Brazilian soldiers from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) made three attempts on June 15 to enter the Human Sciences Faculty (FASCH) of the State University of Haiti (UEH) in Port-au-Prince by force, according to faculty, students and local media. “We don’t know the reason for this criminal and inopportune visit,” the FASCH’s dean, Hancy Pierre, told the online Haitian news service AlterPresse. “It’s a disgrace for the country.” In Haiti security forces are expected to get permission from university authorities before entering a campus.
The soldiers arrived at the FASCH around 11 am. Students quickly closed the front gates, and the soldiers reacted by firing rubber bullets and sending a tear gas grenade into the school’s enclosure. “We didn’t fail to remind them that there was no one to rape at the FASCH and that we didn’t need for them to come infect us with cholera,” one student said, referring to the 10,000-member international force’s responsibility for a number of sexual abuses and for triggering the outbreak of cholera in 2010. MINUSTAH troops made two more attempts to enter the school in the afternoon, disrupting classes and a student-faculty assembly.
Some FASCH professors have denounced MINUSTAH as an occupation force since its arrival in Haiti in June 2004, and student organizations have protested the troops with press releases, signs and banners, including signs they have posted at the school’s entrance. On June 18 the Mobilizing Committee for Reparations for Cholera Victims issued a press release citing three other attacks by MINUSTAH soldiers on UEH students: the Jan. 20, 2009, beating of student and artist Don Camelo; the beating of student Jean Willy Belfleur the next day; and the May 24, 2010 arrest of student Frantz Mathieu Junior. (Radio Kiskeya, Haiti, June 15; AlterPresse, Haiti, June 18; Let Haiti Live website, June 19)
According to MINUSTAH communications director Eliane Nabaa, the Brazilian troops were carrying out “a reconnaissance patrol in the area so as to be able to identify displaced persons camps [when] suddenly they were attacked with rocks and broken bottles by the local population and the students.” The FASCH is located in a residential neighborhood; none of the camps for people who were left homeless by a January 2010 earthquake are in the area. (AlterPresse, June 21)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 24.
See our last post on Haiti.