(Excerpted from www.haitiaction.net, December 25, 2006)

The UN's Christmas Present to Haiti

A pre-dawn, heavy-caliber assault on the men, women and children of Cite Soleil

In the early morning of Friday, December 22nd, starting at approximately 3 a.m., 400 Brazilian-led UN occupation troops in armored vehicles carried out a massive assault on the people of Cite Soleil, laying siege yet again to the impoverished community. Eyewitness reports said a wave of indiscriminate gunfire from heavy weapons began about 5 a.m. and continued for much of the day Friday — an operation on the scale of the July 6, 2005 UN massacre in Cite Soleil. Detonations could be heard for miles, AHP reported.

Initial press accounts reported at least 40 casualties, all civilians. According to community testimony, UN forces flew overhead in helicopters and fired down into houses while other troops attacked from the ground with Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). People were killed in their homes. UN troops from Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia took part in the all-day siege, backed by Haitian police. UN soldiers once again targeted the Bois Neuf and Drouillard districts of Cite Soleil — scene of the July 6th massacre.

While reports are still coming in, this is what we do know right now:

UN soldiers block Red Cross vehicles from coming to aid the wounded — According to Pierre Alexis, the Haitian Red Cross coordinator for Cite Soleil, the UN soldiers prevented the Haitian Red Cross from treating children injured during the assault. Alexis said that many children were suffering serious injuries, but that UN soldiers blocked Red Cross vehicles from entering Cite Soleil. AHP reported that "residents were outraged that [UN] soldiers refused to allow medical care...for people they had injured." Despite this, St. Catherine's Hospital in Cite Soleil reported receiving many wounded.

Why this latest assault on the people of Cite Soleil? — UN occupation authorities in Haiti claim it is part of their fight against "bandits" and "kidnappers," scapegoating the 300,000 residents of Cite Soleil. However, it is widely known throughout Port-au-Prince that kidnappers are coming from all sectors, including corrupt police officials and the wealthy. Does the UN lead military assaults on affluent neighborhoods where kidnappers are known to operate? Of course not.

A more plausible explanation comes from grassroots activists in Cite Soleil. They argue that this is "punishment" for their ongoing protests demanding an end to the UN occupation, restoration of full democracy, return of President Aristide, and the release of political prisoners. Additionally, the people of Cite Soleil have been vigorously protesting the December 3rd municipal elections, in which there were widespread allegations of fraud and many from the popular neighborhoods were prevented from voting.

Just recently, on December 16th, the people of Cite Soleil led a massive protest throughout Port-au-Prince marking the anniversary of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's first election as president in 1990. [They marched despite the UN shooting up the district the night before, in what was widely viewed as a UN attempt to intimidate the populace on the eve of the march.] In the week following the march, tensions continued to escalate, culminating in the December 22nd assault by UN forces under Brazilian command.

Enough is enough!