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26220: Esser: (news) Journalists K. Pina and J. Ristil arrested by masked police at Jean-Juste's church (fwd)
From: D. Esser <email@example.com>
Haiti-news mailing list
Haiti Information Project - HIP
September 9, 2005
Haiti journalists Kevin Pina and Jean Ristil arrested by masked
police at Father Jean-Juste's church
Port au Prince, Haiti (HIP) - International journalist and
Flashpoints Radio correspondent, Kevin Pina, was arrested at about
5:00 PM today according to Jean Ristil, another Haitian reporter, who
was arrested shortly after he reported on the situation from St.
Claire's Church in the Delmas district. Haitian Lawyers Leadership
chair, Marguerite Laurent, Esq., http://tinyurl.com/a6vg7 stated
that Kevin Pina is in "extreme danger" and concerned people should
call the U.S. Embassy ( 011-509-222-0200 / 011-509-222-0354 /
011-509-223-4711 from USA ) and demand his release and safety.
Heavily armed and masked SWAT members of The Police Nationale d'Haiti
(PNH) had arrived at Rev. Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste's church to serve a
search warrant today with a juge d'instruction and juge de paix. The
PNH were ostensibly "searching for weapons" at the church where 600 -
800 children are fed. Many children were present when the SWAT police
began destroying the rectory as they were "terrorizing the
parishioners" with their search. Pina and Restil had arrived
separately after they were called by members of St. Claire's.
Kevin Pina began questioning the officials of the coup government as
to why they were destroying the church property and was arrested.
"You're nothing but a troublemaker! Your friends in California are
always causing us trouble ..." claimed the officials as they put Pina
under arrest. Reporter Jean Ristil was present during this and was
reporting the scene to Marguerite Laurent when he said that he
couldn't talk anymore and was also arrested.
Concerned friends and colleagues of the two reporters managed to
track them to where they are being held in the police lockup at
Delmas 33 in Port-au-Prince. Two U.S.reporters, a U.S.based human
rights observer, a U.S.nun and two Haitian observers went to the
holding facility to attempt to clarify the reasons for the arrest and
to alert the police that their treatment of the two men is being
Pina and Restil are being held in a small cell with approximately 7
other men. Pina was able to give the following description of events:
"We went to cover the PNH search of Fr. Jean-Juste's church for guns.
The police were clearly initmidating the boys in the presbytery. I
scaled a wall to enter the compound, but a policeman outside said
nothing to stop me from doing so, and I would have stopped had he
done so. I also have an open invitation from both Fr. Jean-Juste and
the priest who has been conducting the feeding program while
Jean-Juste is in prison to come to the church as I please.
"When both Jean and I had scaled the wall the judge of instruction
supervising the police operation began screaming at me, saying that I
was a foreign terrorist and with Lavalas. He told the police to take
my camera, which I would not let them do. I told them that before
they did anything else I wanted to see a representative of my
embassy. They then handcuffed me and put me in the back of a police
car. Now the judge claimed I hit him. I have been covering Haiti
since 1989 and I have never raised my hands to anyone in authority,
and would never do so."
The fact that police were searching Fr. Jean-Juste's church 6 weeks
after they arrested him on trumped-up charges, at the same time that
the activist priest is widely assumed to be the one pesidential
candidate aside from Jean-Bertrand Aristide that can generate mass
support suggests an attempt to create further basis for attacks on
Jean-Juste. In addition, arresting two independent journalists just
days before an announced mass demonstration in Port-au-Prince is a
blatant example of press censorship on the part of the U.S.-backed
Haitian coup regime.
Even though the "search" may have been considered legal, it was
obvious that the PNH weren't expecting to find any weapons. These
searches have been served at St. Claire's several times since the
US-sponsored Coup d'État of February 29, 2004 with the same charges
that security weapons were not returned to the coup government. One
search was made when Fr. Jean-Juste was imprisoned for a 40¢ crime
http://www.HaitiAction.net/News/FrJJ/10_20_4.html for six weeks after
his arrest October 16, 2004
http://www.HaitiAction.net/News/HIP/10_13_4.html when a couple of
children who were being fed were shot.
"Kevin Pina, he's that lone voice in the wilderness ..." stated
Laurent on KPFA-Berkeley Flashpoints program. Since the USA has been
trying to force Haiti to conduct presidential elections this
November, pro-democracy activists have put Fr. Jean Juste's name on
the ballot as their choice for president even though he has been in
solitary confinement since July 21, 2005. The official leaders of
Fanmi Lavalas have considered the coup government and this election
to be constitutionally illegal and refuse to participate in the sham
Today Pere Jean-Juste stated from his imprisonment that he is "...
with the poor and has heard their call ..." It's also reported that
his condition is improving and that he's healing from the injuries
that he sustained previously when he was taken into "protected
custody" by UN troops and imprisoned. There have been rumors recently
that Fr. Jean-Juste would be released before the elections as there
are no credible charges by the Latortue government against him. It is
thought that the stated objective of todays "search" was a pretense,
with the real purpose being to fabricate charges to keep him in
custody until after the elections.
Fanmi Lavalas is the overwhelming choice of Haiti's citizens, with
support estimated at higher than sixty percent of the population.
Many Lavalas leaders have been imprisoned, forced into exile or
assassinated since the coup d'État. Kevin Pina has been reporting on
this situation from the beginning and is one of the subjects of a
Haiti Information Project http://www.teledyol.net/HIP/about.html
documentary — Haiti: The Untold Story
http://www.teledyol.net/KP/HUS/HUS.html — that was released last
month, it focuses on the repressive and murderous role of the UN
occupation acting as a proxy for U.S. interests. The documentary
contains graphic footage showing victims of the recent Citè Soliel
massacres conducted by the UN (MINUSTAH) forces. It is currently
being screened internationally.
To download the seven minute trailer for the Haiti Information
Haiti: The Untold Story click this link:
U.N. covers for Haiti's killer cops, threaten American journalist May 18, 2005
Haitian Lawyers Leadership - Urgent Action Alert
Demand Release of Kevin Pina and Jean Ristil