to some of the relatives of victims and victims tell us about that,” said Waters during a press conference at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport prior to leaving Haiti last Wednesday evening, the Miami Herald reported.
Besides Rep. Waters (CA-43), Glover and attorney Riley, the delegation included social Justice activist Pierre Labossiere, human rights lawyer Brian Concannon and radio journalist Margaret Prescod. Prescod filed filmed reports from the “no go zones”.
Following a massacre in La Saline last November, a group of 104 members of the House of Representatives called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month to conduct an independent investigation of the extrajudicial killings allegations of human-rights violations by the Haitian National Police Force; U.S. taxpayers dollars should not go to human rights violators.
“We have eyewitness reports and other evidence that these are not gangs, a name that implies that they are independent of the government. These terrorists, in fact, are part of militias that have been hired to terrorize people and are associated with the Haitian Police Department,” said Riley. “It is a policy of the Haitian government and backed by the U.S. government,” he said.
“The attacks on people in La Saline started as retaliation to demonstrations calling for Pres. Jovenel Moïse to resign over stolen billions of Petro Caribe money from Venezuela and systemic corruption in failed governance,” he said. “We have testimony of witnesses in the area and from human rights organizations about the brutality, the crimes against humanity.”
Among the atrocities, rape, people have been burned alive, dismembered and fed to pigs, said Riley.
Protesters across Haiti vowed to continue their fight for government accountability even in the face of the brutality, he said. “They have a proud sense of their history.”
Published May 2, 2019, courtesy of the Oakland Post