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Haiti Aux Haitiens!

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February 14, 2007

Haiti Aux Haitiens!

Montreal mobilizes in solidarity with Haiti

by Darren Ell

Photo: Darren Ell

Over 100 demonstrators took to the streets in Montreal on Saturday, February 3, as part of the International Day in Solidarity with the People of Haiti. Their demands were clear: the end of MINUSTAH crimes and the departure of UN forces from Haiti; the liberation of political prisoners; the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti; and the repatriation of the multi-billion dollar debt paid to the French Government as price for Haitian independence. The protest came on the heels of the recent December 22 massacre in Cité Soleil, which left over a dozen dead and many more wounded. As Canadian researcher and activist Kevin Skerrett recently revealed, this grave crime -- a breach of the Geneva Conventions and a reminder of the July 2005 massacre in Cité Soleil -- was praised by the Canadian ambassador to Haiti, Claude Boucher, who encouraged MINUSTAH to “increase their operations as they did last December.” This disregard for the lives of Haitians mirrors former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin’s comments to the press during the height of the terror of the Latortue regime: “There are no political prisoners in Haiti.” There were, of course, hundreds languishing in Haitian prisons without charge.

One of these prisoners, Haitian folk singer and Lavalas activist Annette Auguste (aka So Ann), was recently in Montreal to address the media and members of the community. So Ann addressed many issues of critical importance to Haitians: the corrupt power of MINUSTAH, the criminal role of Canada, the US and France in the coup d’état, the problem of impunity for the many crimes committed against the Haitian people, the need for lasting economic development in Haiti and the strength and determination of the Haitian people. Many of So Ann’s concerns were taken up by the protestors in Montreal, whose signs read: “Canada is complicit in kidnapping in Haiti!”; “Haiti is not for sale!”; “USA: stop deporting our criminals!”; “We demand that President Aristide be returned to Haiti!”; “Stop the massacres in Cité Soleil and Bel Air!”; “The real bandits are not those being shot!”; and “USA, France and Canada out of Haiti!”

Darren Ell is an activist photographer and independent journalist from Montreal. He has previously published work with the Haiti Information Project and will be in Haiti from February 13 to March 6.

On February 3,2007, over 100 demonstrators -- members of Baz Fanmi Lavalas, activists and friends of Haiti -- marched down Montreal's main streets in sub-zero temperatures, demanding the departure of MINUSTAH and an independent investigation into the 2004 coup d'état.
Protesters remind the Montreal public of Canada's involvement in the 2004 coup d'état, involving diplomatic and military support that continues to this day. The repression that followed the coup, directed at the base of the democratic movement, led to the current phenomenon of kidnapping.
Demonstrators reminded the public of the massive crimes of the installed coup regime of Gerard Latortue. According to the study done by the British medical journal The Lancet(Italicize), Latortue's regime and other anti-Lavalas forces carried out 4,000 politically motivated murders and thousands of sexual assaults in Port au Prince alone.
Standing in front of the building housing the French Consulate in Montreal, this protestor's sign translates to English as: "Give Haiti back to Haitians!" France was involved in the 2004 coup d'état and has refused to repay the billions of dollars extorted from Haitians starting in 1804 and which crippled Haiti's ability to develop.
Standing in front of Montreal's Place Ville-Marie, site of the French Consulate, Borgela Pierre told demonstrators: "The struggle to expose so-called democrats will be long, but a small group of people of integrity can accomplish great things."

In the crowd was Haitian political activist and former minister of the first Aristide government, Patrick Elie, seen here carrying a sign reminding Montrealers that the Canadian-backed coup d'état of February 29, 2004, is part of an ongoing pattern of colonial repression, much like the devastating US occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934.

Demonstrators stopped in front of the US Consulate in downtown Montreal. Fanmi Lavalas activist Marie-Claire Jumelle led the crowd in shouting: "George Bush Terrorist! MINUSTAH Terrorist! Jacques Chirac Terrorist!" The sign to her left reads: "Canada, US and France: rogue states and kidnappers."

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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