Screen_Shot_2014-04-29_at_7.47.04_PMYesterday we presented the story of members of the Shipyard community who have been expelled from the corner church for breaking stringent rules set in place by the community’s leaders. The leaders, we understand, follow the Old Colony beliefs, a more conservative group that suppressed individualism in dress, lifestyle and land use to maintain harmony in the community. The understanding is that followers of the faith are defensive, fearful of change and highly suspicious of outsiders. While we have only heard the stories of a few people who say they have been facing religious oppression for years, it certainly has shed light to a new side of the community that for the most part has been viewed as peaceful, respectful, and by all means hardworking by most Belizeans. Today, we take a look at another side of the situation - the challenges faced by those who are excommunicated yet live within the same community.


Dalila Ical – Reporting


The divide within the Shipyard community has led to many confrontations which have been unheard about by the rest of the country. The act in itself, even sans the violence, can leave a mark on those who are left on the fringes of a place they call home. The situation can prove difficult but it is one that most have to bear with according to those who have seen it happen repeatedly.


Pete Penner – Concerned Citizen


“What really happens once you are excommunicated their religion says you are not supposed to take any part of their lives those are lost sheep and you are not supposed to sell with them, do any kind of business and do not associate with them in anyway shape or form but see now they are basically been set free and they are free to do whatever they want; they can go and listen to music, drive any vehicle whatever they do but if that still make then mad and they would come and retaliate against them.”


Dalila Ical – Reporter


“What would compel or what would make somebody who has been excommunicated or a family remain in a community where they are really rejected?”


Pete Penner – Concerned Citizen


“Well, this is everything they have, their property, their house this is everything they have where else they want to go.”


Dalila Ical – Reporter


“You mentioned too that there is a certain extent of the religion being for so many years and you mentioned the people being brain washed that they feel that they can’t go anywhere else?”


Pete Penner – Concerned Citizen


“One hundred per cent, you bring brought up since a child, you look at this baby and he is being taught every day that outsiders are all going to hell those are worldly people we are the only righteous people and if you leave you are basically being condemned and you are going to hell for eternity and those roots are deeper than anybody can imagine that comes from the outside.”


Henry Redekopp – Shipyard Resident, Pastor


“How you are going to take care of your family if your livelihood is lost and you gain a back by submitting to their control even if it is under fear you rather live in that fear than lose your ability to care for your family.”


Within the community, women have no voice. Decisions are made by a small fraction of the people and these are known as the elders. These decisions are sometimes so harsh and even the act of excommunication causes emotional and psychological scars.


Dalila Ical – Reporter


“Generally what has been for them live here having been excommunicated, being shunt?’


Henry Redekopp – Resident, Pastor


“I wish you could talk to them individually because for many of them it has been difficult now some of them they have means of income or actually all of them have means of income but for some of them for several years they haven’t seen their families, they couldn’t see their parents, they couldn’t see their brother and sisters.”


Dalila Ical – Reporter


“So would say that this sort of situation has brought some sort of psychological or emotional stress?”


Henry Redekopp – Resident, Pastor


“I think it has brought psychological stress, it has brought emotional stress, I has brought I think a lot of emotional scars, when you are called to love your neighbor, when you are called to be a minister of reconciliation, when you are called to live with peace with all men as it is with you and everything that you do is faced with a cold shoulder and often with words saying that you are not welcome over here certainly it causes scars and certainly it causes stress and a lot of pain.”


Given the circumstances, the oppressed, onlookers and those who chose to leave and have no part of the religion say that if nothing is done, the situation will only worsen.


Henry Redekopp – Resident, Pastor


“Obviously it has been escalated, evil always escalates when stuff is unchecked always and what is the solution to this I don’t know but I think that justice needs to prevail but there is a little respect for justice in this community, there will be a high degree of trying to bribe not trying but actually bribing officials wherever they can to avoid problems and that is part of the issue when we start having that kind of cloud where you can bribe the officials, you can cover your side of the violence and always makes the other person look bad there is always been escalating.”

 

By no means do we suggest that the situation of those who openly spoke to us is a full insight of what is happening in the community. These are their stories and these show some of the trials and difficulties faced by those who choose to remain silent. There are even suggestions that the problems reach greater levels and crimes committed include anywhere from violations of basic human rights to sexual crimes. During our trip to Shipyard, we attempted to speak with the Chairman Cornelius Krahn but were told he was not in the community at the time.

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