Journalist accuses UN of crimes against humanity

By Claire Fenton

Kevin Pina, a journalist and filmmaker, accused the United Nations of witnessing violence and killing civilians in Haiti. Pina came to the University of Calgary last week for a showing of his documentary, Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits, which was filmed during the aftermath of the coup d’etat in Haiti.

The film details the period following Jean-Bertand Aristide’s ousting in February 2004 and ends with the election of Rene Preval in 2006. Pina focused on the human rights violations committed against the Haitian people while filming the demonstrations that took place. Aristide was supposedly removed on the basis of a lack of public support and Pina wanted to prove that was not true.

“It was a lie that Aristide had lost the support of the Haitian people,” said Pina. “Why did 10s of thousands of people continue to risk death by demonstrating in the streets after his ousting in 2004?”

The UN has not been formally charged with killing demonstrators in Cite de Soleil in 2004, nor has the international community questioned their actions. Pina said that no one will ever be held accountable for their role, but that the people know who was to blame.

“They are directly accused by the community in Cite de Soleil of having committed a crime against humanity,” he said. “[They were involved in] killing and targeting unarmed civilians for political reasons to alter the political landscape in Haiti.”

Canada, Pina pointed out, trained the Haitian National Police that are accused of similar crimes. He wants Canadians to be aware of their government’s involvement in Haiti and he hopes that they will take action.

“Let your voices be heard,” said Pina. “Oppose policies that your government is executing in your name, using your tax dollars that are not to the benefit of other peoples.”

Pina produced the Oscar-nominated documentary Berkley in the ’60s, and has over 25 years of filmmaking under his belt.

Living and reporting in Haiti was dangerous. On multiple occasions, Pina was forced into hiding because of death threats against him.

He was also assaulted, he said, by the Haitian police because he prevented them from firing on protestors. At that incident, he was pistol-whipped and left unconscious on the street. He later spent three days in jail on the grounds of disrespecting a judge.

“It was scary, it was frightening,” Pina said. “I had actually received death threats then because of my earlier reporting.”

But even among the violence, Pina remains optimistic about the situation in Haiti. He has faith in the international community to create change, the people to make their governments accountable and in Haitians to continue to demonstrate against injustices.

“Haitians– how courageous, how resilient, how indomitable is their spirit that in the midst of that repression they would continue to get up and demonstrate day after day to return their president and the former democracy,” he said. “That was the greatest hope that I saw in Haiti.”

His advice to university students was to maintain a critical eye on the media and not to trust what they see or read.

“We have this wonderful tool called the Internet now,” he said. “Seek alternative sources of information.”

The event was hosted by the U of C’s Consortium for Peace Studies as part of March for Peace.

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