Journalist Diego Charles and activist Marie Antoinette Duclaire were murdered on the same day, June 2021
It was about 11:45 PM when Grégoire heard the deafening sound of gunshots on the evening of 29 to the 30, of June 2021. His two brothers were not yet in their room. “I immediately thought they might be among the victims. Then suddenly I heard screams,” says the older brother of the deceased.
Gregoire jumps onto the street. He stumbles upon a corpse: it is the body of Anderson Grégoire bathed in blood. “My little brother was 25 years old, he says, on the verge of tears. I was already out of breath and didn’t know what to do.
A few meters away from Anderson Grégoire’s corpse, other lifeless bodies swim in their still-warm blood. “Odenel Grégoire, my other younger brother, 34 years old, was among them. That night we lost two members of our family”, he states.
Grief can wait. Grégoire faces a much bigger problem: how to break the news to his mother, who had only just returned to Port-au-Prince for a medical appointment. “She was already seriously ill,” explains the elder of the family.
At least seven residents of Delmas 32 had perished on the bloody night of June 29-30, 2021. According to a report by the Réseau national de Défense des Droits (RNDDH), at least fifteen people were killed in the carnage. Police officer Guerby Geffrard, journalist Diego Charles and activist Antoinette Duclaire were also murdered on the same day, well before the tragedy that took place in Delmas 32 .
The families made to mourn that night still have memories of the massacre. Widline Méliane still remembers when she received the call announcing the death of her husband, Yvenold Léger, age 39.
Léger was killed inside his store on the rue Dessalines in Delmas 32. The criminals released tear gas to confine people to their homes, reveals a next-door neighbor who did not want to offer further details.
That evening, Méliane had not set up her fried food stand . “Otherwise, I would have been killed next to my husband,” she says, with tears in her eyes. This mother of two daughters had borrowed money to organize the funeral and take care of her girls.
Frantzso Siprion, a resident of rue Dessalines , also lost his father, Louira Siprion, and several of his friends in the tragedy.
The City Hall of Delmas had proceeded, after observations, with the removal of the cadavres . This governmental entity refused to let the parents take charge of their deceased loved ones. According to the residents of the area, the Justice of the Peace had informed them that the government would take care of everything.
“The corpses were entrusted to a state-affiliated funeral company called Pax Univers, located in Bon repos,” Grégoire confided.
Fifteen days after the tragedy, the families were never contacted. They had to take it upon themselves to recover the bodies of their loved ones in order to organize the funerals. The Grégoire family had paid 50,000 gourdes for the recovery of their two cadavres .
Other victims’ families had to face the same situation since the funeral home had refused to deliver the corpses without payment. Frantzso Siprion had to negotiate with the person in charge of the morgue to organize the burial of his father in order not to pay the 75,000 gourdes due in exchange for the cadavre.
When contacted, the Delmas City Hall and the funeral company refuse to comment on the case. “I cannot offer any explanation regarding the link between the company and city hall. This is an internal matter for the company”, reveals a manager from the funeral home .
Out of fear, none of the victims’ families wanted to file a complaint after this catastrophe . “We will take legal action when there is a judicious government ,” bellows the eldest member of the Grégoire family, who says he expects nothing from the authorities.
One year after this wave of murders, only the family of journalist Diego Charles decided to file a civil suit in the case of the people murdered at the end of June 2021.
“The only thing I can confirm is that the case was transferred to the Prosecutor’s Office and an investigating judge appointed,” District Attorney, Jacques Lafontant told HB News.
The situation is delicate. Even the lawyers of the Diego Charles family request anonymity to protect themselves. “We are following this case closely, says one of the two . It is up to the justice system to do its job.
Last year, the day after the tragedy, the Director General of the Police nationale d’Haïti (PNH) at the time, Léon Charles, attributed the Delmas 32 massacre to a group of police officers called Fantom 509. On the other hand, the report on investigations led by RNDDH attributed the massacre to the Krache Dife gang, a member of the G9 an Fanmi e Alye gang, which is known to be close to the government of the time.
HB News tried unsuccessfully to contact the family of Marie Antoinette Duclaire before publishing this article.
One year after the bloodshed, Wednesday, June 29, 2022, Delmas 32 is rather quiet. No ceremonies tribute or wreath-laying.
A stone’s throw from the scene of the tragedy, a speaker blasts the song Pwen Final by the rap group BIC and Steeve Khe. “We didn’t want to do anything for fear of further retaliation,” explains one of the neighborhood leaders. He refuses to give his name for security reasons.
English translation by Didenique Jocelyn and Sarah Jean.