Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Half – Hour for Haiti : A Critical Moment for IJDH and Haiti’s Democracy

November 15, 2007


This Special Action Alert is from IJDH’s new development team, Monica Bernardo and RIMG_1773oss MacDonald, who are funded by a generous donor. IJDH’s director, Brian Concannon is out of commission right now – his wife Marcy gave birth to a baby boy, Evan Robert Concannon, just yesterday at 3:00 AM. So we feel this is an excellent opportunity for us to ask for your support to help keep Brian, Mario Joseph and the rest of IJDH and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) team fighting for justice and democracy for Haiti’s poor.

UPDATE: The need to support Haiti, IJDH and BAI is even greater now than ever.� For the last eighteen months Haiti has had a stable, elected government in place, which offers both opportunities and dangers. We have taken advantage of the opportunities to free political prisoners and help grassroots activists organize. Yet we cannot afford to ignore the dangers that persist. The first danger is complacency: while Haitians can now vote, organize and publicly criticize their government, most still cannot eat regularly, drink clean water or receive basic healthcare.

The second danger is a return to dictatorship: in its 200-year history, Haiti has suffered 33 coups d’�tat.

Any democracy is at its most fragile when in transition and Haiti is no exception. At this critical moment, Haiti is at the highest risk of relapsing into violence and civil strife. Without a functioning justice system fueling nonviolent social change, without a vibrant civil society championing democracy in Haiti, and without an informed, engaged solidarity movement abroad ensuring that powerful countries respect that democracy, coup number 34 is not a matter of IF but WHEN.

Even as the spotlight on Haiti fades, IJDH, the BAI and you, our supporters, will need to keep fighting to illuminate the less visible injustices and to challenge the complacencies that silently feed the next crisis.

We visited Haiti in September and learned what many Half-Hour-for Haiti participants already know: that IJDH and BAI are not just the last resort for many Haitians fighting injustice — they are the ONLY resort.

This was clearly evident on our first day in Haiti when the BAI office hosted a press conference by Haiti’s September 30 Foundation, whose leader, Lovinsky Pierre-AntoineFoundation30septemberconferenceofpress003 , had been kidnapped, a direct assault on civil society. If leaders like Lovinsky can be kidnapped with impunity, then others who dare to speak up are also at risk.� �Like many other grassroots group we support, the Foundation has little money, but with our help – space for the conference, legal representation and assistance disseminating the press release – they were able to get their message out through the Haitian press.
Later that day, the BAI and IJDH legal teams were working feverishly on the first case from Haiti to ever reach the Inter-American Court on Human Rights. The case centers on former political prisoner Yvon Neptune, but the BAI and IJDH are using it Prison to make a broader attack on illegal pre-trial detention (over 90% of the people in Haiti’s prisons have not been convicted of a crime) and miserable prison conditions. We expect a decision in that case within the next month.

These two examples are only from our first day in Haiti.� There isn’t time in this communication to tell you about the rest of our week.� There is time to tell you how clearly we heard from Haitians over and over that the work of IJDH and the BAI mean everything to Haiti’s poor and that your support is essential to keep them going.� We returned to the U.S. more committed than ever to do our part to support the truly unique transnational partnership of human rights attorneys dedicated to advocating for all the rights of Haiti’s poor.� We hope that you will join us in supporting IJDH and BAI’s important work: work that cannot go on without your immediate support.


IJDH needs your donations now to keep us all in the fight for Haiti’s constitutional democracy.� If we are to speak up for kidnapped political leaders, we need your financial support. If we are to advocate for Haitians’ human rights, then we need your support.� In fact, if all of us are to live the promise of a democratic community, then we must speak up today for Haiti: the first democratic nation resulting from a slave revolt, the poorest country in our hemisphere, and one of our nearest neighbors.

Please act now to support IJDH (and BAI who receives most of its funding from IJDH). You can click on the “donate now” panel using our link to PayPal , or the one on our site:� <> or send a check by mail (IJDH, PO Box 745, Joseph, OR, 97846) to send us a donation by December 15, 2007.� You can also contact the development team by email or by phone at 707-824-8515.� Please do consider a gift of $100 or more, but please know we are grateful for whatever you can afford, be it $5, $500, or $5,000.


Please join our “Families Give Together” campaign to honor the spirit of giving this holiday season. Perhaps in holidays past, you have received or given one too many ties at $65 each, another book at $26.95 that the local library loans out for free, another bottle of $75 cologne, or a dinner out costing twice your monthly gym dues.

In our “Families Give Together” campaign you coordinate your giving so that those who certainly have almost nothing can benefit. Give to IJDH and you give your loved ones a true gift: justice. It is a perfect fit, always in style, and your friend or relative will thank you. Don’t forget each gift is tax deductible to the maximum amount allowable by law.

Here’s what you do now.� Contact husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, parents, grown children, friends, and co-workers.� Tell them that in lieu of those books or ties or bottles of perfume or meals out, your gift to them is a tax-deductible contribution to IJDH.� Then tell them that the only item on your holiday “wish list” is a donation to IJDH. You may want to use our suggested email message, below, to enlist people’s participation in the Families and Friends Give Together Campaign.

Just think, if ten of your family or friends or colleagues each contribute $100, then together you will have put $1000 to work for the people of Haiti.
Here is a note you can send your friends and family or use as a guide for a personal conversation.� Please act now.


Dear (Monica),
As we approach the holidays, I am reminded of how valuable the spirit of giving has been to us in holidays seasons past.� Over the holidays we have sought to give joy and love through thoughtful presents.
In that spirit, I am writing to propose that this year, in lieu of the usual presents, you join me in giving to a most worthy nonprofit organization.� I am sending a donation of ($100) on your behalf to the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). In both the U.S. And Haiti, IJDH ( fights for the human rights of Haiti’s poor.
I hope you know that this gift is my way of honoring our shared belief in the value of unselfish giving in service to those who most need it.� I ask that you join me in this act of giving and that you encourage (your parents and brother) to do the same.
As always, I am grateful for the good fortune of being your (brother/friend/husband) and the corresponding good fortune of having the means to honor you with this holiday gift. I’ll call you to coordinate and answer any questions.

Contact IJDH

Institute for Justice & Democracy In Haiti
867 Boylston Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02116

Telephone: (857)-201-0991
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