Archive for the ‘Wahlen’ Category

Israel: Same procedure

Sonntag, Januar 27th, 2013

“Eine breite Koalition für Israel

Das Wahlergebnis wird Netanjahus Politik nur marginal verändern

Von Sebastian Engelbrecht, Freier Journalist

Die Aufregung war groß im Wahlstudio des zweiten israelischen Fernsehkanals. Die Moderatorin kündigte kurz vor der Veröffentlichung der ersten Prognose große Überraschungen, revolutionäre Ergebnisse an. Doch vier Tage nach der Wahl ist deutlich geworden: Das Wahlergebnis wird die israelische Regierungspolitik allenfalls in Nuancen verändern.

Blickt man auf die politischen Blöcke, dann hat sich überhaupt nichts gewandelt. Bei den Knesset-Wahlen vor vier Jahren erreichten die rechten und religiösen Parteien 61 von 120 Sitzen. Die Wahlen am vergangenen Dienstag erbrachten exakt dasselbe Ergebnis: 61 Sitze für die nationalistischen und ultraorthodoxen Parteien. Wer dieses Lager – und die Regierung künftig anführen wird, steht fest: Likud-Chef Benjamin Netanjahu. Innerhalb des rechten Lagers ist die Fraktion der Nationalreligiösen um Naftali Bennet nun von drei auf zwölf Sitze gewachsen.

Zugleich haben die säkularen Nationalisten um Netanjahu und Ex-Außenminister Liebermann ein Viertel ihrer Mandate verloren. An der Generallinie der neuen Regierung wird das nicht viel ändern. Wie vor vier Jahren braucht der Ministerpräsident auch jetzt eine Partei aus dem politischen Zentrum als Koalitionspartner. Denn 61 Sitze werden Netanjahu als Basis für seine neue Regierung nicht ausreichen. Daher wird er die neue – ausdrücklich regierungswillige – Partei “Jesch Atid” um den ehemaligen Fernsehmoderator Jair Lapid in die Koalition holen. Mit dessen “Zukunftspartei” hätte die Regierung 80 von 120 Mandaten in der Knesset.

Ob es Netanjahu gelingt, eine so breite Koalition aufzustellen, bleibt abzuwarten. Er steht bei den beginnenden Koalitionsverhandlungen vor allem vor einer innenpolitischen Richtungsentscheidung. Wenn er auf die Ultraorthodoxen als Partner verzichten würde, könnte er mit Lapid ein revolutionäres Gesetz zum Wehrdienst verabschieden. Dann müssten auch streng religiöse jüdische Israelis in Zukunft den Wehrdienst in der israelischen Armee leisten. Aber die treuen Koalitionspartner der religiösen Parteien, Shas und Vereinigtes Thorah-Judentum, wird Netanjahu nicht düpieren. Er will eine “breite Koalition”. Das heißt: Er will einen Kompromiss aushandeln zwischen den Positionen Lapids und der Ultraorthodoxen – zwischen radikaler Wehrgerechtigkeit und radikaler Wehrdienstverweigerung.

Mit Lapid als Partner wird Netanjahu auch tatkräftiger als bisher auf die Sozialproteste des Mittelstandes reagieren müssen. Seine bisherigen politischen Schritte haben den Menschen keine Entlastung gebracht. Die Lebenshaltungskosten sind extrem hoch und Mieten und Kaufpreise für Immobilien unerschwinglich teuer. In der Außen- und Verteidigungspolitik sind keine großen Neuerungen zu erwarten. Der alte und neue Ministerpräsident wird sich von niemandem, auch nicht von Jair Lapid, einen Baustopp in den Siedlungen im Westjordanland aufdrängen lassen. Für Lapid standen die außenpolitischen Fragen bislang ohnehin nicht im Fokus: weder der Friedensprozess mit den Palästinensern noch der Umgang mit den neuen Regierungen in den arabischen Nachbarstaaten noch eine friedliche Beilegung des Konflikts um das iranische Atomprogramm.

Außenpolitisch ist Jair Lapid ein unbeschriebenes Blatt. Sollte er Außenminister werden, wie israelische Medien vermuten, würde Israel von einem unverbrauchten, ansehnlichen Gesicht vertreten. Aber die Bereitschaft zu mutigen Entscheidungen, zu Konzessionen an die Palästinenser, fehlt auch Jair Lapid. Mit Netanjahu hat die Mehrheit der Israelis erneut einen Zauderer, einen Taktiker zu ihrem Regierungschef gewählt. Er steht für Stagnation, nicht für Aufbruch. Er beherrscht die demagogische Rede wie kein anderer. Er hat sich als Meister im Schmieden politischer Bündnisse erwiesen. Er redet viel vom Frieden und baut ununterbrochen Siedlungen auf palästinensischem Land. Netanjahus Vision ist die eines Staates Israel vom Mittelmeer bis zum Jordan. Mit Worten unterstützt er die Zwei-Staaten-Lösung, mit seinen Taten aber macht er eine Friedenslösung unmöglich. Wer Netanjahu am Wahlabend bei seiner Dankesrede beobachtet hat, der sah ihm die Enttäuschung über die Stimmenverluste für seinen Likud an. Für einen Moment war das Selbstbewusstsein des allzu selbstsicheren Regierungschefs gestört. Nur für einen Moment.”

 

(Quelle: Deutschlandfunk.)

Siehe auch:

Presseschau zur Wahl in Israel: “Eine denkwürdige Tracht Prügel für Netanjahu”

USA: Wiederholungshandlung

Montag, November 12th, 2012

“Julian Assange says victorious Barack Obama ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’

London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday described re-elected US President Barack Obama as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and said he expected his government to continue attacking the anti-secrecy website.

Speaking to AFP by telephone from Ecuador’s London embassy, where he sought asylum in June in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crime allegations, Assange said Obama’s victory was no cause for celebration.

“Obama seems to be a nice man, and that is precisely the problem,” the 41-year-old Australian said, after the president defeated Republican Mitt Romney on Tuesday night to sweep back into the White House.

“It’s better to have a sheep in wolf’s clothing than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

He added: “All of the activities against WikiLeaks by the United States have occurred under an Obama administration.

“The Republican party has not been an effective restraining force on government excesses over the last four years.

“There is no reason to believe that will change -in fact, the Republicans will push the administration into ever greater excesses.”

Assange called on the United States to free Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking a huge cache of classified military documents to WikiLeaks and has been held in solitary confinement in a military prison for over two years.

“The re-election of Barack Obama coincides with the 899th day of Bradley Manning’s confinement,” Assange said.

WikiLeaks enraged Washington in 2010 by leaking thousands of classified US documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and embarrassing diplomatic cables from US embassies around the world.

Assange was arrested that same year.

He denies the allegations of rape and sexual assault and claims that if he is extradited to Sweden he could be passed on to the United States and prosecuted, facing treatment similar to Manning’s or even the death sentence.”

 

(Quelle: NDTV.com)

USA: Money matters

Dienstag, Juli 3rd, 2012

“Are nuclear weapons contractors’ millions in campaign contributions buying favors?

on June 12th, 2012 at 8:00 am

By R. Jeffrey Smith — Center for Public Integrity

Employees of private companies that produce the main pieces of the U.S. nuclear arsenal have invested more than $18 million in the election campaigns of lawmakers that oversee related federal spending, and the companies also employ more than 95 former members of Congress or Capitol Hill staff to lobby for government funding, according to a new report.


Contri­bu­tions by top 10 nuclear weapons contractors to key members of Congress
Company Tech­nologies Developed 2012 Total
Lockheed Martin bombers and warhead components $535,000 $2,764,949
Honeywell Inter­na­tional warhead compo­nents $464,582 $2,199,431
Northrop Grumman bombers and warhead components $464,000 $2,568,748
Boeing Co bombers $336,750 $2,272,551
General Dynamics submarines $293,850 $2,183,461
General Electric bomber engines $231,450 $2,097,720
United Tech­nologies bomber engines $158,000 $1,065,350
Fluor Corp warhead compo­nents $103,150 $652,149
Bechtel Group submarines and warhead components $98,500 $769,550
Babcock & Wilcox warhead compo­nents $92,000 $449,749

Total contri­bu­tions” is the total given to current members of the key committees over their political careers.

Source: The Center for Inter­na­tional Policy


Employees of private companies that produce the main pieces of the U.S. nuclear arsenal have invested more than $18 million in the election campaigns of lawmakers that oversee related federal spending, and the companies also employ more than 95 former members of Congress or Capitol Hill staff to lobby for government funding, according to a new report.

The Center for Inter­na­tional Policy, a nonprofit group that supports the “demil­i­ta­rization” of U.S. foreign policy, released the report on Wednesday to high­light what it described as the heavy influence of campaign dona­tions and pork barrel politics on a part of the defense budget not usually asso­ciated with large profits or contractor power: nuclear arms.

As Congress delib­erated this spring on nuclear weapons-related projects, including funding for the devel­opment of more modern submarines and bombers, the top 14 contractors gave nearly $3 million to the 2012 reelection campaigns of lawmakers whose support they needed for these and other projects, the report disclosed.

Half of that sum went to members of the six key committees or subcom­mittees that must approve all spending for nuclear arms — the House and Senate Armed Services Committees and the Energy and Water or Defense appro­pri­a­tions subcom­mittees, according to data the Center compiled from the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics. The rest went to lawmakers who are active on nuclear weapons issues because they have related factories or labo­ra­tories in their states or districts.

Members of the House Armed Services Committee this year have sought to erect legislative road­blocks to further reduc­tions in nuclear arms, and also demanded more spending for related facilities than the Obama admin­is­tration sought, including $100 million in unre­quested funds for a new plant that will make plutonium cores for nuclear warheads, and $374 million for a new ballistic missile-firing submarine. The House has approved those requests, but the Senate has not held a similar vote on the 2013 defense bill.

Although lawmakers say their votes are not influ­enced by the campaign dona­tions they receive, and donors routinely say their contri­bu­tions are meant to ensure access — not buy votes, the Center’s report said that the $18 million given by the contractors to key lawmakers over the course of their political careers makes it hard for the recip­ients to ignore what the companies want.

Any effort to downsize the nation’s nuclear force is likely to be met with fierce oppo­sition from the indi­viduals and insti­tu­tions that benefit from the nuclear status quo, including corpo­ra­tions involved in designing and building nuclear delivery vehicles; companies that operate nuclear warhead-related facil­ities; and members of Congress with nuclear weapons-related facil­ities or deploy­ments,” said the report by William Hartung, who directs the Center for Inter­na­tional Policy’s Arms and Security Project.

Other groups have docu­mented that there is a substantial financial stake in nuclear weapons poli­cy­making: At present, the U.S. government spends roughly $31 billion a year on its arsenal, according to a tally released on Tuesday by the Stimson Center, a nonprofit research and policy analysis group in Wash­ington. It has also proposed to spend at least $120 billion on new warhead-carrying submarines, bombers, and missiles over the next several decades.

Ensuring steady access to such funding is vital for some of the companies whose employees made large campaign dona­tions cited in the study — such as Lockheed or Northrop Grumman — because they draw at least 80 percent of their revenue from federal contracts. Of the 137 lobbyists hired by the top contractors, 57 are former members of Congress, 39 are former congres­sional staff, 16 are former defense offi­cials and 8 are former Energy Department offi­cials, the study said.

Although many firms work on multiple weapons and so have various reasons to curry congres­sional favor, some of the best-financed lawmakers are prominent advo­cates of sustaining and modern­izing the nuclear arsenal, according to the study. They have promoted that cause through formal legislative caucuses that promote ship­building, submarines, and long-range strategic bombers, as well as an informal alliance of members from states where nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles are based, the report states.

These include the Ship­building Caucus, the Submarine Caucus, and the Long-Range Strike Caucus. The contractor-supported coun­ter­parts of these groups include the Submarine Indus­trial Base Council, which claims a membership of 5,000 companies; the 60,000-member Navy League; and the 100,000-member Air Force Association.

Of the top twenty Senate recip­ients of nuclear weapons contractor dona­tions, seven are presently members of the members of the Armed Services subcom­mittee on strategic forces. They have collected a total of $272,816 for their 2012 campaigns, and a total of $2.4 million since their first election. On the House side, six of the top twenty recip­ients are members of the Armed Services strategic forces subcom­mittee. They have collected $558,532 for their 2012 campaigns, and $2.2 million overall.

The top single Senate recipient is Diane Fein­stein (D-Cal.), who chairs the Intel­li­gence Committee and the appro­pri­a­tions subcom­mittee that handles the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons budget; she collected $74,500 in this election cycle and $421,747 over her 20-year career, according to the report. Those figures represent only one percent of her total campaign receipts, for the current cycle and over her career.

Feinstein’s spokesman Brian Weiss did not respond to a request for comment. The report noted that she has ques­tioned the high cost of several new facil­ities that the Energy Department sought to build for warhead production or processing.

House Armed Services Committee chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Cal.) is the top House recipient of funding from nuclear weapons contractors, collecting $257,750 so far in this election cycle and $809,150 over his 19-year congres­sional career.The funds represent nearly a fifth of all the campaign dona­tions he has collected in this cycle, and the lifetime tally is nine percent of his lifetime campaign funding, according to data on the Center for Responsive Politics website.

McKeon’s spokesman Alissa McCurley told the Center for Public Integrity in April that “funding from special interests does not always mean some­thing unethical is afoot. Chairman McKeon receives input from senior military leaders as part of routine Congres­sional over­sight. Those views, along with those of Committee profes­sional staff members, are what sets his annual prior­ities” on arms control and nuclear arms.

Capitol Hill records make clear that McKeon’s support for industry posi­tions nonetheless increased as he became a more senior committee member and its dona­tions to him spiked. Defense firms of various cate­gories donated between seven and thirty-two times more to McKeon after he became chairman than they did beforehand, according to a November 2011 study of key House committee chairman by Citizens for Respon­si­bility and Ethics in Wash­ington (CREW), a nonprofit group.

The CREW study further found that from 2007–2008, McKeon’s votes were aligned with defense firms about a quarter of the time, but “since January 2011, Rep. McKeon has voted on average 100 percent in agreement with the indus­tries regu­lated by the Armed Services Committee.” That alignment was higher than the average for House Repub­licans. McCurley did not respond to an e-mail and phone call requesting comment.

Defense industry funding of the committee’s senior Democrat, Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.) simi­larly rose substan­tially when he moved to that position in 2010. But Smith’s voting support for industry-backed policies has fluc­tuated, going from 75 percent in 2007–2008 to 33 percent from 2009–2010 and then returning to 75 percent since Jan. 2011, according to the CREW study.

Some of the top campaign recip­ients have parochial reasons for supporting nuclear weapons contractors: Smith’s district includes a substantial Boeing presence while McKeon’s district includes Northrop Grumman, Boeing, and Lockheed factories, as well as a major Air Force base. Fein­stein has a substantial portion of the aero­space industry in her state as well as one of the three labo­ra­tories where nuclear weapons are designed.

But CREW said the sudden influx of contri­bu­tions given to key members once they became chairman or second-in-rank raised overall ques­tions “about how beholden [they] are to the indus­tries they oversee, and whether they are inde­pendent enough to put public interest ahead of special interest.”


Data Editor David Donald contributed to this article.

Center for Public Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity was founded in 1989 by Charles Lewis. We are one of the country’s oldest and largest nonpar­tisan, nonprofit inves­tigative news orga­ni­za­tions. Our mission: to reveal abuses of power, corruption and dere­liction of duty by powerful public and private insti­tu­tions in order to cause them to operate with honesty, integrity, account­ability and to put the public interest first.

iWatch News is the Center’s online publi­cation dedi­cated to inves­tigative and account­ability reporting. It provides original and exclusive daily stories as well as in-depth investigations.

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(Quelle: GalesburgPlanet.com)

Myanmar / Birma / Burma: Skepsis trotz Wahlen

Sonntag, April 29th, 2012

“Was glänzt da im Land der Goldenen Pagoden?

Zu den aktuellen Entwicklungen in Burma

Von Sina Schüssler

Zeitenwende, Umbruch, Zeit des Erwachens, so werden die aktuellen Entwicklungen in Burma beschrieben. Dennoch, das ABER bleibt.

Denn es sind nicht nur die Gewalt in den Gebieten der ethnischen Minderheiten, die Inhaftierung von politischen Gefangenen und die hohe Zahl an intern Vertriebenen, die besorgniserregend sind, sondern auch die Taktik der ehemaligen Militärs, die Zügel nicht aus der Hand zu geben und sich nur dort reformbereit zu zeigen, wo dies ihre Macht nicht gefährden kann.
Als die Militärregierung 2008 Wahlen angekündigte, war die Skepsis sowohl unter den Oppositionellen in Burma und im Exil, als auch von Seiten der westlichen Staaten erst noch groß. An eine wirkliche politische Kursänderung glaubte zunächst kaum ein Kritiker der Militärdiktatur. Nur Wirtschaftsunternehmen schienen mit der Ankündigung der Wahlen eine Chance zur Beendigung der Sanktionen und damit die Möglichkeit zum Ausbau der Wirtschaftsbeziehungen zu wittern. So besuchte eine hochrangige Delegation der deutsch-malaysischen Handelskammer Burma bereits Ende 2009 und sondierte den Markt für Handel und Investitionen.[1] Im Jahr 2010 waren es die deutschen Unternehmen Deckel Maho Gildemeister und Trumpf, die von Seiten der burmesischen Zivilgesellschaft im Exil unter Druck gerieten. Der Nachrichtensender Democratic Voice of Burma hatte diesen Unternehmen trotz der bestehenden Sanktionen die Verwicklung in das burmesische Atomprogramm bewiesen.

Ein Schritt in die richtige Richtung

Die Regierungswahlen, die schließlich im November 2010 stattfanden, wurden zwar besonders von den europäischen Staaten als Schritt in die richtige Richtung, jedoch nicht als ein grundlegender demokratischer Wandel betrachtet. Diese Einschätzung war dabei unter anderem durch die Boykottierung der Wahlen von Seiten der National League for Democracy (NLD) beeinflusst. Die NLD hatte ihre Teilnahme an den Wahlen auf Grund unfairer Wahlgesetze, welche die Militärs im März 2010 beschlossenen hatten, verweigert. Denn diese Wahlgesetze reservierten nicht nur 25 Prozent der Parlamentssitze für die (ehemaligen) Angehörigen der Militärregierung, wodurch Verfassungsänderungen blockiert werden können, sondern sahen auch vor, Strafgefangenen die Mitgliedschaft in politischen Parteien zu verbieten. Aung San Suu Kyi, sofern ihr Hausarrest als Gefängnisstrafe bewertet worden wäre, sowie die mehr als 400 inhaftierten NLD Mitglieder, hätten somit im Fall der Registrierung als Partei für die Wahlen von dieser ausgeschlossen werden müssen. Die Boykottierung der Wahlen stieß jedoch auch auf Kritik von unterschiedlichen Seiten: Für die Militärregierung bewies die NLD hiermit ihre fehlende Kooperationsbereitschaft mit der Junta. NLD Parteifunktionäre im Exil kritisierten die Boykottierung als das Fehlen einer politischen Strategie und auch aus den westlichen Staaten waren Stimmen zu hören, die hierin eine verpasste Chance zur Beeinflussung der politischen Verhältnisse in Burma sahen.

Die fehlende Regierungsbeteiligung von Aung San Suu Kyi und der NLD stellt jedoch heute für die nun formal zivile burmesische Regierung eines der größten Probleme dar. In der Burma-Strategie der EU-Staaten, der USA, Australiens und Kanadas nahm Aung San Suu Kyi stets eine prominente Rolle ein. So verschärften diese Länder die Sanktionen regelmäßig bei erneuten Übergriffen auf Aung San Suu Kyi oder der Festsetzung von ihr. Das formulierte Ziel der Sanktionspolitik seitens der Europäischen Union gegen Burma war es, so einen Beitrag zur Herstellung einer Demokratischen Ordnung und zur Achtung der Menschenrechte zu leisten. Als Kriterien für die Aufhebung der Sanktionen gelten dabei die Einbeziehung der demokratischen Bewegung und der ethnischen Minderheiten in das politische System, die Freilassung von politischen Gefangenen sowie ein Rückgang der Gewalt in den Gebieten der ethnischen Minderheiten. Voraussetzung für die »Normalisierung« der Beziehungen zwischen Burma und den westlichen Staaten ist somit auch eine Regierungsbeteiligung der NLD. Kurz vor dem Besuch der US-Außenministerin Hillary Clinton im Dezember 2011 kündigte die burmesische Regierung das Abhalten von Nachwahlen für 48 von insgesamt 664 Sitzen an. Kann die NLD durch diesen Schritt an der Regierung beteiligt werden, scheint ein wichtiges Kriterium für die Aufhebung der Sanktionen erfüllt. Aung San Suu Kyi bestätigte die Teilnahme der NLD für die derzeit im April 2012 geplanten Nachwahlen, auch wenn ihr möglicher Einfluss im fast zu 90 Prozent von ehemaligen Militärs und der dem Militär nahestehenden Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) dominierten Parlament als gering zu bewerten ist. Mit den Wahlen 2010 und der Beteiligung der NLD an den Nachwahlen 2012 erfüllt die neue burmesische Regierung somit entscheidende Kriterien zur Aufhebung der Sanktionen. Die westlichen Staaten reagierten bereits auf diese Entwicklungen und zeigten ihre Anerkennung für diese Schritte durch die Besuche hochrangiger RegierungsvertreterInnen, sowie die Lockerung der Sanktionen.

Dennoch sind unbedingt weitere Schritte notwendig, bevor eine Aufhebung der Sanktionen ernsthaft in Aussicht gestellt werden kann. Kurz nach den Wahlen eskalierte zunächst der Konflikt in den Gebieten der ethnischen Minderheiten. Bereits am Tag der Wahlen übernahm die Democratic Karen Buddhist Party (DKBA) die Kontrolle über die an der Grenze zu Thailand liegende Stadt Myawaddy; in Folge der dortigen Kampfhandlungen flüchteten mehr als 10.000 Menschen vorübergehend nach Thailand. Bereits im Vorfeld der Wahlen hatten sich die Kampforganisationen der ethnischen Minderheiten von Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon und Shan als Bekenntnis ihres gemeinsamen Kampfes gegen die Militärregierung in einer Allianz zusammengeschlossen.[2] Im Februar 2011 gründeten die Repräsentanten von 15 politischen bzw. bewaffneten ethnischen Gruppen den United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), mit dem Ziel, die Kooperation zwischen den ethnischen Gruppen zur Erreichung eines »wahren« demokratisch, föderalen Staates weiter zu verstärken.[3]

Am 12. Januar 2012 schloss die Karen National Union (KNU) eine Waffenstillstandsvereinbarung mit der burmesischen Regierung, die in den Medien als historisches Ereignis gefeiert wurde. Lokale Menschenrechtsorganisationen wie die Free Burma Rangers berichten jedoch trotz der aufgenommenen Gespräche über eine Fortsetzung der Gewalt in dem Gebiet der Karen durch das burmesische Militär.[4] Die Vertretungen anderer ethnischer Minderheiten, wie beispielsweise die New Mon State Party (NMSP), verweigern bisher jedoch die Aufnahme von Verhandlungen mit der burmesischen Regierung über Waffenstillstandsvereinbarungen, so lange die burmesische Armee ihre Angriffe gegen die Kachin fortsetzt.[5] Die NMSP beruft sich dabei auch auf die gemeinsame Erklärung des UNFC, in der festgehalten ist, dass zwar Gespräche zwischen Regierung und einzelnen politischen Vertretungen der ethnischen Minderheiten möglich sind, die Mitglieder der UNFC sich jedoch nicht durch bilaterale Friedensverträge spalten lassen. Der Konflikt zwischen Regierung und den ethnischen Minderheiten ist somit noch nicht geregelt und hängt, wie es in der UNFC Erklärung formuliert ist, vom glaubwürdig demonstrierten Willen der burmesischen Regierung ab, den Konflikt mit politischen anstatt mit militärischen Mitteln anzugehen und dementsprechend einen Friedensvertrag mit der UNFC bzw. allen ihren Mitgliedern zu schließen.

Eine große Herausforderung sind die 500.000 intern vertriebenen Menschen

Eine weitere Herausforderung in Burma besteht in der hohen Anzahl an intern Vertriebenen (Internal Displaced People: IDP), die auch durch die Kampfhandlungen der letzten Monate weiter angestiegen ist. Nach Angaben der Organisation Refugees International sind 500.000 Menschen in Burma intern Vertriebene. Internationale Hilfsorganisationen haben kaum Zugang zu den Konfliktregionen, so dass die IDPs dort bisher, wenn überhaupt, nur durch lokale Initiativen unterstützt werden konnten. Die eskalierten gewaltsamen Auseinandersetzungen zwischen der burmesischen Armee und der Kachin Independence Army (KIA) seit Juni 2011 haben verheerende Auswirkungen. So wurden in den vergangenen Monaten 50.000 Kachin vertrieben. Hinzu kommen die andauernden Menschenrechtsverletzungen von beiden Konfliktakteuren an der Bevölkerung sowie der Einsatz von Kindersoldaten und Landminen. Ebenfalls unklar ist bisher die Situation der politischen Gefangenen. Zwar hat die burmesische Regierung in den vergangenen Monaten bereits drei Mal so genannte Amnestien erlassen und Gefangene entlassen. Wie die Menschenrechtsorganisationen Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma (AAPPB) angibt, haben von diesem Schritt der Regierung allerdings kaum die politischen Gefangenen profitiert. So entließ die Regierung im Mai 2011 zwar 14.600 Gefangene, es handelte sich allerdings nur bei 72 von diesen um politische Gefangene. Auch unter den 6.359 im Oktober 2011 entlassenen Gefangenen, war nur eine kleine Anzahl von politischen Gefangenen vertreten, nämlich 241. Die dritte Amnestie vom 5. Januar 2012 brachte gerade mal 34 politischen Gefangenen die Freiheit. Zusätzlich hatten die freigelassenen politischen Gefangenen ohnehin ihre Haftstrafe fast verbüßt.

Vordergründig scheint es somit zunächst so, als sei die burmesische Regierung dabei, die europäischen Forderungen zur Aufhebung der Sanktionen zu erfüllen bzw. habe diese bereits zumindest in Teilen erfüllt. So wird die NLD aller Voraussicht nach in wenigen Wochen an der Regierung beteiligt sein, Verhandlungen mit den ethnischen Minderheiten wurden aufgenommen und erste Vereinbarungen geschlossen sowie politische Gefangene entlassen. Allerdings haben die ehemaligen Militärs ihre Zügel bisher nicht aus der Hand gegeben und entscheiden somit autark darüber, wem sie wie viele neue Freiheiten zugestehen und welche Veränderungen sie zulassen. Bisher gab es kaum strukturelle Veränderungen, die eine Herrschaft des Volkes garantieren und auch wenn eine Regierungsbeteiligung der NLD möglicherweise ein Schritt hin zu mehr Demokratie ist, wird ihr Einfluss dennoch gering sein, auch wenn es der NLD möglich sein sollte, alle freien Parlamentssitze zu gewinnen. Im Parlament hat das Militär seine Macht nicht nur durch die USDP abgesichert, sondern auch durch den 25-Prozent-Anteil des Militärs im Parlament, wodurch es diesen möglich ist, Verfassungsänderungen mit einem Veto zu verhindern.

Der Hoffnungsschimmer der politischen Veränderungen wird breiter

Dennoch ist es nicht nur das Gold der Pagoden, das dort in Burma glänzt. Der Hoffnungsschimmer der politischen Veränderungen wird breiter. Diese Hoffnung sollte jedoch das Urteilsvermögen nicht trüben. Denn es besteht die Gefahr, dass es sich bei den neuerlichen Entwicklungen nicht um politische Reformen, sondern ausschließlich um strategische Konzessionen handelt, die nur dazu dienen sollen, die Kritiker der burmesischen Regierung zufrieden zu stellen und somit zu positiven (Wirtschafts-) Beziehungen zwischen dem Westen und Burma beizutragen sowie die jahrzehntelange Sanktionspolitik zu beenden. Die Skepsis ist folglich durchaus berechtigt und so müssen die Entwicklungen in Burma, besonders in Bezug auf die Einhaltung der Menschenrechte und den Konflikt in den Gebieten der ethnischen Minderheiten, genau im Auge behalten werden. Die Skeptiker dieser Reformbestrebungen sind sich dabei bereits einig: »Wir werden die burmesische Regierung nach ihren Taten beurteilen, nicht nach ihren Worten«, sagen hochrangige Offiziere der ethnischen Kampforganisationen ebenso wie der britische Außenminister.

Literatur

[1] Lwin, Ye (2009): German Investors Cast Eyes for Myanmar, says UMFCCI,
in: Myanmar Times,
http://www.mmtimes.com/no501/b004.htm (letzter Zugriff 12.01.2012)

[2] Weng, Lawi/Htwe, Ko (2010): Ethnic Armed Groups in Alliance Talks,
in: the Irrawaddy online,
http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=19949 (letzter Zugriff 12.01.2012)

[3] Linn, Zin (2011): Burma‹s Ethnics Groups Established United Nationalities Federal Council,
in: Asian Correspondent,
http://asiancorrespondent.com/48722/burma%E2%80%99sethnic- groups-established-united-nationalities-federal-council/

[4] Free Burma Rangers (2012): FBR Report. Ceasefire Talks and Ongoing Conflict Update from the Field. Karen State. 16. January 2012,
http://www.freeburmarangers.org/Reports/2012/20120116.html

[5] Weng, Lawi (2012): No Ceasefire until Kachin Fighting Stops: NMSP,
in: Irrawaddy
http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=22807 (letzter Zugriff: 20.01.2012).”

Die Autorin ist wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Zentrum für Konfliktforschung in Marburg. In ihrer Doktorarbeit beschäftigte sie sich mit dem burmesischen Oppositionsnetzwerk zur Förderung von Demokratie und Menschenrechten.
 

(Quelle: südostasien.)

Anmerkung

Die aktuelle Ausgabe der Zeitschrift “südostasien”, aus der dieser Aufsatz stammt, kann in unserer Bücherei entliehen werden.

Haiti: Straffreiheit für den Ex-Diktator?

Donnerstag, Juni 23rd, 2011

“Haiti: President Martelly must not waive Baby Doc’s crimes

BY KEVIN EDMONDS AND ROGER ANNIS

 

Michel Martelly makes an appearance at the Lycee Petionville polling station during the recent Haitian elections. Photo: Rozanna Fang/Flickr

During the recent election, Michel Martelly campaigned as a
champion of ‘change,’ but it isn’t the case. Photo:Rozanna Fang/Flickr

 

The inauguration of Michel Martelly to the Haitian presidency on May 14 should sound serious alarm for those concerned with human rights, justice and the rule of law in the country. In a pre-inaugural interview with the Montreal daily La Presse on April 18, Martelly put forward a plan of national reconciliation which would include granting amnesty to former Haitian ruler Jean Claude Duvalier.

The president-elect later backed away from this idea on advice from his counsel. But his connections to the former dictator present some worrying potential for ongoing efforts to prosecute him.

In the La Presse interview, Martelly was asked about the return this year of Mr. Duvalier and former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to Haiti. On amnesty, he said, “… we won’t take hasty decisions, but I’m leaning toward the side of amnesty and forgiveness so that we can think about tomorrow and not yesterday.”

While this appears as an admirable tone of reconciliation, the position expressed by Martelly is deeply problematic. Firstly, he cannot legally grant amnesty to Duvalier for the killings, disappearances and political prisons for which the former dictator is responsible. They are crimes against humanity under international law.

Secondly, as concerns Aristide, there are no charges against the former president -neither in Haitian nor in international law -for which he could be pardoned.

Duvalier’s crimes are documented by human rights agencies such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and by the United Nations, the United States government and reams of credible media reports.

In these circumstances, amnesty would not be an act of national reconciliation. It would have all the appearance of a favour towards Duvalier, and further fictitious allegations against Aristide’s name and reputation.

During the recent election, Martelly -the former kompa singer -campaigned as a champion of “change,” a “political outsider.” In a March 2, 2011 interview with Agence France Presse, the self-proclaimed outsider raised alarm by stating he was “ready” to work with officials who had served under the Duvalier regimes.

One of his advisors, Gervais Charles, currently serves as Jean-Claude Duvalier’s lawyer, and Daniel Supplice, co-ordinator of Martelly’s transition team, is a childhood friend and former schoolmate of Jean Claude Duvalier. He served as minister of social affairs under Duvalier.

Martelly’s nominee for prime minister, Daniel-Gérard Rouzier, is a member of the Haitian elite that violently opposed the elections of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the social reforms his governments sought to implement. Rouzier’s father also was a minister in Duvalier’s government.

Martelly’s open support of the 1991 and 2004 coups against Aristide clearly shows his selective taste for democracy.

The crimes of Jean Claude Duvalier

With Duvalier’s return to Haiti in January 2011, the Haitian government under President René Préval opened two criminal proceedings, one for financial crimes and the other for crimes against persons. There are none against Jean Bertrand Aristide.

François Duvalier and his son, Jean Claude (who inherited the Haitian presidency in 1971) were responsible for the deaths of an estimated 60,000 people. The vast majority were political opponents or innocents suspected of subversion. Thousands more were brutally tortured at the infamous Fort Dimanche -one of three notorious prisons that formed Duvalier’s “triangle of death.”

As President-for-Life, Jean-Claude Duvalier did not even try to hide his financial crimes. According to the Jan. 25, 2011 Miami Herald, “Lawyers estimated that Haiti’s former dictator embezzled at least a half-billion dollars through an elaborate scheme of false companies, phony charities and transfers in the name of friends and family.”

International and Haitian law obliges the Government of Haiti to seek prosecution of Jean Claude Duvalier. That obligation, says an April 2011 report by Human Rights Watch, “cannot be undermined by statutes of limitations, amnesties, or other domestic legal obstacles.” 

If President Martelly can get away with a false Duvalier-Aristide equivalence, it’s in part because of so many unproven insinuations and false charges against Aristide floated in media, internet and hostile political circles. It is difficult to disprove accusations against Aristide because none have been tested in court. When accusations are disproven, the detractors don’t fight back, they just move on to the next dubious accusation.

Today, there is a very real threat of old accusations or charges against Aristide being resurrected in new forms in order to further mislead public attention and further obstruct a needed reckoning with the crimes of the Duvalier regime. This would not be the first time.

History of false accusations and jailings

Notwithstanding the millions of dollars allocated by the United States government to find credible allegations that Aristide looted Haiti’s public treasury or engaged in narcotics trafficking, the accusations remain unsubstantiated. Not a shred of evidence has been presented to a court.

As outlined in the book, Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment by Peter Hallward, in Nov. 2005, 21 months after the second, foreign-sponsored coup d’etat against Aristide, the illegal regime of Gerard Latortue presented a RICO lawsuit in a U.S. (not Haitian) court, accusing Aristide of corruption and embezzlement of tens of millions of dollars.

The case was a lost cause from the start. It was not even served on any of the defendants and was quietly withdrawn in July 2006. But it did succeed in tarnishing the reputation of Aristide.

The strongest claim against the ousted president was made by the U.S. Attorney in Miami after the arrest of Oriel Jean, the leading member of Aristide’s security team on drug charges, one week after the coup. In May 2004, Jean’s lawyer, admitted that his client was fully co-operating with the DEA in order to receive “favours,” such as a reduced sentence, in exchange for information about Aristide’s inner-circle. However, the U.S. government was again disappointed when following his sentence to three years for involvement in drug running, Oriel Jean could produce no evidence against Aristide.

One of the most striking examples of bias, persecution and demonization of Aristide’s Lavalas party colleagues was the charge of genocide levelled against Prime Minister Yvon Neptune in September 2005, more than a year after his initial arrest and detainment in June of 2004. The accusation came from a CIDA funded, anti-Lavalas organization called the National Coalition of Haitian Rights which claimed that a “genocidal massacre” had taken place in the town of St. Marc on Feb. 11, 2004. The organization claimed that Neptune had cold-bloodedly ordered the deaths of 50 anti-Lavalas activists.

The only connection between Neptune and the massacre was the fact that he had visited St. Marc two days earlier to appeal for calm in the face of the foreign funded paramilitary rebellion underway in the north of Haiti. Neptune was accompanied by journalists from the Miami Herald, AP, and the New York Times which reported that, indeed, five people had been reported killed during clashes between pro and anti-Aristide forces in St. Marc. The false allegations contributed to the illegal and ultimately unjustified imprisonment of Neptune from June 2004 to July 2006.

The international community also turned a blind eye to actual assaults on Lavalas supporters during the Latortue regime. The September 2, 2006 issue of the prestigious U.K. medical journal The Lancet, published a study documenting some 8,000 killings in Haiti during the two-year coup regime, most of them members or supporters of the Aristide-led Lavalas party and movement.

Only a Duvalier prosecution can bring justice

President Martelly’s ruminations of reconciliation have the appearance of a political ploy to get Jean Claude Duvalier off the hook. This is given an appearance of neutrality by “forgiving” non-existent charges against Jean Bertrand Aristide. Comparing the two leaders in this way trivializes the crimes for which Duvalier needs to be held accountable.

A failure to prosecute Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier in an impartial court would add insult to the injuries Haiti has already suffered in the form of the earthquake, cholera and political unrest related to the November 2010/March 2011 fraudulent election. Regretfully, the same powers responsible for the 2004 coup (United States, France and Canada) have yet to insist that Haiti respect its obligations to prosecute Duvalier. They should do so, for it is a necessary and symbolic act of justice that will ripple throughout the nation, showing that not all is lost in such difficult times.

The case of Duvalier is a moment of moral clarity. It offers a much-needed opening to further a process of healing and rebuilding in Haiti. Justice delayed is not always justice denied.

An ongoing memorial to the thousands of victims of the Duvaliers can be accessed here.

This article is an abridged version of the original which is due to appear in Haiti Liberté.

Kevin Edmonds is a freelance journalist and graduate student at McMaster University’s Globalization Institute in Hamilton, Ontario. Roger Annis is a co-ordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network and resides in Vancouver. He can be reached by clicking here.”

 

(Quelle: rabble.ca)

Haiti: Weiter wie gehabt

Freitag, Mai 20th, 2011

“Haiti: Reparations and reconstruction

By Horace Campbell

The process that brought Michel ‘Sweet Micky’ Martelly to Haiti’s ‘presidency was a farce that will 'force popular forces to distinguish between processes of democratisation and pseudo-elections without democratic participation’, writes Horace Campell, in an article on the people of Haiti’s two-hundred year struggle to reconstruct their society.

For two hundred years the peoples of Haiti have been struggling to reconstruct their society. Before the Haitian revolution of 1791-1804 could be consolidated, the French and other imperial powers worked to isolate the revolution for fear that the ideas of freedom would be contagious and spread. But they could not turn the tide of freedom. Failing to stem the idea that the African enslaved wanted freedom, the government and political leaders of France demanded reparations from Haiti, thus distorting the essence and meaning of reparative justice for 100 years. Despite this, the fears of the imperial west that the Haitian Revolution would inspire other slaves in Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States came to fruition. Haiti played its role of supporting freedom and independence throughout the region. Simon Bolivar and other revolutionaries from Latin America flocked to seek assistance from Haiti. Every act of freedom by Haiti scared the imperial powers; these powers slowly consolidated the ideas of capitalist exploitation and white supremacy so that these racist ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries began to take root in Europe and North America.

United States revolutionaries, such as Thomas Jefferson, who internalised chauvinistic ideas about European and male superiority opposed the reconstruction of Haiti and refused to recognise the independence of Haiti. It was only after the bloody US Civil War (1861-1865), when the enslaved in the United States won their freedom that the US government recognised Haiti. This diplomatic recognition was followed by the destruction of the capacity for the Haitians to reconstruct their society. Western bankers, financiers and merchants and Jim Crow architects worked with a small clique inside of Haiti to frustrate efforts for reconstruction. To guarantee that reconstruction did not take place the bankers, financiers and the militarists organised a military occupation of Haiti (1915-1934). This occupation by the US, supported by France and Canada, laid the foundations for brutal militarism to contain the spirit of the people of Haiti. In the book, ‘Haiti: The Breached Citadel’, author Patrick Bellgrade Smith brings to life the epic struggles of the Haitians to be independent and how the forms of peasant agriculture gave them social solidarity outside of the urban centres where the évolué aped France.

Genocide and genocidal violence from the government of the Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo, sent a message to Haitians that their lives were meaningless and that the place of Haitians in the Americas was to provide cheap labour for others. Yet, the Haitians struggled for dignity. It is the novelist Edwidge Danticat who has brought us this history in her book, ‘The Farming the Bones’, which is set in the Dominican Republic of the 1930s.

Militarism and genocidal violence was then reinforced by a crude form of chauvinism that manipulated the religious and spiritual values of the people. Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier, who ruled Haiti from 1957 until his death in 1971, perfected a form of brutal repression with thugs and death squads called the Militia of National Security Advisers. This militia was renamed the Tonton Macoutes by the Haitian people after a mythical Haitian bogeyman who kidnapped children and ate them. Armed with machetes and guns, the Tonton Macoutes rained terror on the Haitian people. Francois Duvalier expired and the external forces propped up his son, Baby Doc, until the people revolted in 1986. From 1915-1986, there was no possibility for reconstruction on Haiti, The people of Haiti revolted and brought a new movement to lay the basis for reconstruction.

The government of the United States organised not one, but two violent interventions to curtail possibilities of reconstruction by removing the first democratically elected president in Haiti, Bertrand Aristide. Aristide was placed at the front of a grassroots movement that gave itself the name ‘Fanmi Lavalas’. The Fanmi Lavalas movement was seeking to work through the inherited contradictions to lay a new foundation. This movement believed that the reconstruction of Haiti could only take place in the context of the reconstruction of the lives of the Haitian people based on the revolutionary history of Haiti. Together with other African descendants from across the world, the people of Haiti supported the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in September 2001, seeking to implant on the world a new spirit or reparations so that humanity could heal from the crimes against itself committed during the period of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and thereafter.

But this national and international effort was nipped in the bud.

A global ‘war on terror’ imposed a different agenda on the world while real terrorism against the peoples of Haiti was supported by the west. Thugs, death squads, drug runners and anti-social elements permeating Haiti were supported by France and the United States. Bertrand Aristide was removed in 2004 just at the moment when the world was being reminded of the 200th anniversary of the Haitian Revolution. The United Nations was brought in to give legitimacy to the erosion of the popular sovereignty of Haiti in the form of an allegedly peacekeeping force called, the United Nations Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Money launderers, Drug runners and gangsters flourished in this scheme of recolonisation. In this moment of external domination, the imperial forces had suborned the Organization of American States to support imperial occupation of Haiti. What was baffling was how governments in Brazil and Venezuela that presented themselves as progressives could be part of the OAS front for oppressing the Haitian peoples. Indeed the Wikileaks cables reveal the desire of the United States to keep Aristide out of Haiti and suppressing the Haitian people by pressuring Brazil, which led the MINUSTAH at the time. In 2005, Brazil led MINUSTAH in a deadly assault to suppress the coup and occupation of Cite Soleil, one of Haiti’s poorest communities.

On 12 January 2010 there was a massive earthquake in Haiti. Millions of people were displaced in the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas killing hundreds of thousands. Billions of dollars were pledged for reconstruction. For a brief moment, the popular and democratic forces in Haiti looked to the progressive world to intervene solidly so that all of the international attention on Haiti after the earthquake would support the democratic forces inside Haiti.

Again, reconstruction was opposed by the imperial forces in France and the United States. Cynically, the military and humanitarian occupation of MINUSTAH, by appointing former President William Jefferson Clinton as UN Special Envoy to Haiti to utilise Clinton’s networks that had been in support of the anti-social forces of the nineties. To add to the ruble and distress in the society, an outbreak of cholera served to intensify the pressures on the people of Haiti to keep them down. Progressive Haitians now looked to the Caribbean, Latin America and the new rising forces to become an antidote to humanitarian imperialism.

To block the energetic measures of the people of Haiti, the imperial forces of the US imposed a new president who was clearly enamored by the militarist traditions of the Duvalierists. The inauguration of Michel ‘Sweet Micky’ Martelly as President of Haiti on 14 May 2011, was an affront to the peoples of Haiti and the world. The sham elections of 28 November 2010 that excluded the largest party in Haiti, Fanmi Lavalas, dictated that the people of Haiti would have to find new ways to organise for reconstruction. This reconstruction in Haiti will demand political changes in all parts of the Americas. The struggles for reparative justice is transnational and the lessons of imperial destruction in Haiti dictate that the progressive forces in all parts of the Americas will have to see how the struggles for peace, democracy and reparations are inseparable from the struggles in other parts of the Americas,

THE EARTHQUAKE OF JANUARY 12, 2010

When the massive earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, it was estimated that over the estimated 222,000 Haitians perished. Close to two million persons were displaced. Hundreds of thousands were homeless. In the midst of the rubble, the United States sent troops, ostensibly to prevent looting. Such was the mindset of international capitalists that in a moment when quarter of a million persons lost their lives, protection of property and material goods came before the lives of the peoples of Haiti.

International non-governmental organisations of all stripes descended on Haiti. Many of these international NGO’s demanded military protection from the people whom they were in Haiti to purportedly serve. Haiti presented a textbook case of disaster capitalism. Together with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, these NGOs created a new layer of oppressive governance to isolate the democratic aspirations of the people. International goodwill for the people of Haiti brought promises of support of all forms from all over the world. Bill Clinton and the neoliberal faction of US capitalism established themselves at the head of this wave of popular support for reconstruction. Where clear planning was needed, these forces continued to push the failed reform plans of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to create a layer of servile imperial allies inside Haiti. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians in the diaspora rallied to form international teams to rebuild the country.

Instead of international brigades going into Haiti to assist the rebuilding and working with the people, Bill Clinton was named Special Envoy to Haiti. Later, Paul Farmer, the renowned physician and anthropologist and founder of Partners in Health, was named Deputy Special Envoy. This ruse was to exploit the good image of Partners in Health, which provided medical services to the poor, in the service of imperial machinations.

Reconstruction after the earthquake required honest government, a solid partnership with those who wanted to see homes, schools, hospitals, public facilities, roads and other infrastructure rebuilt for the people. These were not forthcoming. In the absence of clear support for reconstruction in spite of billions of dollars pledged, there were some section of the people of Haiti and their allies who began to believe that the earthquake was not a natural disaster. Web surfers began to read blogs claiming that a ‘tectonic weapon’ had been unleashed to induce the catastrophic earthquake that hit the country. The US military Project called HAARP was named as the tectonic weapon. HAARP, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, is a Pentagon operation in Alaska directed at the occasional reconfiguration of the properties of the Earth’s ionosphere to improve satellite communications. Many writers on this program associate this military capability with the ability to generate ‘violent and unexpected changes in climate.’

Whether such capabilities exist could only be clarified in a context of full disclosure of the role of the drilling of the oil companies in the Caribbean and the by-products of deep drilling below the ocean floor in the Caribbean. The full role of the US military and intelligence services in Haiti over the previous one hundred years ensured that the US military forces did not inspire confidence in the people of Haiti when the Obama administration deployed 13,000 marines in the aftermath of the earthquake.

RACISM AND MIND GAMES AGAINST HAITI

Whether the earthquake was a natural disaster or not, the conservative and racist forces invoked God against the people of Haiti. The racist media had a field day reproducing images of sloth, poverty and hopelessness in Haiti. The media repeated the formulation that Haiti was ‘the poorest country in the western hemisphere.’ Racists and imperialists sought to outdo each other in mobilising stereotypes of Haiti. Kidnappers and child traffickers used the disaster as cover for their trade. Pat Robertson claimed that the Haiti was God’s revenge because Haiti had made a pact with the evil. Robertson said on national TV in the United States that,

‘Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, you know, Napoleon the Third and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.” True story. And so the devil said, “O.K., it's a deal.” ‘

Inside the United States and in the Caribbean fundamentalist and born again forces reproduced this tale so that even among some sections of the poor in Haiti, there was a view that the suffering was payback from divine forces. According to this rendition of the revolution in Haiti, the struggles against France and slavery were struggles against Christianity and civilization, because the enslaved were being Christianised by the French. The evil voodoo priests of Haiti had made a pact with the devil in order to in order to secure Satan's aid in expelling the French occupation.

The ranting of Pat Robertson was a new variation of the kind of racism that had developed in the West to oppose black dignity and self-assertiveness. Michael West in the book, ‘From Toussaint to Tupac’ captured the birth and support of the racist ideas of Count Gobineau in France and how these ideas became part of the international arsenal to hold back Haiti and black people.

‘If the Haitian Revolution could not be rolled back, it would certainly be contained. Having won the war, the Haitians would be denied the fruits of victory: they would be made to lose the peace. The cost of throwing off the shackles of colonialism, slavery and white supremacy would be very high, even crippling. European powers and white-run states variously isolated Haiti, embargoed its goods, demanded reparations, and barred from their shores its dangerous achievements and citizens … scientific racism as a mode of securing post abolition global racial hierarchies flourished, initially, and not accidentally, in post-Napoleonic France, most notably in the writings of Count Gobineau, “the father of racist ideology”.’

The crippling of the revolution and the attempt to systematically destroy the Haitian revolution by military occupation and by thugs and drug dealers ensured that the task of reconstructing Haiti would require new political forces, nationally, regionally and internationally. Such forces had begun to coalesce during the presidency of Bertrand Aristide and the international efforts to support the World Conference against Racism.

REPARATIONS AND RECONSTRUCTION

In the first years after the revolution in Haiti, the people were desperate to end diplomatic isolation. The history books tell us that the ‘French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical, assets, the 500,000 citizens who were formerly enslaved, animals, and all other commercial properties and services. The sums amounted to 150 million gold francs. Haiti was told to pay this reparation to France in return for national recognition. The Haitian government agreed; payments began immediately. Members of the Cabinet were also valued because they had been enslaved persons before Independence.’

Numerous writers have been chronicling how France had worked to systematically destroy the Republic of Haiti. Professor Hilary Beckles, principal of the University of the West Indies, was among the many who added his voice to the exposure of France and the US in the destruction of Haiti. He argued that France had carried out a merciless exploitation, ‘that was designed and guaranteed to collapse the Haitian economy and society.’ Haiti was forced to pay the sum of 150 million francs until 1922 when the last installment was made.

France had used then international balance of power in the 19th century to turn the idea of reparations on its head.

At the end of the twentieth century, the international balance of forces were shifting and in this shift the anti-globalisation forces, the forces of peace, the environmental justice movement and the anti-racist movements had coalesced and came together under the framework of the World Conference Against Racism. Coming together in differing regions of the world over a ten-year period, this WCAR met in Durban South Africa in September 2001. It was in the general international mobilisation to name the slavery and slave trade as crimes against humanity where the peoples of Haiti called on the peoples of France to repay the forced reparative claims of French imperialists of the 19th century.

During the 2001 UN Conference on Race in Durban, South Africa, there were strong representations that reparations were due to the black peoples of the world emanating from the years of enslavement. Additionally, it was in agreed the Durban conference that the government of France had to repay the 150 million francs. ‘The value of this amount was estimated by financial actuaries as US$21 billion.’

Here was a firm basis for reparations and reconstruction.

Neither France nor the United States took these deliberations lightly. It was a historical coincidence that the attack on the US, 11 September 2011, took place two days after the end of the WCAR in Durban. Since that time the resolutions of the meeting were squashed as the world was diverted to the global war on terror. Inside Haiti, the forces of destruction unleashed terror against the peoples of Haiti. When the US invaded Iraq in March 2003, France and the US were at loggerheads. However, when it came to the destabilisation of Haiti, they were in agreement. The president, Aristide was removed from power and another form of occupation took place. Only this time, the French and the USA sought the cover of the United Nations with the installation of MINUSTAH. This devise of hiding behind the United Nations necessitated clarity on the part of the forces opposed to imperial domination. The Caribbean societies and the South Africans rejected the propaganda war against Haiti. Brazil and Venezuela gestured towards the progressive camp but allowed their troops to be caught to in the UN and NGO occupation.

Whatever the conditions of Haiti before the major event of January 2010, there was need for clarity; forces such as Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, who served as director of the Office of Political Affairs for the Obama administration from January 2009 to 2011, and Paul Farmer, world-renowned doctor, had to emerge from the shadows to join the required fight back against the recolonisation and remilitarisation of Haiti.

SHAM ELECTIONS 2010 AND THE CHALLENGES TO THE INTERNATIONAL LEFT

International divisions over the future paths of Haiti simmered as disaster and rubble were reinforced by a massive cholera outbreak. The strain of this cholera was foreign to the Caribbean and instead of seriously investigating, the UN mobilised the international media to demonise the people of Haiti. It was in the midst of these multiple catastrophes that the US form of democracy without elections was imposed on the people of Haiti. The elections were held in November 2010 after the US disenfranchised the majority of Haitians by denying the participation of the Lavalas in the elections. Two candidates who between them received 11 per cent of the vote were nominated for the second round of the elections in March 2011.

The Clintons worked overtime to ensure that there was media support for this illegitimate process. Hilary Clinton, the US secretary of state left dealing with the smouldering revolution in Egypt to fly to Haiti to bully the government to accept a fraudulent process. President René Préval of Haiti was promised the same treatment of ouster like that which deposed Aristide if he did not accept the pressure to sanction the illegitimate procedure. In the midst of this farce of preparing for the runoff, the exiled Baby Doc Duvalier returned to Haiti. In a democratic society, Duvalier would have been arrested for the criminal actions and it was significant that there were no drumbeats for his arrest from the western media. Baby Doc is a criminal and pressures must be intensified so that he is brought to trial in Haiti.

Pressures on the people of Haiti did not deter them and they continued to organise. It was this grassroots organisation and pressure that enabled Bertrand Aristide to return. Reports coming out from the grassroots organisation in the country showed that the people were not cowed. Norman Girvan, professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies, who attended and participated in one such meeting in Haiti, reported on the vibrancy of the grassroots social movements inside Haiti and their call for international solidarity. Girvan reported that approximately one hundred representatives of social organisations from throughout the country – including farmers, women, labour, students, human rights, and professionals – concluded three days of intense debate about the kind of Haiti they want to see, the obstacles they face, and the nature of the financing they need. According to Norman Girvan,

‘Among other conclusions, they agreed on an agenda for collective action that includes creating a permanent Assembly of Social Movements, campaigning for the non-renewal of the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti – a veritable parallel government set up a year ago under the tutelage of the U.S., World Bank, IDB and other so-called “international donors”, and reinforcing a regional campaign for the withdrawal of the MINUSTAH military occupation.’
I am in support of the calls from within Haiti for a new path to reconstruction that begins with the people of Haiti.

The installation of Michel Martelly as president of Haiti on May 14 demanded that the left and progressive forces internationally organise to expose and oppose the forces of violence and destruction inside Haiti. The process that brought Martelly to the presidency was a sham, and this farce will force popular forces to distinguish between processes of democratisation and pseudo-elections without democratic participation.

The constellation of class and military forces fighting to oppose reparations and reconstruction in Haiti are the same constellation of forces that hid behind the view that Haiti is cursed. The majesty of the Haitian revolution continues to inspire new forces as we enter a new revolutionary moment. The events of the current revolutionary moment in world politics demand that Haitians and all those in solidarity with Haiti cannot give up on Haiti. I am in agreement with C.L.R James that the people of Haiti and the people of the Caribbean will move again and when they move they will shock the world.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Horace Campbell is professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University. He is the author of ‘Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA’. See www.horacecampbell.net.
* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.”

 

(Quelle: Pambazuka News.)