By Randall White, haitiaction.net, June 17 2005
Yves Engler, an activist with Haiti Action Montreal, interrupted a press conference at the Montreal International Conference on Haiti to splatter red paint - a symbol of Haitian blood -- on the hands of Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew. Shouting "Pettigrew Lies, Haitians Die!", Engler was tackled to the floor by several RCMP agents and arrested. He is currently being held at the prison at 980 Guy (just south of Rene Levesque) where a crowd of Haitian Montrealers and other solidarity activists have already gathered to demand for his release. Engler will appear before a judge tomorrow. Pettigrew and his handlers are already trying to slander Engler as one who has a longstanding personal grudge against the Foreign Minister. Do not be fooled - Engler and Haiti Action Montreal formed in the aftermath of the Febuary 29, 2004 coup that overthrew the elected government, which Canada has supported ever since. It was Engler's attempt to bring this foreign policy scandal to light, and put the Canadian-backed suffering of the Haitian people to the forefront of national attention. Attached is a photo of today's action. Many more to follow. A full video recording of the action at the press conference will be available shortly. Members of the media interested in obtaining a copy of this video or speaking to a spokesperson for Haiti Action Montreal may call:
It is completely understandable that Canadians may be offended by the action taken this afternoon. I only ask them to consider whether they are offended by the real blood that is being spilled in Haiti every day, with the full support of Pierre Pettigrew and the Canadian government. Mr. Pettigrew has said nothing to condemn the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Haiti in February 2004 -- not just President Jean Bertrand Aristide, but the entire elected government. Likewise, he has said nothing about the barbaric actions of the Haitian police that Canada is currently funding and training.
Mr. Pettigrew and the Canadian government have had plenty of opportunity to learn about the horrors of what they are supporting. In February, I personally handed him a copy of an extensive report by the University of Miami's Center for Human Rights. Copies of the report will be handed out to members of the media today. The report details the widespread abuses of the Haitian police, and the sham of a judicial system that Canada is directly funding.
Most recently, the Haitian Supreme Court ordered the release of Louis Jodel Chamblain, convicted for the 1994 massacre of slum residents in Raboteau. The former death-squad leader was acquitted in a hasty overnight trial that Amnesty International denounced as "an insult to justice" and a "mockery." The University of Miami reports that police and paramilitaries "routinely enter [poor neighborhoods] to conduct operations which are often murderous attacks" leaving victims that 3prefer to die at home untreated rather than risk arrest at the hospital. When I visited Haiti in December 2004, I heard many gruesome testimonies of these operations first-hand.
At almost every major Haitian demonstration that has called for the return of their democratically elected President, Canada-trained police have shot and killed protesters. It is tragically commonplace to read news stories -- few of which have found their way beyond the back pages of the North American corporate media, if reported at all -- that begin such as these:
As Mr. Pettigrew continues his complete silence about these abuses, and the mainstream media continues to shield the public from knowing about them, we can no longer remain silent. The fake blood on Mr. Pettigrew's suit can be removed; he can return to this sham of an international conference and continue about shmoozing and enjoying fancy meals with an illegitimate government and its international accomplices, including the US, France, the World Bank and IMF. But they must know that there are concerned citizens who will be standing up on behalf of the starving, impoverished Haitians that they are doing nothing to help.
Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere. It needs our support, - which we can give by simply respecting its democracy, respecting the will of its majority. The people of Haiti have suffered long enough from foreign-backed tyranny. Canada should immediately denounce the killings that it has been supporting, and immediately call for the reinstatement of Haiti's democratically elected government. I ask all Canadians to back this call. And lastly, I ask you to open up your hearts and minds to the plight of Haiti's suffering poor, suffering that our government is directly supporting, and suffering that together we can stop.
Posted July 24, 2023