Haiti became a trending topic over the weekend after countless celebrities used their social media platforms to bring awareness of the civil unrest taking place in the country, using the hashtag #FreeHaiti.
The Miami Herald reported last week that women and young girls were and are still being kidnapped and raped and subjected to “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.” Tension in the country between its current government and pro-democracy activists is also increasing. As a result, many have taken to the streets to protest, demanding that Haitian President Jovenel Moïse be removed. The U.S.-backed politician is accused of attempting to establish a new dictatorship while the country struggles with economic hardships and surging violence rates.
Matters got worse on March 12, after four police officers and others were injured during an anti-gang bust gone wrong in Village de Dieu’s gang-controlled area. Gang members there are notorious for kidnapping victims and abusing their victims. Shortly afterward, video clips surfaced online of the botched operation showing the killers dragging and beating the bodies of two officers.
Although protests have been going on for weeks, the increase of these high-profile crimes have now promoted activists to call on other nations for their help in hopes that Moïse will step down. Spreading of the news also influenced social Media users to start the #FreeHaiti movement. It quickly gained steam, garnering support from celebrities including Cardi B., Teyana Taylor, Tory Lanez, and many more, who have all shared the hashtag on their pages.
On Sunday, March 14, singer Teyana Taylor took to her Twitter account, where she expressed “solidarity with those fighting for a #freehaiti.” She added, “I’m supporting @Hopeforhaitifl and their 3rd Annual #HikeforHaiti. 100% of the proceeds are invested in education, teacher training, health education, school gardens, and reforestation.” (Hope For Haiti, or HFH, is an organization “working to reduce poverty in Haiti,” according to a statement on its website. HFH is “focused on providing support and partnership for the Haitian people every single day.”)
Rapper Tory Lanez also shared the Free Haiti tag and, in a later post, commented, “The government in Haiti is backwards right now …Jovenel Moise …. STOP THIS SH-T !!!! U Came into office claiming u we’re going to bring more peace … WHAT THE F-CK ARE U ON ?!?!??? #FreeHaiti …” He added, “My son is hatian.. give him something to look forward to not to look back on.”
Haitian marketing tavern Karen Civil shared a tweet along with a documentary giving supporters a more in-depth look into what’s been taking place in Haiti.
Moïse, who’s been ruling by presidential decree, should’ve left office on Feb. 7, according to anti-corruption activists, after his five-year term began in February 2016 following the 2015 presidential election. However, Moïse and his supporters, including some U.S. lawmakers, claimed he only served four years in office, maintaining that his term didn’t officially begin until 2017.
The discrepancy could be dated back to the 2015 elections, which were annulled for fraud. Moïse ultimately won the re-election in November 2016, but the Haitian government said his term didn’t officially begin until that following February. The U.S. — which is one of the country’s biggest donors — the United Nations, and Organization of American States have all acknowledged 2022 as the end of his term.
Civilians in the country have also decried Moïse’s ruling style and the lack of an organized parliamentary election, which left many of his constituents unrepresented, as the cause of the chaos that has erupted in the nation.
Check out some of the responses from other stars below.