What if you woke up and found yourself in Fort Dimanche, a prison that can be likened to Attica and San Quentin—only thing is, Fort Dimanche prisoners never got their day in court, and some were at times put in there just for exercising their freedom of speech.
What if you stood in your small, claustrophobia-provoking cell and a lady mouse’s visit was a welcomed diversion? What if you had to scrape your own excrement with your hands? What if taking a shower was a luxury? This is what happened to Patrick Lemoine, the author of Fort Dimanche, Dungeon of Death. Lemoine was arrested in 1971, and thrown into the dungeon of death that many entered, but few left.
Some were there for being Communists, others for challenging the current government in power. Lemoine recalls how he and his fellow prisoners once had to share a cell with a group of Haiti-fleeing individuals, who were apprehended and imprisoned for trying to leave Haiti. Divisions among prisoners, tremendous cruelty, death-leading torture, shattered family lives—as some still alive in Fort Dimanche were sometimes reported dead, leading the loved ones they left behind to go on with their lives—were the norm for those whose lives were stalled by Fort Dimanche.
Despite all that he suffered, Lemoine maintained his sanity. Maybe because the fact that he made it out of the Fort Dimanche prison when so many others didn’t made him keep his head up over the years. Today Lemoine leads a successful life (he was released and sent to exile in 1977 after 6 years of imprisonment) as an aircraft engineer, but surely the horrific time he spend in Fort Dimanche is something he can’t exactly blot from his memory.