Several Adults Killed in Forced Eviction, With Little Notice by International Media
The killing of four adults, and – according to some reports – disappearance of four children in a violent forced eviction on July 23rd has gone all but unnoticed by the major English language media, but some details have emerged through Haitian and some independent English language press. Haïti Liberté has a detailed report in English of the incident at Parc La Visite in Seguin, Marigot, on the southern coast. Haïti Liberté and other outlets’ reports are based in large part on the work of Haitian journalist Claudy Belizaire of the Reference Institute for Journalism and Communication (RIJC), who also took graphic photos of the killing’s aftermath.
Haïti Liberté reported that the four were killed when 36 “Haitian police [officers] …destroyed seven homes in an attempt to clear peasants from a remote mountain-top park where they have lived and farmed for the past 70 years,” noting that “The bloody confrontation …occurred exactly 25 years to the day after an infamous 1987 peasant massacre near the northwestern town of Jean-Rabel…”
The RIJC reported the four confirmed dead to be “Desire Enoz - 32 years; Nicolas David - 28 years, Robinson Volcin - 22 years and Desire Aleis - 18 years.”
Belizaire, as translated by Haïti Liberté, wrote that three days later, “since this serious incident, no state official has come to Seguin, where barricades have been erected by the people, in protest. The only item known about this negotiation was an envelope of 50,000 gourdes [about $ 1,250] promised to each family (50% before departure, 50% after).”
The $600 before, $600 after moving payments are reminiscent of Martelly's much-criticized cash incentive plan to get people to relocate. Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) attorney Mario Joseph describes the government’s strategy in a new letter [PDF] of complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR):
RIJC describes a possible motive for the eviction operation:
And Haïti Liberté adds:
The La Selle region, which includes La Visite, was recently added to UNESCO’s network of biosphere reserves. Additionally, a USAID financed program (WINNER) implemented by Chemonics is funding reforestation and other conservation measures in the park.
While there has been relatively little media coverage of the killings, the UN says it is looking into the incident, as translated by Haïti Liberté:
The Associated Press also ran a brief article noting MINUSTAH’s investigation. (UPI and Xinhua did as well, but in Spanish.)
Of course, the Parc La Visite incident is just one of many recent incidents of forced eviction, and is perhaps notable – aside from the killings – in that the residents being evicted are not IDP’s. Forced evictions are among the human rights abuses that attorney Mario Joseph has condemned in his letter [PDF] to the IACHR: