Sunday, December 25, 2011

Haitians Demand Justice, Reparations for UN-Introduced Cholera

Haitians demand justice, reparations for U.N.-introduced cholera

By G. Dunkel
Published Dec 23, 2011 8:20 PM

More than 7,000 Haitians have died and over 500,000 have been sickened from the cholera the United Nations introduced to Haiti a little over a year ago. Haiti has the highest rate and greatest severity of cholera of any country in the world.

The Haitian Collective to Compensate the Victims of Cholera is demanding justice both in the courts and the streets.

The victims and relatives of Haiti’s ongoing cholera epidemic have filed a lawsuit against the U.N. and its Stabilization Mission in Haiti (or Minustah, from the French version of its name) for negligent behavior that led to the outbreak.

U.N. spokesperson Martin Nesirky stated in a press release,“The independent panel of experts [which the U.N. hired — G.D.] concluded that the Haiti cholera outbreak was caused by the confluence of circumstances as described in the report and was not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual person.”

The petition was filed by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux on behalf of more than 5,000 Haitians. It asks for a minimum of $100,000 to compensate each of the families of those who died and at least $50,000 for every Haitian infected with cholera.

On Dec. 10, which is celebrated in Haiti as the Day of the Declaration of Universal Human Rights, the BAI in conjunction with some Haitian human rights organizations held a mobilization of at least 2,000 people, according to the BBC, in front of the Minustah base in St. Marc, a small coastal city between Port-au-Prince and Gonaïve, where the first case of cholera was recorded.

Speakers at the rally included lawyer Mario Joseph and cholera victims, who gave heart-rending testimony. One victim, a young girl who was the oldest of five children, told the crowd that both her parents were dead of cholera and one of her siblings was paralyzed from the disease. She was responsible for supporting her whole family with not much help.

Joseph declared that the BAI disapproved of celebrating this declaration while hundreds of Haitians were dying from this disease introduced by the U.N. He said: “The theme this year was: Celebrate human rights. But the leaders of the U.N. ignore the human rights of the Haitian people. They bring us cholera and violence.” (Haïti-Liberté, Dec. 14)

The U.N.’s official role in Haiti has been to ensure stability. It has been the main military force in Haiti since June 2004, when it took over from a coalition of the U.S., France and Canada that had occupied Haiti in March 2004 after the second coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, which involved U.S. special forces kidnapping him to the Central African Republic.
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