Thank you to everyone who responded to last week’s alert to support labor leaders Ginette Apollon and Paul Loulou Chéry. Hundreds of people signed onto the petition, and neither activist has been harassed by police since.
It is hard to have a more direct link to life and death than this week’s alert. Political prisoner Yvon Neptune is on day 17 of a hunger strike (started April 17), and declining fast. Although he started to drink water over the weekend, Neptune is not eating, is emaciated and weak, and his internal organs are failing. He will not end the strike until the Interim Government of Haiti (IGH) drops the charges against him. Although the IGH has not brought Neptune before a judge in the 10 months of his incarceration, it refuses to drop the charges, preferring to send Neptune into involuntary exile.
Yvon Neptune will die within days unless he is freed, and the IGH will not free him. It has resisted calls, for months, from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, from the UN Security Council, from the CARICOM countries, human rights groups, religious leaders and ordinary citizens throughout the world, to either let Neptune go to trial or let him go free. Faced with Neptune’s imminent death, the IGH issued two press releases on Sunday, one asking the population to “set aside its passions,” the other confirming that Mr. Neptune “is and will remain available to the justice system for the pursuit of the investigation….” He has been available to the system for 10 months, during which he has survived assassination attempts, a kidnapping and a prison massacre, but has not been brought before a judge.
The IGH is in a position to persecute Neptune because wealthy governments, especially the U.S., France and Canada, put it there and continue to prop it up. We must insist that those governments use their leverage to free Yvon Neptune. They all will have Neptune’s blood on their hands- the U.S. did call for Neptune’s trial or release in July and December, but it continues to be the IGH’s principal patron, even arming its brutal police force despite an arms embargo. Canada officially denies there are any political prisoners in Haiti, and has given over $100,000 to NCHR-Haiti, an organization close to the IGH that has spearheaded Neptune’s persecution (causing its parent organization to disown it). France provides generous financial and diplomatic support to the regime.
If the U.S., France and Canada conditioned their continued support on the IGH obeying the Constitution and releasing Neptune, he would be released immediately. Please help save a life by emailing, calling or faxing the embassies of those countries in Haiti, to let them know two simple things: 1) you care about Yvon Neptune’s life, and 2) you will hold those governments responsible as accomplices in his death.
A sample letter and contact information is below, more information on Yvon Neptune and his legal status, as well as links to other campaigns supporting his release are available at www.ijdh.org.
Brian Concannon Jr.
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
Dear Mr. Ambassador:
I am writing to urge you to act immediately to effect the release of political prisoner Yvon Neptune. As you know, Mr. Neptune has been held illegally without a hearing for over ten months, when Haiti’s Constitution prohibits such detention for more than 48 hours. The Interim Government of Haiti’s (IGH) claim that it is leaving the case up to a justice system that has so far done nothing but persecute him is meritless.
If Mr. Neptune dies, responsibility for his death will extend beyond the IGH to the international patrons that enabled this persecution, including your government. Your government helped install the IGH and has continued to provide financial and diplomatic support, despite the fact that human rights groups, the UN and many governments admit that Neptune’s detention is illegal and/or constitutes political persecution.
Your country can avoid Mr. Neptune’s death, and complicity in this death, by announcing that it will withhold all support from the IGH unless it complies with the Haitian Constitution and international human rights standards by immediately freeing Yvon Neptune. Please act now.
U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, James B. Foley
United States Embassy
Telephones: 011-509-223-4711, or 222-0200 or 0354
Fax: 011-509-223-1641 or 9038
Email to Dana Banks, Human Rights Officer: BanksD@state.gov
Canadian Ambassador to Haiti, Claude Boucher
Embassy of Canada
Telephone: (509) 249-9000
Fax: (509) 249-9920
Ambassador of France in Haiti, M. Yves GAUDEUL
Embassy of France
51 place des Héros de l’Indépendance – BP 312
Telephone: (509) 222-0952
Fax : (509) 223 5675