More than 15 Dead in New Violence in Cité Soleil
Haiti Chery via Radio Kiskeya (JMD, SPP, ETB)
Translated from the French by Dady Chery for Haiti Chery
More than 15 people from several Cité Soleil (north of the capital) neighborhoods, including Belekou, Boston and Fort-Dimanche were reportedly shot dead during the night of Friday, October 16, 2015 at the Wharf of Jérémie area during an intervention carried out by individuals from the Brigade for Departmental Operation and Intervention (Brigade d’Opération et d’Intervention Départementale, BOID), a newly minted specialized unit of the Haitian National Police (PNH).
Reporters from Radio Tele Kiskeya (RTK) observed on site the next morning the bodies of four young men, apparently riddled with bullets and mutilated with knives. These were James Charles, Johnny Sylvestre, Ronald Labonté and Johnny Formélus.
Local residents in tears, and former Member of Parliament, Almétis Junior Saint-Fleur, who is currently a candidate for his own succession, confirmed Saturday morning to Radio Kiskeya that ambulances had transported many other bodies to the morgue at the National University Hospital (Hôpital de l’Université d’Etat).
The former legislator affirms that about 20 other people were shot dead in the Projet de Drouillard neighborhood in Cité Soleil, where the BOID also intervened Friday night and arrested 140 people. Saint-Fleur said that his younger brother is among the victims.
Almétis Junior Saint-Fleur and residents interviewed on site point the finger at Isaiah Beauchard, the [Martelly-appointed] Interim Agent in charge of Cité Soleil’s city hall, and Wladimir Jean-Louis, the candidate of the party in power, PHTK (Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale), as being the main instigators of the violence. According to the residents, the police operation was meant to ensure a total victory for PHTK in Cité Soleil during the presidential, legislative and municipal elections of October 25, 2015.
A well-known person in Cité Soleil, who requested anonymity, informed Radio TV Kiskeya Friday night about the surge of pre-election violence in the large slum in the capital, marked by the intervention of the police and the actions of armed groups. He specifically alleged that Gabriel Jean-Pierre, the head of one of the many armed groups that operate in the city and known to be close to the government, had executed two people early Friday morning in the Bois Neuf neighborhood; he stressed that the action came one day after a visit to the area by the MP candidate Almetis Junior Saint-Fleur.
The same well-known individual in Cité Soleil denounced the violence of the BOID intervention in the Fort Dimanche and Wharf of Jérémie areas, where “the police torched three houses and a dozen motorcycles.”
The BOID was officially inaugurated on June 24, 2015. It consists of 254 police officers, including 18 women, who have [supposedly] received special training for two months from the United Nations police and the UN [de]Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
As of late Saturday night, October 17, 2015, no official statement had been published about the situation and no information furnished about the heavy death toll due to the recent violence in Cité Soleil.
Sources: Haiti Chery (English) | Radio TV Kiskeya (French, Oct 18, 2015)
UPDATE: According to Radio Metropole, on October 19, 2015, the Martelly-appointed interim agent Isaiah Beauchard said that the PNH had killed 12 people, 9 of them being supposed bandits. Eyewitnesses say that some of the bodies were burned and at least two of the people killed were pregnant women. After three days of silence and the dissemination of rumors that the killings had resulted from inter-gang violence, on October 20 the PNH announced that it had killed two people, and that any other discovered cadavers were already there.