|Annette Auguste, known
as Sò Anne (Sister Anne) to her millions of fans both in
Haiti and the U.S., is led to her arraignment May 13 while demonstrators
protest nearby demanding her release. Sò Anne, who returned
to Haiti in 1994 when President Aristide returned to office after
the first coup against him, had lived for over 20 years in New York
City. There she organized huge rallies urging Aristide's return,
once drawing an audience of 25,000 to a rally in Central Park.
Photo: ©2004 Haiti Information Project
STATEMENT FROM ANNETTE AUGUSTE (Sò
Pétionville Penitentiary, Haiti, 23 rd May 2004
I speak to the world today as a prisoner of conscience in Haiti, held
in detention for my political beliefs and convictions.
I was arrested on May 10th in Delmas, a suburb of the Haitian capital
of Port-au-Prince, by U.S. Marines who brutally assaulted my home in
the middle of the night with explosives and large arms, terrorizing
all within, especially the small children of my family. The only security
we had was our two small dogs which they killed immediately upon entering
the premises, after using explosives to blast open the front door of
our home. I can never forget nor forgive the trauma these men have caused
the youngest and most vulnerable of our household. Of the three teenagers
and young adults who escaped arrest that night by jumping over the balcony,
one suffered serious wounds that required urgent medical treatment.
I think none of us will ever be able to forget the inhuman treatment
we were subjected to in the course of this violent action undertaken
in the name of the Bush government for what he calls "building democracy"
in my homeland.
The real truth is that it is the American government who violently invaded
my home and arrested me and it is only they who hold the keys to my
jail cell. They are pretending to use the Haitian judicial system to
cover this fact. Yet it was only American soldiers who invaded my home,
without an arrest warrant, and forcibly took me away in chains while
the Haitian police sat passively in their cars outside.
The Bush government's Marines said that they undertook this violent
action against me and my family because I was planning to attack their
forces and undermine security and stability in my homeland.
How can they be so cynical when they know quite well it was they, along
with the French government, who undermined Haiti's stability by forcibly
removing our constitutional President on February 29, 2004? How can
they be so cynical when they know it is they who undermined our security
by training and unleashing the forces of the former military and death
squads in order to assist them in overthrowing our constitutional government?
It was only afterwards that the U.S. government manipulated their puppet
Latortue, the de facto Prime Minister, and the Haitian judicial system
to charge me falsely with organizing an attack against the so-called
"student opposition" on December 5th, 2003 during their "demonstration"
against the constitutional government of Aristide and Lavalas. I was
never involved nor had any knowledge of the events till after they took
place on that date. It is clear to me that such an accusation is only
a small act in this shameful theater.
The fact remains that it was the Bush administration and his military
forces in Haiti that arrested me and, once again, it is only they who
hold the keys to my jail cell and can give the order to free me. Even
if paying an unjust bribe to some corrupt Haitian official or paying
a fine ordered by the Haitian judicial system could secure my release,
it would still have to be approved at the highest political levels of
the Bush administration.
Throughout my imprisonment, the ceaseless campaign of repression and
assassination against the base of the Lavalas political party has continued.
Militants of our movement who are credible and well recognized leaders
in their neighborhoods are being assassinated by the new militarized
police force under the control and direction of the so-called MIF, which
is in reality being directed by the U.S. Marines. Leaders of our movement
are still being arrested and others forced into hiding in a concerted
effort to break the back of the Lavalas movement which still sees Jean-Bertrand
Aristide as the only legitimate and constitutionally elected President
While I have been forced to sit in this jail cell I have also seen the
cynicism of some within our party, brought about by this campaign of
repression, intimidation and assassination. I understand their fear
as I am myself a victim of this campaign whose purpose is to destroy
our hope and aspirations for building a Haiti where the poor are not
simple tools upon which to build dreams of personal empire and wealth.
I would remind all those who still consider themselves to represent
Lavalas and the poor majority of Haiti to remember the lesson of the
first occupation of our homeland by the Americans and our great martyr
Charlemagne Peralte. Peralte made his peace with the Americans in good
faith and disbanded his armed resistance against the occupation only
to fall victim to their lies and ill intentions: he was kidnapped and
assassinated. A similar fate threatens many Haitians today in Lavalas
who believe in our national sovereignty and justice.
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.
Sò Anne is a prisoner of conscience in Haiti arrested for her political
beliefs. Please distribute this generously and for more information
on how to help with the campaign to free this brave and dear soul please
For further background please see: