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Secret funeral for a MINUSTAH victim

August 3, 2009

by Kim Ives

The young man murdered by U.N. MINUSTAH troops firing into the crowd at the June 18 funeral of Fr. Jean-Juste was finally laid to rest July 14, his funeral secret for fear of reprisals.
The young man murdered by U.N. MINUSTAH troops firing into the crowd at the June 18 funeral of Fr. Jean-Juste was finally laid to rest July 14, his funeral secret for fear of reprisals.
The young man who appears to have been gunned down by U.N. occupation troops after a funeral last month received an all but secret funeral himself on July 14 in Port-au-Prince because the priest and family were fearful of U.N. and Haitian government reprisals.

The victim has also been finally identified as Kenel Pascal, 22, of Delmas.

On the morning of June 18 outside the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, immediately following the funeral for Father Gérard Jean-Juste, troops of the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) fired at unarmed mourners who shouted angrily at them after they roughly arrested a man in the crowd.

When the fusillade ended, Pascal lay dying on the ground just outside a cathedral door, blood bubbling from his head and mouth. He died minutes later. His body was carried by the mourners a half mile to the National Palace. There they left the body in the driveway, laying blame for the killing on President René Préval (see Haiti Liberté, Vol. 2, No. 49, June 24, 2009).

Pascal was originally misidentified as “Ti Charles,” then Charles Désir, then “Roudy.”

His death was not certified by the Justice Ministry until almost a month later on July 13.

Lavarice Gaudin of the Miami-based Haitian rights organization Veye Yo, founded by Father Jean-Juste, helped organize Pascal’s funeral. Most of the arrangements were made by Ketchine Joseph, a Veye Yo sympathizer in Port-au-Prince.

“We had a very difficult time to find a church at which to hold the funeral,” Gaudin told Haiti Liberté. “Many turned us away. They were all scared. Finally we had to get an Episcopal priest from Léogane to do the service, but he would only agree to it if there was no press, if his name was not used, and if there were less than 25 people.”

The ceremony was held at Chapelle Paradis, a private morgue, in Delmas 31. Only five people signed the funeral record for “Témoignages de Sympathie.” The only family members on hand were Pascal’s sister, Gerda, and a couple of cousins. According to the death certificate, both Kenel Pascal’s father, Mondesir Pascal, and his mother, Miriame Debir, are dead.

Afterwards, Pascal was buried in a Delmas cemetery. The Vatican and Haitian Catholic hierarchy never offered Pascal’s impoverished family any assistance for the funeral. Nor did they demand any investigation of the shooting.

“The Catholic Church shows its complete bankruptcy in Haiti,” Gaudin pointed out. “When a mob beat Jean-Juste in St. Pierre Church in Pétionville in 2005, what was the church’s compensation? They threw him out of the church. Now they killed Kenel on the Vatican’s territory, just the same way they killed Izméry in 1993. Again, the church is silent and does nothing.”

The MINUSTAH denied all responsibility for the shooting, saying that Pascal was killed by a “rock” or a “blunt instrument.” Michele Montas, spokeswoman for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, “categorically” denied that U.N. troops were involved in the killing.

However, Haiti Liberté has obtained a copy of the autopsy carried out by Dr. Rodrigue Darang on June 22. The report clearly states that Pascal was killed by a bullet which entered his right cheek and passed through his head, shattering his fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae and some teeth.

Furthermore, television footage from Tele-Ginen showed U.N. soldiers shooting with their weapons leveled in Pascal’s direction.

Faced with the autopsy, U.N. officials are now claiming that the size of the entry hole noted in the report – 0.5 centimeters – indicates a bullet caliber smaller than that used by U.N. troops.

Hundreds demonstrated in Port-au-Prince on July 28, the 94th anniversary of the 1915 U.S. Marine occupation, to demand justice for Kenel Pascal. U.N. troops have killed dozens of poor unarmed Haitians civilians since they arrived to take over from U.S., French and Canadian occupation forces in June 2004.

Kim Ives is a writer and editor for Haiti Liberté, a major Haitian news weekly based in both New York and Haiti. Email editor@haitiliberte.com, call (718) 421-0162 or visit www.haitiliberte.com.

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