U.S. Marines arrest Haitian singer and activist So Anne on Mothers Day
- U.S. Marines arrest Haitian singer and activist So Anne on Mother's
by Marguerite Laurent
United States Marines arrested Anne Auguste, a
prominent Haitian singer and humanitarian activist
known popularly as So Anne, on Sunday, Mother's Day. A
sizeable contingent of marines entered by blowing up
her gate with grenades and then ransacked her home in
Port-Au-Prince, where she was recuperating from
surgery. They detained 11 friends and family, who were
handcuffed and taken away, including two young
children, ages 5 and 12. The Marines are holding So
Her life dedicated to the Lavalas Movement for
democracy and development in Haiti, So Anne's house is
a meeting ground, as is the Haitian custom, for people
to come and eat, gather, and share news and
solidarity. The Haitian Constitution guarantees
Haitian citizens the right not to be arrested or
terrorized without due cause, and it prohibits arrests
between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. at night.
Nevertheless, at midnight, all the people in So Anne's
house, including her 5-year-old great grandson,
Shashou, were forced to the ground and handcuffed by
U.S. Marines armed with heavy artillery - a 5-year-old
Haitian child, handcuffed by the world's most powerful
soldiers at midnight in his own grandmother's home!
The children's pet dogs were shot to death for barking
at the Marines.
All 11 people at So Anne's house were transported to
the U.S. barracks at the Medical University the U.S.
shut down upon arriving in Haiti, a country without
doctors, and interrogated. None was charged. No
apologies were given. All were released, except that
Lavalas militant So Anne, after having been
interrogated all night, was then delivered to the
Haitian National Penitentiary. No charges have been
Other Haitian popular organizational leaders,
currently in hiding for fear of similar U.S.
reprisals, suspect this arrest is a pretext to prevent
So Anne from taking part in a demonstration demanding
the return of the rule of law and President Aristide
planned for May 18, Haiti's Flag Day. This is the sort
of "law and order" and "democracy" Haitians are
subjected to after their constitutionally-elected
president was, himself, forced out of Haiti by U.S.
and French soldiers at gunpoint.
At a press briefing on Monday, Col. David Lapan,
public affairs officer for the Multinational Interim
Force reportedly said, when asked why such force was
used to make this arrest, that in operations of this
type it is necessary to use violence in order to show
that the MIF means business. Lapan clearly implied
that Haiti is under U.S. martial law, while U.S.
Ambassador Foley controls every word that comes out of
the mouth of U.S. puppet Gerard Latortue, the man
appointed to "replace" Aristide.
The U.S. admitted, through Col. Lapan at the press
conference, that there was no evidence of any weapons
at So Anne's house. Thus, the use of such excessive
force and the hour of the operation is clearly a
blatant violation of the Haitian Constitution, Haitian
sovereignty and international treaties, and OAS and UN
Moreover, in the context of the U.S. citizenry's
current concerns over treatment of people in U.S.
custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, this
excessive force and terrorizing of Haitian civilians,
who were then not accused of any crime, is especially
More than 3,000 Haitians, mostly young Haitian men
associated or rumored to be associated with the
Lavalas Movement, have been killed in Haiti since the
U.S. deposed President Aristide on Feb. 29. In a bare
two months, this bloodbath and killing of 3,000
Haitians represents more than half the number of
Haitians who were killed during the entire three years
of the first coup d'état from 1991 to 1994. Yet the
reason given by Secretary of State Colin Powell for
forcing out President Aristide and bringing in the MIF
was "to avoid a bloodbath."
As of April 26, the Bush administration's illegal
interdiction policy towards Haitian asylum seekers has
resulted in Washington returning 1,948 Haitians to
Haiti in 2004, already an increase, according to the
U.S. Coast Guard, over the 1,490 intercepted at sea
for the entire year in 2003. And yet, the State
Department's propaganda to destabilize the
constitutional government had promised the Haitian
people a better human rights record than that of the
previous two Lavalas voted-in governments.
So Ann is an elderly woman on medication and has yet
to be charged or to see a judge in accordance with the
48-hour rule under the Haitian Constitution. This is
an urgent call to action. Please contact Secretary of
State Colin Powell, your local congressperson, the
Congressional Black Caucus and the media to denounce
the arrest of So Anne, the systematic terror campaign
against Lavalas demonstrators, and the treatment of
Haitians like So Anne and her 5-year-old great
grandson Shashou by the U.S. command with the
Multinational Interim Force in Haiti.
Demand So Anne's immediate release
What is So Anne's "crime?" Organizing nutritional
programs, serving food to the homeless, presenting
cultural programs, and supporting Lavalas - along with
the majority of the Haitian people - to name a few.
Thousands of Haitians have already been killed since
the coup d'etat on Feb. 29 for similar "crimes."
Thousands more are in hiding. We must fight back on
Protest this illegal and immoral action by the United
States Marines! Demand So Anne's immediate release!
Your calls, faxes and e-mails will make a difference
to keep So Anne alive, to deter brutal treatment and
to expedite her release.
Please contact Ambassador James Foley directly at the
U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince; call (509) 223-7011 or
(509) 222-0200, fax (509) 223-9665, email
acspap@ state.gov or visit http://usembassy.state.gov
And contact Secretary of State Colin Powell at the
U.S. State Department in Washington; call (202)
647-5291 or (202) 647-7098, fax (202) 647-2283 or
(202) 647-5169, or email via