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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 Anne)

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 of Haiti.

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.

Annette Auguste
Petion-Ville Penitentiary
Haiti

*******

Dear Friends,

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 see: http://haitiaction.net/News/hac5_11_4.html

For further background please see:
http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/5_12_4.html
http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/5_24_4.html

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