On Human Rights Day, December 10, 2015, thousands of cholera victims in Haiti gathered to deliver letters they’d written to the United Nations telling their stories and demanding justice. The letters add a personal touch to stories that are usually told in dehumanized statistics. Haiti’s cholera victims are proud that they have survived but they often have to deal with side effects like weakness and stomach pain that linger on. The water and sanitation necessary to prevent the disease from continuing is long-past overdue. We, and the victims, hope that the UN will read these letters and live up to the human rights ideals that it claims to uphold.
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Haitian Letters Remind the UN of Cholera Victims’ Sadness
Nancy Young, PassBlue
December 13, 2015
PORT-AU-PRINCE — Here in the office of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Haiti’s capital, more than 2,000 letters of cholera victims seeking justice came pouring in to be delivered on Dec. 10 to the headquarters of the United Nations peacekeeping mission as part of a protest on Human Rights Day. It was a straightforward, nonviolent approach to remind the UN — one of the most powerful institutions in the world — of the suffering of cholera victims in Haiti.
Many of the letters started plainly, with the words, Mwen rele. In Haitian Creole: “My name is.”
Those simple statements of identity carry a lot of power in a place where death tolls are read off in depersonalizing statistics because we don’t really know the people or their stories.
The cholera epidemic in Haiti was introduced in October 2010 through the negligent waste disposal into Haiti’s main river by a UN peacekeeping base nearby. The disease has since killed more than 9,000 people and sickened 754,000. Spikes in the numbers this year have caused more worry. The UN has refused to take legal responsibility for the epidemic.
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