PORT-AU-PRINCE – At least 17 people have died and 189 have been injured in the anti-government protests that have been rocking Haiti almost daily over the past fortnight, the National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) said on Thursday.
Among the 17 dead are two minors, according to a report released by the RNDDH, which differs from official data provided by the police, who have only acknowledged five deaths since the upheaval erupted on Sept. 16.
From these two deaths, one died from asphyxiation and the other student was hit by a vehicle near a barricade in the city of Saint-Marc.
Most of the deaths have been recorded in the department of Nord, where the NGO has registered nine deaths and 46 injured, while in the department of Ouest, where Port-au-Prince is located, three people died and 85 were injured.
Among the 189 injured, 117 suffered gunshot wounds, including two journalists: AP photographer Chery Dieu-Nalio, who was shot by a senator outside the upper house on Sept. 23, and cameraman Edmond Joseph Agenor, who was injured last week during a rally.
Dieu-Nalio was taken to the Dominican Republic on Thursday for an operation to remove a bullet shard from his chin.
The RNDDH said that since Sept. 16, six journalists have been physically attacked by gunmen. In addition, a mob attacked the home of the mother of journalist Liliane Pierre Paul of Kiskeya Radio in the Petion-Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.
The report added that five police stations were attacked by demonstrators, four of them on Sept. 27, the day with the largest and most turbulent demonstrations and riots.
Meanwhile, the Haitian police on Thursday gave much lower figures that the RNDDH, acknowledging a toll of just five deaths around 30 injuries, according to the spokesman of the General Inspectorate of the National Police, Jean-Claude Benjamin.
At least three police officers were among those injured – two of them were shot and another was hit by a rock – in the country’s central region, according to the police report.
Haiti is presently undergoing a grave political and economic crisis that was aggravated in mid-August by a devastating fuel shortage, which triggered violent protests demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse.
The protests have kept the country virtually paralyzed since Sept. 16, as barricades set up by the protesters have blocked the main avenues and roads in Port-au-Prince and other cities.
The opposition has called for a further day of protests on Friday.
The lack of fuel has also affected hospital operations, water supplies and other key services.
The Dominican Republic, a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, called a meeting of the organization on Thursday to analyze the crisis in Haiti, according to Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas.