#Nassau, Bahamas – July 24, 2020 – Ragged Islanders today staged a socially distanced protest at the Office of the Prime Minister in Nassau, confirming their outrage with the decision to detain intercepted Haitian migrants at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force base on the island.
During House of Assembly debate on Thursday, Chester Cooper, the Member of Parliament for the island called the decision a ridiculous plan which should be reversed.
“I protest it in the strongest possible terms and I ask the government to reverse this plan forthwith, because the people of Ragged Island have started wondering why you despise them so.
“…This is contemptuous and I ask you to reverse it because the people of Ragged Island will not take kindly to it.”
Communication from the Defence Force explained, they jointly foiled a human smuggling operation.
“On Tuesday 21 Ju1y just before 10:00 a.m., HMBS P-44 coxswained by Chief Petty Officer Acadia Smith, located the 27-foot, white cabin cruiser anchored just off the northeastern point of Great Isaacs, north of Bimini, where it had run aground. When it became evident that a migrant smuggling operation was underway, the vessel and its occupants—12 females (1 pregnant), 9 males and 2 infants, all believed to be of Haitian descent, were detained.”
Unmoved by the promised to repatriate the group as soon as is possible, Ragged Islanders demonstrated with placards conveying a string of compelling messages.
Placards decried: ‘First you deem Ragged Island inhabitable. Now Dumping Ground’ and another which read: ‘Keep Ragged Island Covid FREE.’
Islanders, who remain displaced due to Hurricane Irma are reportedly incensed by a decision to detain illegal migrants in their home island and are restating their desperate desire to return home.
Additionally, the government clinic on Ragged Island remains out of commission since the storm in September 2017. The Member of Parliament used his time in parliament to outline the many reasons the Government must find an alternative detainment plan for the 21 Haitians, which includes children and a pregnant woman.
“If it is the intention to land temporarily and then deport, this is a terrible place to do it because the logistics are horrible,” he continued.
“There is no bus, there are no vans. There are no proper facilities at the defense force base at Gunpoint.
It is said the migrants are temporarily detained at the Defence Force base on Ragged Island.