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Nkrumah Institut Pan-African Studies

Religious fundamentalism a looming threat to Haiti

Action Alert

March 5, 2010

One day after the earthquake on January 12, 2010 that caused the death of over 200,000 and the displacement of over one million Haitians, Pat Robertson, the host of 700 Club, blamed the tragedy on something that "happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it" (http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/01/13/haiti.pat.robertson/index.html).

As reported by CNN, Robertson went on to state during his broadcast that “The Haitians were under the heel of the French.” “You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil,” saying “We will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, OK, it's a deal. Native Haitians defeated French colonists in 1804 and declared independence. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other.” A month later, accounts are emerging that religious fanatics are attacking Vaudouisants, i.e., Vaudou faithful, Indeed, on February 24, Le Nouvelliste reported that a Christian evengelical pastor encouraged his followers to assault participants at a Vaudou ceremony in Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince. “According to Rosemond Aristide, a police inspector, the pastor agreed not to disrupt future Vaudou activities” (http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=78405).

It must be noted, following the earthquake, religious fundamentalism is on the rise in the Republic of Haiti. For instance, a group of Christian evengelical pastors were able to convince Rene G. Preval, President of Haiti, to declare three-day prayer and fasting. Effectively, March 12th, 13th and 14th became national holidays and the entire population was barred from conducting any other activity except prayer. For many observers, mixing state and religion could easily turn Haiti into another front on the crusade like wars that the United States (US) is waging. In fact, many Haitians and supporters of peace are trying to find the reason for the presence of thousands of Marines and Army troops as well as other military personnel currently in Haiti.

In light of these developments, we strongly encourage the Government of Haiti to revise its decision to collaborate with Christian fundamentalists and punish anyone responsible for committing violence on the basis of religious belief. Most important, the government must exert strict control over the land, including the border, sea and air ports. And further it must conduct education and prevention activities so that segments of the population would not attempt to seek refuge on hostile territories where reside people that are intolerant of African belief and culture.

Finally, we invite the US-based Diaspora to take Robertson at his word to talk about the legacy of human trafficking, enslavement of Africans and the ensuing segregation, racism, xenophobia, hate crime, religious persecutions and trafficking of children that Afrikan and African Diaspora have had to endure at the hands of religious fanatics. However, this conversation need not take place only at the pulpit, among the men and women of the cloth, lawyers must get involved as well, particularly, those from the US Justice Department and the International Criminal Court. Undoubtedly, the words of Robertson, on the events and developments that led to the Independence of Haiti constitute hate crime and incitement to violence against the Diaspora; therefore, Robertson must be brought to justice and put on trial for incitement to violence and crime against humanity.

To that end, we urge you to endorse this call to action and contact the institutions mentioned below to demand justice on behalf of the people of Haiti.

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Communications and claims under art.15 of the Rome Statute may be addressed to:

International Criminal Court
Information and Evidence Unit
Office of the Prosecutor
Post Office Box 19519
2500 CM The Hague, The Netherlands
Email: otp.informationdesk@icc-cpi.int
Facsimile: to +31 70 515 8555

Correspondence to the US Attorney General, may be sent to:

U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Main Switchboard: 202-514-2000
Email: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

Correspondence to Amnesty International USA, may be sent to:

Amnesty International USA
5 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-807-8400
Fax: 212-627-1451
Email: aimember@aiusa.org

Correspondence to the Government of the Republic of Haiti, may be sent to:

Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire
Route De l’Aeoroport
Port Au Prince Ht6110, Haiti
Tel: (509) 478-75-97, (509) 718-98-06

Correspondence to the AU Chairman, may be sent to: 

African Union Headquarters
P.O. Box 3243
Roosvelt Street (Old Airport Area), W21K19
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: (251) 11 5514554 / (251) 11 5517700, ext 120
Fax: (251) 11 5513036
Email: chairperson@africa-union.org

Correspondence to the UN Secretary-General, may be sent to: 

United Nations Headquarters
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017
Email: inquiries@un.org
Press office: 212-963-4879

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