Forum

profile |  register |  members |  groups |  faq |  search  login

Pressuring Human Rights Organizations
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Media Lens Forum Index -> your letters
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Pressuring Human Rights Organizations Reply with quote

I think Medialens, if growth permits, should pressure human rights organizations as well as the liberal press. Consider two of the most highly regarded groups: Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Both groups do a great deal of valuable work, but both have grave limitations that could get more serious if they aren't criticized. Thankfully, the quality most of their work is still high as revealed by the fact that the media still ignores most of it..

Counterpunch ran a piece by PAUL de ROOIJ recently on the way AI has reported on the Israeli occupation and on the invasion of Iraq. I think he is a little unfair in spots, but overall makes a very powerful case.

Http://www.counterpunch.org/rooij10132004.html

David Peterson has made observations about HRW in his very busy Blog on Znet. The brief exchange he and I had (or almost had) with an HRW official is rather revealing:

Http://blog.zmag.org/index.php/weblog/comments/292/
Fri Oct 29, 2004 2:26 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

To: hrwdc@hrw.org
CC: hrwnyc@hrw.org, hrwuk@hrw.org, hrwla@hrw.org, hrwgva@hrw.org, hrw-sf@hrw.org


RE:Venezuela: Media Law Undercuts Freedom of Expression, Nov 30, 2004
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/11/30/venezu9754.htm

How do you justify running a press release about media freedom in Venezuela - a country where the press is free to openly display its hatred for Hugo Chavez - while publishing nothing about Haiti since April 6, 2004? In Haiti thousands of Lavalas supporters have ended up in either dead or imprisoned. Why can't Vivanco say anything about that?

Joe Emersberger
Sun Dec 05, 2004 5:48 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

To: info@amnesty.ca


On Falshpoints, Kevin Pina, an independent journalist, expressed dismay that Amnesty has not called much more attention to the rampant crimes of the UN backed regime. While AI has not been as silent on Haiti as Human Rights Watch - who have been inexcusably quite. It does seem he is on target with his remarks. The reports you have published have been far too vague and infrequent.

Pina's response about AI is shown below. The full intrerview can be seen at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=55&ItemID=6816

Regards,

Joe Emersberger

Bernstein: I'd like to spend the last minute on the role that the human rights groups, particularly Amnesty International, have played in their failure to document this in a way that they could hold this puppet accountable.

Pina: I was talking about this photo you had me describe earlier. If me with my limited resources and my crew, the crew that I work with, of other Haitian journalists and foreign journalists on the ground, can get this photographic documentary evidence and we can interview the families and we can interview the witnesses, why in the hell can't an organization like Amnesty International with all of its resources and its international reputation do the same? That's what I don't understand. Why can we do it with the limited resources we have, but they can't
Thu Dec 09, 2004 1:16 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Deaths reported as UN enters Haiti slum Reply with quote

To: Info@amnesty.ca
CC: hrwdc@hrw.org, hrwuk@hrw.org

Are anti-Aristide elements (Apaid's group of 184) paying gangs to kill Aristide supporters? Where are the prestigious human rights organizations? How can you not have the resources to do detailed reports on this tiny country?

http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/12_14_4.html

Deaths reported as UN enters Haiti slum

December 14, 2004
Haiti Information Project (HIP)

Port au Prince, Haiti(HIP)- Sustained and heavy gunfire erupted in the pro-Aristide slum of Cite Soleil at about 3 a.m. this morning and was followed by an incursion into the area by hundreds of Brazilian and Jordanian troops of the United Nations.

Cite Soleil has been among the launching sites for recent protests demanding the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and is where he announced his first campaign for public office in 1990. Aristide was ousted last February 29th amid charges he was kidnapped by U.S. Marines and remains a guest of the Republic of South Africa where he resides. One foreign witness stated, "I have never heard this level of gunfire since I have been here. It was heavy gunfire that lasted about three hours." Residents accused a gang they referred to as Baz Labanye of having committed a massacre early this morning against supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas party to justify the armed incursion of United Nation's forces. One angry man exclaimed, "Baz Labanye, controlled by Andre Apaid and Reginald Boulos [of the former opposition], began a heavy attack against us and many people were killed. The United Nations then used this as a pretext to invade our neighborhood and end our calls for Aristide's return. It is clear they are working together to exterminate us."

Brazilian and Jordanian troops entered the area with armored personnel carriers later in the morning and began shooting into the air to disperse a spontaneous demonstration that erupted against their presence. Witnesses reported that several more Lavalas supporters were killed after UN troops exchanged gunfire with unidentified gunmen who shot towards them.

Violence in Haiti's capital has increased since September 30th after police opened fire on unarmed demonstrators demanding Aristide's return. Most of the poor slums, where the majority of the capital's population live, remain under a virtual state of siege by the Police Nationale de Haiti (PNH) assisted by troops of the UN peacekeeping force.

===== The Haiti Information Project (HIP) is a non-profit alternative news service providing coverage and analysis of breaking developments in Haiti.
Contact: haitiinformationproject@yahoo.com
Thu Dec 16, 2004 4:01 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

To: hrwdc@hrw.org
CC: hrwnyc@hrw.org, hrwuk@hrw.org, hrwla@hrw.org, hrwgva@hrw.org, hrw-sf@hrw.org


You issued another press release about Venezuela. This time about the "court packing" law and it POTENTIAL to adversely affect democracy and human rights.

http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/12/14/venezu9864.htm

Meanwhile, in Haiti, an unelected regime imprisons and murders Lavalas members and supporters, acquits murderers like Noel Chamblain, and HRW is silent. Nothing appears on your website since April. How do you justify this?

Joe Emersberger
Thu Dec 16, 2004 7:01 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

To: hrwdc@hrw.org
CC: hrwnyc@hrw.org, hrwuk@hrw.org, hrwgva@hrw.org, hrwla@hrw.org, hrw-sf@hrw.org


You encourage people to write letters to help the victims of human rights abuses. It is surprising how unresponsive you are to letters yourselves. On numerous occaisions I have asked you why nothing appears on your website about Haiti since April 6, 2004. You have yet to respond to this simple question.

Since April Lavalas members have suffered increased repressioin at the hands of an unelected regime. While you have displayed no interest in Haiti, you have chosen to highlight, even exaggerate, the comparatively minor shortcomings of the Chavez government in Venezuela.

How many more Haitians have to be killed or imprisoned before you consider it worth your attention?

Joe Emersberger
Sat Dec 18, 2004 8:28 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Jose Miguel Vivanco:

In your letter of May 16 to the UN Security Council

http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/05/17/haiti10956.htm

you say that you "commend the Security Council for its sustained commitment to stabilizing Haiti". You then make minor technical criticisms of MINUSTAH and call for them to be provided with more resources.

Harvard Law School recently released a 54 page report on MINUTAH's role in Haiti.
Did you see it?

If not please download it at http://www.margueritelaurent.com/campaigns/campaignone/human_rights_reports/harvard.html
The Harvard report said

"...MINUSTAH has effectively provided cover for the police to wage a campaign of terror in Port-au-Price's slums. Even more distressing than MINUSTAH's complicity in HNP abuses are credible allegations of human rights abuses perpetrated by MINUSTAH itself,...."

They also said that MINUSTAH has "virtually ignored these allegations...relegating them to obscurity and thus garanteeing that abuses go uncorrected."

Do you reject these findings? If so, why? If not, why did you fail to mention them in you letter?

Your letter implies that Aristide loyalists are responsible for most of the violence in Port-Au-prince. The opposite has been documented in detailed reports by Tom Griffin of the University of Miami. Do you reject his findings? Where is a similarly detailed report by HRW that refutes them?

I also wonder why you neglected to say anything about arms shipments from the US, or to call for the release of political prisoners, or condemn the payment of "compensation" to former Haitian military? Do you deny that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of political prisoners in Haiti, most notably Yvon Neptune?

Why did you did not ask the Security Council to condemn the recent decision to release perpetrators of the Raboteau massacre? Where is an HRW press release condemning the decision of the Haitian court?

Why have you directed much more criticism towards Venezuela than towards Haiti over the past year? Since April of 1994 three articles about Haiti appear on your website about Haiti, eleven about Venezuela. Venezuela's human rights record is excellent compared to most countries. Haiti's is abysmal. What has happened to HRW?

Sincerely ,

Joe Emersberger
Fri May 20, 2005 2:34 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

TO HRW 12/9/2005

The unelected Haitian regime just fired all five supreme court justices for hampering the election campaign of a US millionaire. After, and only after, you have appropriately condemned the grave human rights abuses of the regime, and responded to criticism of your organization (see below), you should publicly comment the lack of judicial independence in Haiti. In context, it is a minor issue.[1]

The topic has preoccupied HRW in the past, out of all proportion to its importance, when Venezuela's freely elected government passed a judicial reform law (which HRW disparaged as a "court-packing" law).

The Haitian regime acts as if determined to highlight HRW's shortcomings.

Joe Emersberger

[1] NYT: Reuters: Haiti's Interim Government Fires Supreme Court; 12/9/2005

" Haiti's interim government fired all five Supreme Court justices on Friday, a day after the court unanimously ruled for the second time a Haitian-born U.S. millionaire could run for president."

**********************************************************
NOTE SENT HOURS BEFORE THE ONE ABOVE

Why doesn't HRW issue a strong statement calling for the immediate release of the Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste - a "prisoner of conscience" according to Amnesty International? He has been arrested by the unelected regime that acquitted death squad leader Jodel Chamblain - a person whose crimes your organization has amply documented in the past. Jean Juste has yet to be charged with any crime. His medical condition has been diagnosed as dire and still you are silent.[1]

Contrast your silence over Jean Juste with the strong statements you have made against the Venezuelan government for bringing charges against Sumate for accepting US government funding.[2]

Unlike Jean-Juste, the Sumate members have been charged with a crime. There is no dispute that they received US funding. Unlike Jean-Juste they are not being held in prison and denied proper medical care.

Why do you refuse to answer reasonable question that are put to you? I have asked you similar question in the past as have others. Why don't you answer Kevin Pina's open letter? Why don't you answer Gabriele Zamparini's? You have demonstrated a disdain for open debate that one expects from human rights abusers, not human rights defenders.[3]

I look forward to your reply.

Joe Emersberger

[1] Haiti Action: Bill Quigley: Fr. Jean-Juste must be released immediately!
[2] http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/07/08/venezu11299.htm
[3] Znet: Pina: Open Letter to Human Rights Watch: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=7882
Gabriele Zamparini: Open letter to HRW
http://www.thecatsdream.com/blog/2005/12/watching-human-rights-watch-open.htm
Sat Dec 10, 2005 7:32 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: OPEN LETTER TO AMNESTY RE: HAITI Reply with quote

info@amnesty.ca
_amnestyis@amnesty.org_ (mailto:amnestyis@amnesty.org)
International Secretariat
Telephone +44-20-74135500
Fax number +44-20-79561157

I wrote to you on July 17, 2005 asking why Amnesty has issued no public statement regarding the massacre perpetrated by UN forces (MINUSTAH) in Cite Soleil on July 6, 2005. You replied that "we are aware of the situation and are currently gathering information from a variety of sources in order to gain a balanced and informed view on the subject before we react to these events." Your reluctance to comment was puzzling given that MINUSTAH has acknowledged the indiscriminate nature of the attack and apologized for killing innocent people.[1]

It is now 2006 and AI has yet to issue a public statement regarding this massacre. On Novemeber 24, 2005 yet another massacre was perpetrated by MINUSTAH. Canadian journalist Isabel MacDonald risked her life to provide a first hand account of it.[2] Again AI has been silent. You've told me that AI also works in ways not visible to the public. It should be obvious by now that such an approach is ineffective in Haiti.

Much to its credit, AI responded with appropriate speed to the arrest of the Reverend Gerard Jean Juste in July of 2005.However, he has been diagnosed with Cancer by medical experts (including the world renowned Paul Farmer). He is in need of immediate medical attention. Why has Amnesty not issued another alert calling attention to his plight? Paul Farmer has observed

"He needs proper medical care and, probably, chemotherapy. It's hard enough, as we know from our own long experience in central Haiti, to deliver chemotherapy anywhere in the country, but it's simply not possible to do so in a Haitian prison."[3]

I have also written to local AI representatives asking why AI has not recognized Annette August (So Ann) - Haitian folk singer and prominent Lavalas activist - as a political prisoner? She has been imprisoned without charge since May of 2004. The only response I have ever received (from local volunteers) was that my concerns would be passed along and "looked into".

Frankly, I cannot understand why AI has not done much more for the victims of repression in Haiti. People with fewer resources than AI have done better.

I look forward to your response.

Joe Emersberger

[1] independet: Buncombe: Peacekeepers accused after killings in Haiti : http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article302259.ece

"In a statement, the UN Mission in Haiti (Minustah) said: '[UN forces] did not target civilians in the operation ... but the nature of such missions in densely populated urban areas is such that there is always a risk of civilian casualties. Minustah deeply regrets any injuries or loss of life during its operation.' "

[2]Znet: Isabel MacDonald: MINUSTAH in Cite Soleil: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=55&ItemID=9245

[3]http://haitiaction.net/News/JM/1_1_6.html


Last edited by joe emersberger on Sat Jun 17, 2006 1:52 am; edited 1 time in total
Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:20 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: SEVEN SIMPLE QUESTIONS FOR AMNESTY Reply with quote

TO: amnestyis@amnesty.org
Info@amnesty.ca
toronto@amnesty.ca
pro@amnesty.ca
SEVEN QUESTIONS TO AMNESTY RE: CONTROL ARMS REPORT ON HAITI
http://www.amnesty.ca/resource_centre/reports/view.php?load=arcview&article=3
156&c=Resource+Centre+Reports_

1) Why are none of the victims of MINUSTAH's raids into poor neighbourhoods
quoted in this report? Other investigators: the UK indpendent, Kevn Pina,
Isabel MacDonald have been able to provide detailed information about them. Why
not AI? [1]

2) In the section entitled "What needs to be done", why was not a single
popular Lavalas member or activist given any voice (Aristide, Gerard Jean Juste,
So Ann, Yvon Neptune to name some of the most obvious)? The discussion was
dominated by foreign officials and representatives of the unelected regime.

3) What percentage of the victims of political violence are Lavalas
supporters (or people perceived to be Lavalas supporters)?

4) Do you agree that the human rights situation under Lavalas governments
was vastly superior to the situation that exists now, or that existed under
other governments?

5) Is political legitimacy not crucial to a government's ability to control
illegal arms or defend human rights?

6) Can legitmacy be achieved when the government's opponents are subjected
to dismissal, imprisonment and violence?

7) Why do you take the international community to task for not controlling
the flow of small arms but not for undermining a popular elected government and
replacing it with one that has no legitimacy?

[1] Znet: Isabel MacDonald: MINUSTAH in Cite Soleil: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=55&ItemID=9245

Independent: Buncombe: UN admits civilians may have died in Haiti peacekeeping raid: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article337553.ece
Wed Jan 11, 2006 1:52 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Today Amnesty finally issued an alert on behalf of So Ann. She shouldn't have sat in jail for 20 months without being charged before they did this.

http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR360032006?open&of=ENG-HTI
Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:30 pm
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

RE: Haiti overview in Human Rights Watch World Report 2006

Mr. Jose Miguel Vivanco:

Why doesn't HRW call for the release of all political prisoners in Haiti - especially the Rev Gerard Jean-Juste who would be a formidable candidate in any free and fair election? You must be aware of the two appeals that Amnesty International has issued on his behalf? Why is HRW silent?

Your overview states that

"In Port-au-Prince clashes between rival criminal gangs, including some associated with former president Aristide, result daily in civilian deaths. Armed groups of Aristide supporters have sought to spread chaos and fear in hopes that the failure of the interim government to stem the violence will lead to Aristide’s return."

Thomas Griffin of the University of Miami provided ample evidence that "members of Haiti’s elite, including political powerbroker Andy Apaid, pay gangs to kill Lavalas supporters and finance the illegal army."

Why are the gangs armed by wealthy backers of the unelected regime not mentioned? Why do you presume that Aristide supporters have much - if anything - to gain from violence? Have you not noticed where power lies in Haiti? Did you not notice that the unelected regime is rabidly anti-Aristide, that Lavalas supporters have filled the prisons and have born the brunt of the political violence? Wouldn't all of this suggest that the unelected regime and its allies have the most to gain from violence and chaos? When have the elite ever prevailed in free and fair elections? With all the violence directed at Lavalas the elite are still faced with the prospect of a former Aristide ally winning at the polls..

How can you publish an overview with such hideous omissions and flawed logic? Is HRW still relying on the thoroughly discredited National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH), formerly known as NCHR, for its information on Haiti?

Joe Emersberger

[1]CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HUMAN RIGHTS
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI SCHOOL OF LAW
Professor Irwin P. Stotzky, Director
HAITI HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATION: NOVEMBER 11-21, 2004
By Thomas M. Griffin, Esq.
Fri Jan 20, 2006 6:59 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Amnesty get a little tougher on MINUSTAH: no reply from HRW Reply with quote

Amnesty moved closer to condemning MUNTSTAH's crimes in Haiti (see below) but still shy away from providing the interviews with victims and other details that could really help hold MINUSTAH accountable.

Meanwhile Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for Human Rights Watch, has yet to return any of my phone calls or reply to any of my emails.
************************************************

Haiti / Dominican Republic: Deaths continue as MINUSTAH fails to protect
civilians
Press release, 01/16/2006

According to eye-witness accounts provided to Amnesty International, at
least one civilian died and another was injured last Thursday in the
locality of Ouanaminthe (on the Haitian-Dominican Republic border), after
shots were allegedly fired from a convoy consisting of a Dominican truck
accompanied by vehicles from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in
Haiti (MINUSTAH).

The crowd was demonstrating as the bodies of more than 20 Haitians -- who
died after being illegally trafficked to the Dominican Republic – were being
taken to the Ouanaminthe cemetery to be buried.

The demonstrators wanted to prevent the burying of the bodies in a mass
grave without a proper identification of the victims or a formal ceremony.
They threw rocks at the truck transporting the bodies and at MINUSTAH
vehicles escorting it. According to the eye-witnesses, none of the civilians
demonstrating was armed.

Furthermore, a second person was reportedly injured when hit by a MINUSTAH
armoured vehicle. There are also reports that several MINUSTAH peacekeepers
were injured.

Two journalists from a local radio station were physically prevented from
covering the events and had their tape recorders confiscated by MINUSTAH
personnel.

Amnesty International is calling on MINUSTAH officials and the Haitian
government to launch an urgent, independent investigation into this incident
and to make the conclusions public. Those found responsible for using or
ordering excessive force should be brought to justice.

MINUSTAH has been deployed in Haiti since June 2004. According to reports,
MINUSTAH officials recently admitted that an internal investigation
concluded that a number of unarmed civilians may have been killed during a
UN operation in Cité Soleil on 6 July 2005. Amnesty International urges UN
officials to make public its findings.
Sat Jan 21, 2006 3:56 pm
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

hrwatcheu@skynet.be
hrwdc@hrw.org
hrwla@hrw.org
hrwnyc@hrw.org
hrwuk@hrw.org

RE:Haiti: Secure and Credible Elections Crucial for Stability; Feb 6, 2006
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/02/06/haiti12611.htm

HRW's latest press release stated that "In the past, elections in Haiti have often been marred by violence, disorganization, and fraud. The deeply flawed 2000 elections aggravated political and social tensions and exacerbated political polarization. "

Discrediting the legislative elections of 2000 has been crucial to the Haitian elite and their foreign backers. It was used to justify a crippling aid embargo on Aristide's government. It undercut international solidarity for Haiti prior to the coup when it could have prevented all the death and suffering that followed.

It is not credible that HRW is unaware of how it has distorted the truth.

The OAS disputed the way voting percentages were calculated for several senatorial seats (despite knowing about the procedure beforehand). [1] They believed the vote for those seats should have gone to a second round. The OAS did not question the scale of the Lavalas victory and noted that Haitians "voted in large numbers in an atmosphere of relative calm and absence of intimidation.."[2] The results were consistent with what US commissioned polls predicted.

In contrast, the latest elections were a travesty. Your press release is silent about political prisoners, and about the widespread repression against Lavalas activists and supporters generally - outrageous omissions for a human rights organization to make, but they no longer surprise me. I have phoned and emailed HRW countless times to ask why you never joined Amnesty International and others in publicly condemning the arrest of the Rev Gerard Jean Juste, a prominent Lavalas activist. I have yet to receive a single reply.

I will do all can to make people aware of how HRW continues to betray victims of repression in Haiti.

Joe Emersberger
[1] The OAS was aware of the procedure since 1999 when it was directly involved in Haition elections. See "Canada in Haiti: Waging war on the Poor Majority" by Yves Engler and Anthony Fenton: pg 32

[2]OAS CHIEF OF MISSION REPORTS TO PERMANENT COUNCIL ON HAITI ELECTIONS: July 13, 2000
Sat Feb 11, 2006 7:29 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Amnesty is getting less timid with MINUSTAH - better late than never.
***********************************************************
Haiti: Fear for safety/Possible excessive use of force: Demonstrators in Port-au-Prince
PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 36/007/2006
14 February 2006

UA 37/06 Fear for safety/Possible excessive use of force

HAITI Demonstrators in Port-au-Prince

The alleged fatal shooting on 13 February of a demonstrator during protests
against the results of recent elections has heightened tensions in the capital,
Port-au-Prince. The man’s death has been attributed by protestors to members of
the United Nations Stabilisation Force in Haiti (MINUSTAH) who they have
accused of firing at the crowd of demonstrators. The UN organization, however,
has denied this. Amnesty International is seriously concerned that the
increased tension may lead to an escalation of violence and human rights
violations.

After a number of postponements, the first round of Haiti's presidential
elections took place on 7 February. René Garcia Préval, who is supported by
many of the poorer people in Haiti, initially appeared to have won the
election. However, with 90% of the votes counted it appears that he may have
failed to secure the 50% of votes he needs in order to be declared outright
winner, meaning that a second run-off vote may now take place on 19 March.

On 13 February following the news of a possible second round of voting, many of
René Garcia Préval's supporters took to the streets of Port-au-Prince, burning
tyres and building barricades, claiming that the results had been manipulated
and that René Garcia Préval had been the victim of electoral fraud. According
to reports, shots were fired during the demonstrations and at least one man was
killed. Witnesses claim to have seen UN peacekeepers fire into the crowds.
However, a UN spokesperson has stated that peacekeepers fired warning shots
into the air but that they did not kill anyone. There have been a number of
reports alleging fraud during the electoral process and two members of the
Haitian Provisional Electoral Council (Conseil Électoral Provisoire) have
reportedly claimed that electoral results had been manipulated.

The UN has previously been implicated in civilian deaths during policing
operations in July 2005 and January this year. Amnesty International believes
that this latest incident must be fully and independently investigated by
MINUSTAH and the Haitian government and calls on all those involved in the
current electoral process to respect human rights and the rule of law.
Fri Feb 17, 2006 1:33 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Znet article Reply with quote

Please consider looking over this piece and participating in the "suggested action" described at the end. Thanks.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=55&ItemID=10011
Fri Mar 31, 2006 3:09 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Will HRW ignore Jonathan Cook as well? Reply with quote

TO: HRW: Peter Bouchaert, Kenneth Roth

hrwnyc@hrw.org
hrwdc@hrw.org
hrwuk@hrw.org
peter.bouckaert@hrw.org

I just read Jonathan Cook's devastating critique of your work on the Israeli assault on Lebanon.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=22&ItemID=10920

Serious questions have been raised in the past about HRW's willingness to appease Power.
Kevin Pina, Gabriele Zamparini and I all wrote separate articles about HRW since December of 2005. You have chosen to ignore all of them. Will you now add Jonathan Cook's article to that list?[1]

You can tell a lot about an organization by its willingness to engage in public debate. HRW obviously fears it.

Joe Emersberger

[1]Znet: Pina: Open Letter to Human Rights Watch: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=7882

Znet: Emersberger: Haiti and HRW:
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=55&ItemID=10011

Znet: Zamparini: Watching Human Rights Watch:
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=9290 :
Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:21 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Some informative remarks by Kevin Pina on Amnesty International in this interview:

http://www.pej.org/html/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=5965&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

MP: What about help from Amnesty International?

KP: Initially, AI was out of the picture and unresponsive to the situation in Haiti by virtue of their reliance on a partisan anti-Lavalas organization for their information on the ground. AI relied heavily upon the National Coalition for Haitian Rights or NCHR who were the same ones falsely accusing people of crimes to justify their killing and incarceration. For all intents and purposes, NCHR served as a network of rubber-stamp police informants for the interim regime of Gerard Latortue. They manufactured evidence of crimes to justify arresting and/or holding individuals in what was called prolonged detention, which was really code for locking them up without ever having an honest trial and throwing away the key. There were other politically motivated human rights "experts" like Jean-Claude Bajeaux who fed AI false information but it was primarily NCHR. When AI finally did send a delegation in April 2004 they even went so far as to use the same language as NCHR to describe the situation. I remember they used the word "chimere" in their report to describe armed groups they claimed were loyal to Aristide and the Lavalas movement. This word was a highly partisan term used by those who supported Aristide's ouster, especially NCHR, to create a climate of terror and fear after Feb. 2004. Anyone accused of being a "chimere" was marked for death or imprisonment without trial. Yet here was AI, a purportedly independent human rights organization, using the same politically charged language. I found it disgraceful.

I also remember challenging AI representatives to declare Annette Auguste, arrested by U.S. marines on May 10, 2004, a political prisoner one month after her arrest. They argued that they could not because they had "reliable" information she was involved in fomenting violence against Aristide opponents. I demanded to know who gave them that information and they claimed they could not reveal their sources. I knew it was coming from Pierre Esperance and Marie Yolene Gilles of
NCHR because they were making the rounds on local radio programs with the same accusations. It wasn't until Jan. 2006 that AI officially designated Auguste a political prisoner after she had already spent 20 months in prison. Auguste was finally released on Aug. 14, 2006 and all of the false charges leveled against her were dropped. Had AI realized earlier they had been receiving false information from politically motivated organizations and individuals in Haiti it could have made a tremendous difference.

In all fairness AI was not alone in this. The same can be said for Human Rights Watch and the U.N. Human Rights Office in Haiti. In the case of AI they finally woke up to the reality of having the wool pulled over their eyes and have since responded in a credible and accountable manner. Still, the fact that this could happen in the middle of intense political repression, that a voice as important as AI's could be manipulated, is an important lesson for all of us concerned with human rights.

[NOTE: NCHR eventually changed its name to the National Human Rights Defence Network (RNDDH) ]
Wed Nov 15, 2006 6:54 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Sarah Leah Whitson

I can't stop shaking my head at HRW's recent press release that condemns non-violent resistance by Palestinians to Israeli terrorism.

I very much doubt.your interpretation of international law is valid. Calling on civilians - without any hint of coercion or deception - to risk their lives to defend others is a "war crime"? Was Ghandi a war criminal then according to HRW?

Even if your interpretation were valid surely a human rights group should be calling for a revision of such an absurd law - not lecturing the victims of terrorism on preposterous legal obligations.

Does the world need human rights group who strive to make non-violent resistance illegal?

Unfortunately this is not the first time HRW has disgraced itself with absurd press releases that say what the powerful want to hear [1].

Joe Emersberger

[1] I'm still waiting for anyone at HRW to reply to this

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=10011

REPLY FROM WHITSON OF HRW

Thank you for your note. If you read our press release carefully, you’ll note that we do not criticize the Palestinians for defending Baroud’s home nor do we criticize non-violent resistance. Instead, we noted that it was unlawful for military commanders, such as Baroud, to urge civilians to the site of an attack, putting them in harm’s way, as the fundamental goal of international humanitarian law is to protect civilians and keep them out of military conflict as much as possible. I hope you can understand the distinction, and the different responsibilities and obligations of civilians vs. military forces. Coercion is not a requisite element; it is the act of seeking to involve civilians in military conflict that is the problem. We have of course commented repeatedly on Israel’s unlawful conduct as well, and I invite you to check out our website at www.hrw.org to see all that we have said.

Dear Sara Leah Whitson:

I have read your press release carefully. Your distinction between armed actors appealing to non-violence or others doing it does not make your stance less appalling. Armed actors IN PARTICULAR should be encouraged to appeal to non-violence.

As for your previous work I have read your exchanges Jonathan Cook. They do not flatter HRW in the least. Your organization is in dire need of more empathy for the victims of terrorism and less fear of the powerful.

Joe Emersberger
Sun Nov 26, 2006 5:44 pm
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
johnwhilley



Joined: 03 Oct 2004
Posts: 724
Location: Glasgow

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Joe, for drawing attention to this issue. You are, of course, correct in noting that HRW (and AI) too often indulge in this prevaricating language, forgetting who they should really be speaking for.

Here's a good article on the issue (posted at the board by Gerry) which I thought should be kept here.

cheers,
John

Quote:
Rush to Judgment
Human Rights Watch Must Retract Its Shameful Press Release

By NORMAN G. FINKELSTEIN

Even by the grim standards of Gaza, the past five months have been cruel ones.

Some four hundred Palestinians, mostly unarmed civilians, have been killed during Israeli attacks. (Four Israeli soldiers and two civilians have been killed.) Israel has sealed off Gaza from the outside world while the international community has imposed brutal sanctions, ravaging Gaza's already impoverished economy.

"Gaza is dying," Patrick Cockburn reported in CounterPunch, "its people are on the edge of starvation.A whole society is being destroyed.The sound that Palestinians most dread is an unknown voice on their cell phone saying they have half an hour to leave their home before it is hit by bombs or missiles. There is no appeal. "

"Gaza is in its worst condition ever," Gideon Levy wrote in Haaretz, "The Israeli army has been rampaging through Gaza--there's no other word to describe it--killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling indiscriminately....This is disgraceful and shocking collective punishment."

Predictably Gaza teetered on the precipice of fratricidal civil war. "The experiment was a success: The Palestinians are killing each other," Amira Hass wryly observed in Ha'aretz, "They are behaving as expected at the end of the extended experiment called 'what happens when you imprison 1.3 million human beings in an enclosed space like battery hens.'"

It is at times like this that we expect human rights organizations to speak out.

How has Human Rights Watch responded to the challenge? It criticized Israel for destroying Gaza's only electrical plant, and also called on Israel to "investigate" why its forces were targeting Palestinian medical personnel in Gaza and to "investigate" the Beit Hanoun massacre.

On the other hand, it accused Palestinians of committing a "war crime" after they captured an Israeli soldier and offered to exchange him for Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails. (Israel was holding 10,000 Palestinians prisoner.) It demanded that Palestinians "bring an immediate end to the lawlessness and vigilante violence" in Gaza. (Compare Amira Hass's words.) It issued a 101-page report chastising the Palestinian Authority for failing to protect women and girls. It called on the Palestinian Authority to take "immediate steps to halt" Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel.

Were this record not shameful enough, HRW crossed a new threshold at the end of November.

After Palestinians spontaneously responded to that "unknown voice on a cell phone" by putting their own bare bodies in harm's way, HRW rushed to issue a press release warning that Palestinians might be committing a "war crime" and might be guilty of "human shielding." ("Civilians Must Not Be Used to Shield Homes Against Military Attacks")

In what must surely be the most shocking statement ever issued by a human rights organization, HRW indicted Palestinian leaders for supporting this nonviolent civil disobedience:

Prime Minister Haniyeh and other Palestinian leaders should be renouncing, not embracing, the tactic of encouraging civilians to place themselves at risk.

The international community has for decades implored Palestinian leaders to forsake armed struggle in favor of nonviolent civil disobedience. Why is a human rights organization now attacking them for adopting this tactic?

Is it a war crime to protect one's home from collective punishment?

Is it human shielding if a desperate and forsaken populace chooses to put itself at deadly risk in order to preserve the last shred of its existence?

Indeed, although Israeli soldiers have frequently used Palestinians as human shields in life-threatening situations, and although HRW has itself documented this egregious Israeli practice, HRW has never once called it a war crime.

It took weeks before HRW finally issued a report condemning Israeli war crimes in Lebanon. Although many reliable journalists were daily documenting these crimes, HRW said it first had to conduct an independent investigation of its own.

But HRW hastened to deplore the nonviolent protests in Gaza based on anonymous press reports which apparently got crucial facts wrong.

Why this headlong rush to judgment?

Was HRW seeking to appease pro-Israel critics after taking the heat for its report documenting Israeli war crimes in Lebanon?

After Martin Luther King delivered his famous speech in 1967 denouncing the war in Vietnam, mainstream Black leaders rebuked him for jeopardizing the financial support of liberal whites. "You might get yourself a foundation grant," King retorted, "but you won't get yourself into the Kingdom of Truth."

HRW now also stands poised at a crossroads: foundation grants or the Kingdom of Truth?

A first step in the right direction would be for it to issue a retraction of its press release and an apology.

HRW executive director Kenneth Roth "commended" Israel during its last invasion for warning people in south Lebanon to flee--before turning it into a moonscape, slaughtering the old, infirm and poor left behind. It would seem that Palestinian leaders and people, too, merit some recognition for embracing the tactics of Gandhi and King in a last desperate bid to save themselves from annihilation.



Link: http://www.counterpunch.org/finkelstein11292006.html
Thu Nov 30, 2006 3:45 pm
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks John.

This one by Jonathan Cook is also well worth reading.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=COO20061130&articleId=4011

Please note Ken Roth, head of HRW, can be reached at

RothK@hrw.org
Fri Dec 01, 2006 3:54 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Brief Open Letter To Amnesty International

Is Amnesty waiting for bogus Haitian human rights groups like RNDDH to condemn the latest MINUSTAH perpetrated massacre in Cite Soleil? [1]Will this be a repeat of Amnesty's response to the July 6, 2005 massacre which AI failed to even mention until several months had passed?

The findings of the Kolbe/Hutson study that was published in the Lancet in August, 2006 revealed that Haiti has the worst human rights situation in the Western Hemisphere (as measured by political killings).

Amnesty has been outperformed in Haiti by investigators with far fewer resources and much less stature. I hope your donors and supporters begin to demand much better from you.

Joe Emersberger

[1] For details on the latest MINUSTAH rampage in Cite Soleil see
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=55&ItemID=11749
Sun Dec 31, 2006 10:27 pm
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

January 19th, 2007
Amnesty International's Track Record in Haiti since 2004
--------------------------------------------------

By: Joe Emersberger - www.haitianalysis.com

The coup that ousted Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004 led very predictably to the worst human rights disaster in the Western Hemisphere over the following two years.[1] It is worth reviewing how the world's most famous human rights group, Amnesty International, responded.

[article continues at]

http://www.haitianalysis.com/
Sat Jan 20, 2007 5:23 pm
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

TO amnestyis@amnesty.org
Dear Gerardo Ducos,

Evidence continues to mount that MINUSTAH has been perpetrating massacres in Cite Soleil since December 22, 2006. The Haiti Information Project (HIP) has filmed victims saying, shortly before dying, that they were fired on by MINUSTAH. Haitian journalists and human rights workers have provided names and other details about the victims.

Why is Amnesty silent?

Joe Emersberger


SOURCES

http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_2_7a/2_2_7a.html
http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/1_21_7/1_21_7.html
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2208262.ece
http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca/article.php?id=238
Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:16 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
joe emersberger



Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Detailed list of UN's victims from December 22, 2006 alone
http://www.ijdh.org/pdf/headline2-8-07.pdf

Names of people killed
Names of people wounded,(including location of wound)
Plus list hundress of people who houses were damaged by UN (MINUSTAH) forces on December 22, 2006

SUGGESTED ACTION

It appears one of the "Uses of Haiti" (to borrow from Paul Farmer), has always been to expose the full depravity of the "civilized world" including its supposedly progressive institutions.

Please write to Amnesty International - amnestyis@amnesty.org

Ask why in the face of such compelling evidence of MINUSTAH's atrocities Amnesty has not even magaged to publicly express any concern or to even call for an investigation.

For a review of Amnesty's track record on Haiti see

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=55&ItemID=12073

While not stooping as low as some human rights groups - notably Human Rights Watch - Amnesty has clearly failed to respond appropriately to the worst human rights disaster in te Western Hemisphere over the past few years.

Note that it is Amnesty's UK office where decisions are really made.
Sat Feb 10, 2007 7:31 am
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Media Lens Forum Index -> your letters All times are GMT + 1 Hour
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2005 phpBB Group
    printer friendly
eXTReMe Tracker