Remembering Antoine and Georges Izméry
by Haiti Action Committee
“I speak the truth and it hurts, so people call me a radical. This is a revolution. We want to improve the lives of the people. There is no room for compromise.” – Antoine Izméry
Haiti Action Committee is honored to share this powerful eulogy given by Antoine Izméry in May 1992 for his younger brother, Georges. The Izméry brothers were Palestinian-Haitians who were both assassinated by U.S.-backed death squads following the U.S.-orchestrated coup in 1991 that overthrew the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The Izméry brothers have long symbolized the deep ties of solidarity between Palestinians and Haitians. Now, as U.S.-manufactured Israeli bombs shatter Gaza, Haiti Action Committee reiterates our support for the Palestinian people and their right to resist occupation, colonial terror and ethnic cleansing.
We denounce the continued U.S. support – to the tune of $3.8 billion in arms per year – for the Israeli apartheid state. On this 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, we note the parallels between the struggle in Haiti and Palestine.
As in Palestine, the people of Haiti have never stopped fighting for their freedom. As in Palestine, the Haitian people confront a regime backed to the hilt by the U.S. government. As in Palestine, the Haitian people demand self-determination and an end to occupation, land theft and state-sponsored terror.
Not long after his brother’s murder, Antoine himself was assassinated in broad daylight, forced to kneel in the street and shot point blank in the head, despite the presence of domestic and international human rights observers and the press.
Antoine Izméry was a prominent supporter of Aristide and the democratic movement in Haiti and an outspoken critic of the coup regime. In the eulogy for his brother, Antoine said: “Today, in Georges’ name, I speak for all the people who have disappeared: underprivileged, students, journalists, peasants, workers and peaceful citizens. To understand this hideous crime, beyond pain and emotion, it must be understood that they want to transform Haiti into a vast prison and an immense cemetery.”
Following his brother’s assassination, Antoine lodged a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights over Georges’ death, which sparked a sharply critical resolution from the commission.
On Sept. 11, 1993, a year and four months after his brother’s murder, Antoine himself was assassinated in broad daylight by a death squad composed of 10 armed men tied to Haiti’s military and police. He was dragged from a memorial church service honoring victims of the 1988 St. Jean Bosco massacre, forced to kneel in the street and shot point blank in the head, despite the presence of domestic and international human rights observers and the press.
An international UN investigation later concluded that the elaborate plan to assassinate Antoine Izméry could not have been carried out without the complicity, if not the participation, of highly placed members of the Haitian armed forces. That same military, along with a new group of death squads, has been resurrected today in Haiti and continues to terrorize the population.
But liberty is not given, it is taken. And for one who falls, 10, 100, 1,000 will follow.
We salute the Izméry brothers for their courage, their commitment to justice and social change in Haiti, and their love for their fellow human beings.
We honor their memory as we say: “Haiti and Palestine – same struggle, same fight.”
Excerpt from Antoine’s eulogy for his brother Georges
“I must tell you that my life is a quest for justice and for social change in Haiti. For me, the first objective of justice is the right to life, protected and guaranteed by a government conscious of the claims of all our people. I will not change. I will always remain a political fighter.
“To our Haitian friends, I will permit myself to say that the struggle for the triumph of justice will be long and bloody. But liberty is not given, it is taken. And for one who falls, 10, 100, 1,000 will follow. Yes, the people of Haiti are hungry and thirsty for justice. It began on Feb. 7, 1986. It will not stop until the objectives have been attained: a more humane, just, truthful and joyous society, a society where all are respected, kote tout moun se moun.
“To my foreign friends I will say this, I am not looking for death. But I am not afraid of death. Life is not the most precious good to humanity. There are conditions that can render life itself odious. To know that one is governed by assassins or by a band of organized criminals such as the mafia … To live under terror, to be deprived of one’s fundamental liberties, to see oneself robbed of the result of a vote freely and democratically expressed, to not have the means to decent housing for oneself, to nourish oneself comfortably, to be cared for, to send one’s children to school, to be tortured or imprisoned in a degrading way: These are some of the conditions that render life odious.
“The Haitian people will always find me on their side and on the side of our freely elected leaders in our march toward life and in our combat against death.” – Antoine Izméry