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Context of 'March 2004-May 2004: Victorious Rebels Hunt Down Aristide Supporters'

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Rebels take over cities in northern Haiti and move towards Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, overrunning President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s local police forces and vowing to overthrow him. [New York Times, 2/29/2004] The rebels include various factions. The leading groups are led by Louis-Jodel Chamblain, a convicted murderer and former death squad leader under “Baby Doc” Duvalier, and Guy Philippe, also a known human rights violator (see October 31, 1991) (see 1997-1999). [CounterPunch, 3/1/2004; Amnesty International, 3/3/2004; Associated Press, 3/3/2004]

Entity Tags: Louis-Jodel Chamblain, Roger Francisco Noriega, Jean-Claude Duvalier, Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

Throughout Haiti, supporters of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and leaders of popular organizations (“OPs”) are hunted down, arrested, and sometimes beaten and killed by the new government’s police and by remnants of the paramilitary rebel forces. In order to avoid this persecution, many Aristide supporters go into hiding, either in Port-au-Prince, or in the mountains, taking their spouses and children with them. In many cases, their homes, left vacant, are burned to the ground by opposition forces. Leaders of popular organizations who seek asylum at the embassies of the United States, Mexico, Canada, France, and Venezuela, are turned away. The multinational coalition’s forces—consisting of some 3,600 US, Canadian, French, and Chilean troops—reportedly limit their patrolling to Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, thus providing no security in other cities or the outlying areas. [Jamaica Observer, 3/28/2004; CNN, 4/9/2004; Griffin, 4/11/2004 pdf file; Democracy Now!, 4/12/2004; Brattleboro Reformer, 4/30/2004]

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Haiti’s new justice minister, Bernard Gousse, announces that Haiti will seek the extradition of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide for alleged corruption and human rights abuses. Gousse also suggests that convicted murderer and known human rights violator, Louis-Jodel Chamblain, could be pardoned. Chamblain was convicted in 2000 in absentia and sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the Raboteau Massacre (see April 18-22, 1994). “We have to take into consideration that [Chamblain] helped get rid of two dictators in Haiti—[Jean-Claude] Duvalier and Aristide,” Gousse claims. [Miami Herald, 4/2/2004; Human Rights Watch, 4/5/2004; CNN, 4/8/2004] Human Rights Watch quickly condemns the suggestion. “The contrast between the Haitian government’s eagerness to prosecute former Aristide officials and its indifference to the abusive record of certain rebel leaders could not be more stark,” says Joanne Mariner, deputy director of Americas Division for Human Rights Watch. [Human Rights Watch, 4/5/2004; CNN, 4/8/2004]

Entity Tags: Joanne Mariner, Bernard Gousse, Louis-Jodel Chamblain

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

The Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean (EPICA) sponsors a fact-finding trip to Haiti to investigate human rights conditions under the new government. Palmer Legare, a member of a Vermont citizens’ lobby group who participates in the investigation, tells a local newspaper upon returning from Haiti: “It’s very clear that members and supporters of Aristide’s party are being targeted. They’re being arrested, they’re being beaten, they’re being killed.” Legar recounts one particularly violent incident during which a boy was shot in the back by troops after running away from them out of fear. “He almost died because [the troops] closed the streets and he couldn’t get to a hospital,” Legare explains. [Brattleboro Reformer, 4/30/2004]

Entity Tags: Palmer Legare

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

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