Eyewitnesses Describe Massacre by UN Troops in Haitian Slum
Democracy Now | July 11, 2005
In Haiti, UN troops launched a pre-dawn raid on Cite Soleil, one of the most economically-depressed neighborhoods of Port au Prince. Local residents say it might have been the deadliest attack carried out by UN troops since they were stationed in the country last year.
On Saturday hundreds of Haitians gatherer for the funeral of Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme -- a popular community leader who lives in Cite Soleil, one of the most economically-depressed neighborhoods of Port au Prince. Wilme was killed last Wednesday when UN troops attacked the neighborhood in a pre-dawn raid.
Although the raid has received little attention, local residents say it might have been the deadliest attack carried out by UN troops since they were stationed in the country last year.
According to residents the UN troops entered the area at about three in the morning and opened fire. Eyewitnesses reported the UN troops used helicopters, tanks, machine guns and tear gas in the operation. The UN has admitted that its troops killed at least five people. UN military spokesman Colonel Elouafi Boulbars told Agence France Presse, "The bandits tried to fight our men. They suffered serious losses and we found five bodies in what was left of a house." Local residents put the figure at no less than 20. Some estimates are even higher. Witnesses said innocent civilians were among the victims.
Another local resident lost her husband in the raid. She described what happened on Wednesday.
- Witnesses in Cite Soleil describe the UN raid.
The United Nations has defended the operation by describing it as a necessary move to wipe out violent gang activity. Both the United Nations and the interim Haitian government have described the slain Dread Wilme as one of the country's top gang leaders. Cite Soleil is comprised largely of supporters of the Lavalas Party and ousted Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide who was overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup 18 months ago. To local residents Dread Wilme was a community leader and the attacks were seen as politically motivated.
- Cite Soleil resident describes her husband's death.
We are joined in our studio by Seth Donnelly. He visited Cite Soleil hours after the killings and interviewed survivors. On Saturday he attended Dread Wilme's funeral. Seth Donnelly was in Haiti as part of a human rights delegation sponsored by the San Francisco Labor Council.
- Cite Soleil residents talk about Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme.