October 16 , 2007
Update: Thanks to everyone who called over the last two weeks to support Debt Relief for Haiti. If you have not yet called, there�s still time (see our last alert). The mandate for MINUSTAH, the UN Peacekeeping mission in Haiti, was renewed Monday by the UN Security Council, for a year (see Reuters Article on the renewal, see our the UN in Haiti website section for more background on the mission). Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste may be getting closer to having his day in court: he had an appeals court hearing scheduled for November 6, but that was rescheduled to November 26. If you are interested in joining the international legal observer delegation for this hearing, contact us.
Coming Attractions: On October 25 and 26, Project Censored at California�s Sonoma State University will hold its annual Media Accountability Conference. Among the people to be honored at the event are Kevin Pina of the Haiti Information Project, Jeb Sprague of HaitiAnalysis.com, and grassroots Haitian Journalist Wadner Pierre. All three made important contributions to covering attacks by UN troops on civilians in Haiti, which made the list of top censored stories of the past year.
More debt relief events: In Portland, Oregon, on October 18, IJDH will participate in a panel Responding to Haiti’s Unjust Debt With Jubilee Justice, as part of the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon�s ��Interfaith Conference on Poverty.� At the other end of the country, Miami Florida will host Overcoming a History of Debt Injustice in Haiti and Africa on October 29.
This week�s alert: Last Friday was the two-month anniversary of the abduction of Haitian human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine. Lovinsky has been one of Haiti�s most persistent and effective human rights activists in Haiti for almost 20 years. He founded several organizations, including the September 30th Foundation, which has maintained weekly vigils for justice in Haiti for over a decade, through hurricanes, coup d��tats and economic privation. For more information about Lovinsky, his disappearance, and taking action to save Lovinsky’s life, see our website, www.HaitiJustice.org.
When Lovinsky was kidnapped on August 12, many U.S.-based activists (including us) worked quietly rather than publicly, in order to avoid interfering with negotiations with the kidnappers. But there have been no negotiations for eight weeks, and the quiet advocacy is not working, so there�s a general consensus that we need to go public to save Lovinsky�s life.
The public momentum for Lovinsky has been building. The September 30th Foundation keeps taking to the streets in Haiti; they�ve been joined by demonstrations in London, San Francisco and New York, a petition drive from Los Angeles, and calls to Haiti and foreign governments from Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Several members of the U.S. Congress have urged the U.S. and Haitian governments to make saving Lovinsky�s life a priority.
There are lots of reasons for all of us to take action to help save Lovinsky. He is a husband, father, brother, son, colleague, inspiration and a friend to many. He is irreplaceable as an activist: no one has organized more demonstrations in Haiti over the last decade; no one has so effectively kept justice issues on the national radar screen. His disappearance has a ripple effect: as long as Lovinsky is missing, other activists will have good reason to fear for their safety if they speak out.
But perhaps the best reason for taking action to save Lovinsky is the fact that if another activist had been kidnapped- another of our friends, colleagues or relatives- Lovinsky would organize tirelessly until they were released. He would plan demonstrations, call press conferences and apply pressure wherever he could, as long as necessary to save the activist�s life.
We are recommending two activities, one easy, the other very easy, to help save Lovinsky�s life. Please do both if you can, but at least do one:
First, sign the Petition to Save Lovinsky issued� by Global Women’s Strike. The petition has 1017 signatures already, but it needs hundreds of more to maximize its impact. Signing takes less than three minutes.
Second, send a letter to Haiti�s President Ren� Rene Pr�val, urging him to ensure that his government does everything it can to investigate Lovinsky�s disappearance and ensure his safe return. A sample letter is below, please customize and personalize it if you can. You may send your letter directly to President Pr�val by regular mail (.69 postage in US, $1.55 in Canada), or to us by fax: (206) 350-7986 (a U.S. number) or email: email@example.com, and we will ensure that they are delivered.
October __, 2007
His Excellency Ren� Pr�val
President of the Republic of Haiti
Re: Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine�s Disappearance
I am writing because I am extremely concerned about Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, the human rights activist kidnapped over two months ago. I sincerely request that you do everything in your power to ensure that your government takes every possible step to ensure Mr. Pierre-Antoine�s safe return to his family.
Mr. Pierre-Antoine is important to people all over the world who care about Haiti [Please personalize here: mention how Lovinsky has touched, inspired or educated you ]. His safe return is essential to show that Haitians can participate effectively and lawfully in Haiti�s democratic process, without fear.
I am concerned about reports from Mr. Pierre-Antoine�s organization, Fondasyon 30 Septanm, that the Haitian police are not zealously investigating this case. Please demand that everyone working for your government- from the Ministry of Justice to police leadership to investigators- immediately take every possible lawful step to investigate Mr. Pierre-Antoine�s disappearance, pursue the perpetrators and return Mr. Pierre-Antoine safely.