Half Hour for Haiti Action Alert, March 8th 2007

Action Alert, March 8, 2007

For International Women's Day, KOLEKTIF FANMI PRIZONYE POLITIK (Political Prisoner's Family Collective) are asking for support in their appeals to President Preval.

This Week’s Action(Half Hour for Haiti.):

When we discuss political prisoners in Haiti, we usually just talk about the harm to the prisoners themselves, most of whom are men. The women from the Kolektif Fanmi Prizonye Politik (Political Prisoners’ Families’ Collective) remind us on International Women’s Day that political imprisonment also imposes a heavy punishment on the prisoners’ partners and children. Kolektif members are forced to struggle to keep their families alive and together without their partner’s financial contribution, their help raising the children and their company. In most cases, the partners also need to bring the prisoners food every day, and work for their release. In some cases, the family’s house and belongings were destroyed in the violence following the February 2004 coup d’etat. Some women have now carried this burden for three years.

The Kolektif has also taken advantage of International Women’s Day to remind Haiti’s President Préval of their burden. An English translation of their Kreyol letter is below. They’ve asked us to join our voices with theirs, to reinforce their message. Please write to President Préval urging him to take every possible step to return the political prisoners to their family. A sample letter is at the bottom, feel free to customize it. You may send yours directly to President Préval by regular mail, or to us by fax: (206) 350-7986 (a U.S. number) or email: avokahaiti@aol.com, and we will ensure that it is delivered.

KOLEKTIF FANMI PRIZONYE POLITIK

IMP. LAVAUD NO. 3, PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI

244-7987

Le 08 mars 2008

OPEN LETTER FOR PRESIDENT RENÉ PRÉVAL ON THE OCCASION OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY TO DEMAND JUSTICE AND REPARATIONS FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS AND THEIR FAMILIES

Your Excellency,

We would like to take advantage of the occasion of International Women’s Day to write this letter to inform you of the conditions under which the women married to political prisoners live today.

Since February 29, 2004, our children have not been able to go to school, we have not been able to pay rent, and we cannot eat. Many of us have had our houses burned, we sleep in the houses of others, our brothers, our sisters, etc. Even bringing our husbands food is done with great difficulty.

We would like to make you aware that today is a day of mourning for the wives of political prisoners. We are despised. We voted for all this to change, but instead it has become worse.

Why have we not been able to find justice up to the present? When we organize non-violent protests, the National Police use their clubs on us. Some of us have become incapacitated from these blows.

We hope that the living conditions of us, the wives of political prisoners and the poor women of popular neighborhoods are not the same in March 2008.

We salute you patriotically,

__________________________ _________________________

Mrs. Yvon Antoine, aka “Zap-Zap” Mrs. Fritz Paul

Coordinator Spokesperson

cc. His Excellency Jacques Edouard Alexis, Prime Minister

His Excellency René Magloire, Minister of Justice

Mr. Edmond Mulet, Special Representative of the UN Sectretary General in Haiti

Ambassador Dennis Modeste, OAS Mission to Haiti

Mr. Necker Dessables, Office for the Protection of Citizens

Mr. Thierry Faggart, Human Rights Section, MINUSTAH

Senator Antoine René Samson, Senate Human Rights Commission

Son Excellence René Préval
Président de la République d’ Haïti
Palais National
Port-au-Prince, Haïti

Your Excellency:

I am writing to join with the women of the Kolektif Fanmi Prizonye Politik in urging you to consider the tremendous impact that the holding of political prisoners has on the prisoners’ families. Many of the families have now endured over three years without their partners, their husbands and their fathers.

In many cases, the prisoner was the family’s main financial support. The families are forced to stay with friends and relatives, often moving from place to place. They often do not have enough to eat and cannot send their children to school.

I understand your position that your government will not improperly interfere with the justice system, even on behalf of those unjustly imprisoned. But there is much your government can do within its executive powers. Your prosecutors can inform the courts that they believe the cases are legally unjustified, and recommend that they be dismissed. Where the courts refuse to dismiss cases, the prosecutors can petition for immediate pre-trial release so the political prisoners can join their families, and the prosecutors can set a rapid trial date.

I appreciate the efforts your government has made towards freedom for several political prisoners arrested under the Interim Government of Haiti, including Annette Auguste, Yvon Neptune and Fr. Jean-Juste. Unfortunately, many more political prisoners remain behind bars, and many prisoners’ families continue to bear a heavy, unnecessary burden. Accordingly, I humbly request that you take all possible legal steps to end the persecution of the political prisoners in Haiti.

Sincerely, ________________________________________________________________

For more information about the Half-Hour for Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, or human rights in Haiti, see www.HaitiJustice.org. To receive Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alerts once per week, send an email to HalfHour4Haiti@ijdh.org.

People in Haiti recieve their principle support to endure the endless US-France-Canada Reign of Terror from the Haitian Diaspora, which collectively sent $1.6 billion to their families in Haiti in 2006, mostly from the United States:

These remittances sent by members of the 1.5 million-strong Haitian diaspora represent the equivalent of more than one-third of Haiti’s gross national product. Around $1.17 billion of the total was sent from the United States, which has large Haitian communities in Miami, Boston and New York.

The MIF based its estimate on information obtained through a survey conducted among Haitians who receive remittances. Other sources of money transfers to Haiti were Canada (about $230 million in 2006), France ($130 million), the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas (around $33 million each). Smaller amounts were sent from Martinique, Guyana and Spain.

The survey was coordinated by the Miami-based polling firm Bendixen & Associates, which has done work for the MIF in several Latin American and Caribbean countries as well as in the United States, Spain, Portugal and Japan. The door-to-door poll involved 1,724 Haitian adults and was conducted in Creole in November and December 2006. The survey’s margin of error is 2%.

About 1.1 million adults in Haiti receive remittances, typically 10 times a year, at an average of $150 at a time. About half the families that receive money from abroad have incomes of less than $500 a year.

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