Urgent help in ensuring the safe return of Haitian human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine
President of Haiti Rene Preval, and the Brazilian, Canadian & US High Commissions/Embassies/Consulates
Women of Color in the Global Womens Strike and Red Thread
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As you may know, Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, the internationally respected Haitian human rights activist who is well loved by his family and community, has been missing in Haiti since the evening of August 12. We are acutely aware of the suffering, hardship and heartbreak Lovinskys disappearance has meant for his family and other loved ones, as well as of the anger and suffering of the community from whose arms this gentle man and leading advocate for the poor has been snatched.
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine is a father, a husband, an uncle, a member of an extended family; a soft-spoken man of great compassion with a big heart and a sense of humor. He is also an extraordinary grassroots leader. Lovinsky, as he is generally known, is a co-founder of Fondayson Trant Septanm, an organization founded by family members and others concerned about the victims of the 1991 coup, the first against President Aristide; the organizations name is the date of that coup. Similar to the work of internationally renowned Mothers of the Disappeared in Central and South America, the September 30th Foundation for over a decade held weekly vigils demanding justice for victims of human rights violations and the release of political prisoners.
Additionally, Lovinsky was the co-founder of Fondsayon Kore Timoun Yo (Foundation for the Support of Children) for young street children in Port au Prince, FAM (Foyer pour Adolescentes Mиres), a center for teenage mothers, and Map Viv ("I Live"), a program designed to give medical and psychological aid to the victims of the 1991coup. His present community-based human rights organization Fondayson Trant Septnm grew out of the work of those earlier efforts. He is part of the Lavalas movement and a member of the Lavalas Party, and was a potential candidate for the Haitian Senate.
Lovinsky lived in Washington DC during the turmoil and violence that followed the removal of President Aristide in 2004. During that time he continued his work as an advocate for Haitis poverty-stricken majority, including gathering support of a wide network of organizations and individuals in the US, meeting with members of Congress, speaking at human rights forums in Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere in the US as well as in Brazil, Canada and Venezuela. A month after he returned to Haiti, Lovinsky was instrumental in bringing together a delegation that included journalists and others who hail from Guyana, Barbados and the United States to attend the May 2006 Inauguration of President Rene Preval.
Those of us who were part of that delegation were struck by the welcome Lovinsky received from grassroots Haitians as they greeted him publicly for the first time since his return. At a community-based event to mark the inauguration of President Preval, he was mobbed as a returning hero, a man who was clearly respected, loved and had been missed by the thousands who had gathered hopeful for a new day in Haiti. The mutual respect and love between him and other grassroots women and men was also evident in a later meeting with women from Cite Soleil most of whom were either former political prisoners or the mothers, wives and other relatives of political prisoners, many carrying photographs of their tortured children and husbands.
As the first Black republic, Haiti has always held a special place in the heart of those of us in the Caribbean region and to oppressed peoples throughout the world. Haiti led the way for the emancipation of those of us enslaved; provided refuge for Simon Bolivar, the liberator of Latin America, and sent troops to fight alongside Bolivar. The Haitian Revolution also opened the way for the Louisiana Purchase in the United States through its defeat of Napoleons forces.
But instead of being celebrated for these important achievements, the Haitian people have paid a heavy price for winning emancipation, a price which helps explain their present suffering and their having still to struggle for human and economic rights while doing the wrenching work of day-to-day survival in what has been named the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
We all owe a great debt to the Haitian people. Their spirited and principled determination, their refusal to bend to the powerful forces which have tried to keep them down, has been and continues to be an inspiration throughout the world but especially to those of us who defend human rights and dignity in the Caribbean region. Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine personifies the Haitian determination which has refused to submit despite all the odds. He has refused careerism and opportunism and continues to stand with the popular movement. He has earned the solidarity of the whole of the wider Caribbean Community and around the world who struggle for justice and freedom in our region. A man of Haiti, he is a part of us wherever we are and wherever there is injustice around the world.
We urge the Embassies of the United States and Brazil, as well as President of Haiti Rene Preval, to do all in your power, including making resources available to secure the safe return of a true freedom fighter: Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine. We ask that he be returned unharmed to his family, and to the community that loves and needs him.