Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Accident in St. Marc: MINUSTAH continues to sow mourning

by Yves Pierre-Louis (Haiti Liberte)

In Saint-Marc, Dieudaline Jérôme, a 13-year-old schoolgirl, was killed on Fri., Jan. 25, 2013 by a vehicle driven by soldiers of the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), as the foreign forces occupying Haiti are called. At around 8 a.m., a Nissan Patrol SUV with UN license plate 24499 struck the motorcycle carrying Dieudaline to school. The motorcycle driver was seriously injured, while Dieudaline, who was sitting on the back, was mortally wounded. Although she was urgently transported to the hospital, she could not be saved.
            The tragic death of this young girl has once again stirred the anger of Haitians against the presence of UN forces on Haitian territory. The population of Saint-Marc took to the streets to demand the departure of “peacekeepers,” throwing stones at their base and vehicles and paralyzing all activities in the town.

            "MINUSTAH has come and sown grief in Haitian families,” said one demonstrator. “It brought cholera to Haiti, which continues to kill Haitians. Today, it is their vehicle that kills us. The Haitian people must rise up to demand the unconditional departure of UN soldiers.”

            The MINUSTAH deployed in Haiti almost nine years ago, following the Feb. 29, 2004 coup d’état against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It has committed various massacres around Haiti, killing hundreds of people. Furthermore, it is implicated in the hanging death of Gérald Jean Gilles, a 16-year-old boy, in the MINUSTAH base in Cap-Haïtien in 2008, and the gang rape of 18-year old Johnny Jean in Port-Salut in 2011.

            Meanwhile, some 8,000 Haitians have died from the on-going cholera epidemic which the MINUSTAH imported into Haiti in October 2010. In November 2011, a legal complaint was duly filed with the United Nations in Haiti and New York to demand that the UN take responsibility for the epidemic and compensate victims. Until now, the UN has given no response.

            "For complaints about cholera, they must be filed in New York, at the Office of Legal Affairs,” said MINUSTAH’s Chilean chief Mariano Fernandez. “That is where to make a claim.”

            Therein lies the absurdity meant to discourage victims. When a crime is committed on Haitian soil, Haitians are told to file complaints in New York. Is that now what the family of Dieudaline Jérôme must do to find justice and redress?

The nine-year MINUSTAH military occupation of Haiti has brought massacres, rapes, and a cholera epidemic. An tragic accident in St. Marc has renewed calls for UN troops to leave.

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