The following information was collected directly from residents of Camp Grace Village by human rights activist Mark Synder, members of the Haitian housing rights coalition FRAKKA, and Haitian human rights law firms Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and Defenders of the Oppressed (DOP). These organizations are supporting and accompanying camp dwellers to fight the illegal, forced eviction of residents from the camp.
Grace Village, a camp for the internally displaced, is currently home to about 500 families, now that a few hundred have fled after receiving pressure from the purported landowner to leave. Pastor Joel Jeune, a politically connected and internationally supported religious figure in Carrefour, a commune of Port-au-Prince, has been undertaking some significantly disturbing, yet all too common, means of creating difficult conditions for the displaced families in the camp. The displace earthquake survivors have had verbal threats, physical violence including rocks thrown and beatings, shelters destroyed, and aid blocked or sold to them. Pastor Jeune and his group have locked in the displaced families, and now, he has removed the large door at the entrance of the camp to remove the little feelings of security the families may feel.
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.
The Haitian housing rights group, FRAKKA has been organizing with the camp members and informing them of their rights. Haitian human rights firms, BAI and DOP are supporting their legal battle. Both are assisting with the organization of the camp members to resist the forced eviction and the violation of their rights.
Quotes from camp residents:
“(Pastor Joel and the government) use humiliation to pressure us to flee.”
“(Pastor Joel and the government) will use the police and batons to shut our mouths.”
“They have burned camps with gasoline, like Kan Mosulem. Where will children run when they come to burn our shelters?”
“Every time aid comes, it just stops at the top. It doesn’t reach us.”
“The President [Martelly] doesn’t think that we are people.”