by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)
According to several radio stations in Haiti, there is a warrant for the arrest of Oxygène David, a prominent leader of the party Dessalines Coordination (KOD) and the popular organization Movement for Liberty and Equality of Haitians for Fraternity (MOLEGHAF).
While Oxygène’s lawyer, Mario Joseph, is trying to verify at the courthouse if there is indeed a complaint against Oxygène or if an investigating judge may have issued an arrest warrant, KOD put out a statement on Jun. 25 informing human rights groups and the public that “Oxygène David has had to go into hiding because the Martelly-Lamothe government wants to intimidate him” because of his political mobilization “calling for the resignation of Martelly and Lamothe and the departure of MINUSTAH,” the UN’s 6,600-soldier military occupation force.
Many speculate that talk of an arrest warrant for Oxygène may well be targeted to the fact that “on Sunday Jun. 8, KOD and MOLEGHAF members in Fort National prevented, through their mobilization, the Martelly cortege from distributing Brazil and Argentina T-shirts in this poor neighborhood [of the capital] which was heavily damaged by the 2010 earthquake and whose earmarked reconstruction funds have been plundered by the gangs in power,” said the KOD statement.
The statement goes on to specify that large SUVs, some marked “Police” but without license plates, were slowly cruising through Fort National, where Oxygène David lives, all during the night of Jun. 23. “Since the opening of the World Cup in Brazil, one has seen each evening an increase in fixed posts and mobile patrols of masked men driving in vehicles with blackened glass and without license plates,” the KOD statement says.
Lawyer Newton St. Juste also put out a similar statement warning about the targeting of Oxygène David. Both St. Juste and KOD said that other targeted militants include James Samuel Jean, Fritz Robert, and Adelson Voyard.
In the summer of 2012, the Martelly government imprisoned Oxygène for over two months. “Oxygène was charged with vandalism of a white Nissan SUV belonging to the executive of Haiti's telecommunications bureau, CONATEL,” reported Meena Jagannath of the Dissident Voice. “However, while the charges indicated Oxygene smashed a window of the car with a rock during the protest, Oxygene maintained that he never saw the car described in the complaint. The police simply arrived and singled him out without reason,” but “it became evident that there was no evidence to support the charges against Oxygène,” who was released on Aug. 30, 2012.
Jagannath also reports that “in an interview after his release, Oxygène said that he had received a warning before his arrest from a Martelly supporter who urged Oxygène to be prudent because he would be imprisoned if he did not stop protesting against the Martelly government's policies. Oxygène mentioned that while in prison, he was offered his release if he accepted a position in the Martelly government.” Oxygène refused the deal, preferring to stay in prison “a long, long time” if necessary.
“As the people’s mobilization grows, we are seeing the teeth and claws of the Martelly regime coming out more and more,” Oxgène David told Haïti Liberté. “From Cap Haïtien to Ile à Vache, people are protesting against the regime. That is why it is important to build a fighting organization like KOD. A structured organization is essential to not only lead the masses in struggle, but to withstand the counterattack and repression that we know will inevitably come.”