Posted by: petertluce | August 11, 2011

Revisiting Grand Ravine-June ’11 Trip

The news bulletin of Hurah, Inc.
(Human Rights Accompaniment In Haiti,

dedicated to non-partisan, non-violent basic human
rights action for the disenfranchised in Haiti (soon to become an informal
group committed to the same ideals)

Tom Luce, Editor

Dear Friends,

You are now one of 42 people from different
parts of my life connected to justice for the poorest of disenfranchised
Haitians. Some on this list have been with my organization, Hurah, since 2004.  See our blog at HURAH

Some are family. Some are in a new group of friends, the “Hope for Haiti: Education” committee of St. Columba Parish in Oakland. Click here to learn more: Hope For Haiti: Education

Both groups are connected because of basic
human rights advocacy in Haiti. I started out in 04 limiting our work
to the basics: life, freedom, legal resolution of disputes. From 2004-06
some 8000 people lost their lives in political conflicts, thousands more
were jailed illegally. Much of the violence was government involved. Hurah
and our partner, AUMOHD concerned ourselves with the most disenfranchised,
poor Haitians in the slums of Port-au-Prince and a couple of country areas.
We did good work. But now I’m finishing out the last month of “Hurah”
because this basic human rights work is most difficult to sustain, financially
and volunteer-wise. On June 30 Hurah will cease to exist as a 501(c)(3)
organization. I will continue on advocating using the name Hurah as a
group of interested advocates.We will continue to accept donations, but
won’t have the tax-exempt status.

So with these updates on my current “mission”
to Haiti, I’m working on tying up Hurah business in pursuing basic justice:
1) the “Soccer” massacre of 05; 2) promoting opportunities for
cooperative economical development among the poor, and 3) the latest project,
an expansion into advocacy for education that the St. Columba scholarship
committee has taken on with the most violent and deprived community in
Haiti, Grand Ravine.

Pleas know that I count you all as friends
of Haiti and I thank you profoundly for being with them in whatever way
you can.


Tom Luce


click on the title below to go directly
to the section you prefer

MASSACRE (St. Bernadette Park)


Struggling for justice
SOCCER MASSACRE – Aug 20, 2005

The “Soccer” Massacre at St. Bernadette soccer stadium in the Martissant section of Port-au-Prince, Aug. 20, 2005, followed by another massacre on Aug. 21, 2005 in the nearby Grand Ravine “commune”, noted for its violent, “outlaw”
conditions. A 3rd massacre and burning of 300 homes occurred in July 06
and Esterne Bruner, #2 President of the Community Human Rights Council-Grand
Ravine, was assassinated.

For those wanting more details of this shocking, government perpetrated killing spree, go to this site as a starter:SOCCER MASSACRE

I was up north in Haiti on Aug. 20 accompanying people demonstrating for fair elections when I heard about a police organized massacre of some 50 people right in the St. Bernadette soccer stadium filled with 5,000 people. I came right back to Port-au-Prince to work with our Haitian human rights legal team, AUMOHD, in identifying victims, bodies, providing protective services and setting the stage for
prosecution of the perpetrators including many key police staff.
was a political vengeance act against people identified as supporters
of the ousted president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Residents of Grand Ravine
were specifically targeted.

Today 6 years later I returned to the scene for the first time, stopping first at the church, St. Bernadette, and then the soccer field which is now a tent city filled with quake refugees. AUMOHD is now engaged with a legal team from Seton Hall university pursuing justice for these victims at the Interamerican Commission For Human Rights (IACHR). I’m here to help them coordinate matters. First the IACHR must hear the complaint and, if valid, the case can be referred to the Interamerican
Court For Human Rights which can pressure member states to take action.
NOTE: The US signed the convention setting up the IACHR and the
Court, but never has ratified it, a step necessary to officially engage
the US. Once again the US is avoiding any responsibility as a member of
the OAS.

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#1: St. Bernadette Stadium: meeting
rooms, terraces for spectators (right) facing what was once the soccer
field, now a tent city with quake refugees living there.

#2 The soccer field tent city. Today
I couldn’t spent much time there getting information on this specific
camp. I was told that there were some “bad” people around who
could become difficult if we spent much time there, if not for me, for
my companions from the area. Life is unbelievably desperate in these camps.
Just the living conditions are abysmal. There are rampant crimes committed
in many of these places, rape being one of the major crimes that don’t
get prosecuted.

#3: Ernest Point-Du-Jour, father
of two young children and a primary school teacher (L) is the fourth president
of the Grand Ravine Community Human Rights Council formed in 05 with Hurah’s
help to bring people together–victims, families, community leaders to
deal with this crime perpetrated by the government. The first president
was driven away by violent threats. The second president was brutally
assassinated for doggedly pursuing justice non-violently and in a non-partisan
way for his community. The third president, Franzco Joseph, had to be
ferreted out of the community for safe housing with his children and wife.
He still is active in the CHRC from outside the community.

#4 The latest stats on cholera
in Haiti: 321,066 cases seen since the beginning of the outbreak, including
5,337 deaths. Massive hygiene education and water purification programs
have still not brought the disease under control. This mural is in the
St. Bernadette soccer camp.
to index-

2. St.
Bernadette Parish: Martissant

St. Bernadette Church, the parish
that covers Grand Ravine, potential parish “twin” with St. Columba
in working on the challenges facing Grand Ravine. A parish “mission”
chapel exists in Grand Ravine, Holy Family, which needs support in the
non-violent struggles for justice.

#5. Right next to the soccer stadium/refugee
camp is the church from which it gets its name. (The soccer field is/was
not a church project) It is a vibrant community. Today we attended the
8am Mass with probably a couple hundred worshippers. The reason for going:
St. Columba Parish in Oakland, Ca. in its commitment to engage in a social
justice project in Haiti accepted my recommendation to focus on one of
the most violent, “outlaw” communities in the city, one of the
most deprived sections in terms of services. The victims of the St.Bernadette
massacre were from the neighboring community of Grand Ravine. This certainly
makes them eligible as a people at the top of the list of human rights
abuses and without the supports other more peaceful communities also suffering
from the quake. St. Columba has chosen Grand Ravine. The Catholic parish
covering Grand Ravine is St. Bernadette. St. Columba would like to establish
a “twin”, “sister” parish relationship.

#6. Seemingly unharmed by the earthquake,
this is a large capacity church. There are two other Masses on Sunday.

#7. The St. Bernadette choir led
us in Haitian style music.

#8. The Pastor is Fr. Laguerre Pierre

#9 At the “Kiss of Peace”
everyone went around and embraced or shook hands

#10 After Mass Fr. André
and I met along with Ernest Point-du-Jour and Hurah rep, Gentilhomme (who
took all the pictures!). Fr. André is very interested in establishing
a sister-parish relationship with St. Columba. He appreciates the context
in which the St. Columba scholarship program was created, a response to
one of the most impoverished, violent and victimized communities in Haiti
with which he has a spiritual relationship. He has known about the Grand
Ravine Community Human Rights Council and its leader, Mr. Point-du-Jour,
and of course, he knows the 5 schools (all Catholic) which have the 170
children sponsored by St. Columba. He told us that this coming week the
“mission chapel” of the Holy Family which is St. Bernadette’s
outpost in Grand Ravine is holding a five day retreat. He advised me not
to come and participate because of the serious security and violence problems
there that would be exacerbated by a “stranger” coming in. So
the theme of violence and how to bring people to work peacefully for justice
is still the topmost in the lives of the Grand Ravine people. Educating
170 children is a great step toward righting the injustices there. Much
more collaboration among all agencies in the community will be required
before real peace with justice will arrive. Hopefully the energy and force
for “peace” within this parish will aid a lot in the struggles
of the Community Human Rights Council of Grand Ravine.

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Jean Dominique, champion radio journalist

Not directly connected, except for the fact that I am staying not far
from it, is the remnants of the famous “Radio Haiti” station
which was founded and run by the man made known in the English world with
the movie, “The Agronomist”, Jean Dominique. His conversion
from agronomy to cutting edge multimedia journalism gave hope to the people
and shivers to those who didn’t want to hear the truth about injustice
in Haiti. His valiant work got him killed in the end, in 2000. I happened
to have spent 1960-64 at a university in Rome, Italy, with his cousin,
Fr. Max Dominique, who was a courageous resister against the Duvalier
regime which persecuted the Dominiques and thousands of others. One of
our colleagues, a daughter of Jean’s, is now working with us to promote
cooperative economies in Haiti. In growing ruins with age and an earthquake,
this place is a monument to courageous journalism and truth-telling. His
truth and example will live on. Link to sign petition to prosecute DUVALIER
We have to keep up the pressure on all international agents to bring this
matter to justice. It is the way we build confidence in the rule of law.
It is not the time to forget the law and talk about “forgive and
forget”, let’s have a reconciliation process. Impunity is a standard
blight on law abiding societies. Forgiveness is a religious act. Reconciliation
is a religio-civic process that is, of course, highly recommended. But
justice–not vengeance must be carried out.

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#12 On our way back from St. Bernadette
I couldn’t help but asking my motorbike driver, Gentilhomme to stop and
grab a shot of what is known as “Delmas” a commune of 379,000
people. I have lived here during the 8 years working in Haiti. It is where
the airport is located. This section is mainly unending rows rows of cement
block apartments with little or no open space, very densely populated.
Other parts where the AUMOHD office is located do have open space, trees,
and single family homes.In the distant east you see the mountains for
which Haiti is named. (Ayiti means mountains, an Arowak word.)

#13.For my urban garden, green, food self-reliant
friends, I thought I should fill in the previous picture with this very
healthy corn field. Till next time.


-back to index-

If you are interested in supporting Hurah
as it winds its official “tax-exempt” self down, CLICK
Online and see our projected needs. Send Checks
to Tom Luce, 1515 Fairview St. Berkeley, Ca. 94703
after June 30, we’ll still be glad to receive monetary help and/or solidarity
work in pursuing human rights.


If you are interested in the St. Columba
scholarship program please check out their Facebook page to find out more
about it and how to contribute Hope
For Haiti: Education
This program is specifically for Grand
Ravine. There are many other “Hope for Haiti” projects dealing
with education. Certainly Grand Ravine deserves major attention. To get
the particulars about St. Columba Parish, go to their website at St
Columba Parish, Oakland, CA.

Rights Accompaniment In Haiti-Hurah, Inc.

a 501(c)(3), non-profit until June 30

1515 Fairview St., Berkeley Ca. 94703 President, Tom Luce,
Blog Site Hurah

To DONATE click
here.Or mail a check to Tom Luce,

1515 Fairview St. Berkeley, Ca. 94703

TO UNSUBSCRIBE: send an e-mail to

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