Haiti’s Voudou Priests Object to Mass Burials

Haiti’s houngans, or voudou priests, are objecting to anonymous mass burials and have taken their complaint to President René Préval. They consider that dumping the thousands of dead bodies in hurriedly excavated mass graves without proper rites to be a desecration. Houngans said that it is inconsistent with Haitian culture “to bury people in such a fashion” and that “the conditions in which bodies are being buried is not respecting the dignity of these people.”

Haitian officials say so far at least 50,000 bodies have been buried in mass graves outside Port-au-Prince, in what they view as the most efficient way to dispose of the fast-rotting corpses from Tuesday’s disaster. Local radio is broadcasting messages for Haitians to put bodies recovered from under the rubble of collapsed buildings on the street for collection by garbage and other trucks. Five days after the earthquake, scores of untouched corpses remain on streets. Red Cross officials have repeatedly said no one should fear disease from dead bodies after the earthquake that is believed to have killed up to 200,000 people. Haitian Red Cross President Michaelle Amedée Gédeon told Reuters that she did not understand why people were worried about a disease risk, “Do we have cholera in Haiti? No. Do we have the plague in Haiti? No. Rodents, water will not get contaminated. The only bad effect from the corpses is the smell.”

For full article, see http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60G2DF20100117

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