Contact: Kermshlise Picard, Communications Coordinator, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, firstname.lastname@example.org; +1-617-652-0876 (English, Kreyòl).
Haitian Cholera Victims Tell UN to “Face Justice”
New Campaign Brings Victims’ Portraits to UN for Five-Year Anniversary
GENEVA, NEW YORK, PORT-AU-PRINCE, October 13, 2015—On the morning of October 14, activists will be erecting large portraits of cholera victims outside the United Nations (UN) offices in New York, Geneva and Port-au-Prince to commemorate the 9,000 lives lost from cholera brought to Haiti by UN peacekeepers five years ago. The portraits are a part of a new campaign, Face Justice, which calls on the UN to hear victims’ calls for justice. The campaign demands that the UN accept responsibility for causing the epidemic through faulty waste management, provide reparations, and invest in water and sanitation to eliminate cholera.
“Every family in my community lost something because UN peacekeepers gave us cholera. I say to the UN: give us justice,” said Joseph Dade Guiwil, a cholera survivor whose portrait will be featured at the UN.
The photo exhibit is an Inside Out Group Action that features diverse faces of cholera’s toll, including nine-year old Pierre Louis Fedline who was orphaned by cholera, and Renette Viergélan who was herself hospitalized with cholera when her 10-month old baby contracted it and died. Inside Out is a global participatory art project created by the artist JR to provide a platform for people to share their untold stories and transform messages of personal identity into works of public art.
“We are doing this to remind the UN that victims of cholera are not just numbers—they are real people. They could be my uncle, my father, my sister, my brother. My children.” Said Jimy Mertune, an activist with the Haitian diaspora group Collective of Solidarity for Cholera Victims.
In Haiti, several thousand people are expected to gather for a demonstration outside the UN Logistics Base on October 15. Face Justice is also sending post cards to UN member states, which feature photos of victims and relay their appeals for justice. Many others are calling on the UN to provide justice, including 154 Haitian-American diaspora leaders and groups that recently sent a letter to the UN and US Governments; and UN human rights officials that sent an official Allegation Letter to the Secretary-General expressing concern that the UN’s cholera response violates Haitians’ human rights.
“We hope these personal images and stories will cause more people at the UN to consider the human toll of cholera and to understand that the UN’s inadequate response ignores the dignity of each victim and the severity of their loss,” said Katharine Oswald, Policy Analyst and Advocacy Coordinator for the Mennonite Central Committee in Haiti, who worked with victims to document their stories.
Cholera cases continue to surge in Haiti five years since the disease was introduced. In the first half of 2015, the infection rate tripled over the same period last year. 746,000 people have fallen ill in the last five years. In 2013, Haiti had 46% of all reported cholera cases worldwide. Clean water and sanitation is needed to end cholera’s killing, but funding remains inadequate.
“Water is life! With water, harvests are good, food can be prepared, vegetables can be grown that farmers can feed their families with and sell at the market, water is the most popular drink. It is because Church World Service accompanies rural families that are dependent on the land that it believes that it is so important to have a solution to this cholera crisis,” said Margot DeGreef, Haiti country representative for Church World Service, one of the organizational supporters of the campaign.
For more information about the campaign, visit facejustice.org. Photos from the portrait display will be available to the media on October 14.
ABOUT FACE JUSTICE
Face Justice is a collaboration among victims of cholera, Haitian advocacy organizations, and international solidarity groups that support justice for victims’ of cholera. The collaborators include Alternative Chance, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, Church World Service, Collective of Solidarity for Cholera Victims, Défenseurs des Opprimés, Environmental Justice Initiative for Haiti, Haiti Justice Alliance, Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast, Haitian-Americans United, Inc., Haitians United for Development and Education, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Li!Li!Li!, Mennonite Central Committee, Mouvman Viktim Kolera, Other Worlds and Presbyterian Church (USA). The campaign was launched on the 5th anniversary of the UN’s introduction of cholera to Haiti to urge the UN to face the victims who continue to demand justice. Face Justice is displaying portraits of victims outside the UN in New York, Geneva and Port-au-Prince through an Inside Out Project Group Action. Visit www.facejustice.org for more information.
ABOUT THE INSIDE OUT PROJECT
Inside Out is a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. These digitally uploaded images are made into posters and sent back to the projectʼs co-creators, for them to exhibit in their own communities. Posters can be placed anywhere, from a solitary image in an office window, to a wall of an abandoned building, or in a full stadium. These exhibitions will be documented, archived and be made available online at http://www.insideoutproject.net/. The Inside Out project is a creation of the artist JR, recipient of the 2011 TED Prize (watch JR’s TED talk here).
ABOUT THE TED PRIZE
The TED Prize is awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $1,000,000 and the TED community’s resources and expertise to spark global change. The award offers support to build a project’s core infrastructure quickly-so that others can add their own collaborative action. The first TED Prize was awarded in 2005, born out of the TED Conference and a vision by the world’s leading entrepreneurs, innovators, and entertainers to change the world -one Wish at a time. What began as an unparalleled experiment to leverage the resources of the TED Community to spur global change has evolved into one of the most prestigious prizes. A TED Prize winner is a rare and powerful combination of someone who knows how to capture the imaginations and make a measurable impact, a visionary and a pragmatist, a dreamer and a doer. From Bono’s the ONE Campaign (’05 recipient) to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (’10 recipient) and JR’s Inside Out Project (’11 recipient), the TED Prize has helped to combat poverty, take on religious intolerance, improve global health, tackle child obesity, advance education, and inspire art around the world. For more information on the TED Prize, visit www.ted.com/prize.