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Wed May 11 2005Grandmother in prison one year for loyalty to Aristide
Wed May 11 2005Sò Anne -- Haitian Folk Singer
While the world¹s eyes fix on former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune -- imprisoned and on a hunger strike to protest 10 months incarceration with no charges against him -- hundreds of other political prisoners crowd more anonymously into Haiti¹s squalid prisons.
Annette Auguste, popularly known as Sò Anne, is among them. Auguste, 63, a folk singer, fierce fighter for democracy and supporter of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was arrested May 10, 2004 by U.S. Marines.
One year ago, U.S. Marines, sent to Haiti after a U.S.-backed coup exiled Aristide, used plastic explosives to enter Sò Anne's house in Port-au-Prince. They arrested Sò Anne without a warrant in the middle of the night, two direct violations of the Haitian Constitution. During the arrest they killed her two dogs and cuffed and hooded all members of her family, including four children under the age of 15.
The Marines initially claimed she was stockpiling weapons in her home -- they found none -- and said she was collaborating with local Muslims in a plan to attack U.S. interests in Haiti. Then the authorities claimed she had participated in witchcraft.
One year later, Sò Anne sits in jail awaiting formal charges. Forty-six organizations across the U.S. and Canada are calling for her release. The Haiti Action Committee has put out a call to mothers and grandmothers worldwide to help free Sò Anne.
Since Aristide was exiled, prisons have been filled to overflowing his supporters. Human rights groups estimate that in the National Penitentiary alone there are 1054 prisoners; most of them are loyal to Aristide, or believed loyal to him. Only nine of them have been tried and convicted of crimes.