UNITED NATIONS, October 8 — Long after Mario Joseph and other lawyer had petitioned the UN for introducing cholera to Haiti, six months ago a block from the UN Inner City Press asked Joseph what he thought of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s responsiveness.
Joseph replied, surprisingly diplomatic given the delay, that immunity should not mean impunity.
Last week the UN’s top envoy in Haiti Mariano Fernandez told Inner City Press that he could not answer on cholera, since a legal claim– Joseph’s — remains pending.
Now, Mario Joseph and other lawyers including Newton St-Juste and Andre Michel are facing death threats in Haiti for their work.
So Inner City Press on Monday asked Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky if the UN’s mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, had within its mandate to offer protection to human rights lawyers under threat in the very city the UN has hung around in for years, Port au Prince. Video here, from Minute 8:24.
Nesirky replied that “we’re certainly aware of the report” — it would be hard not to be — but “if I have anything further on that, I’ll let you know.”
It’s TIFF time, again, and I caught my first two (well, three really) films tonight. My first screening was a film about Haiti — TIFF seems to have one about every other year, and I always make a point of catching that screening.
According to the programme, the film was meant to be preceded by another film called Peripeteia, but there was some screw up and we ended up seeing that one second. Peripeteia is a fairly avant-garde film, and I can’t say that I love avant-garde. It starts out with a title card informing us that the painter, Dürer, produced “Head of a Negro” in 1508, but that all information about the subject has been lost to “the winds of history.”
Cut to a black actor who looks vaguely similar to the sketch. He’s in sixteenth-century Europeean garb, walking through the fields of the dreariest British countryside. It looks Too Fucking Cold, and we can hear non-stop winds. He walks a bit. We cut to him in a different field. He stands dramatically. Cut to him near a lake. Read more
Here’s a story that I’ve always rather enjoyed; it comes from Tracy Kidder’s book, Mountains Beyond Mountains. The book recounts Paul Farmer’s attempt to create an alternative treatment regimen for tuberculosis.
So he got some people together to find out why the current treatment wasn’t working. One group of people (perhaps unsurprisingly, the relatively poor villagers that were typical of his patients) put their finger on the real problem: giving people Tuberculosis medicine when they don’t have food to eat isn’t all that great. Using this insight, Farmer went on to develop a treatment programme that ensured that all the Tuberculosis patients received food money and extra attention.
What interests me, though, is the other perspective. The other group of people — typically more affluent doctors — felt that the problem was related to the superstitiousness of the patients. According to them, the patients didn’t really believe that microbes caused Tuberculosis: instead, they believed that Tuberculosis happened because of sorcery, and therefore they didn’t stick to the medication regimen.
After talking to a lot of his patients, Farmer learned that although a lot of his patients actually believed this, the belief didn’t make much difference to their recovery rate.