Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Manipulating Death in Martissant and Gran Ravine

A freelance photojournalist Jean Rémy Badiau was killed on January 19 2007 in the Port-au-Prince district of Martissant. AHP interviewed family and friends that claimed his murder was connected to the vigilante group Lame Ti Manchet. The Haitian newspaper Nouvelliste made a similar report on February 13.

In an earlier report the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontières placed equal blame for violence in Martissant on another group known as Baz Gran Ravine. The report provided no proof to back up the statement. A recent article for AlterPresse by Michael Deibert states that Badio was "murdered in his home, evidently by gang-affiliated gunmen from the area, last month". The article made no mention of the widespread charges against Lame Ti Manchet for having involvement in the killing of Badio and scores of other people in Martissant.

A previous article (August 2 2006) by Deibert on the violence in Martissant also ignored the numerous documented attacks and killings carried out by the group, acknowledging only the charges that "a former police official" was accused of "financing and organizing a gang known as Lamè Ti Machet". He makes no mention of the numerous and well recorded Lame Ti Manchet attacks.
According to human rights workers active consistently in Martissant, such as those within AUMOHD and the Community Human Rights Councils (CHRC), it is the Lame Ti Manchet that has been responsible for the vast amount of reported attacks over the last few years and is the driving force behind violence in the area. Also the Komisyon Episkopal Nasyonal Jistis ak Lapè has gathered statistics over the last few years that also show the Lame Ti Manchet was the main perpetrator of violence in the area. This does not mean that Baz Gran Ravine and armed groups committed no violence, but it does mean that according to human rights workers and community groups in Martissant the vigilante group known as Lame Ti Manchet conducted the huge majority of recorded violence and was really a driving force for killings in the area. Disturbingly Lame Ti Manchest was also documented to have had connections with the police force during the interim government.

AUMOHD observed that the 2006 massacre conducted by Lame Ti Manchèt "was meant as a smoke screen to provoke Baz Gran Ravine into a retaliation and thereby distract from the push to get police and civilians involved with Lame Ti Manchèt into jail. AUMOHD'S community human rights council (CHRC) coordinator, Esterne Bruner, was assassinated by Lame Ti Manchèt 9/21/06. But there has not been any retaliation reported. Instead the CHRC, non-violent and non-partisan, continues to prosecute all the killings".

Other attacks conducted by Lame Ti Manchet which is also ignored by Deibert include a massacre of 21 people, the burning down of 300 homes 7/9/06, and a massacre carried out jointly with the Haitian police at a USAID sponsored soccer tournament 8/20/05. The attempts at transference and manipulation are important to document because they show how scientific human rights studies (Lancet, Miami University Griffin report, etc) and testimony collected by human rights workers (AUMOHD, CHRC, IJDH) from poor victims of violence is ignored. Many of the same authors/groups that ignore the reports coming from Martissant also ignored the half dozen human rights reports that came out during the 04-06 period showing the interim government's role in violence against slum dwellers, such as the extrajudicial killing of young journalist Abdias Jean.

Human rights workers on the ground in Martissant now report that the wife of Rudy Kernizan has been apprehended. Rudy himself - chief of the vigilante Lame Ti Manchet - has escaped reportedly to the Dominican Republic. In early February human rights workers reported that several (3-4) Lame Ti Manchet people were arrested by MINUSTAH and the Haitian police. Another 31 individuals were arrested days ago in Martissant.

Funeral of Jean Rémy Badiau
(Photo: Guyvard Alexis/APH)

Young victim of Lame Ti Manchet (Photo: AUMOHD)