New York, February 20, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is alarmed that Sony Bastien, president and general director of the Port-au-Princebased private station Radio Kiskeya, has recently received death threats for his work.
The threats against Bastien came after the journalist read an editorial on February 5 criticizing President Jean Bertrand Aristide for accusing the Association Nationale des Médias Haitiens (National Association of Haitian Media), an association of local media owners, of having links to armed groups that have recently taken over several regions in Haiti.
The editorial also criticized Aristide’s treatment of Radio Vision 2000 journalist Alex Regis, whom the president accused of being hired by opposition parties because the journalist asked him in a press conference about recent street protests calling for his resignation.
Bastien told CPJ that he fears for his life and his family’s after learning from a reliable source inside Haiti’s National Palace that members of the ruling Fanmi Lavalas party and of militant groups, or “popular organizations,” which support Aristide, had included his name in a list of people to be executed.
According to Bastien, after the editorial aired, he received calls from unidentified individuals telling him that he should start walking with a coffin under his arm. Around February 14, Bastien noticed that armed members of popular organizations were taking up positions near his residence, and anonymous callers told him that Radio Kiskeya was going to get burned.
According to Bastien’s source in the National Palace, the list also includes Radio Kiskeya’s Lilianne Pierre-Paul; Marie Lucie Bonhomme, of Radio Vision 2000; Euvrard Saint-Armand, of Caraibes FM; and Rotchild François Junior, of Radio Métropole.
Haiti remains in turmoil since armed groups that formerly supported President Aristide turned against him and attacked several police stations across the country in early February. The armed groups, which have recently joined forces with former paramilitary leaders convicted of perpetrating human rights abuses, control large parts of the country.