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Canadian Military Involved in Haiti Massacre?

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Issue: 21 Section: Canadian News Haiti Topics: Canadian Foreign Policy

August 25, 2004

Canadian Military Involved in Haiti Massacre?

The Canadian military involvement in a March 12 incident in Haiti is being called into question. On that night, witnesses claim that between 40 and 70 civilians were massacred by US and international forces as part of the US-led overthrow of popular and democratically elected President Aristide. Canada may have actively taken part in the killings, but the details are shrouded in secrecy.
On March 11, the US military signaled its intent to "actively disarm" Lavalas militants. On the evening of March 12, there were two "official" civilian deaths in Belair. Eyewitnesses say that the number was much higher, and that the only reason that two deaths were recorded at all was because the bodies were the only two that bystanders were able to hide from the US and international forces' ambulances that accompanied the killings.

A small number of Canadian troops had arrived in the area earlier that evening and it's not clear whether they were involved in the events. The Ottawa Citizen's David Pugliese reported that the Canadian Joint Task Force Two was in Haiti before and after the massacre, and that its operations are always secretive.

On July 29, Lieutenant Colonel Jim Davis, the Commander of the Canadian Forces in Haiti, acknowledged that over 1000 people have been killed in Port-au-Prince since February 29th, and that occupying forces were involved in the March 12 massacre. However, in response to the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti report that included grim massacre photos and extensive damning details, Davis said "photographs can be produced, doctored."
The Canadian national mainstream media, and the Canadian government have ignored the events of March 12. A Toronto Star headline soon after proclaimed "Haiti Mission called success: shops open, children smiling." On July 29, Canadian Minister of National Defence Bill Graham said "Our mission in Haiti was instrumental in bringing peace and stability to the troubled country."


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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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