08 August 2004

The Anti-Bouckman League

Common Sense
John Maxwell

The gang now running Haiti seem to have tired of their 'Democracy' game. The charade is over, they seem to say, we can now display our true colours - because we know that the most important members of CARICOM are going to recognise us and legitimise us.

In the slaughter-house that is Haiti there aren't too many people to protest against the proposed actions of the governments of Jamaica, Trinidad, the Bahamas, Barbados, the bureaucrats of CARICOM to 'engage' the criminal conspiracy which calls itself the government of Haiti. I wrote a little song for them:

The Press is squared,
P.J's prepared,
It's time to end
Our Masquerade

Treacherous and Cowardly

In deciding to 'engage' with Haiti the Jamaican government, as I see it, is guilty of unspeakable cowardice and treachery - the more revolting because we could see it coming months ago - as I warned in this column. Messrs. Patterson and Knight held in their hands a large portion of whatever hope for Justice the Haitian people may have had. That hope was singed this week.

In the same week that the Haitians should have been celebrating the spark that lit the fire of their independence, their close friends and relatives silently, stealthily, were preparing to make a zombie out of Haitian autonomy, independence and hope of Justice.

'wa Kayiman celebrates the occasion on August 14, 1791 - 213 years ago, when the Jamaican escaped slave. Bouckman presided at a meeting to plan the rebellion against the French. At a place called Bwa Kayiman (Crocodile Forest) delegates from all over the north of Haiti pledged to throw off their chains and throw the French out of Haiti forever.

Bouckman is said to have invoked the God of the Africans, who he said,
takes us by the arm and guides us.
He will give us assistance.
Throw away the white God's image
Who is thirsting for the water in our eyes!
Listen to the call of freedom in our hearts!"
The delegates returned to their plantations. On D Day, August 22, 1791, the orders discussed and adopted on the night of August 14, were implemented. Thus started the great saga that culminated in the independence of the first black nation in our hemisphere. Boukman was killed in November 1791, in a French counteroffensive. His severed head was exposed with this caption: "Head of Boukman, the rebel leader!" - (Max Manigat)

There is controversy about whether Bouckman was a voudou priest/ obeahman, or a literate Moslem. In a monograph, Max Manigat reports: "It has been said that he had been given the name 'Book man' as was the custom in the English colonies of the Caribbean, in the case of many slaves who knew how to read the Koran."

The only facts that are well established about Bouckman are that he was a Jamaican and a very tall, big man of enormous strength.

Max Manigat says: Boukman gave the kick-off, others followed whose names now belong to universal history, and slowly but inexorably, from 1791 until 1803, the triple Haitian Revolution - anti slavery, anti-colonial, and social - of the "wretched of the earth" of Saint Domingue triumphed and became a reality.

It is a raw and savage irony that Bouckman's compatriots in Jamaica should now be about tto betray Boukman's heirs in Haiti.

Jamaica's Prime Minister, Mr Patterson, made his intentions clear even before President Aristide arrived in Jamaica in April. I read between the lines then, but I was told that I was being alarmist. We should praise Mr Patterson, I was told, instead of attacking him. This is what the Prime Minister said at the time:

I want to emphasise that Mr. Aristide is not seeking political asylum in Jamaica. His stay in Jamaica is not expected to be in excess of eight to ten weeks. He is engaged in finalising arrangements for permanent residence outside of the region.

CARICOM remains committed to the goal of restoring and nurturing democracy in its newest Member State as well as to social and economic development of the people of Haiti.

It was not true that President Aristide was finalising arrangements for permanent residence outside of the region. Aristide regards himself and is still regarded by most Haitians, by South Africa and other nations, as the only legitimate President of Haiti, and neither Mr Patterson nor Mr Knight, nor the US State Department can change that.

If Jamaica were to obey international law the question would not even arise. But Patterson and Knight a couple of years ago followed the example of North Korea, and resiled from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights/Optional Protocol on Civil and Political Rights. With that track record we can hardly expect them to take a principled view of the Haitian Affair.

The Mask is off, the Masque is On

In Haiti in the same week of Bwa Kayiman, the so-called government of Haiti staged an elaborate masquerade as part of its continuing effort to rehabilitate the noisome collection of murderous drug-dealing bandits who gave certain foreigners an excuse to intervene to depose Aristide in order "to save his life" and to "prevent a bloodbath".

While the world press is busy spreading flimflam about Aristide's "resigning amid a popular revolt" it should be remembered that the "popular revolutionaries" were able to enter Port au Prince only under the auspices of foreign troops. While they had employed their brand-new military issue M-16s to terrorise and murder unarmed policemen in Gonaives add Cap Haitien, they were unable to take Port au Prince - fearing that the so called 'chimères' who supported Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas were waiting to greet them with their ancient muskets and soul force.

Foreign intervention made it possible for Louis Jodel Chamblain and various other criminal gunslingers to enter Port au Prince without challenge.

Now that perhaps as many as 3,000 Fanmi Lavalas supporters have been murdered, hundreds illegally jailed,and thousands more on the run or in hiding since March 1, - the Zombie government and its leaders, Messrs. La Tortue and Gousse, can set about restoring 'respectability' to convicted assassins like Chamblain and bring them into the bosom of the Zombie regime.

And all will be 'legitimised' when their fellow Zombies across the Caribbean get into serious 'engagement' with them. The cowardly and treacherous attitude of the major Caribbean governments cannot have been better or more diplomatically expressed than in an editorial this week in the Barbados Nation: IT WOULD be most ironic should the historic unity of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) be jeopardised because of disagreements among some Heads of Government on the basis for the interim Haitian regime participating in the business of CARICOM pending the restoration of constitutional governance.

I wonder if they or Messrs. Knight, Patterson, Arthur, Manning and Knowles would consider 'ironic' what happened in the Haitian Palace of Justice this week.

In the early hours of August 17, a sham trial in Port-au-Prince acquitted notorious Haitian rights abusers Jackson Joanis and Jodel Chamblain of the 1993 murder of businessman Antoine Izmery. Neither the judiciary nor the prosecution made even the minimum effort required by law to pursue this important case. The absence of effort combined with top Haitian officials' public support for Chamblain and his colleagues compels the conclusion that Haiti's interim government staged the trial to deflect criticism of its human rights record without alienating its military and paramilitary allies. The trial is an affront to the thousands of people who have worked and sacrificed for justice in Haiti over the last fifteen years.

Brian Concannon, an American lawyer who had been one of those helping Aristide restore democracy and law and order in Haiti, continues:

Antoine Izmery, a prominent supporter of President Aristide, was murdered on September 11, 1993, during Haiti's de facto military dictatorship (1991-1994). Mr. Izmery had organized a mass at Port-au-Prince's Sacre Coeur church, to commemorate the anniversary of the 1988 St. Jean Bosco Massacre.

Soldiers and paramilitaries dragged Izmery out of the packed church, in full view of the Haitian and international media, the diplomatic community in Haiti, and UN/OAS Human Rights Observers, and shot him on the sidewalk outside. Both Joanis and Chamblain were convicted, in absentia for murder at the 1995 trial of the Izmery killing.

Anyone convicted in absentia, under Haitian law, is entitled to a formal retrial whenever he returned to Haiti. The so-called trial was a travesty. The procedure itself was illegal in several respects.

The trial began on Monday, August 16, and ended before dawn on Tuesday, August 17. Only one prosecution witness appeared, and he admitted that he was not, in fact, an eyewitness. The prosecutor was obviously unfamiliar with the file, and appeared to be going through the motions, with no attempt to present a convincing argument to the jury. Many observers and journalists left the trial in the early evening, afraid of venturing out on the capital's streets after dark.

Amnesty International referred to the trial as "an insult to justice" and a "mockery."

It would be interesting to hear the comments on this case by two of our leading legal luminaries. Messrs. Patterson and Knight, are both Queen's Counsel, and Mr. Patterson a member of Her Majesty's Privy Council and therefore an adviser to her Majesty.

If they ever give their opinions, it would be educational to hear what the rest of the Privy Council, especially the Judicial Committee, would have to say.

A Busted Trifecta

Somebody, somewhere, must be 'tearing up' - in the American sense of the word - for a busted Trifecta.

In Venezuela, President Chavez was overwhelmingly endorsed - for the third time straight, by his people. In Iraq. Mokhtada El Sadr is still alive and on the loose - as I write, having apparently escaped martyrdom - so the civil war is postponed, and nearer home, Caricom has so far been prevented by three brave men, Ralph Gonsalves, Kenny Anthony and Bharaat Jagdeo - from certifying the regime of the Turtle and the Goose.

How sad, especially since I hear there is a big party convention next week in New York at which these developments, had they gone the other way, would have been greeted with rapturous applause and would have made big news, at least on CNN and Fox.

Such a pity.


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