by María Suárez Toro for SEMlac
Feminists and trade unions presented a united front as they marched through the streets of Port-au-Prince on March 8 for International Women’s Day, raising the banner of justice and against impunity for the brutal crimes of the dictatorship of Baby Doc Duvalier (1971- 1986). They declared that with continued impunity for these atrocious crimes there can be no successful reconstruction or reconciliation in the country.
The march, organized by the non-profit group Haitian Feminist Solidarity (SOFA by its acronym in Creole) and a labor organization, Batay Ouvriye (Workers’ Struggle), stopped at key locations starting at 10 am. The marchers left from Villemenay Street / Bois Verna in the capital and stopped in front of the Ministry for the Status of Women and Women’s Rights.
There, Carole Pierre Paul Jacob of SOFA, said Haiti needs “a social movement, fighting against the system of impunity that President Martelly wants to continue.” She denounced the excesses of the new regime, accusing the government of helping to maintain impunity, especially in the case of ex-dictator Jean Claude Duvalier.
On 30 January, the Office of the Civil Court of Port-au-Prince, declared by order of Judge Jean Carves that the former dictator will only be tried for the corruption and embezzlement charges against him but not for crimes against humanity. President Martelly has said that they should not be judging these crimes because reconciliation is a priority. .
Perre Paul Jacob, in her speech during the march, denounced that state authorities are obliged to accept that some people do not have to be brought to justice or the nation for the abuses and human rights violtations. “Under the pretext of reconciliation, they forget the countless crimes against humanity committed by Duvalier’s regime,” she lamented.
For its part, the Collective Against Impunity, a consortium of Haitian human rights organizations, issued a statement emphasizing that “on the occasion of March 8, International Women’s Day, we call forth the special memory of all the women and child victims of the Duvalier dictatorship who were tortured, raped, murdered, disappeared. ” They noted that there cannot be true reconciliation and reconstruction with such impunity. “People who fought against the dictatorship did not act out of resentment, but for democracy and human rights,” said Danielle Magloire, a feminist and coordinator of the Collective who read a statement during the march.
When they passed the headquarters of the United Nations Mission for Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH), Magloire called for the UN forces to leave the country and to compensate those affected by the cholera epidemic brought to Haiti by peacekeepers of MINUSTAH.
The march ended at the Parliament building, where marchers demanded that deputies and senators work to prevent renewal of the UN Mission and demanded that the “blue helmets” (soldiers of the Mission) be tried in Haiti for their role in the cholera epidemic and for numerous allegations of abuse perpetrated against the population.
The Mission arrived in Haiti in 2004 and has no exit date. The Security Council of the United Nations is the body responsible for defining the terms of the mission, which is renewed every six months.