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Three Haitian Protestant Pastors Arrested for Violating Court Order Against Disruptions at Bois Caiman

A word from Mambo Racine Sans Bout:

Bois Caiman (French, Alligator Woods, Bwa Kayiman in Haitian Creole), was the site of a historic meeting on the night of August 13-14, 1791, which culminated in a traditional religious ceremony led by Houngan Boukman Dutty and the sacrifice of a black pig by Mambo Marinette, possessed by the lwa Erzulie Dantor. (Marinette has now become a lwa in the Petro portion of the Vodou liturgy!) This ceremony provided the final impetus for the uprising of Africans which led to the only successful slave revolt in the Western Hemisphere, and to the Western Hemisphere's first independant black republic. In 1991 then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide held a re-enactment of the ceremony of Bois Caiman in the National Palace, provoking wide approval from the Vodouisant majority, and severe criticism from Protestant and Catholic Christian leaders, and members of the Haitian elite class. The annual celebration of the event attracts aggressive evangelical Protestant pastors who do not respect the provision for freedom of religion in the Haitian Constitution.

Note: This article is forwarded from AHP- Agence Haitienne de Presse. It is translated by Mambo Racine, who apologizes in advance for any errors.


Protestant pastors arrested "for illegal incursion into protected historic sites" released Thursday

Port-au-Prince, 6 August 1998 - (AHP) - The spokesman of Haitian National Police (PNH), Felder Jean-Baptiste, reviewed Thursday the arrest in the north of country Monday of three Protestant pastors accused of making disturbances without authorization at the historic site of Bois Caiman.

According to Felder Jean-Baptiste, the three evangelists were arrested for defying government authorities, and not because of their religious beliefs. "The pastors had received a formal prohibition to go to the historical spot of the ceremony of the Bois Caiman ", said the spokesman.

The Ministry of Religion, to which three Protestant leaders had written to announce their program relating to the religious demonstrations of Bois Caiman, had clearly expressed its disapproval of the project, to avoid, according to the Ministry, any form of confrontation between religious groups.

According to spokesman, this letter of refusal had been conveyed to pastors Joel Jeune, Gregory Joseph and Berthony Paul. The latter would have been unaware of the injunction of the authorities when he entered the site.

However, sources close to the arrested pastors made the point that the religious demonstrations in question proceeded in a private space, the Holy City Church, located near the historic site.

The three pastors were released this Thursday.

Incidents of conflict between Protestants and Vodouisants had occurred on two occasions (August 97 and January 98) following the attempts at certain evangelists to attack the symbolism of the sites of the Bois Caiman, historical site where the ancestors of Haiti, then slaves, had organized in August 1791 a significant Vodou ceremony which, according to the Vodou faith, would ensure the success of the war of independence.

The Haitian National Police in addition announced that it is seeking several gangsters who took advantage of these incidents to set fire to some arbors belonging to Protestants.

AHP August 6, 1998


For more articles on this and other current events in Haiti, check AHP- Agence Haitienne de Presse regularly. The articles are in French, but even if you do not read French, you can translate them for yourself! Just use AltaVista: Translations, it's fun and easy.

For more information on current human rights cases in Haiti and in the United States, see
Human Rights Watch: Haiti.

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