It happened again! This time, in the Département de l’Artibonite in the city of Gonaives. The victim, 13-year-old Roudy Jean; the pedophiles, three Pakistani UN soldiers. The MINUSTAH, for those who are unaware, is the Mission of the United Nations to Stabilize Haiti. They have been there since 2004 and they arrived shortly after former president Aristide was whisked away in an American airplane en route to South Africa. Yes, the MINUSTAH…powerful multinational deployment comprised of nearly 40 different countries represented by their military units. Each with a mission, carefully written down and drafted with the utmost care. What goes on in Haiti is a different story and has very little to do with what is on paper.
Late in January 2012, in Gonaives, at around 8:00 Pm, in a van parked near the Place d’Armes des Gonaives (symbol of our Independence), 13-year-old Roudy Jean was raped by three (3) Pakistani soldiers. That vile act was witnessed by 3 of Roudy’s friends who happened to be looking for him that night. Roudy, nicknamed Ti Tet (small head) is a victim of choice for those soldiers; not only is his family very poor but he suffers from some type of developmental delay. It appears that this rape was not the first one; the Pakistanis would give him either money or food to bring home every time they forced themselves on him; reportedly this ignominy happened 6 or 7 times. This time, unbeknownst to them, there were three witnesses who went to the local Police and told the story.
When the commander of the Pakistani unit found out the story had reached local authorities, he and a Haitian accomplice (who is now in jail) kidnapped Roudy Jean and took him to Cap-Haitien to another MINUSTAH unit where he was asked to be kept until February 27th. The Gonaives head of Police acted quickly and was able to locate the Haitian accomplice who confessed and Roudy was brought back from Cap-Haitien two days later and was seen by doctors. The medical report confirmed that the 13-year-old had been repeatedly raped and was suffering from multiple lesions and bruises in the anal area. Kudos to Senator Youri Latortue who was in Gonaives to assist and witness the investigation; these details I have, come from the Police and Medical reports which he shared with the population during a live interview on Vision 2000 (Haitian radio) this morning.
What are Haitian authorities going to do? According to Senator Latortue, this is the 12th (reported) case of rape by MINUSTAH soldiers. Not one soldier has been prosecuted to date; in a similar case in Cap-Haitien couple of years ago, the UN Secretary General refused to lift the immunity of the criminals. Senator Latortue hopes for a different outcome, he feels that this case is stronger because of the many witnesses. The Haitian Senate is going to officially request that the immunity of the Pakistani soldiers be lifted by the Secretary General.
We Haitians have to raise a very loud voice to denounce these crimes. Our children who are already prey to kidnapping and poverty have to contend with one more dangerous predator…the MINUSTAH. This is certainly not limited to the Pakistani unit; Uruguayan, Peruvian and Brazilian units have all been involved in similar cases. Why is it that the Cap-Haitien unit agreed to keep this 13-year-old boy, a minor, without his parents/guardians consent? In so doing, they involved the entire organization. Senator Latortue asks (and so do I) whether there is within the MINUSTAH an understanding to hide and conceal such occurrences.
Haiti is a small economy, 2/3 of the population is living with less than $2 per day because most citizens don’t have a stable income. The middle class is small and most children do not have access to basic healthcare and education. This is how we are seen by the International community which has decided that the best thing is to turn an entire nation into a charity case. We see ourselves differently, we are the proud descendants of slaves who won their independence in blood. We sponsored and financed freedom wars throughout the Americas, we have a beautiful culture…We have tripped but we’ve not fallen, we have dignity and we deserve respect.
It is inconceivable that such things continue to happen and it is a shame that the UN continues to dismiss those cases as unimportant in order to save their reputation. Roudy Jean is the proof that we have not taken care of our children, we Haitians have not worked hard enough to empower the less fortunate. It is our responsibility as Haitians to not let these rapes and other crimes go unnoticed. The International Community will not rebuild Haiti, the MINUSTAH will not protect Haiti, NGOs will not promote development….Those are things we Haitians must do if we ever hope to reclaim this land as ours. “Ki yes kap di ou mo pou Roudy Jean”?
February 6 2012