1974 - "Duvalier keeps killing"
400 Have Fled Haiti In By G. MICHAEL HARMON 'AssocUledPressWriter Â· Thirty-eight Haitians rescued from a foundering boat off the Florida coast last week raised to 400 the number of refugees who have fled to the United States from Haiti the past 13 months. A ragged and largely illiterate illiterate collection of men, women and children, the Haitians have appealed for political asylym, saying the dangers they faced aboard leaky boats on their 750- mile journeys from Haiti were mi'niscule compared to terrors they had suffered at the hands of their own government. But the U.S. Immigration Service has rejected their pleas to remain in America, jailed 100 of the men and moved to deport them all. Defenders of the refugees, including including the Miami Baptist Ministers' Ministers' Council and a former Justice Department attorney, say they are convinced many of the refugees will face death or imprisonment if returned to Haiti and the rule of Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, the dictator-president of the Caribbean Caribbean nation. "1 believe deep down in my heart that they will be thrown into prison or shot if they have to go back," says the Rev. w.-E. Sims, president of the ministers'council. "They'veex- perienced things you wouldn't believe - executions, their b u s i n e s s e s burned, m e n snatched from their families at night." The Rev. Jacques Mompr.e- mier, director of the Haitian Refugee Center who fled his homeland four years ago, says the Duvalier regime would execute execute the refugees as an example example to others who yearn to escape poverty and oppression in Haiti. "The Duvalier regime keeps killing, killing, killing," Mom- premier says, rejecting the contention contention that conditions in Haiti have improved greatly since Duvalier took over the reins of government following the death of his father Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier in 1972. "Conditions are becoming worse and worse'in Haiti," Mompremier says. "It hasn't changed in 17 years since Papa Doc came to power. We have a report that the secret police recently caught one group of 12 people who were trying to escape, escape, poured gas on them and burned them." Yvon Bruno, 24, leader of the first group of 65 refugees who landed on a beach near Miami in December 1972, says "Haiti is a slaughterhouse. "I think it's getting worse. For it to be better, the American American government has to step in and do something." Bruno and his comrades were followed by groups of 25 in April, 21 in May, 16 in June. There was a lull until March 1973 when a group of 18 landed on a beach followed by 10 in August, two groups of 22 and 49 in September, and 63 in October October and finally the 38 who were rescued by a fishing boat about 280 miles off (he South Florida lo (he United Slates from com- of Immigration Appeals and a migration for about coast last Monday. muntet countries am always U.S. Sth Circuit Court judge m and by Monday mommg they Neal Sonnett, a former Jus- granted political asylym, but Miann, is currently pendmg be- tice Department attorney who we have a long history of refus- fore the U.S. 5th Circuit Court were tod they did not dese poht.cal asy ym 1 don t see my mind, oppression i, prove their economic lot. But he says he is convinced that many others would face death if returned. "1 was a little skeptical at first but after talking to .these people and Americans with businesses in Haiti, 1 believe that if they are sent back some of them would be killed," Sonnett Sonnett says. "There are some exceptions - like some of them paid to get over here from the Bahamas Bahamas where they had lived for years. "What the government is saying saying is that none of them were active in politics and therefore can't be granted political as- ylm. The government says they only wanted to improve their economic condition. But we don't think that is the test. "What it boils down to is that the United States is unwilling to accept the fact that people who come from right-wing countries are oppressed. People who flee Sonnet! says he wants the Haitians treated the same as the 25,000 Cuban refugees who fled to Spain and then were admitted admitted to the United States last year. In response, a State Department Department spokesman said the Haitians Haitians are illegal entrants from a country which has diplomatic relations with the U.S. while the Cubans are refugees from a government not recognized by this country'. "Asylym is only available to persons who have taken a stand that is in direct contradiction to their government," the spokesman spokesman said. "Generally, the status status is available only to persons outspoken in their political opposition opposition while in the nation to which they would be returned, though there might be exceptions." exceptions." Sonnett's appeal of the immigration immigration department's deportation deportation order for the Haitians, which was upheld by the Board Haiti while going through the channels of administrative appeal, appeal, and the alleged failure of the agency to properly investigate investigate their claims. "One blatant example involves involves one group of 20 who arrived arrived about 2 a.m. one Saturday Saturday morning," Sonnelt says. "They were interviewed by im- mem if they were reined Ham. He c ted an example one group who were actively involved m rebeMion. 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