Thursday, September 20, 2007
Vancouver, Canada– There is growing concern in Haiti and internationally about the disappearance on August 12 of one of Haiti’s best-known and respected advocates of human and social rights, Lovinsky Pierre Antoine.
Several days after the disappearance, the Haitian National Police confirmed that Pierre Antoine was kidnapped. There has been no communication with alleged kidnappers for weeks now. As the silence continues, his supporters are increasingly concerned that the disappearance is a political act by the Haitian elite and its foreign backers to silence Pierre Antoine.
“If his disappearance is political,” says Canada Haiti Action Network spokesperson Roger Annis, “the implications for democracy and political rights in Haiti are very disturbing.”
Lovinsky was working as an adviser to an August 5 to 18 human rights investigative delegation to Haiti when he was kidnapped. Annis was a member of the delegation. On August 15, Annis and one other member of the delegation visited the Canadian embassy in Port au Prince to plead with the embassy to issue a statement of concern about the kidnapping. The embassy refused, and it has made no statement to date.
Lovinsky Pierre Antoine is a leader of the September 30 Foundation in Haiti. It campaigns to win the release of the hundreds of political prisoners still detained from the time of the illegal, 2004-06 “interim government.” It also campaigns for the rights of the estimated 4,000 common prisoners, many of whom are imprisoned in violation of the country’s constitution and legal code. The Foundation issued a stark public challenge to the United Nations in late July at the time of the first visit to Haiti of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: help us build a country of prosperity, or you’re not welcome in Haiti.
“I and my colleagues in the Canada Haiti Action Network are concerned that the political space that opened up in Haiti following the February, 2006 presidential election would close if such kidnappings are not vigorously condemned and investigated,” says Annis.
“The violent overthrow of Haiti’s elected government in February, 2004 and the foreign military and police occupation that followed has produced an economic and social calamity. That’s what our delegation witnessed throughout the country. The Haitian people want an end to foreign intervention and they want their sovereign rights respected.”
“I appeal to Canadians of good conscience to communicate concerns about Lovinsky Pierre Antoine’s disappearance to the Canadian government and to the UN authorities in Haiti. I appeal to the media in this country to bring this story to greater public attention.”
For more information, phone the Canada Haiti Action Network in Vancouver at 778-858-5179. Roger Annis will speak at a public meeting in Vancouver on Thursday, September 27 and in Calgary on Tuesday, October 2. His reports from Haiti and his speaking schedule can be read at http://thac.ca/category/2007-delegation/rogers-blog/