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The Dark Side In The Community Of Shipyard #490115
04/29/14 06:05 AM
04/29/14 06:05 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 82,923
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

The problem in Shipyard is more complex than it appears however, since the structure of the community; the larger part of it, is fixed on the strict rules of the religion. That religion reflects those of other denominations but there are several exceptions and differences. While it is founded on the belief in the mission and ministry of Jesus, parts of the religion is viewed as radical. They follow the teachings of Menno Simons, who lived from 1496 to 1561. The Mennonite communities are generally viewed and accepted as a peaceful people due to their commitment to pacifism. This is how they have basically been viewed within Belize, but where there are rules, these rules are inevitably broken and this is where tensions begin to run high. Following the altercation between the two groups of men last week, a group of men who have been excommunicated from the church for breaking the rules have turned to the media to talk about what they say is the hidden side of the community, a side that paints a rather disturbing picture. Dalila Ical reports.

Dalila Ical – Reporting

Pete Penner – Concerned Citizen

“These people call themselves a follower of him but, if that guy would comeback today and look at this religion he wouldn’t have not part of it. That guy was a follower of Jesus but like in any religion after an amount of years it is going to fade away and become a manmade religion.”

This is the general sentiment among those who have been excommunicated from the church in Shipyard.

The rules are strict and are placed by the elders, from what we understand less than two dozen men within the community of over three thousand residents. They are strongly against music, electronics, sports and modern conveniences. The community even encourages little to no interaction between members of the church and the modern world. But the rules can prove to be too much for some, even impossible to avoid says Pete Penner who was raised in the community until he was a teenager.

Pete Penner – Concerned Citizen

“It’s almost impossible but like I said everybody breaks the rules here and there, you will see it in town every time they come to and do stuff that you wouldn’t expect them to do but all they have to do is come back before the elders and apologize and you will be accepted back in but if you are stubborn enough to not apologize and say you are sorry when you are really not them you are excommunicated.”

And once excommunicated, you are shunned. No one talks to you or conducts any business transaction with you. This has led to a division within the community says Henry Redekopp, who has lived at Shipyard for over four years and seen the problem firsthand.

Henry Redekopp

“There’s a lot of division in the community, for one unless you belong to their group then you are ok unless you have never been part of the group.”

Redekopp leads an evangelical church with a congregation of about sixty men and women who have been shunned within the community.

Henry Redekopp

“That means our people no longer allowed having a voice in our community and even though they lived here all their lives their voice is silenced.”

The situation those who are excommunicated are left in is rather a difficult one, and even after years, the situation is something hard to speak about as in the case of David Freizen.

David Freisen – Excommunicated

“I was excommunicated just because my son starting to study the bible and that is something against the community so the priest would tell what you have to do; you can read the bible but don’t try to study it or try to share it with your neighbor.”


“And because he did that your whole family was excommunicated, what does it mean to be excommunicated, what do they come and tell you or how does it work?”

David Freisen – Excommunicated

“Sorry am not ready to do it right now.”

The situation has escalated to violence as is reported in the latest case last week Tuesday. It’s a situation that those who have either been kicked out of the religion or willingly left disagree with.

Pete Penner – Concerned Citizen

“I think they just need to be exposed and their powers be taken away from them.”

Those who say they have been subjected to such violence says they have made reports to police, but they have been unsuccessful in bringing their aggressors to justice since they claim that authorities are being bribed and controlled by the elders.  After repeated fruitless efforts, the oppressed have little faith in the police.

Henry Reimer

“I go all the time to report to the police and the police told me that is nothing just put me in jail and lock me, that is what he did and that is why I don’t go there I don’t trust the police.”

It’s a situation that they say must be brought to light especially since their faith is founded on peace.

Henry Redekopp – Resident, Pastor

“Their statement of faith is a very peaceful statement of faith so if they would live by their statement of faith this would be a very peaceful community, very peaceful people, would be a peaceful people who would want us to be integrated.  Over the years their way of life has been threatening in a way and so it has become a ruled based religion although it is more religion than faith.”

In tomorrow’s newscast we will bring you the story of how those who have been excommunicated have to deal with the situation and the emotional stress they go through.


Re: The Dark Side In The Community Of Shipyard [Re: Marty] #490147
04/30/14 04:52 AM
04/30/14 04:52 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 82,923
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Voices Speak Out From Closed Community Of Shipyard

For all of its history in Belize, the Mennonite Community of Shipyard in the Orange Walk District has remained closed to outsiders.

But what happens when members of the community are suddenly not welcomed? Well, according to a group of Mennonites who were excommunicated, those persons become silent victims of sustained marginalization and discrimination, which sometimes escalated to violence. They say that the cases go unreported because there is a degree of public shame associate with excommunication, and those victims would rather suffer in silence.

Well, that tactic didn't happen on last week Thursday when a family became the targets of the mischievous mob from Shipyard - their former brethren. According to the allegation, the mob assaulted them with machetes, which caused a member of the family to pull his licensed weapon to scare them off. The men allegedly chopped one from the family in the head, but instead of that assailant receiving criminal charges, the man who used his shotgun to scare the mob off was charged with aggravated assault. That caused a group from the community to become outraged, and they did an unprecedented thing; they took their complaint to the media. Tonight, we'll show you a startling look into the culture at Shipyard, starting with the man who was chopped by a member of the mob. Here's how he explained it:

David Friezen - Excommunicated Community Member (translated)
"They started to throw stones and sticks and they are trying to chase them away when they started to pull machetes. They cut him on his forehead and they held a machete to his throat and they told him that they were going to kill him. He said he was really afraid because he thought they were going to kill him. Then his mom came to meet him to try to protect him and they ran after his mom with the machetes. After this his dad came out and saw what was happening, so he took his license gun and he shoots into the air for them to go away."

Pete Penner
"Their religion says that you are not supposed to take part in their life. Those are lost sheep and you are not supposed to sell with them, do any kind of business, not associate with them in any way shape or form. But now they are being set free, they are free to do whatever they want. They can go listen to music, they can drive vehicles - but if they do it still pisses them off and they will come and retaliate against them."

Community member
"My problem is that I was excommunicated just because my son started to study the bible. That is something that is against the community, so the priest would tell what you have to do. You could read the bible, but don't try to study it or try to share it with your neighbor."

Mike Rudon, reporter Ch 5
"Because they did that your whole family was excommunicated?"

Community member

Mike Rudon, reporter Ch 5
"What does it mean to be excommunicated? Do they come and tell you? How does it work?"

Community member
"I am not ready to do this."

Pete Penner
"What really happens is once you get labeled as a black sheep, you are excommunicated; you can't buy or sell in the community. You will be shunned until you come and repent and ask the elders for forgiveness. Once you are excommunicated you are free to do whatever you want and from my understanding they had music and they like to party and these people that are selling the religion they would come to their houses and steal their music equipment and that's where the violence begins."

Mike Rudon, reporter Ch 5
"Is this something that has happened before in the community?"

Pete Penner
"What has happened as far back as I can remember. This is everything they have; their house, their property - where else are they going to go. You've been brought up since a child…you look at this baby and they're 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're basically being condemned…you're going to hell for eternity."

Henry Heathercope - Pastor, Evangelical Church of Excommunicated Members
"In terms of the division within the community we do see a lot of fighting certain times of the year particularly we would see it on extended holidays. The Mennonite community here has extended holidays at Easter time, on Pentecost, on Christmas time and generally by the time the holidays wind down then there is outbreak of violence and often times it is instigated by the fathers in the community and when things get out of hand then there are generally a few people that are picked on as the bad guys and the people that are liked are supported and everything gets kind of covered up."

Pete Penner
"We have a constitutional right for our beliefs, but we don't have a constitutional right to mistreat anybody."

Franz Petkau was charged aggravated assault, Discharging a Firearm in Public, and possession of a firearm whilst under the influence on Thursday for pulling his weapon Heinrich Petkau.

Channel 7

What Does It Mean To Be Excommunicated In The Community Of Shipyard?

Yesterday 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.

Mennonite Resident Charged For Several Offences In Community Of Shipyard
In last night’s newscast we presented the story on the fight that broke out at Shipyard on Tuesday April 22nd and which resulted in the arrest of Franz Petkau, a resident of the community. Petkau has been slapped with five charges. Today CTV-3 News spoke with Second in Command at the Orange Walk Police Formation Selvyn Tillett who gave us the report on police records. Selvyn Tillett “There was one Henry Petka and Abram riding their carriage and arriving in front of the Petka family one George Petka started insulting them and thereafter it is understood that he went to his yard and took a machete and assault these people and subdued and machete taken away from him and when he called for his dad he came driving with his pickup with his shotgun and fired a shot. Henry Petka receive a braced to the right cheek, he was dealt with and after investigation police arrested and charged Mr Franz Petka for discharging a fire arm in public, repeated assault with a firearm, having a firearm whilst under the influence, drove motor vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol and he was taken to the court on Friday and he was remanded until the 21st of May.”

Police Intervention Into The Matter Alledges Bribery By The Elders In shipyard
The confrontations emerging from the Shipyard community is a complicated matter that is centered on religious belief and practices. There are also allegations that the police have been bribed by several elders within the community to ensure they run their community as they see fit. Second in Command at the Orange Walk Police Formation Selvyn Tillett rejects these accusations adding that Shipyard is well within authorities’ reach and control. Selvyn Tillett “Shipyard is part of Orange Walk, is part of Belize so we have jurisdiction over that.” Dalila ical - Reporter “There are allegations from certain sections of the community that police is being bribed by the elders and those who leads the church and have these strict rules in order to have things run their way in the community, what is your comment on that?” Selvyn Tillett “You said allegations and allegations will be made and that is way to be proof.” Dalila ical - Reporter “Do you have any occasion or anytime when there are any reports or any officer receiving money to be one sided?” Selvyn Tillett “This is news to me and this is the first time I heard this allegation, first time.”


Re: The Dark Side In The Community Of Shipyard [Re: Marty] #490485
05/06/14 06:24 AM
05/06/14 06:24 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 82,923
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Elders Of The Shipyard Community Clarify Allegations Made Against Them And Their Church

The story we aired on the troubles rising out of the peaceful shipyard community has been the subject of conversation for many, especially since it came as a surprise to many Belizeans. Over the weekend, the media was able to speak with leaders of the Shipyard Community on accusations against their church and customs. They clarified these accusations but did not grant on camera interviews as they say it is against their religion but that the media could quote their side of the story.

To begin with, the leaders headed by former elected chairman George Wall and current chairman Cornelius Krahn, say the Mennonite community at Shipyard was first established in 1958.

The first Mennonites arrived in Belize from Chihuahua Mexico. The people bought land and established their church and have been here for over fifty years. After the story broke on the altercation between two groups of young men, the leaders say they heard the stories on the radio and say the stories are not accurate. The elder says that the fight broke out among young men.

George Petkau allegedly began the altercation with another young man, his distant cousin who had arrived and was apparently unwelcomed. George Petkau reportedly went for a machete and attacked the young man and others. His father, Franz Petkau was also reportedly driving his pickup in an intoxicated state and pulled out his shotgun. The young men reportedly picked up stones and stoned the pickup truck.

However, it appears that the chronological order of the fight and how it played out exactly is not well known by the elders who shared their stories. They contend though, that it has nothing to do with the church or that the Petkau family is excommunicated from the church. They add that for over fifteen years many have had problems with the Petkau family. The leaders say that they feel they should not linger on the situation since they have closed it and left it in the past.

When it comes to their community structure and religious practices, the elders started by stating that at the start of the community, each family was given the privilege to ask for land and buy the rights to work the land. At that time, the amount of land available to the people was 25 to 30 acres.

The land is not sold to outsiders. Any transactions are done with people from within the community. In reference to excommunication, the leaders say that those who had spoken with us left on their own, following their own plan. They say a pastor from Canada came into the community and is now leading those who have decided to leave the church and even though the land they work and have built their evangelical church on belongs to the church of Shipyard, they are left alone. They did say that they had attempted to buy the land from the families since they had decided to leave the church but that transaction was not made and that was the end of it.

They also deny reports that they have persecuted any of the families who have left the church. If anyone has been harassed or persecuted it was not by members of the church. The leaders did not elaborate much on the cases since these are cases of their church and did not know details of each.

As for their rules, once you misbehave it is known that they cannot go to the church and once they leave the church they can purchase their modern conveniences, and they are left on their own. The leaders reiterated that they do not mistreat anyone or any family who leaves the church. What they do is just avoid contact with whoever has been known to do anything against the teachings of the bible such as adultery or drinking. They do follow and uphold the old colony teachings by not allowing intermarriages and by upholding strict laws that govern their land system which as we mentioned can only be worked and bought by members of the community.

In regards to the community leaders bribing the police to get their way and maintain their own law within the community, the leaders rejected the allegations and say they are happy with the way the police have worked within Shipyard. They say they have tried to keep peace and order within the community without persecuting anyone.


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