Forced Evictions in Haiti Escalating Again
March 4, 2013 Quixote Center. Original article here
Over the last two months violent forced evictions targeting people living in camps for the internally displaced in Haiti have accelerated.
Saturday, February 16th, 2013, near midnight, heavily armed men killed Anèl Egziyis, a young man living in a tent, and set fire to the Acra 2 camp in Juvenat, near the Karibe Hotel. Sunday, February 17th, in full daylight, the men returned to set fire to whatever tents and victims’ possessions had not been burned the night before. The criminal blaze consumed a five-year-old child, nearly four thousand tents, and all the possessions of four thousand families. Dilia Marie, mother of five, says she just barely rescued her one-month-old baby, Cadet Ismaella, from the flames of Martelly’s bandits. (see full statement from FRAKKA on this case here)
Friday, February 15th, Justice of the Peace Frantz Vertus, also known as Tenmpla, accompanied by police and thugs in various states of armament, entered the Gaston Magon camp near Mariani. They beat the inhabitants, striking even children, and knocked down nearly 150 tents in the camp. The police fired many shots to frighten the people and allow the others to wreak their destruction. The thugs themselves took the chance to steal money and other items from the victims. Following this action—worthy of the Tonton Macoutes—nearly 150 families are sleeping on the street. The situation is especially difficult for women and children. Carrefour City Hall did do a headcount of the camp after the “legal bandits” had left, but they still haven’t done anything for the victims. We must remember, this Justice of the Peace already destroyed 20 tents in this camp on Friday, November 26th, 2012 with no official permission to do so. (full statement from FRAKKA here).
At Grace Village in Carrefour an ongoing campaign of intimidation aimed at forcing people to leave the camp continues. The camp is still home to over 500 families. Last week a brief was filed with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights requesting that measures be taking to protect families from further violence, and that a resettlement plan be put in place. The brief highlights a pattern of abuse by Pastor Joel Jeune who claims ownership of the land that the camp is on. Over the last year or so, Pastor Joel has worked to intimidate families and make life so miserable in the camp that people will leave. Pastor Joel and camp guards have refused to let people clear out garbage, dig a latrine, and they have refused admittance to the camp by aid agencies. A report from activists on the ground last week details some current concerns, after Pastor Joel removed the gate from the camp:
The concerns expressed by the IDPs is that they now feel as though the slight security that they had within the walled in compound is now compromised, leaving them open to “thieves, rapist, and anyone that Pastor Jeune will send to enact violence against us at night.” This concern was well founded, as later in the evening, rocks were thrown into the camp. No injuries were reported. IDPs interviewed repeated numerous times that they were unable to sleep and spent the night “standing on their two legs”.
The Haitian National Police have been in the camp, firing their weapons in the air to pressure people to leave. The local Mayor has been reported to only take the side of the Pastor, and supports his illegal activities, as do the church groups in the US that are funding these actions by Pastor Jeune, though hopefully without their knowledge.
Amnesty International released an alert concerning two other forced evictions involving hundreds of families that occurred in January.
Police officers violently evicted 84 families from camp Fanm Koperativ, in Port-au-Prince on 22 January. Ten days earlier, on the third anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake, municipal officials and officials from the Civil Protection Agency forcibly evicted around 600 families from Camp Place Sainte-Anne, also in Port-au-Prince. (read full alert here).
350,000 people remain in camps for the internally displaced established following the devastating earthquake in January of 2010. The families in the camps have nowhere else to go, as the reconstruction effort remains stalled, and the government and international community have yet to prioritize the creation of a long-terms sustainable housing plan. Housing rights activists in Haiti are demanding that the forced evictions end and the government establish a social housing plan NOW with input from Haitian civil society.
Keep up to date with the Under Tents Campaign. Action items on these cases will be coming soon.