ZAP the U.S. Embassy and State Department
Emergency Action Alert
Demand the immediate release of Annette Auguste (Sò Anne)
Haitian singer and Lavalas activist arrested on Mother's Day
United States Marines have arrested Annette Auguste (Sò Anne), a prominent Haitian singer and humanitarian activist. A sizeable contingent of marines attacked Sò Anne's home in Port-Au-Prince, where she was recuperating from surgery. They detained eleven friends and family, who were handcuffed and taken away, including two young children (ages five and twelve years old). The military ransacked the house. The U.S. Marines apparently still hold Sò Anne incommunicado. [Read below for a more detailed narrative.]
What is Sò Anne's "crime?" Organizing nutritional programs, serving food to the homeless, presenting cultural programs, and supporting Lavalas (along with the majority of the Haitian people) to name a few. Thousands of Haitians have already been killed since the coup d'Ètat on February 29, 2004 for similar "crimes." Thousands more are in hiding. We must fight back on their behalf.
Protest this illegal and immoral action by the United States Marines! Demand Sò Anne's immediate release! Your calls, faxes and e-mails will make a difference to keep Sò Anne alive, to deter brutal treatment and to expedite her release.
Please contact Ambassador James Foley directly at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. Call on Secretary of State Colin Powell at the U.S. State Department in Washington, and contact your Senators and Representatives. Call early and call often.
Ambassador James B. Foley U.S. Embassy, Port-au-Prince, Haiti phone: 509.223.7011 or 509.222.0200 fax: 509.223.9665 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
http://usembassy.state.gov (for address and additional phones)
Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of State fax: 202.647.2283 or 202.647.5169 phone: 202.647.5291 or 202.647.7098 email via: http://contact-us.state.gov/ask_form_cat/ask_form_secretary.html
Haiti Desk Officers, U.S. State Department:
Joseph Tilghman fax: 202.647.2901 phone: 202.647.5088 email: email@example.com
Lawrence Connell fax: 202.647.2901 phone: 202.647.6765 email: ConnellLF@state.gov
by Marguerite Laurent, Esq. Chair, Haitian Lawyers Leadership
On or about 12:30 on May 10, 2004, the U.S. military, acting as the Multinational Interim Force (MIF) in Haiti violently gained entrance to the home of Annette Auguste, aka "Sò Anne."
No Haitian police were present at the time of the forcible entry, at the time of interrogations or during the arrests. The U.S. soldiers are said to have blown up the gate where Sò Anne was living and accused her of making threats against the MIF.
Freedom of speech, assembly and protection of property are no longer civil rights for Haitians, especially for Lavalas progressives. In fact, it appears Haitian law and Constitution means less than nothing unless U.S. authorities need a pretext to give legitimacy to Justice Boniface and Latorture as the puppet replacement heads for foreign rule and dictatorship in Haiti.
At a press briefing on May 10, 2004, MIF CJTF Public Affairs officer Col. David Lapan reportedly said, in sum, when asked why such force was used to make this arrest, that in operations of this type it is necessary to use violence in order to show the individuals who are the objects of the operation that the MIF means business. Haitians who had any doubt as to the current status of Haitian sovereignty need no longer ask. The U.S. military, through Lt. Colonel David Lapan, have clearly implied that Haiti is under occupation, and wartime rules known only to U.S. officers. Although the curfew imposed on February 29, 2004 by the MIF has been lifted. By this action of May 10, 2004, it is reasonable to say, Haiti is under U.S. martial law while Ambassador Foley puts every word that comes out of U.S. puppet head, Mr. Latorture's month.
Annette Auguste is an elderly Haitian woman recovering from recent surgery. She is a well-known artist, a political and cultural activist, a mother and grandmother, whose life has been dedicated to the Lavalas Movement for democracy and development in Haiti. As a well-respected Haitian elder and community leader, her house is a meeting ground, as is the normal Haitian custom, for people to come and eat, gather, share news and solidarity. The Haitian Constitution guarantees Haitian citizens the right, not to be arrested or terrorized without due cause, especially it outlines no arrest warrants may be excised between 6pm and 6 am at night.
Yet, last night, a strong contingent of U.S. soldiers, from the Multinational Interim Force in Haiti apparently decided to forego Haitian and international law and practice warfare games on this elderly grandmother's unarmed household.
Instead of knocking at the door, providing proof of charges and making a legal arrest at a reasonable and Constitutionally approved hour for arrests, the U.S. soldiers, armed with the world's most sophisticated war instruments, Used C5 explosives to blow up this elderly Haitian woman's gates and forcibly enter her home.
All the people in her house, some 11 people, including her tiny 5-year old grandson, Shashou, where forced to the ground and were handcuffed by U.S. soldiers armed in heavy artillery.
Let's reiterate - Shashou, a 5-year old Haitian baby boy, handcuffed by the world's most powerful soldiers at midnight in his own grandmother's home!
This is the sort of "law and order" and democracy Haitians are subjected to after their Constitutionally-elected President was, himself, forced out of Haiti by U.S. and French soldiers at gunpoint.
This is the sort of "law," "order," and better "democracy" the Bush Administration is bringing to the world, while Secretary of State, Colin Powell praises Latorture, a man who called cop killers and convicted felons, "freedom fighters" in Haiti. This is the democracy the Bush Administration, currently hosting Mr. Latorture's first "official" U.S. visit, has saddled peace-loving Haitians with. Meanwhile, U.S. authorities, ignoring that most of the local, State and congressional invitees have declined to attend meetings with the illegal Latorture, still are blithely forging ahead with their "Regime Change", escorting the illegitimate U.S. replacement to the Constitutional government, Mr. L atorture, to shrimp and lobster dinners to places such as the Harvard Club in New York today.
After, the U.S. soldiers, with grenades, blew up the gates at Sò Anne's house, they then shot, with powerful automatic weapons, the hapless defenseless yard dogs and children pets who were barking in the yard at the rude entry in the dead of night.
Photos taken of Sò Anne's house show that a lot of damage was done. Also from news reports, the U.S. admitted, through Col. Lapan at the press conference, that there was no evidence of any weapons at Sò Anne's house. Thus, the use of such excessive force and the hour of the operation is rendered even more illegal and clearly a blatant violation of the Haitian Constitutional, Haitian sovereignty and international treaties, not to mention the OAS and UN charters.
Moreover, in the context of the U.S. citizenry's current concerns over treatment of individuals in US custody in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, this May 10, 2004, excessive force and handcuffing, terrorizing, at past midnight of Haitian civilians, who where then not accused of any crime is especially egregious.
All 11 people at Sò Anne's house where transported to the U.S. barracks at the Medical University the U.S. shut down upon arriving in Haiti, a country without doctors, and interrogated. None where charged. No apologies given. They were release, except that Lavalas militant, Sò Anne, was then delivered, after U.S. interrogation, to the Haitian National Penitentiary. No official charges have been cited. Presumably, the Interim Multinational Force has the authority, by virtual of what law? to use military force against a Haitian citizen, without warrant, without even the presence of Haitian authorities or any Haitians whatsoever?
Are we to understand that protecting unarmed Haitian civilians - through policing, demilitarizing Haiti and arresting convicted mass murderers such as Guy Philippe and his ex-soldier and FRAPH mercenaries - are "beyond the U.S. peacekeeping mission."
But, throwing grenades at an unarmed and sickly grandmother's house because she supports Lavalas and the return of the legitimate President of Haiti - ransacking and destroying her house; brutally forcing all the occupants to the ground and handcuffing them, and taking them to U.S. barracks for further terrorizing after two hours of U.S. "show of force" shock-and-awe at their home - that, that sort of U.S. military performance is indeed well within the U.S. "peacekeeping mission" in Haiti?
Haitian children, even 5-year old baby boys in Haiti, need to be handcuffed by grown U.S. soldiers in the dead of night. The head of their dogs cut off by a U.S. grenade
Thus, it is clear, our malnourished and defenseless Haitian children no longer have to get on overloaded Haitian boats, face shark infested open seas and reach Miami to be terrorized by U.S. guards.
Now in Haiti itself they don't have sanctuary.
Even more poignant, our Haitian children, don't, in this 200 year of our ancestor's greatest feat against enslavement and colonialism, have asylum, justice, sanctuary at their own grandmother's houses on Haitian soil.
This situation is more than illegal. It's barbaric, untenable. It's naked racism. Haitians are flesh and blood human beings with heart beats, pains, dreams, desires for beauty and peace.
Why are they so persecuted by the most powerful of peoples? It seems terrorists, convicted felons responsible for actually murdering innocent people, including Americans, are treated better by this Administration than innocent Haitians, who 've never harmed anyone; who merely voted for a leader the Bush regime, Otto Reich, Roger Noreiga, Luigi Einuiadi and big-business-interests hate with a deranged, psychotic passion. And dare we quote President Bush in reference to a statement made about the U.S. soldier's torture of Iraqi prisoners in U.S. custody, and say that the handcuffing and arrest of 5-year old baby-boy Shashou at midnight on May 10, 2004; even the killing of defenseless pets in the yard of a grandmother in Haiti awaken by U.S. grenades, not too mention the arrest of Sò Anne and her entire household, one of Haiti's most tireless pro-democracy activists, is simply too naked and revolting a lawlessness; and, for those who still believe in the untainted goodness of the U.S. government: it's simply "un-American" to borrow that recent phrase used by President George W. Bush.
It is reported this U.S. orchestrated show of force is to further pressure, intimidate and otherwise stop other such Lavalas activists requesting the return of laws and democracy to Haiti from holding a demonstration intended for May 18, 2004, Haiti's flag day.
* More than 3,000 Haitians, mostly young Haitian men associated or rumored to be associated with the Lavalas party have been killed in Haiti since the U.S. deposed President Aristide itself on February 29, 2004. In a bare two months, this bloodbath and killing of 3,000 Haitians represents more than half the number of Haitians that were killed during the entire three years of the first Coup D'etat against the Haitian people. More than 3,000 defenseless Haitians have been killed since U.S. soldiers landed in Haiti for this 2nd Coup d'etat against Haitian development and democracy. Yet, the reason given by Secretary of State, Colin Powell for the MIF and forcing out of President Aristide was "to avoid a bloodbath."
According to current reports, as of April 26, 2004 - less than two months after U.S. and French soldiers forced Haiti's Constitutionally elected President unto a U.S. aircraft - this Bush Administration's illegal interdiction policy towards Haitian asylum seekers has resulted in Washington returning 1,948 Haitians to Haiti in 2004, already an increase, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, over the 1,490 intercepted at sea for the entire 2003 year. And yet, the State Department's propaganda to destabilize the Constitutional government, had promised the Haitian people a better human rights record than that of the previous two Lavalas voted-in governments?
There is now a strong dossier of the 14-year destabilization campaign against Haitian democracy and development by the powerful Western Nations, led by the U.S. The violent arrest of Sò Anne, her 5-year old grandson and 10 other people at her house at midnight on May 10, 2004 and similar brutal conduct by the U.S. military against Lavalas -- the party whom State Department propaganda insisted, before the Coup D'Etat, no longer supported President Aristide is too blatant to need deeper investigation.
The U.S. Marines did not leave Sò Anne's house until around 2 or 2:30 a.m. on May 10, 2004. The house of this well-known Haitian woman and Lavalas activists was brutally ransacked and all the occupants, including, as we have noted above, small children as young as 5-years old, where taken in custody, in the dead of night and transported to the Medical University at Tabarre. Some of the detainees report they were interrogated about their role under the Constitutional government, including questioned regarding whether they knew "Danny Toussaint was a drug trafficker?" and what where they planning at the house so late at night, et.
It is reported, by some of these detainees, that excessive force was used in putting them into custody. They had no warning and some still are trembling from the encounter and that they were terrorized during the interrogations by U.S. soldiers. No one can say how this newest trauma will damage the children involved, not to mentioned the adults, who were already managing the U.S./France metered out Coup D'etat's post traumatic stress syndrome. Imagine waking up and all that you have worked for your entire life has been trashed and defiled while the duly elected President is kidnapped to parts unknown. The trauma is tremendous for the majority of Haitians who do not support dictatorship and wanted to move from elections to elections, not from Coup d'etat to dictatorship and the rule of the old, status-quo Duvalieriest and their FRAPH and Haitian army soldiers.
No charges where pressed against any of the twelve Haitian detainees taken from Sò Anne's house. Except that Sò Anne was arrested and transferred to the National Penitentiary after having been interrogated all night. Just as with the forced removal of President Aristide and his wife, this operations was conducted without any Haitian present other than the foreign soldiers.
Although, the MIF reportedly transferred Sò Anne to the custody of the PNH without charging her with any crime. It has been reported, after the arrest, and before any formal charges have been brought that NCHR - a human rights organization with strong ties to USAID, the U.S. Embassy, the right wing Haiti Democracy Project and the opposition to President Aristide and the Lavalas party- has accused Sò Anne of "some connection" to the December 5th violent incidents at the University. However, these innuendoes are not supported by NCHR by any facts as of yet, nor does it have the authority to press its witch-hunt campaign against Lavalas supporters.
Moreover, other Haitian popular organizational leaders, currently in hiding for fear of similar U.S. reprisals, have opined that they suspect this arrest is a pretext to prevent Sò Anne from taking part in a demonstration demanding the return of the rule of law and President Aristide planned for May 18, 2004 - Haiti's Flag Day.
So Ann is an elderly woman on medication and has yet to be charged or to see a judge in accordance with the 48 hour rule under the 1987 Haitian Constitution. This is an urgent call to action. Please contact the State Department, Defense Secretary Colin Powell, your local congressperson and representatives, the Congressional Black Caucus and media, to denounce the arrest of Sò Anne; the systematic terror campaign against Lavalas demonstrators, and the treatment of Haitians, like Sò Anne, and especially her 5-year old grandson, Shashou, by U.S. command with the Multinational Interim Force in Haiti.
Marguerite Laurent, JD, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (dedicated to protecting the civil, human and cultural rights of Haitians at home and abroad) May 10, 2004 http://www.margueritelaurent.com/campaigns/campaigns.html
"Men anpil chaj pa lou" is Kreyol for - "Many hands make light a heavy load."
See, The Haitian Leadership Networks' 7 "men anpil chaj pa lou" campaigns to help restore Haiti's independence, the will of the mass electorate and the rule of law. See, http://www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/haitianlawyers.html ; http://www.margueritelaurent.com/pressclips/concerns.html