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Published Sunday, April 9, 2000, in the Miami Herald 

Violence Follows Funeral for Slain Haitian Journalist - Radio Station, Opposition Party Office Targeted

By Don Bohning

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Demonstrations turned ugly Saturday in the wake of a national funeral service for Jean Dominique, Haiti's best known journalist, as offices of an opposition political party were set afire and tires were burned throughout downtown streets. 

Dominique, 69, was gunned down by an unidentified assassin Monday as he arrived at Radio Haiti Inter, the station owned and operated by his family. Witnesses said demonstrators responsible for the post-funeral violence were many of the same ones who had chanted ''Aristide or death'' during Dominique's funeral and had called for the death of Evans Paul, the opposition leader whose party offices were burned down. They were identified as members of a so-called popular organization that has been linked to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Family political party, although party spokesmen have denied it. 

During the service at the Port-au-Prince soccer stadium, Aristide sat stoically with his wife, next to President Rene Preval and his wife, as demonstrators chanted threats against his presumed enemies. Paul, in a telephone call to Radio Metropole after his party office was set afire, claimed Aristide and Preval were responsible for sending people to burn it down. He said the demonstrators also accused him of involvement in the killing of Dominique, which he said was not true.

The demonstrators also targeted Radio Vision 2000, a frequent critic of Aristide and the Preval government, burning tires in front of the station and throwing rocks at its offices on a main downtown street.

RISING TENSIONS 

Saturday's events dramatized rising tensions in the country, as the Preval government continues to resist international pressure to hold parliamentary elections soon, and the economy is in a tailspin.

Until it was marred by the violent demonstrations, the day was intended to belong to Dominique, whose death silenced Haiti's most prominent radio voice. The meek and the mighty, the poor and the powerful began pouring into the 18,000-seat stadium before the 7 a.m. start of the service for Dominique. Led by Preval and Aristide, thousands gathered under intense security for an emotional three-hour ceremony under a gentle breeze that eased the harsh effect of a bright morning sun.

''You died for Haiti,'' Dominique's sister, Madeleine Paillere, said tearfully over his casket. ''You died because you told the truth.'' ''He struggled to change the system radically,'' said Sony Esteus, who worked at Dominique's radio station. ''If he was killed it is proof that the system has not changed.'' The journalist's slaying, ''coming in the midst of an electoral campaign, is an attack on freedom of the press in Haiti as well on democracy,'' the Organization of American States electoral observation mission said.

NATIONAL HONOR 

Such was the stature of Dominique, Haiti's loudest voice for free speech for four decades, that Preval declared a rare national funeral and honored Dominique with a three-day period of mourning that began Thursday. Security for the funeral was heavy. 

Pierre Denize, chief of the Haitian National Police, said the department's mobilization almost matched that of Carnival a month earlier, one of Haiti's biggest annual events. Riot police with full gear were positioned around the perimeter of the soccer field an hour before the service. 

Mourners filed by to pay their respects to Dominique, whose open casket was displayed under a white canopy in the middle of the soccer field, along with the casket of a station guard killed in the same attack. Beginning with Roman Catholic Bishop Willy Romelus of Jeremie, speaker after speaker, representing various sectors of society, paid tribute to Dominique. Preval posthumously granted Dominique the country's National Medal of Honor and Merit, Haiti's highest honor, ''for his contribution to the defense of individual liberties and as a leader of free expression . . . his enormous contributions for the development of agrarian reform as well as for justice and democracy. . . . '' Dominique had become, as one of his colleagues noted, an institution in a country that has few of them.

 

  NCHR Pays Tribute to Jean Léopold Dominique
  Event Photos
  An Alumna Stands Firm in Haiti article in 116th & Broadway
  Press Release:
NCHR to Honor Slain Journalist & Fellow Human Rights Activist
  Program & Benefit Committee
  Printable Donation Form
MORE ON THE LIVES OF
  Jean L. Dominique
  Michèle Montas
  Michael S. Hooper
RELATED ARTICLES
  Eulogy by Jonathan Demme
  The Sound of Silence, Killing the Hope in Haiti by Jean Jean-Pierre
NEWS & COMMENTARIES ON THE ASSASSINATION
  Gunmen Kill Haiti Radio Journalist - AP
  Haiti Presidential Advisor Shot and Killed - Reuters
  US Troubled by Journalist's Murder
  Assassination of Radio Haiti Inter Director - AHP
  OAS Press Release on Dominique's Assassination
  Haitians Fear for Homeland After Slaying
  Leading Haitian Radio Figure Shot to Death Outside Station
 

Radio Commentator Shot Dead

  Diplomat: Shooting in Haiti Has Lesson
  Well-Known Journalist Gunned Down at Radio Station
  The Return of the Dark Days
  Journalist's Murder Points to Haiti's Slide into Chaos
THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES
  Reporters Without Borders Report on Press Freedom in 2001
  Journalists Unite
  Montas' Columbia University Classmates Demand Justice for Dominique
  500 People Rally in Protest of Journalist's Killing in Haiti, Report Says
  Haitians Mourn Assassinated Writer
Violence Follows Funeral for Slain Haitian Journalist
  Haiti Journalists Protest Attacks
  Station of Slain Haitian Journalist Again on Air
  Voice of Slain Journalist Echoes in Haiti
  Haitian's Widow Vows to Press On
  Free Haiti Fundraiser in Memory of Murdered Journalist
  Racked by Violence, Haiti Prepares to Vote in Controversial Election
  Jean Dominique
Haiti Inter Fait le Point:
Dany Toussaint prend-il les enfants du bon dieu pour des canards sauvages?
  A quand la prochaine victime?
Michèle Montas, 3 novembre 2000

 

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