Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Other Worlds

Other Worlds is an economic justice group that supports economic and social alternatives around the world.

June 1st, 2010 1:57 PM

United Nations Attacks Refugee Camp, Protests Mount

Last week, the United Nations peacekeeping mission fired tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowded refugee camp, leaving at least six hospitalized and others suffering respiratory problems. Citizen organizations plan demonstrations for today, the sixth anniversary of the U.N. armed presence in Haiti. The march is part of growing protests against the military forces which have amassed in Haiti since the January 12 earthquake and the lack of attention to displaced people’s needs.

On May 23, students at the School of Ethnology of the State University of Haiti held another in a series of protests on the central Champs de Mars Boulevard. The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH, by its French acronym) and Haitian police went into the school, firing tears gas and rubber bullets while the students threw rocks.

Then at about 3:00, MINUSTAH troops began firing in the internally displaced people’s camp in the downtown parks around Champs de Mars, where many thousands of people are crowded into tight quarters. The firing continued for hours, according to residents interviewed for this article and other reports. Camp residents reported that babies and small children choked on the gas and passed out, as did at least two women with preexisting heart conditions. Three doctors with Partners in Health at the University Hospital reported treating at least six victims of rubber bullet rounds. Two children were wounded in the face, one of them requiring about ten stitches, according to one of the doctors.[1]

When the attack began, camp residents, including many elderly and infirm people, and babies and small children fled. “I saw one woman running with her twins that are three or four months old,” said Eramithe Delva. “She had one in each arm, and with every step as she ran they banged against her chest. Is this what they want for us?” Many spent the night in the streets, for fear of returning to the camp. Residents interviewed said they had no idea why MINUSTAH fired on them.

MINUSTAH has since issued an apology for entering in the School of Ethnology. The statement did not mention the attack on the camp.

Demonstrations in Port-au-Prince and other areas of the country have become a daily occurrence. Most of them protest the government’s handling of the disaster and the heavy political and military presence of foreign powers since January 12. Within days after the earthquake, 12,600 U.N. troops, 20,000 U.S. troops, 2,000 Canadians, 600 French, and more from other countries amassed there.

Rural organizer Selina Pierre-Louis said, “We don’t know what these soldiers came to do. They have batons and guns in their hands. They zoom up and down in their huge vehicles all day. We’re not at war and we’re not armed. We need technical support, we need reconstruction, we need psychological help. They’re not doing anything to help the rebuilding. They’re just adding to our trauma.”

Troop levels overall have abated since the first months after the earthquake. The most recent figures on MINUSTAH’s web site show that just over 9,000 MINUSTAH forces remain there. The mission’s cost for the current fiscal year is $611.75 million.[2]

The Security Council-approved MINUSTAH was established on June 1, 2004 with a triple mandate of ensuring a “secure and stable environment,” promoting a constitutional political process, and strengthening human rights. Francky Etienne Remy, who owns a small craft shop in Jacmel, said, “The Haitian police are totally ineffectual so MINUSTAH fills a vacuum.”

Yet MINUSTAH troops have repeatedly been accused of killings, arbitrary arrests, and human rights violations throughout the duration of the mission. (See, for example, the reports of Harvard Law Student Advocates for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch.) These charges include an attack by MINUSTAH forces in Cité Soleil on April 15, 2005, killing several[3]; an attack on July 6, 2005, resulting in an uncertain number of deaths[4]; the killing of at least five, and possibly many more, people in Cité Soleil in December 22, 2006[5]; and the shooting death of a young man at the funeral of a prominent priest on July 14, 2009[6].

In February, 2008, the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services released its findings from an investigation into accusations against Sri Lankan MINUSTAH troops. It found that acts of sexual exploitation and abuse of children were "frequent" and occurred "at virtually every location where the contingent personnel were deployed."[7]

MINUSTAH forces have also been shot at and killed. MINUSTAH claims it has suffered 152 troop fatalities.[8]

Beyond charges of unnecessary force, others like the student, small farmer, worker, and popular organizations who are organizing today’s march, oppose MINUSTAH because they claim the mission undermines Haitian sovereignty. The May 26 press statement for the march, signed by ten organizations, states, “After the January 12 catastrophe, the occupation has been strengthened with other foreign soldiers and MINUSTAH, on the pretext that they are helping us… [T]hey did nothing to help prevent more than 300,000 people from dying under rubble… Now on the sixth anniversary of the occupation, we are taking to the streets of Port-au-Prince to get the country out from under the rubble of MINUSTAH.”[9]

Community organizer Nixon Boumba with the grassroots organization Democratic Popular Movement said in an interview, “We’re asking for Haitians to be the true actors in their future, and for an end to the occupation to allow the country to have dignity and autonomy for the development and transformation of the country. We need schools, we need people in the camps attended to. After January 12 there have been a lot of opportunities to resolve the problems in the country. Instead, Canada, France, the U.S., Brazil, and others have acted like imperialists, strengthening their power and trying to undermine our chance to change the quality of our country. The U.S. wants Haiti to serve as a military base for the Caribbean, to control resistance from Latin America. And they want to prevent a massive emigration toward the U.S. and Canada.”


[1] Information gathered from author interviews as well as first-person testimony collected by Melinda Miles, KOMPAY, and reported in a May 25 email to the author; and by Ansel Herz, Inter Press Service, reported in “U.N. Clash with Frustrated Students Spills into Camps,” May 25.
[2] MINUSTAH Facts and Figures, http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/minustah/facts.shtml
[3] Eyewitness testimony, AP television news story, April 15, 2010.
[4] http://www.cod.edu/people/faculty/yearman/cite_soleil.htm
[5] http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/12-another-massacre-in-haiti-by-un-troops/
[6] http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/secret-funeral-for-a-minustah-victim/
[7] Human Rights Watch, “Haiti: Events of 2008,” http://www.hrw.org/en/node/79214
[8] MINUSTAH Facts and Figures, http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/minustah/facts.shtml
[9] Gwoup 77 et al., “Press Release: Let’s mobilize to get the country out of the rubble of foreign aid and the rubble of the occupation,” Port-au-Prince, May 26, 2010.

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

If you have a moment today, I hope you can read the obituary for my father Francis (Frank) Moore, who died this past Saturday at the age of 92: Francis...

Apr 22nd
6:33 PM
Read More

My father, Francis (Frank) Moore, passed away this morning a few months shy if his 93rd birthday. He was a great dad I am blessed to have had him in my life. I...

Apr 20th
2:58 AM
Read More

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles