By Haiti Action Committee
Special to TheBlackHour.com
Haiti Action Committee strongly supports the call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of Jean- Claude Duvalier. We also take this moment to support the Haitian people’s campaign to return President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti.
It is unconscionable that the dictator Duvalier is now staying at a luxury hotel in Port-au-Prince while the twice-democratically elected President Aristide remains in forced exile in South Africa.
We have witnessed the return of former dictator Jean Claude “ Baby Doc” Duvalier to Haiti with disbelief and outrage. During his rule, from 1971 to 1986, Duvalier launched a reign of terror against any form of political opposition. Thousands of Haitians were raped, murdered or disappeared. Over 3000 political prisoners were tortured and then killed at Fort Dimanche, Duvalier’ s torture chamber.
One former political prisoner, Rolande Michell, told The New York Times the following story about his incarceration:
"It is a bad place," said Mr. Michell. "They starved me, but I was fortunate. They starved men to death. They beat men to death. I saw them cut into the muscle of one man's leg so he would limp. You could hear men screaming all the time.
"They made me promise to be faithful to Duvalier. I promised so they would not kill me."
Haitians who lived through the Duvalier era carry these memories with them today. Duvalier’ s return sends them a chilling message – that in today’ s Haiti, Duvalierism is alive and will be tolerated as part of the political landscape.
It took a determined popular movement to oust Duvalier. It was this movement – representing the vast majority of Haitians -- that swept President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to an overwhelming electoral victory in 1990. And it is this movement that is demanding his return today.
Ousted in a U.S.-orchestrated coup in 2004, President Aristide remains the most respected and trusted voice of the poor within Haiti. Perhaps that is why the current Haitian government, the U.S. State Department, and the United Nations – the same authorities that allowed the return of Duvalier – continue to block President Aristide’ s return.
A 2005 Wikileaks cable documents the US government "insistence that all efforts must be made to keep Aristide from returning to Haiti or influencing the political process.”
They are standing on the wrong side of history. It is time for President Aristide to return and time for Jean-Claude Duvalier to be held accountable for his crimes against the Haitian people.
Photo: Former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier retreated to a private residence north of Port-au-Prince after missing a flight out of the country on Thursday morning. Photo by Ramon Espinosa (AP)
The Haiti Action Committee is a grassroots organization working for the masses of the Haitian people. Visit the HaitiAction.net website for breaking news and analysis about events happening on the ground.
Friday, January 21, 2011 The Black Hour