Threats and Violence Against IDPs at Camp Django
By: Jeena Shah, Esq., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux/Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Camp Django, home to approximately 250 families who lost their homes in the January 12, 2010 earthquake, has been the victim of several threats of forced eviction, the most violent of them occurring during the last 24 hours. Yesterday, 3 police officers with agents of the Delmas Mayor Wilson Jeudy came to the camp to offer 5,000 gourdes ($125 US) to each family for them to leave. Camp residents protested the offer, finding it grossly insufficient to help them secure alternative housing. They told the Mayor’s agents, however, that they would be ready to leave if the government were to identify an alternative place for them to live first.
Camp residents report that when they refused the payments, the Mayor’s agents had other individuals, who do not live in the camp, accept the payment on their behalf, to make it appear that camp residents had accepted the offer. One of the Mayor’s agents warned that they would return that night to set their tents on fire. Then, at around 1am this morning, flaming objects were thrown into the camp from outside its surrounding wall, which resulted in fire damage to some of the tents.
At around 9 am this morning, two truckloads of police officers along with one of the mayor’s agents returned to the camp. By this time, Camp Django residents had begun protesting just outside of their camp. The police officers proceeded to beat camp residents with their batons and boots and arrest them. Several victims required medical attention. One family’s tent – that of the camp leadership’s spokesperson, who had spoken out against the Mayor’s past threats against the camp – was ransacked by police officers as they searched for her to arrest her. The mayor’s agent and police officers were unaccompanied by a judicial officer, and neither did they present any judicial order to evict the residents, as required under Haitian law.
Photos of two of the protestors injured on July 27, 2011 are available at: Bri Kouri on Flickr