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Leftists Denounce Alleged Human Rights Abuses

September 1, 1989

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ Twenty-five leftist groups Thursday formed ″a common front against repression″ by Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril’s government, which they accused of unwarranted arrests and torturing of political opponents.

″Death-squads, often comprising soldiers, operate with complete impunity,″ said Francois Pierre-Louis, co-leader of the National Popular Assembly Party.

At a news conference of 25 organizations, including Haiti’s largest trade union, Pierre-Louis charged the government has been responsible for at least 60 human rights violations since June. He did not list specific cases.

″In the last two months, the government has arrested without warrant and tortured dozens of people,″ he said.

During the same period, radio stations have reported dozens of arbitrary arrests and beatings of leftist peasants by soldiers.

Among major organizations at the news conference were the League of Former Political Prisoners, the National Alliance of Popular Organizations, the Committee for Democratic Unity and the Autonomous Union of Haitian Workers - Haiti’s largest trade union.

They said they are forming a ″common front against repression.″

Since April, Port-au-Prince has been plagued by a crime wave including an average of one murder a day. Police have done little or nothing to maintain security in the capital, a city of 1 million people.

The Peace Corps said in Washington on Wednesday it will send 15 new volunteers to Haiti, since it said the U.S. Embassy there now considers security conditions ″satisfactory.″

Most Peace Corps volunteers were withdrawn from Haiti after violently aborted 1987 elections and subsequent violence.

Avril seized power in a September 1988 coup, and has pledged to return Haiti to democratic rule.

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