By Ruth Conniff
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Earlier this month, police and other armed men destroyed many makeshift homes in a village on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, displacing 200 families.
These families were refugees from the 2010 earthquake, and they had been uprooted once before. So this is the third time in four years they have had to move.
According to the nonprofit group Haiti Allies, "Over a dozen people were hit, smacked, stepped on, beaten with gun butts including a pregnant woman and children."
Amnesty International issued an "Urgent Action" appeal on December 18, noting "the violence used against the residents."
They also published addresses for Haitian authorities and urged people to write and demand "an investigation into the participation of state authorities in an illegal eviction, and into the apparent excessive use of force employed by the officers."
The reason for the destruction of the village remains unclear, though it was rumored to be connected to a plan for a development project on that site.
"The forced eviction at Vilaj Mozayik shows how the terrible trauma of Haiti quake victims continues, four years later, after more than $9 billion was collected and managed by Bill Clinton as UN envoy to Haiti," says Ezili Danto, a Haitian-American human rights lawyer. "But, as The New York Times said, little footprint of these billions actually got to Haiti other than a Korean assembly plant factory up north, where there was no quake, and where recently the minimum wage was reduced for the benefit of the factory owners and consumers abroad."
Bryan Sirchio, with Haiti Allies, went down and visited with the leaders of the village last week.
"They were thoroughly traumatized," says Sirchio, whose group has been distributing emergency food and water, and hygiene kits and blankets obtained from the Mennonites. His group, he added, "was able to sponsor two days of meetings for residents so they could plan some sort of response together."
Sirchio is worried about the fate of this community.
"They may not survive this as a community, as individual families may just have to disperse," he says, adding that this would be a disaster.
"They've been together for four years," he says. "They've developed a community in the midst of incredible destitution and heartache. The only semblance of any security they have is by taking care of each other. To lose that would be loss upon loss upon loss."