As Biron Odigé and Rony Timothée Are
Anti-Martelly Protests Grow across Haiti
by Isabelle L. Papillon and Kim Ives
The uprising across Haiti to demand the
resignation of President Michel Martelly grew again this
week with massive marches in the capital and several towns
on Oct. 26, 2014, the date on which Martelly had promised
elections earlier this year.
As they had just
earlier on Oct. 17, tens of thousands of Haitians took to
the streets again to demand the holding of elections,
respect for the Constitution, and the continuation of the
democratic process in Haiti. But for this to happen, there
is a growing consensus around the demonstrators’ principal
demand: “Martelly must go!”
In addition to
Port-au-Prince, demonstrators marched in Aux Cayes, Petit
Goâve, and Cap Haïtien.
Parliamentary and municipal
elections are more than three years overdue because of
Martelly’s bureaucratic foot-dragging and intransigence in
naming a compromise electoral council. Nonetheless, Martelly
has blamed his political opposition and the parliament for
the delay and found the time and resources to hold three
carnivals a year. The situation seems to confirm the old
Haitian dictum: "Macoutes never hold elections" (Makout pa
konn fè eleksyon), a reference to the repressive
paramilitary Tonton Macoute force which was the armed
expression of the Duvalier dictatorships.
Under pressure from the
Haitian people, and his image-conscious backers in
Washington, Martelly signed a presidential decree on Jun.
10, 2014 setting elections for Oct. 26, 2014. But in
mid-August, Martelly’s electoral council announced that the
elections would be postponed indefinitely.
In a symbolic move, the
people took to Haiti’s streets in search of polling
stations. Not finding any, they asked for the keys to the
In the capital, the
demonstration started at 10 am. Thousands gathered in front
of the ruins of St. Jean Bosco, the church where Father
Jean-Bertrand Aristide used to preach. The crowd then
marched through the popular quarters of La Saline, St.
Martin, and Bel Air before taking the Delmas Road.
Peacefully, but with determination, the sea of demonstrators
marched to Pétionville.
"We demand the immediate
resignation of Martelly,” chanted demonstrators. “Martelly
is a vagabond. He should not be president of Haiti. He was
imposed on us by the international community. No matter
what, Martelly must go!”
Militants of the Dessalines
Coordination party (KOD) carried signs that read:
“Occupation = Martelly! Martelly = Cholera!” Other signs
said: “Martelly = a pink flea! Martelly symbolizes misery!
Martelly = the colonists’ servant (restavèk kolon)."
Angry demonstrators tore
down pink government posters proclaiming that “Ayiti ap
vanse" (Haiti is moving ahead). Protestors burned and
stamped on them.
Regime thugs tried to
provoke the crowd into a confrontation at Delmas 18, but the
Haitian police stopped the harassment. They had another
At Delmas 75, the police,
accompanied by a justice of the peace with prepared
warrants, arrested Rony Timothée and Biron Odigé, the two
leaders of the Patriotic Front for Respect of the
Constitution (FOPARC). FOPARC was one of the principal march
organizers. The two leaders were taken to the Pétion-ville
police station and then transported to the Carrefour police
station, in the south of the capital.
Authorities charged the men with
involvement in violence in the La Scierie district of St.
Marc during the coup d’état against President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide in 2004. Coup government charges of a
supposed "massacre" against coup
supporters in La Scierie have long been discredited
As news of the two leaders’
arrest spread through the crowd, the protestors’ strength
and determination increased. It was resolved to head to
Demonstrators arrived at
Pétion-ville without too much difficulty and were greeted
and joined by hundreds of people who swelled the crowd.
After passing along various streets of the swank town, the
demonstrators headed towards the National Palace to demand
the keys. But the police denied the marchers access to the
Champ de Mars, the square in front of the National Palace.
So the protestors headed down Rue Capois en route to
Carrefour to bring solidarity to Biron Odigé and
Rony Timothée. However, at Rue Magloire Ambroise, as they did on Oct.
17, the police broke up the demonstration with tear gas and
Haitians throughout the
capital had quickly learned that the two arrested leaders
were jailed at the Omega Prison in Carrefour. Within
minutes, demonstrators were protesting outside, chanting
“Down with Martelly,” even as thousands were wending their
way down from Pétion-ville. When Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles,
the charismatic leader of the anti-Martelly movement, and
lawyer André Michel arrived at the prison, the demonstration
grew in size and volume. Moïse called for a “permanent
mobilization” against the “emerging dictatorship.”
"The people do not want the
tet kale (bald headed) group,” said Sen. Moïse. “Martelly
has lost control of the situation."
The next day, Oct. 27,
Port-au-Prince prosecutor Kerson Darius Charles executed
warrants of committal against the two leaders, who were not
heard by a judge. They remain incarcerated in Carrefour’s
Omega prison, where demonstrators will again protest on Oct.
Along with Sen. Moïse
Jean-Charles and Sen. John Joël Joseph, many political
leaders marched in the protest including former
parliamentarians Turneb Delpé and Serge Jean-Louis of the
Patriotic Movement of the Democratic Opposition (MOPOD),
Oxygène David and Thomas Jean Dieufaite of KOD, and Dr.
Maryse Narcisse, the coordinator of the Lavalas Family party
of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Narcisse condemned the
arrest and illegal imprisonment of Biron Odigé and
Rony Timothée, as well as three other demonstrators arrested in Aux
Cayes. She called for the release of all Haitian political
The list of demonstrators
(now political prisoners) arrested during the Oct. 17 and
Oct. 26 marches include the following: in Port-au-Prince,
1)Vladimir Pierre, 2) Jean-Henry Delassin, 3) Hérard
Seradieu, 4) Moïse Roody, 5) Jean Jacques Renault, 6)
Lovenson Mersier, 7) Paul Joanel, 8) Ralph Desilus, 9)
Lormicile Isaac Homme, 10) Saint-Gourdain Dodelyn, 11)
Mersier Jean Louiné, 12) Louiredant Louisvens, 13) Clergé
Jeff, 14) Clervin Midin, 15) Sampeur Jonas, 16)
Laguerre Angelot, 17) Fritzner Montinat, 18) Charles Altès,
19) Biron Odigé, and 20) Thimoté Rony. In Aux Cayes, 1)
Frantzou Dieu, 2) Luxama Frantz, and 3) Mentor Pétuel.
Ten other demonstrators
were arrested in Petit-Goâve, and three of them were
released on Oct. 27: Guirand Auguste, St. Jean Harry, and
Berthony St. Hilaire.
"Today, Haiti is returning into a totalitarian
regime with a dictator without vision,” said Sen. François
Annick Joseph of the Artibonite. “Faced with this regime,
there must be popular uprising, an uprising of citizens.”