Unrest erupted at the Bahamas Carmichael Road Detention Centre because Haitians there are demanding to be returned to Haiti, the Department of Immigration said last night.
The department said the repatriation of the Haitians was postponed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement last night followed another one released by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) the night before, advising that Haitians went on a hunger strike after 8 a.m. on Tuesday “and demonstrated belligerent behavior, advocating to be returned to their country”.
The Haitians at the center include 67 males and 18 females, which represents 56 percent of the population at the facility, some of whom have been there since February, according to the RBDF.
The RBDF said marines were able to de-escalate the situation, but a fight between two Haitians erupted two hours later.
Some of the detainees escaped the dormitories, destroying several fences and minor infrastructure, the RBDF said.
“The situation was contained, the detainees
separated and several of them are expected to be charged with destruction of government property as well as to be placed at Her Majesty’s correctional facility,” the RBDF said.
“Immigration and police officials are also actively engaged in their respective roles to address the situation.”
The Department of Immigration said the Haitians had refused to eat “until they were given a date for their departure flight into Port-au-Prince, Haiti”.
“However, they were not all in agreement for the hunger strike, hence the altercation among themselves in dormitory #1. It is to be noted that no detainee breached the common area of the dorms.”
Commanding Officer of Military Police Natasha Miller, who has responsibility for the detention center, said yesterday a decision was made to increase security at the facility.
Miller said 10 detainees were taken to a holding room, and eight were expected to be charged.
She said that up to 4 p.m. yesterday, that had not yet taken place.
In a statement, Rights Bahamas, a local human rights group, noted widespread Bahamian support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, but said Haitian lives do not matter to many Bahamians.
“Now, we see an attempt to vilify Haitian men and women who, as some would argue, were protesting like our neighbors in the United States for their civil rights and right to be treated properly by police,” the statement read.
“[R]ights Bahamas has seen how our Bahamian people are so quick to defend those in Central and South America being forced to live like animals in southern U.S. states as a result of U.S. President Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies.
“But we say nothing but despicable disparages about Haitians and, worse, Haitian-Bahamians.”
The group said, “Our Haitian brothers and sisters are choosing to starve themselves, to garner our attention of what cruelties they endure in our detention center.”
Miller said yesterday the hunger strike has ended and things have returned to normal at the facility.
The immigration department reported that there are 133 detainees at the detention center