A Barbaric Lynching In the Dominican Republic
by Ezili Danto
This article previously appeared on EziliDanto’s web site.
“The cover up story is another assault on Haitians everywhere for a horrendously public and racist lynching.”
Henry “Tulile” Claude Jean found hanging in Santiago public square, Feb. 2015
A group of six Haiti students in Santiago, Dominican Republic where Henry “Tulile” Claude Jean was found hung to death this week, searched for and found Tulile’s wife, Erzuline (or Erzilia?) Celuma, who is 22-years old. The Haiti group went to help the grieving family. After listening to the traumatized wife and sister’s cries for help, the student group brought Erzuline Celuma and Tulile’s sister to a safe and private place for them to speak on a radio station in the diaspora about the victim, their family’s burning sorrow and what they know about the events surrounding Henry “Tulile” Claude Jean’s murder through lynching. The interview is done in Kreyòl and partly summarized in Spanish.
The student leader (Woulo?) who spoke, introduce the interview by first expressing concern that the Dominican news outlets and authorities are rushing to cover-up and give a false story that criminalizes and further stigmatizes all Haitians. She said, in effect, the cover up story is another assault on Haitians everywhere for a horrendously public and racist lynching crime done to a Haitian. We update this post with a summary of the wife and sister’s first interview (16:10 minutes long).
“The DR authorities had already buried him and only showed her where Tulile was killed.”
Listen for yourself for the exact particulars. Below is a brief English summary for our non-Kreyòl speakers:
In the interview, the students, Tulile’s wife and sister talk about the false story the Dominican authorities and news outlets are circulating that it was two unknown Haitians who lynched Henry Claude Jean to steal his lottery winnings. The wife, Erzuline Celuma, says her husband does not play the lottery. He did not leave the house with “friends” – the two unknown Haitian assailants – the authorities are saying lynched him in Santiago’s public square. Erzuline says when Henry Claude Jean left the house he was alone. She told the interviewer her husband loved to work and was a hard and diligent worker. She said the police have said nothing to her about an investigation. She said the DR authorities had already buried him and only showed her where Tulile was killed. Tulile’s sister said two of her own children were also “toufe“ – suffocated/strangled this way. She says Haitians are suffering all kinds of discrimination and horrible violence in the Dominican Republic. She says Tulile was her younger brother. He immigrated to the DR in 2000 and lived with her until he got married. She says her brother has been working at the Santiago park and hospital area for 14-years. He is well known there and use to runs errands for the hospital workers and people in the area all around.
“She doesn’t know how her girls will survive now.”
The distraught, disorientated, in shock but soft-spoken Erzuline Celuma said she wants justice for her husband. She doesn’t want to live. Her husband didn’t have any enemies, she says. She wants to know what happened to him. Why he was killed? She wants justice for her family. She says her and the victim have two daughters, ages 10 and 8 years old. Her husband was the sole bread winner. Erzuline took care of the children, who are in school. She doesn’t know how her girls will survive now. Erzuline was so emotional, she couldn’t talk for long or very coherently. This is understandable considering Erzuline’s husband left for work one morning. Next thing she knows, he’s lynched, left to hang dead in a public square and then buried by DR authorities before the poor family can say their final goodbyes. Erzuline Celuma told the interviewer she would fax the radio station her and her husband’s identification documents so that they could verify his age and their status. Erzuline Celuma says Henry Claude Jean has a Haitian birth certificate.
Ezili Danto is executive director of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network. She can be contacted through her web site.