Update: The Cholera Witch-Hunt in Haiti

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 24, 2010 — 18 Comments

Since I first reported on Vodou practitioners being killed and persecuted in Haiti over frustration and fears concerning the ongoing cholera outbreak the situation seems to have only gotten worse. At the beginning of December around 12 Vodouisants had been killed by angry mobs, now that number has ballooned to over 40.

Officials counted 40 people killed – mostly voodoo priests – killed in one region of Haiti, the AFP news agency reported, with five others killed elsewhere. “The victims… were stoned or hacked with machetes before being burned in the streets,” communications ministry official Moise Fritz Evens said. Haiti’s communications minister said she abhorred the killings and insisted that the answer was to improve general education about how cholera is transmitted. “Voodoo practitioners have nothing to do with the cholera epidemic. We must press for an awareness campaign about the disease in the communities.”

Prominent Haitian Vodou leader Max Beauvoir says that the government isn’t doing enough to protect Vodou practitioners, and that the leaders of other faiths in Haiti have had a hand in stirring up this current deadly anti-Vodou hysteria.

“My call is to the authorities so they can assume their responsibilities,” said Beauvoir, who fears more attacks against voodoo devotees. Most of the lynchings occurred in the southwest of Haiti but also in the center and the north. [...] Beauvoir said he suspected that representatives of some other religions might be stirring up popular fears against voodoo practitioners using the cholera as a pretext. “I saw this coming. Since the earthquake some people have been blaming us, saying that we cast spells and did evil things which brought the earthquake as a punishment,” he said.

The impact of education campaigns by the government and NGOs seem to be of limited effectiveness in stemming this disturbing trend of anti-Vodou violence. This is only exacerbated by the ongoing instability of the government in the still-contested elections. The real question now is how much worse will it get? Will these attacks and murders against Vodou practitioners and priests continue to escalate? What role has anti- Vodou propaganda had in this violence? I can only pray that an end to this madness and chaos comes soon.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000390176778 Jacquie Minerva Georges

    I’m praying along with you, Jason! Thank you for this post. There are so much elements of blame here: the conditions of Haiti that germinates Cholera, lack of education of hygiene and transmission, and the U.N not testing their soldiers prior to dispatching them to other countries [the strand of Cholera is from Asia. So how did it get to Haiti?].

    I find it really disheartening that many religious sects who are flocking to Haiti are instigating this genocide. One minute they want to make a claim that Vodou isn’t real: Yet, if it isn’t real than why are you blaming Vodou and the Vodou practitioners? One must acknowledge the power of Vodou in order to create such madness. They [evangelicals] don’t believe in human sacrifices but killing Vodou priestess and priest IS human sacrificing to pacify “their” interpretation of God. Yes, there is black magic abound but the black magick is being performed by the evangelicals, in my humble opinion.

  • Artor

    I'm gritting my teeth, half-expecting to find out that American evangelicals have been stirring this up. Ever since the quake, they've been exploiting Haitian's misfortune to advance their own cause. Considering the anti-gay rhetoric they've been pushing in Africa, I wouldn't be surprised in the least to read that some American preacher has been spewing hate & lies to bring this about. Ugh!

  • Peter Dybing

    My heart bleeds for Haiti, I remember the days after the quake when the people were one in their efforts to assist others. It was an incredible manifestation of what humanity is capable of. Also, as the calendar year turns, I remember the hundreds of lives saved by the generosity of the wider Pagan community. Thousands of dollars came in and I remember the faces of those who were saved from certain death.

    Brothers and Sisters, you worked real tangible Magik in 2010

    May the collective healing energy of the world once again bring compassion to Haiti.

  • http://www.thorncoyle.com T. Thorn Coyle

    Jason,

    I was just reading this on the BBC news! Thanks for pulling together more information.

    I join the prayers.

    - T>

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The UN is there. Why can't it mount peacekeeping operations to protect the Vodou practitioners?

    • Ursyl

      How would they distinguish a Voudoun practitioner from anyone else?

      I agree that with the UN there, there should be more crime suppression happening. Unfortunately, they cannot be everywhere at once.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        The Vodouisant is the one being chased by a mob.

        • chuck_cosimano

          If the UN peacekeepers see a mob, they run away real fast so the mob won't catch them.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Is this literally true, Chuck, or just a snark at the UN in general? I honestly don't follow foreign-unrest news well enough to tell if you're kidding or not.

          • blah

            it was certainly true in yugoslavia. either that, or they would just stand around and watch while armies slaughtered civilians.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Hm. What kind of restrictions were they under as to what they could get engaged in? I know the peacekeepers aren't an army with a mission. They have political constraints.

  • sarenth

    May the souls of those slain find comfort, may the those who have been left behind find justice.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667952307 Jennifer Parsons

      Indeed! And may those wrapped up in this conflict find safety and protection; may these things be nine times eternal.

  • Gunnhildr9

    Dear Jason,

    Thank you for keeping all of us Pagans and Heathens informed on this most distressing subject! Are there any Pagan or Heathen organizations that are helping to support our co-religionists in Haiti? Any petitions or letter writing campaigns?

    May the Gods watch over them!

    Gunnhild

  • SeaSerpent

    They need to go after the UN, not innocent Vodouisants:

    "Haiti cholera: UN peacekeepers to blame, report says" http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-119

    Here is one way to support our co-religionists in Haiti: There is an organization you can make donations to called Vodou Aid:
    http://vodouaid.org/

    May the Lwa and Gods protect the Vodouisants.

  • Gunnhildr9

    Thanks for that link, SeaSerpent! I will get on it and spread the word to my friends.

    Blessed Jul season to all!
    Gunnhild

  • afsanaydely

    My prayers to all that once and for all people seek to educate themselves instead of accepting the words of hate spoken by others. This is inexcusable, and may the Gods bring swift Justice to those who are commiting such haness crimes against the innocent.

  • Rhythm

    Oh I just Read this… I am In agony for them… I Shall Pray Also And Light candels and Do what ever I can!!! I fear this foolishness is as you expect and will continue… You Would Think that People would of learned something from History by Now…. Ingroup /Out group hate crime.Murder is murder… And this is The worst thing for this day and age….Haness Horrid Crimes! This Can not continue…. Unexceptable…