By Joe Emersberger
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
December 13, 2007
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, a prominent Haitian human rights activist, disappeared on the evening of 12 August, 2007. He is co-founder of the Trant Septanm (�September 30�) Foundation, an organization originally formed to help the victims of the 1991 coup in Haiti.
For over a decade groups organized by Pierre-Antoine have provided medical and psychological assistance to the victims of violence in some of Haiti�s poorest slums. The groups he helped to found also assisted migrants deported from abroad to resettle in Haiti, and he played a leading role in the successful campaign to disband the Haitian army.
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine in Washington�DC (July, 2005)
Photograph D.R. 2007 Jeb Sprague
Trant Septanm has been a concerted voice in calling for the arrest of US-trained military men in the hemisphere, including the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.
Pierre-Antoine was abducted shortly after he had announced his intention to run as a Fanmi Lavalas candidate, the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in the upcoming round of parliamentary elections in Haiti.
As a leading human rights activist for the poor, he was outspoken in denouncing human rights abuses under the UN and US-backed dictatorship of Gerard Latortue, which governed for two years following the coup that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February of 2004.
Under the Latortue regime an estimated 4,000 political murders were perpetrated in the greater Port-au-Prince area alone (overwhelmingly of Lavalas activists and supporters) according to one scientific survey published in the Lancet medical journal.
Pierre-Antoine�s wife, Michele, says she has received no help from the Haitian government, and that she continues to call the Haitian police weekly, but that they don�t seem eager to help. According to Michele, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti told her that they didn�t have time to look for her husband.
In October 2005 at the first �International Tribunal on Haiti� that investigated the 2004 coup, Pierre-Antoine explained to an audience of hundreds in Washington how he had been arrested, assaulted and expelled from the country by authorities at the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince.
Since his kidnapping the U.S. and Canadian Embassies in Port-au-Prince have been totally silent. Soon after his kidnapping Canadian Embassy officials brushed off Canadian activists seeking assistance with Pierre-Antoine�s case.
But the kidnapping has rallied organizers in Haiti as well as solidarity activists abroad. In November, actor Danny Glover and other activists organized a 24-hour fast to call attention to Pierre Antoine�s disappearance. Conspicuously absent from the public campaign to keep Pierre Antoine�s case visible have been Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW). (See two previous articles by this author for detail on the very uninspiring track record of both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in Haiti.) Supporters in Haiti have held numerous demonstrations including in front of the Port-au-Prince National Palace.
A former member of Amnesty�s U.S. national board, Mike Levy, recently observed �I am disappointed that AI has failed to respond to Mr. Pierre-Antoine�s abduction. AI is clearly aware of his high profile as one of Haiti�s leading human rights activists and that he has received threats in the past in connection with his work.�
An AI official in the USA told the website HaitiAnalysis that only Amnesty�s UK office can issue a statement of concern about Lovinsky Pierre Antoine�s case. In early November Amnesty�s UK office said it was considering making a public statement about Pierre Antoine�s disappearance but the group has yet to issue any public statement.
Meanwhile, HRW, while having found time and energy over the past two years to defend Venezuelans from legal reprisals for participating in the coup d��tat that briefly ousted their country�s elected president Hugo Ch�vez in April of 2002, has had nothing to say about the disappearance of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.
(HRW spoke out forcibly against the Venezuelan government�s non-renewal of license for RCTV, a broadcaster that played a pivotal role in the 2002 coup which resulted in the deaths of numerous civilians and a brief overthrow of Venezuela�s elected government. RCTV continues to broadcast through cable and satellite, but not on public airwaves; HRW insisted that the Venezuelan government not prosecute Mar�a Corina Machado, a signatory to the infamous Carmona Decree, for using funds supplied by US government through NED to fund her political work.)
Numerous calls and emails to Human Rights Watch questioning their work in Haiti have gone unanswered.
HRW�s reports following the 2004 coup in Haiti were sparse as thousands of supporters of the ousted government were killed, raped, fired from jobs and thrown into jail and exile. A month after the coup HRW made no mention of the United States� role in the 2004 ouster, nor any distinction between Aristide�s elected government and the death squads that had invaded the country:
�U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell should press the interim Haitian government to pursue justice for abusive rebel leaders as well as members of the deposed government�
Joe Emersberger contributes to HaitiAnalysis.com and to The Narco News Bulletin. Read his last article, �The Council on Hemispheric Affairs Deserves an F for Article on Haiti.�
Emersberger adds: Interested readers can email AI�s Haiti Representative Gerardo Ducos at GDucos@amnesty.org and call the UK office at +44-20-74135500 to ask why they have not issued a statement in regards to the kidnapping of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.
They can contact HRW�s Americas Deputy Director, Daniel Wilkinson, at WilkinD@HRW.org and at HRW Washington DC office number 1-(202) 612-4321.
For more information also view the petition for the freedom of Pierre-Antoine Lovinsky and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.