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Free Haiti political prisoner Sò Anne on Mother's Day
A call to mothers and grandmothers around the world.
Annette Auguste, known as Sò Anne, is a 63 year old grandmother, popular Haitian singer, community organizer and pro-democracy activist. Last Mother's Day weekend US Marines use 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. Haitis 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 are So Anne's own words:
"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.
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) and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (http://www.ijdh.org).
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
** please note the petition is currently addressed to Colin Powell, Secretary of State. The petition was started in August and we are 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
8th Floor US Mission to the United Nations 140 E. 45th Street NY, NY 10017 Fax: 212-415-4053
Haitian Government contact: Mme Adeline Magloire Chancy Minister for Women's Rights 011-509-249-5912
MINUSTAH (UN) contacts: please send emails to all of the following addresses:
Gender issues: Nadine Puechguirbal - puechguirbal [at] un.org
Human rights: Mahamane Cissé-Gouro - cisse-gouro [at] un.org
Thierry Fagart - fagart [at] un.org - fax: 509-244-9366/7
Or send letters to any MINUSTAH contacts at:
385 Ave. John Brown
Bourdon Boîte Postale
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