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Montrealers rally to welcome refugees

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By Travis Ross, CHAN Co-editor, August 7, 2017

On August 6, approximately 300 people attended a rally outside the Olympic Stadium to welcome refugees to Montreal.

The rally, named the “Rassemblement de bienvenue aux réfugiés haïtiens” (Rally to welcome Haitian refugees)  was organized as a counter-rally to a planned event by Quebec-based white supremacist groups La Meute, Storm Alliance, and Soldiers of Odin. This anti-immigrant rally was canceled less than 24 hours before it was scheduled to begin. As of 4pm August 5, the event had only attracted 29 attendees on Facebook.

The rally was organized by two organizations, Comité d'action des personnes sans statut et Cité sans frontières / Solidarity City / Ciudad Solidaria (Montréal). Translated: The Action Committee of Non-status People & Solidarity Across Borders.

Several people spoke at the event including: Maguy Métellus, a Montreal-based radio host; Jean Saint-Vil, an Ottawa-based Haiti Solidarity activist and Radio host; Serge Bouchereau, a Montreal based community organizer; Jaggi Singh, an activist and organizer for No One is Illegal Montreal, and Claire Fatima Oriol, a Haitian refugee facing deportation.

Haitian Senate passes bill that will make it a crime to support gay rights

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By Nick Duffy, Pink News, August 3, 2017

The Haitian Senate has approved a law that makes it a crime to “publicly demonstrate support” for gay rights.

The law, greenlit by lawmakers in the Caribbean country this week, would make it a crime to take part in or be witness to a same-sex union.

People who take part in same-sex weddings can also face criminal charges, with a maximum of three years in prison for “the parties, co-parties and accomplices” to a same-sex marriage. However, it goes a lot further than simply outlawing banning gay weddings, by also attempting to stamp out all public support for equality.

Is the UN sending the wrong people to keep the peace?

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By Azad Essa, Al Jazeera, August 3, 2017

UN peacekeepers are sent to the most war-ravaged countries on Earth, ostensibly to help them transition to peace. 

But some stand accused of committing crimes against the very people they are supposed to protect. 

According to a recent investigation by the Associated Press (AP), between 2004 and 2016, the United Nations received almost 2,000 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against its peacekeepers. 

The UN says it has a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, but survivors, activists, lawyers and human rights organisations say such crimes have been allowed to continue with impunity. 

Through conversations with UN peacekeepers and officials, gender experts, academics, researchers and activists, as well as through an investigation of UN data, in this four-part series, we try to navigate these competing accounts to answer the question: How did some peacekeepers become predators?

Is Venezuela giving to Haiti “bad gas”?

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By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, August 2, 2017

Declaration of Haiti Liberté
 
As a part of the PetroCaribe alliance, Haiti imports gas from Venezuela. The alliance was created on Sep. 7, 2005, and, along with Venezuela, it includes 19 countries (among them the Caricom countries): Antigua and Barbuda , Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Suriname, St. Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and The Grenadines. Haiti joined the group in May 2006 after the election of President René Préval. Honduras followed in December 2007, followed by Guatemala in July 2008.
 
Through the largest Haitian daily newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, we have suddenly learned that the quality of the fuel sold in Haiti is bad, this according to a purportedly scientific study by some anonymous expert who has just made a great discovery, like Christopher Columbus.
What lies behind this article? It is important to try to pinpoint the precise objectives when a major Haitian importer of vehicles anonymously states that: "The state, by ordering petroleum of poor quality through PetroCaribe, and oil companies by agreeing to sell the bad quality gas as good, are carrying out a scam. We are nominally sold gasoline which is 95 octane, however it is 86 or even 84 octane which is available."
 

Montreal turns stadium into welcome centre for asylum seekers from US

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By Ashifa Kassam, The Guardian, August 2, 2017

A recent surge in asylum seekers arriving from the United States has prompted Canadian authorities to open a temporary welcome centre in one of Montreal’s best-known landmarks.

Since the start of the year, the numbers of asylum seekers entering Canada from the US has soared. More than 4,000 of them – many of them driven by fears of Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants – have entered Canada at remote, unguarded locations along the border. By doing so, they aim to skirt a 2004 agreement between Canada and the US that forces most migrants to apply for asylum in the first country in which they arrive.

In recent months, the province of Quebec has become a major entry point. More than than 3,300 asylum seekers have crossed into the province from the US, sending authorities scrambling to set up additional welcome centres.

On Wednesday, the province began bussing asylum seekers – who including children and pregnant women – to the site of its latest welcome centre: Montreal’s Olympic stadium, a 56,000-seat arena normally used for sporting events, rock concerts and trade shows.

Haiti's revived military could pose more security risks than solutions

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By Tristan Clavel, InSight Crime, July 28, 2017 

Haiti is reconstituing its previously disbanded army after more than two decades, amid concerns about growing insecurity as a United Nations peacekeeping force is set to withdraw later this year. And while politicians have justified the move as a step toward combating contrabandtrafficking, the real motivations behind the decision may be political.

The recruitment effort for the new army was announced by the Defense Ministry in early July and has seen more than 2,200 candidates sign up in the first round, reported Haiti Libre. Due to budget constraints, the force will have fewer than 500 members.

Defense Minister Hervé Denis said the army's mission would be to fight against contraband smuggling and provide relief in case of natural disasters, according to the Miami Herald. The minister argued that the cost of the force will be outweighed by its impact on smuggling from the Dominican Republic, which he estimated causes lost tax revenues for Haiti of between $200 million and $500 million per year.

However, critics have said that the recruitment process has lacked transparency and has been conducted in the absence of a command structure for the force, reported AlterPresse.

Ontario seats, or Saudi lives? In Ottawa, there's no contest.

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By Marty Patriquin, ipolitics, July 31, 2017

About a week before the 2015 federal election, Justin Trudeau waltzed onto the dais of Tout le mode en parle, Quebec’s weekly talk show. About 1.2 million sets of eyeballs take in TLMEP every week, making an appearance a necessity for most (though certainly not all) federal politicians. Suitably, Trudeau was at his Trudeaupian best, interspersing well-meaning Liberal boilerplate with soupçons of his now-familiar smarm.

At one point, host Guy A. Lepage asked Trudeau about the federal government’s decision to allow the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, “a country harshly criticized for its disrespect of human rights.”

Trudeau quickly corrected the host. “First of all, they aren’t weapons, they’re Jeeps,” he tut-tutted. His ensuing explanation of why the Liberals were OK with the Conservative government’s approval of the sale — contortions of logic that would turn your average human being into a pretzel — was predicated on this very conceit: those aren’t weapons, silly. They’re little trucks. Canada — or at least a Canadian company — was basically selling the Saudis a bunch of Wranglers.

Always flimsy, this conceit collapsed entirely over the last week when images of Canadian-made armoured vehicles involved a military campaign against the country’s Shia minority showed up on social media (and in the Globe and Mail’s excellent reporting). Five civilians died at the hands of the Saudi National Guard over the course of two days, according to Reuters — the latest eruption of sectarian bloodshed in one of the most violent and repressive countries on earth.