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Shanty Town Evictions ‘Ethnic Cleansing’

The shanty town at Hamster Road, in southern New Providence, where demolition has already taken place. Photo: Morgan Graham

The shanty town at Hamster Road, in southern New Providence, where demolition has already taken place. Photo: Morgan Graham

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

RIGHTS Bahamas said it now has evidence to take “constitutional action” against the government over its July 31, 2018, deadline mandating the eviction of all shanty town residents, arguing the decision was discriminatory.

Stephanie St Fleur, president of the activist group, branded the move “ethnic cleansing” saying it contravened certain articles of the Bahamas Constitution.

On Sunday, Ms St Fleur said she was surprised by the news of a deadline; however, Haitian Pastors League President Dr Jean Paul Charles told The Tribune yesterday he had no issues with the deadline because in his view it gives sufficient time for shanty town dwellers to find alternative housing.

He said he had known of the government’s date to vacate since February.

The deadline was first made public in the Tribune’s report of an interview with Labour Minister Dion Foulkes, chairman of the government-appointed shanty town committee, yesterday.

Dr Charles said the only challenge was some families may find it difficult to financially afford what is required to rent accommodations. This, he said, was raised with government officials. But the Minnis administration has said they are not willing to assist in this regard, Dr Charles said.

Activist Louby Georges took exception to this, saying he doubted the league asked the right questions of the government or effectively communicated the content of meetings with the government to the wider Haitian community, especially those living in the shanty towns.

He said the pastors seem to be more “yes men” than a body looking after the well being of the minority group. Mr Georges told The Tribune he doubted the wider Haitian community knew of the deadline, which is a little more than two months away.

In a statement, Ms St Fleur said: “This government seems more concerned about its legacy than actually making it ‘the poor people’s time’.

“‘Bulldoze the shanty towns’ may make a good headline, but the actual affect is leaving many already living below poverty, including hundreds of children, homeless.

“Rights Bahamas now has an evidential basis upon which to bring a constitutional action against the government for discrimination against the Haitian minority generally, it is apparent that they are simply obsessed with “eradicating” persons of Haitian descent in their “shantytown” communities.

“This is ethnic cleansing and is prohibited by articles 15 and 26 of the constitution.”

She was referring to the portion of the Constitution that speaks to protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual specifically the protection of the privacy of the home and property. Article 26 directly prohibits discrimination.

“Many Over-the-Hill areas could qualify as shanty towns, in terms of construction, facilities and relevant permissions. Thus, there should be no distinction between the two human habitats,” she also said.

“Equal and just treatment should be afforded to all in accordance with basic human dignity. Instead of tearing down, bulldozing, eradicating, why not build up develop? Why not give hope and create opportunity?

“Shanty towns have Haitian, Haitian-Bahamian and Bahamian residents, all of whom are ethnically challenged, living and trying to survive the high cost of living of our country. They are victims, not offenders and deserve the support of the community. Nor is there any legal basis for taking this action. All residents of shanty towns have a right to challenge any decisions of the government in court and no action can be taken until their legal options are exhausted.”

For his part, Mr Georges posed several questions of the timeline.

He said: “I want to know if that applies to all shantytowns or just particular ones? Which ones will be first and how do you pick which ones have to be vacated by this July?”

Labour Minister Dion Foulkes announced the government’s planned timeline and further revealed two shanty towns - one in New Providence off Hamster Road, Faith Avenue and another just outside of George Town Exuma – were recently torn down.

He also said formal notice will be given to those living in structures not up to building code this week.

Those demolitions were done in tandem with a census conducted in 11 shanty towns across the capital.

The survey began April 15, and a complete report on the census is expected today, Mr Foulkes said.

Comments

John 5 months ago

Don't know who is advising the government on this matter, but several US cities tried to pass laws making it illegal to be homeless. So essentially they would lock up homeless individuals and lose them in jail. And, of course, when they got released, if ever, they would still be homeless and get re-arrested and back in jail. Many have a lot to be thankful for that Hillary clinton, aka MIss Jezebel, did not get elected.

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ashley14 5 months ago

Most of the time they just leave them alone. They tend to make themselves shelter in the woods, which you don't really have. As long as they don't bother people or set up shelter in obvious place's to bring down property values, they just leave them alone. The government doesn't want to support them. It's sad in the winter they occasionally find some dead from freezing to death.

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TheMadHatter 5 months ago

"Instead of tearing down, bulldozing, eradicating, why not build up develop? Why not give hope and create opportunity?"

Yes you silly lady. That's exactly the same question Bahamians have been asking about Haitians for 40 years. Why do you guys prefer to make a dozen babies instead of making good homes to live in? Why do you force "hundreds" of children to live in shanty towns? Do Haitians not love their children?

Are you in the process of overbreeding and thereby "ethnically cleansing" Bahamians out of their own country? Just a casual glance by a neutral observer would draw that conclusion.

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TalRussell 5 months ago

Where is the now much completed Census report promised for public release by Comrade Minister Dion Alexander....... cause how can the public fairly judge what's really going on at the long classified as shanty town residential areas..... how you treat the residents depends on are we talking about citizens or not - we do have a greater degree responsibility towards children - regardless of nationality. Will there be NO punishment for shanty town slum landlords and their conspirators..... are they not responsible shouldering costs for a terrible situation of which they have pocketed steady streams rent monies for years? Publicly name them! Publicly shame them! Shouldn't we the public be told who are the shanty town conspirators and how high up a position/status in government and society does they and they families enjoy?

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DDK 5 months ago

Ethnic cleansing my big toe! These rights groups should teach THEIR People about Immigration Laws, Housing Regulations, Business Licences and Birth Control. If things are so bad in The Bahamas maybe they should jump on the first boat going somewhere more to their liking.

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joeblow 5 months ago

Stephanie St Fleur, president of the activist group, branded the move “ethnic cleansing” saying it contravened certain articles of the Bahamas Constitution.

Ms St Fleur conveniently did not mention the points in the Bahamian constitution, or immigration law that illegal Haitians contravene continuously!

She obviously does not understand exactly what ethnic cleansing is either!

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B_I_D___ 5 months ago

Agreed...Ms St Fleur needs to be EXTREMELY careful with throwing around terms like 'Ethnic Cleansing'. Clearly she does not know her history and the TRUE meaning behind that term.

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John 5 months ago

Yes like the Zika virus and the new outbreak of Ebola that is said to be 10 times more deadly. Do they have viruses that only attack only white people? Well except for that patently obvious one.

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Aegeaon 5 months ago

Why say white people? What are you getting at?

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sheeprunner12 5 months ago

When Pindling was trying to starve out every Long Islander by not giving us access to any modern utilities etc. back in the 1970s and 1980s ....... that was ethnic cleansing ............ smt.

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birdiestrachan 5 months ago

Georges should educate his people as to what the Government intentions are in regard to shanty towns. The shanty Towns should not have existed in the first place, They are illegal. What about other homes where persons followed the laws of the Bahamas should they be forced to live close to shanty Towns.??

There are no shanty town in Smith Point near the drama king, or on the ridge or Cable Beach or the Eastern Road.

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realitycheck242 5 months ago

"Rights Bahamas" should be renamed to "Rights Haitians" .....The principals in that group sure does not have the interest of This country at heart. They anti everything true true Bahamian in this country. We need to pass laws on who or what can use the word Bahamas in their name. Certainly not deceptive groups with take over intentions..

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joeblow 5 months ago

A more appropriate name for them would be "We gat a right to be here, now ya'll Bahamians shut up."

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Aegeaon 5 months ago

A true, true Bahamian is an Arawak-Lucayan, the rightful owners of the Bahamas. To everyone else, we belong in Africa, America or Europe. If the Spanish didn't kill them off, we would had been back in our side of the world.

In truth, we are all really foreigners and there's no Lucayans left here.

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joeblow 5 months ago

A truly doltish statement for even the Arawak-Lucayans came from somewhere, or did all human life begin in Africa except the Arawaks who God made in the Bahamas!!!!

We live in a world of laws and boundaries, many Haitians keep breaking those laws by ILLEGALLY entering another territory and living there ILLEGALLY. What about that don't you understand?

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Safiri 5 months ago

I once heard a US Congressman addressing some Latinos from Juarez Mexico who had moved to the US. His words were quite simple and to the point. He told them that if they live in this country, the way they lived in their country, then very soon this country will look like theirs.

Likewise to all who choose here to live, no matter of country of origin, but especially to those who try to justify shatytowns. If you choose to live like you did in your country, then soon our country will look like your country!

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sealice 5 months ago

No we want ethnic cleansing but these soft fools we keep electing are too interested in taking creole bribes and looking the other way then taking care of issues and cleaning up our country

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SP 5 months ago

Ethnic cleansing for the Bahamas is the best idea of the century!

Nothing would make "real Bahamians" happier than to rid our country of these Haitian parasites who consider the Bahamas only as an ATM machine. They have no respect for our laws, people, culture or language.

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Aegeaon 5 months ago

What are you? A demon in human skin?

That is the problem with Bahamians today. Too immature and vile, too much beatings, too much greed, too much vanity and definitely too much pride.

You had never seen true suffering these people see everyday back in their home. You see them as worthless? Then you're a prisoner of the lack of the open world.

The Bahamas was forged by drug money supported by the drug cartels around Latin America, and as such, your country was cursed to suffer crime, corruption and death. Bahamians such as you look down on others because you never had suffering back in earlier times. Personally, did someone from that country killed your loved one? Or you benefited when people started to use cheap labor on them?

What is your problem? I await your answer.

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bogart 5 months ago

...bey, cant win fer losing...one minute dey saying plenty Bahamians allso living in der shantytowns ...next minute dey is Haishuns living dere....so who is all the politician catering to cause ...they both done broke der law of building illegally...... What we really need dead bad.....is fer any Bahamian politician to remember dere oath of serving the Bahamian peoples country first....try an do the Abraham Limcoln thing and preserve the nation......one Bahamas government of the people...by the people and for the people........an try pass legislation to discourage illegals risking their lives at sea to bring their children for free schooling and making it illegal for Bahamian School officials to ask children for documented identification whether they are illegal or Bahamian so that they can benefit from the 300 million dollars in Education that Bahamians pay in taxes fer it.....off of the backs of der pore Bahamians

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licks2 5 months ago

Rights Bahamas just go to court, UN, AMNESTY, UNHRC OR THE INTERNATIONAL COURT. . .they done told Haitians that they are not stateless in the Bahamas, there is no economic refugee status for any person and EACH NATION HAS A UN-SANCTIONED RIGHT TO MAINTAIN STATE LAW. . .AND NO OUTSIDE NATION HAS ANY HUMAN RIGHT TO INVADE THE OTHER'S BORDERS WITHOUT COMPLYING WITH ITS LAWS!!

These HR persons in the Bahamas are some of the the dumbest or the smartest in the whole world. . .ALL OTHER NATIONS WILL NOT ALLOW ANOTHER NATION'S CITIZEN TO COME TO THEIR STATE AND ESTABLISH A STATE OF LAWLESSNESS. . .NO NATION WILL. . .NOT EVEN HAITI!

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bogart 5 months ago

....ah yes..... but these are officials wearing the Bahamian flag on their lapels ...following their legislated laws that ...Bahamians must pay taxes to educate another countrys children !!!!......

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sheeprunner12 5 months ago

Haitians are not an ethnic group .......... they are black people just like 90% of Bahamians ..... The Chinese are an ethnic group .......... and they are a far more sinister group of immigrants.

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Socrates 5 months ago

further to sheeprunner12 post, The official United Nations definition of ethnic cleansing is "rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove from a given area persons of another ethnic or religious group" so if we are all black people and its not religious, how is it ethnic cleansing? we need to be careful throwing these terms around. next we'll hear the shantytowns are terrorist training camps or the gov't action is a crime against humanity. come on, give it a break!

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