[News] Haiti - So' Anne's Letter from Prison

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Thu Jun 16 13:15:10 EDT 2005


So' Anne's Letter from the Petionville Penitentiary

Annette Auguste -- folksinger, grassroots activist and political prisoner 
-- speaks from her prison cell


Sign the petition to free So Anne at : 
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/263040597

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June 15, 2005 -- Haiti Information Project

Port au Prince, Haiti (HIP) - I am Annette Auguste, who has been unjustly 
imprisoned
and held without charges since May 10, 2004. U.S. Marines arrested me in a 
violent
invasion of my home causing harm to my family.

To this date there is no reason for my imprisonment other than my support 
for the duly
elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Although Amnesty 
International has been
cowardly in using the term, I am among the thousands of political prisoners 
rotting away in
Haitian jails today. There is no other explanation for my imprisonment as I 
have never been
convicted of a crime or allowed my day in court to challenge any 
allegations brought against me.

 From my prison cell I have learned many things. I have heard that police
have been free to kill Lavalas supporters with impunity on several occasions.

I have heard that the U.N. is working with these same deadly forces, on 
behalf of the
backward wealthy elite of our country, to justify murder of the poor in the 
popular
neighborhoods that continue to demand the return of President Aristide.

I am told that homes are burned and people killed as the U.N. shows its 
true colors
in places like Bel Air and Cite Soleil. These are our hearts in the 
struggle to return our president
and it is not our friends who established this climate of insecurity.

What did the U.N. expect when they allowed the police to kill with impunity?
It is now certain that police are involved in the recent insecurity and 
kidnappings;
two of them were arrested yesterday for that. When the U.N. allowed them to 
get away
with murder they thought they could get away with any crime imaginable.

The U.N. and the same people in the Bush administration who arrested me are
responsible for this current climate of kidnappings and insecurity by
allowing the current regime to exact its revenge against Lavalas. If
the police are committing these crimes today it is because the
international community allowed them to do so out of a blind vengeance
against Lavalas. They established a climate where a policeman who got
away with murder of Lavalas thought afterwards why couldn't he kidnap
to put money in his pocket? Nobody held him responsible so why not?

I now hear that the defacto Justice Minister Bernard Gousse is resigning. 
He is the one
who represents the Group 184 and the traditional reactionary elites of 
Haiti who have denied
justice in Haiti. This is a false and cosmetic move meant to distract us 
away from the truth.
This is a move meant to clear the way for the false elections the 
international community plans for Haiti.

If I am not freed there are political prisoners in Haiti. If former Prime 
Minister
Yvon Neptune and former interior minister J. Privert are not freed there 
are political
prisoners in Haiti. If ALL the prisoners in Haiti who have been arrested 
merely for their affiliation
with Lavalas are not freed there are political prisoners in Haiti.

I challenge Amnesty International and other respectable human rights 
organizations
to begin to use the words, "political prisoners" or otherwise explain to 
the world why
we are still behind bars. Why am I still behind bars? Explain this to us! 
Let us understand
your reasoning that keeps us behind bars without ever having a fair day in 
court.

The elections they are planning to cover all of the human rights abuses 
they have committed
against Lavalas will not pass. They want to show to the world that the coup 
of Feb. 29 was
justified; I call upon all democracy loving Haitians to not register for 
this vote. If you must
accept their bribe of a new national identity card to register then take 
it. But when the day
comes to vote stay home. Show them that we are a proud nation that believes 
in democracy.
We already voted and spent our energy on a government that represented the 
majority of the
poor in Haiti. We will never give in to extortion and kidnapping. We will 
remain strong and
resolved to return the constitutional government. When it is darkest we 
will shine the light.

The international community has given us no choice by their acceptance of 
human rights violations
by the police and their killings in the popular neighborhoods. We have no 
choice but to die or not
vote in the next elections. This is all they have left us.

I wish to thank all of those who love freedom for their support of 
democracy in Haiti. We shall
never forget your commitment and struggle for our people. I say to you 
remain strong because
lies cannot erase the truth over time. I send you my love.

Annette Auguste
Penitentiary Petion-Ville
Haiti
June 15, 2005

The Haiti Information Project (HIP) is a non-profit alternative news
service providing coverage and analysis of breaking developments in
Haiti.

For more information visit:
<http://www.teledyol.net/HIP/about.html>http://www.teledyol.net/HIP/about.html
Contact: <mailto:HIP at teledyol.net>HIP at teledyol.net

Hi Friends and members of the Coalition to Free So Anne,

The petition demanding the release of Haitian political prisoner So Anne 
will be mailed to US, Haitian, and UN authorities early next week.  We are 
doing one final push to get signatures.  So far we have 640 individual 
signatures (from 27 countries, and 37 US States) and 68 organizational 
signatures.  Please encourage members of your groups and others to sign 
this petition before next week.  It has now been over 13 months that So 
Anne has remained incarcerated without charges, please help us to pressure 
the authorities to free So Anne.

The petition can be found at:
<http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/263040597>http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/263040597 

and the original alert is pasted below.

Thank you so much for your hard work and solidarity!
Peace, Sasha

The countries represented on the petition so far are:
Korea
Ecuador
United States
Canada
Haiti
Philippines
Turkey
Denmark
Sri Lanka
Australia
South Africa
Japan
Portugal
Switzerland
Netherlands
Argentina
Belize
Great Britain
Trinidad
Sweden
Grenada
Italy
Saint Lucia
Spain
Czechoslovakia
Norway
Ireland

Please circulate this alert widely to your respective lists
for more information http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/5_5_5.html
--- A call to mothers and grandmothers around the world ---
Help free political prisoner Annette Auguste, So Anne, illegally imprisoned 
since Mother's Day 2004

Annette Auguste, known as So Anne, is a 63 year old grandmother, popular 
Haitian singer, community organizer and pro-democracy activist. Last 
Mother's Day weekend US Marines used plastic explosives to enter So Anne's 
house in Port au Prince, Haiti.  They came in the middle of the night in 
direct violation of the Haitian constitution and arrested So Anne without a 
warrant. During the arrest they killed her two dogs and cuffed and hooded 
all members of her family, including four minors under the age of 15.

The Marine's initially claimed that they had received information that she 
was stockpiling weapons in her home and collaborating with a local mosque 
in a plan to attack US interests in Haiti. Since that time the authorities 
managed to produce a back dated warrant based on bigoted allegations of 
witchcraft, and unsubstantiated accusations that she participated in 
violence at a demonstration on December 5, though many witnesses can attest 
that she was in the recording studio at the time.

Although no weapons were found on the premises and despite the fact that 
she has never been formally charged due to a lack of evidence against her, 
she continues to be held at the Petionville Penitentiary. Last November 
Kofi Annan specifically called for justice in the case of So Anne insisting 
that she either be charged and tried or released.  To date his words have 
not been heeded by the US installed government, nor has Annan backed up his 
demands with concrete action.

The truth is that So Anne, like hundreds of others, is imprisoned because 
of her continued calls for a return to constitutional authority, her 
outspoken criticism of the US-backed interim government, and her powerful 
organizing potential. So Anne's arrest came just months after the 
US-sponsored overthrow of Haiti's democratically elected government amid a 
wave of politically motivated arrests.

During the past year Haiti's prisons have been filled to 
overflowing.  Human rights groups estimate that in the National 
Penitentiary alone there are 1054 prisoners and only 9 have been tried and 
convicted. Haiti's justice system has been hijacked by an interim 
government intent on silencing dissent and there is no semblance of due 
process for those identified as Aristide supporters.

Here is an except from a letter that So Anne wrote soon after her arrest:

 From my cell I am given hope by the many voices being raised against the 
injustice the people of Haiti are being forced to suffer today. I am 
grateful to Congresswoman Maxine Waters and countless others who have stood 
up in solidarity with the Haitian people, in order to stop the bloodletting 
and help the outside world to know the truth and reality we are faced with 
today.

I send you all my love and gratitude for remaining strong in separating the 
lies from the truth in Haiti's current situation. I send you all my 
blessings as a free Haitian woman fighting for the rights of the 
impoverished majority in my homeland.

They may imprison my body but they will never imprison the truth I know in 
my soul. I will continue to fight for justice and truth in Haiti until I 
draw my last breath.

- Annette Auguste, Petionville Penitentiary, Port au Prince Haiti May 23, 2004

The poor communities that So Anne worked with prior to her arrest have not 
forgotten her courageous activism nor has one year in prison dampened her 
commitment to social justice. So Anne holds regular literacy classes in the 
prison, continuing her efforts to improve the lives of those around her. 
And on the outside, her friends and supporters continue to mobilize weekly 
for her release.  On Saturday April 30, despite tremendous repression, 
thousands of people marched to So Anne's house demanding the release of all 
political prisoners.

So Anne is beloved a mother and grandmother, not only to her family but to 
many poor communities in Port au Prince.

Please join the Haiti Action Committee, the Institute for Justice and 
Democracy in Haiti, and other labor, religious, and women's organizations 
(see endorsements below) in calling for the immediate release of So Anne 
and all prisoners in Haiti held solely for their political beliefs.

For more information on So Anne's case and the ongoing human rights crisis 
in Haiti please visit the websites for the Haiti Action Committee 
(<http://www.haitiaction.net/>www.haitiaction.net) and the Institute for 
Justice and Democracy in Haiti (<http://www.ijdh.org/>www.ijdh.org).  If 
your organization is interested in becoming part of the Coalition to Free 
So Anne please send an email to sash at stanford.edu.

To take action on So Anne's behalf please sign the online petition and 
call, email, write or fax the following contacts:

Online petition:

<http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/263040597>http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/263040597 


** please note the petition is currently addressed to Colin Powell, 
Secretary of State.  The petition was started in August and I am currently 
unable to change the target online.  We do plan to redirect the petition to 
Condoleeza Rice and the Haitian Government

US contact:
Ambassador Anne Patterson
Head of the US delegation on the recent UN Security Council mission to Haiti

US Mission to the United Nations, 8th Floor
140 E. 45th Street
NY, NY 10017
Fax: 212-415-4053

* Or you can reach Ambassador Patterson by phone or email via the US 
Mission, NGO Liaison, Peggy Kerry
kerryp at state.gov
phone: 212 415 4054

Haitian Government contact:
Mme Adeline Magloire Chancy
Minister for Women's Rights
phone: 011-509-249-5912

Alternatively, and perhaps more successfully given the difficulties with 
phone communication in Haiti you can direct your phone calls, letters and 
email to the Haitian Embassy in Washington, DC
Ambassador Raymond Joseph

Embassy of the Republic of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
phone: 202-332-4090
fax: 202-745-7215
embassy at haiti.org

MINUSTAH (UN) contacts: please send emails to all of the following addresses

Gender issues: Nadine Puechguirbal 
(<mailto:puechguirbal at un.org>puechguirbal at un.org )
Human rights: Mahamane Cissé-Gouro 
(<mailto:cisse-gouro at un.org>cisse-gouro at un.org)
                 Thierry Fagart (<mailto:fagart at un.org>fagart at un.org ) fax: 
509-244-9366/7

Or send letters to any MINUSTAH contacts at:

MINUSTAH
385, Ave. John Brown
Bourdon
Boîte Postale 557
Port-au-Prince

You can also support So Anne's legal defense fund by purchasing a copy of 
her newest CD at http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/5_5_5.html

REZISTANS: Haitian Songs of Resistance

Coalition to Free So Anne:

1.      Haiti Action Committee, CA

2.      Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, OR

3.      Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, CT

4.      Marin Interfaith Taskforce on the Americas, CA

5.      Code Pink Women for Peace Hayward, CA

6.      SF Women in Black, CA

7.      Haiti Justice Committee, MN

8.      Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, CA

9.      Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, CA

10.  Jewish Voice for Peace, CA

11.  Justice for Palestinians, CA

12.  Sacramento Coalition for Democracy in Haiti, CA

13.  Fondasyon Mapou, D.C.

14.  East Bay Sanctuary Covenant Haiti Committee, CA

15.  International Socialist Organization, CA

16.  Campus Peace Action California State University Sacramento, CA

17.  St. Joan of Arc Haiti Committee, MN

18.  Peace No War Network

19.  Progressive Democrats of America Sacramento Chapter, CA

20.  San Francisco Bayview Newspaper, CA

21.  Vancouver Latin America-Caribbean Solidarity Committee, Canada

22.  Haiti Solidarity, B.C, Canada

23.  Interfaith Women for Peace, CA

24.  Fanm Lakay, NY

25.  Konbit Ayisian Kakola, NY

26.  Veye Yo, FL

27.  Fanm Veye Yo, FL

28.  SEIU 715 African American Caucus, CA

29.  Lake County Amnesty International, CA

30.  Welfare Poets, NY

31.  Out of Control Lesbian Committee to Support Political Prisoners, CA

32.  Cape Codders for Peace and Justice, MA

33.  April6Vt Citizens Lobby, VT

34.  Nicaragua Center for Community Action, CA

35.  Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean

36.  Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, DC

37.  Haiti Solidarity Committee, FL

38.  Quixote Center/Haiti Reborn, MD

39.  Santa Cruz Bolivarian Circle, CA

40.  Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903 - International Solidarity
Working Group, Canada

41.  UCSC Cuba Study Group, CA

42.  Global Womens Strike, International

43.  Code Pink Bay Area, CA

44.  Code Pink Portland, OR

45.  Turnwind Peace and Justice, AZ

46.  Gabriela Network Bay Area, CA

47.  Comité québécois pour la reconnaissance des droits des travailleurs 
haïtiens en République dominicaine, Canada

48.  Global Exchange

49.  CESAPI Coalition in Solidarity with the People of Iraq, Canada

50.  ActionLA Americas Watch, CA

51.  Haiti Support Network (HSN), NY

52.  South Bay Labor for Peace and Justice, CA

53.  San Franciscans for Our City's Health, CA

54.  Gwoup pou defans de pwizonye politik, Haiti

55.  Womens Fightback Network

56.  International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal

57.  No One is Illegal Vancouver, Canada

58.  Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, OR

59.  East Timor Action Network- Madison, WI

60.  Women for Peace-Madison, WI

61.  TransAfrica Forum, International

62.  Faculty For Peace and Justice, CSUS

63.  Mourning Mothers, CA

64.  Grandmothers For Peace, International

65.  KAKOLA, NY

66.  National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N'COBRA), CA

67.  Foundations for Our Nu Afrikan Millennium (FONAMI), CA

68.  African Initiative of American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), 
Pacific   Mountain Region








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