For Immediate Release:
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Haitian Human Rights Activist and His Family in Grave Danger, Says Amnesty International
(New York) — The lives of Haitian human rights activist Wilson Mesilien and his family are in grave danger, and the Haitian government must protect them, Amnesty International said today.
On December 19, a man posing as a journalist went to the Mesilien family home, seeking to confirm a supposed report that Mesilien had been kidnapped. Fearing for their lives, Mesilien, his wife and four children fled and have been in hiding since. Mesilien is coordinator of the September 30th Foundation; his predecessor Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine was kidnapped in August.
Mesilien has said that Haitian authorities have not heeded Amnesty International’s repeated requests to provide him with protection. He has been running the September 30th Foundation, an organization which has worked to defend the rights of victims of the 1991-1994 military coup, since Pierre-Antoine was kidnapped.
“Haitian authorities have an obligation to protect their own citizens,” said Barbara Joe, a Haiti specialist with Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). “The threats against Mesilien and the disappearance of Pierre-Antoine will have an intimidating effect on civil society in Haiti unless the crimes are investigated thoroughly and those responsible for them are brought to justice.”
The Haitian Embassy in Washington says it has received more than 500 letters of concern about the activists. Amnesty International members across the world are appealing to Haitian authorities to protect Mesilien and redouble efforts to find Pierre-Antoine.
Days before he was kidnapped, Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine had announced his intention to run for election as a senator for the Fanmi Lavalas party. He is feared to have been abducted by people connected with the army disbanded by President Aristide in 1995 because he was publicizing human rights violations committed during the 1991-1994 military government and gathering signatures on a petition calling for a change to the Constitution that would eliminate all provisions for the existence of a Haitian army. Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine’s whereabouts are still unknown.
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