“Tribute to a Free Man”: Homage to Jean Dominique, July 31, 2000

Download: Tribute to a Free Man (1), Tribute to a Free Man (2)

July 31 2000, for what would have been Jean Dominique’s 70th birthday, several musicians, singers, writers, poets, vodou practitioners, and friends came together to do a public tribute to the slain journalist.  Featuring Sosyete Gran Dra (vodou song), Emmelie Prophète (text), James Germain (song), Barbara Guillaume (song), So Kute (song), Boulout Valcourt (song), Faubert Bolivar (poem by René Philoctète), Samba Zao (Tintin Djo), Patricia Préval (song), and Beethova Obas (song).

Justice for Jean Dominique: 2000-2015

"Yo Touye Jando" by Maxan Jean Louis

“Yo Touye Jando” by Maxan Jean Louis

Early in the morning of April 3, 2000, a few minutes before the first news broadcast of the day, Jean Léopold Dominique, the director of Radio Haïti Inter, and Jean Claude Louissaint, an employee of the media, were gunned down in the courtyard of the station.  In the months and years that followed, Haitian people from all sectors of society, from peasant farmers to human rights activists, to people living abroad in the diaspora, as well as several international organizations and entities, demanded justice for the slain journalist.

The judicial investigation was a spectacle of deception, audacity, and malfeasance: several witnesses were murdered, died under sudden and mysterious circumstances, or simply disappeared; judges were threatened; some 75% of the evidence in the case vanished from the Haitian high court, and several of the major suspects, including Senator Dany Toussaint, , refused to cooperate with the investigation by claiming immunity, resorting to various technicalities, or simply not appearing in court.

21 March 2003, the formal investigation concluded that a group of relatively minor criminals were the assassins and accomplices; the investigation named no one as the sponsors or instigators of the killing.  Dominique’s widow, Michèle Montas, who herself had barely escaped an attempt on her life on 25 December 2002, in which her bodyguard Maxime Seide was killed, rejected these findings, bringing the case to the Appellate Court.

The result of that investigation were made public 11 years later, on 17 January 2014, leading to the indictment of 9 people, including Mirlande Libérus, a former senator from the Fanmi Lavalas party, accused as being the organizer of the double murder, Harold Sévère, former deputy mayor of Port-au-Prince, and Annette Auguste and Franco Camille, high ranking members of the party. Several of them, including Sévère, were previously arrested in the case but either were released or escaped from prison. Before the case could go to court, the main witness, former security chief at the National Palace, Oriel Jean was shot dead in the street on March 3, 2015.

Dominique’s assassination during the so-called democratic era is one of many political murders that have gone unsolved in a climate of impunity.  As of April 2015, fifteen years after Jean Dominique and Jean Claude Louissaint were murdered, justice has not yet been served.

RECORDINGS

Tribute to a Free Man (Ochan pou yon nonm lib), 31 July 2000

Editorial: They Called Me Cassandra (On m’avait appelé Cassandre), 6 November 2001

Editorial: Why Jean Dominique?, 9 April 2002

Editorial: “They called me Cassandra” (On m’avait appelé Cassandre)

Download: On m’avait appelé Cassandre

Nineteen months after the assassination of Jean Dominique and Jean Claude Louissaint, Michèle Montas penned this editorial about the increasing fragmentation of both the Lavalas movement and political opposition in Haiti, and political leaders’ growing  alienation from the needs and desires of the Haitian masses.  “They called him Cassandra,” she says of Jean Dominique, because like the prophet of Greek mythology, he foresaw these political shifts and spoke out against them, only to be silenced when his words proved true.

“For some, the solution is to destroy the thermometer in order to hide the fever.  To assassinate a journalist, to silence a defender of rights and freedom — will  that change the political situation?  It is clear today that only those critical voices might allow the ruling party to appreciate its proximity to the precipice toward which its leaders rush headlong, dragging with it the entire country.  Only those critical voices might allow the ruling party to save itself from collective seppuku.  And they called him Cassandra.” – Michèle Montas

 

Editorial: Why Jean Dominique?

Download: Why Jean Dominique?

Two years after the assassination of Jean Dominique, why is there such outrage over his death?  Why are people from all sectors of society demanding justice and fighting against impunity?  Michèle Montas answers these questions, and summarizes the judicial investigation so far.  Several groups — peasant organizations, human rights groups, grassroots organizations — have demonstrated their solidarity and demanded that the state and the justice system provide the means for the investigation to advance, in spite of many obstacles.  The Haitian press demands justice as well, because the case of Jean Dominique represents a “sword of Damocles” for freedom of speech in Haiti.  Two years later, they do not yet know who killed Jean Dominique nor who paid to have him killed.