Why was SÚ Anne Imprisoned for 27 Months?
By Richard Sanders, editor,
Press for Conversion!
(See also "Mysterious Case of Haitiís Disappeared Political Prisoners" and "Prime Minister Yvon Neptune: CIDAís Top Political Prisoner")
On Mothersí Day in May 2004ótwo months after the coup that ousted her friend President AristideóAnnette Auguste, widely known as "SÚ Anne" (Sister Anne), was recuperating from surgery. In "the middle of the night...a squadron of around twenty U.S. Marines in full combat gear"1 "used a plastic explosive grenade to blow off the lock on SÚ Anneís gate, decapitating her barking dog."2 After firing shots,3 American troops "ransacked the house"4 looking for weapons. Although there were no weapons to be found and they had no "judicial warrant,"5 they arrested SÚ Anne and ten family members.
Among those taken away were her "five-year-old grandson and four other children, aged 9, 12 and 15, [who] were handcuffed."6 Other family members had "black plastic bags put over their heads."7 SÚ Anne later recounted that this "brutal invasion caused a 12 year old to jump from a balcony onto a rooftop nearby resulting in a serious leg injury."8
All were taken to the university campus of the Aristide Foundation for Democracy for interrogation.9 (The university had been illegally expropriated by the U.S.-led Multinational Interim Forces, which included 550 Canadian troops.10)
SÚ Anne remained in custody for more than 27 months, the entire period of the Canadian-backed coup regime. Why? During her illegal detention, coup-regime authorities changed their excuses in a "bewildering series of shifting charges, none of them legally documented."11
For Arming Terrorists?
At first, U.S. authorities fabricated the notion that SÚ Anne was arming violent gangs of Aristide terrorists, known as chimŤre. (See "Epithets without Borders" and "What does ChimŤre Really Mean?.") In a statement from jail, SÚ Anne later said she had been arrested
"under the pretext that there were assault weapons in my house.... American military authorities said that I represented a threat to them, that I was part of a plot to attack them in collusion with Muslims from a mosque in my neighborhood."12
Haitiís corporate media supported these allegations, saying she "controlled violent factions associated with the Aristide government." Radio Metropole, one of several elitist Group-of-184 member stations supported by a CIDA-funded project run by Quebec-based Reseau Libertť and Alternatives,13 accused her of
"organizing a clandestine operation aimed at launching armed assaults against U.S. military personnel in Haiti. As per usual with the elite-controlled media, no corroboration or factual evidence was ever given to back up these claims."14
For "incitement to violence"?
SÚ Anne was later "held on suspicion of Ďincitement to violenceí"15 in relation to the pretext incident known as "Black Friday." (See "Creating the Necessary Pretext Incident ," "Video Evidence Reveals True Culprits" and "CIDA-funded Propaganda about 'Black Friday'.") As she said in an interview while in jail:
"Government prosecutor, Daniel Audain, started criminal prosecution against me because the organization NCHR [National Coalition for Haitian Rights] stated that I was among the people who on December 5, 2003, beat up the rector of the State University."16
However within a few days, a judge wisely
"recognized that there was no evidence to back up this accusation either, but the governmentís prosecutor justified her detention with the explanation that Ďmore charges were coming.í"17
Although no witnesses or evidence ever materialized showing that SÚ Anne was present at the university that day, the spurious charges levelled by NCHR were enough for Haitiís CIDA-funded Department of Justice to keep her in jail.
NCHR was one of the most prominent foreign-backed Haitian "NGOs" helping to destabilize Aristideís elected government. Within days of the 2004 coup, NCHR received $100,000 from CIDA, and then worked closely with the illegally-empowered regimeís prosecutor to fabricate charges against prominent Haitian activists and leaders. (See "NCHR-Haiti: A Prime Source of Canadian-funded Lies.")
Even after 20 months of incarceration, SÚ Anne had still "not been formally charged with a recognizable offence."18 At that time, Amnesty International stated that
"Annette Auguste is being held arbitrarily since the Haitian authorities have failed to produce any evidence to charge her and have failed to release her within the normal terms. Amnesty International believes that Annette Auguste is being detained solely for her political views."19
For a Vodoun Baby-Sacrifice?
When the coup regimeís "Black Friday" case was falling apart
"prosecutors changed tack again and accused her of the more eye-catching crime of child-sacrifice. This time the charge was based on testimony of a Ďfriendí who had left Haiti for a more comfortable life abroad, with help from [Haitian Justice] Minister Gousse. Her main piece of evidence was a HaiTel phone-number,...although the company itself didnít exist at the time."20
False accusations about this alleged Vodoun sacrifice were also made by Haitiís rabidly anti-Aristide media. SÚ Anne, whoólike most Haitiansóis a proud adherent of Vodoun (see "What is Vodoun?"), was said to have been the "voodoo priestess" who "bathed [Aristide] ...in the blood of a dead Haitian."21 Incredibly, this preposterous tall tale was actually taken seriously by Haitiís CIDA-funded "Department of Justice." (See "Witch hunt by the Enemies of Democracy," a section on p.8 of Demonizing Democracy: Christianity vs. Vodoun and the Politics of Religion in Haiti.")
When Haitiís brutal dictatorship was ousted by the 2006 election, SÚ Anne was finally freed. But NCHR-Haiti, which had furnished the initial rumours used as a pretext for her arrest, remained unrepentant and continued with impunity to libel SÚ Anne and others. It even criticised her release, saying the trial was a "farce." In an item called "The liberation of a series of presumed criminals," the organization blasted the elected government for not having
"succeeded in any effort it has undertaken in the fight against impunity. To the contrary, immediately after being installed, this government took it upon itself to liberate dangerous detainees without judgment."22
Despite all this, NCHR (now called RNDDH) is still highly regarded as a reputable source by CIDA and several recipients of its financial largesse in Canada. Following NCHR-Haitiís lead, Canadaís quasi-government agencies ostensibly dedicated to human rights, development and democracy in Haiti, were completely mum about SÚ Anneís entire ordeal.
Only two CIDA-funded groups ever made even passing reference to SÚ Anne on their websites. Both are Quebec-based Catholic organizations, namely Development and Peace (D&P) and Entraide Missionaire (EMI).
D&Pís brief mention of SÚ Anne said absolutely nothing of her mistreatment, the illegality of her arrest or prolonged detention, the multiple bogus charges or the absence of any evidence against her. It did however manage to disparagingly label her a "Lavalas Family militant."23 D&P also cast aspersions against her, and other well-known prisoners of the "interim government," by saying that
"most were strongly associated with the Aristide government and are believed to be implicated in violent crimes, even if this has never been proven by prosecutors in a dysfunc-
tional judicial system. It is difficult to classify most of these as non violent prisoners of conscience imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their beliefs."24
EMIís passing reference to SÚ Anne came in late 2006 when they announced that she and another "Lavalas militant" accused of participation in the infamous events of December 5, 2003, had been released from prison.25 (See "Black Friday.") EMIís readers may well have received the mistaken impression that SÚ Anne and other "militants" had served their jail time after having being found guilty. EMI neglected to mention that she and the other Lavalas activists were jailed for more than two years even though no evidence was ever presented against them.
The Real Reasons
To understand the real reasons for SÚ Anneís illegal incarceration it is useful to know that she is the leader of "a popular Lavalas organization," called Pouvwa Rasembleman Organizacion Popile.26 Moreover, SÚ Anne was "a key organizer for the upcoming Flag Day demonstrations against the coup and occupation,"27 held on May 18, 2004, a week after her arrest. That rally of 30,000 to 50,000 people demanded
"a stop to the slaughter of Lavalas voters, a stop to the witch hunt and arbitrary arrests and tortures, the return of President Aris-tide and the removal of the U.S. Marines, other foreign troops and the rebel, ex-soldier police ...terrorizing them."28
At least nine peaceful protesters were shot and killed at the protest by Haitiís police in the presence of U.S.-led international forces which actually shot at independent media who were filming the police atrocities.29
As explained by the Haiti Information Project, "whose reporters risk their lives daily to tell the truth about life in Haiti":
"Annette Auguste was active in supporting the Aristide government, and in helping to build Lavalasí base of support among the poor majority in Haiti. Many Lavalas activists see the attack against Ms. Auguste as a preemptive strike against their party by the Bush administration Ė a continuation of the destabilization campaign hatched in the U.S. State Department by Otto Reich and Roger Noriega, that eventually led to the forced departure of President Aristide."30
All this was of course no secret to SÚ Anne who described the "political justification" for her imprisonment from her jail cell, saying:
"I am in jail for no other reason than that I am perceived as a leader and member of Fanmi Lavalas. I am in jail because I was defending the vote the people of Haiti gave to Jean Bertrand Aristide in the elections of November 26, 2000."31
In another jail interview, SÚ Anne summed it up saying her arrest
"aimed at discouraging protest and dissent in Haiti. She points out that she was arrested in the days preceding the mass mobilization on May 18th, when the Latortue government unleashed a wave of repression designed to intimidate people from openly demonstrating support for President Aristide. So Anne stated,
ĎTheyíre doing this to me because I am an organizer and I stand with the people. They know that we can bring millions into the streets and they want to prevent us from doing that.í"32
1. Peter Hallward, Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment, 2008.
2. City-by-city Report, International Day of Solidarity with the Haitian People
3. Half-Hour for Haiti: Free Annette Auguste, "So Ann," January 17, 2006.
4. Emergency Action Alert: Demand the immediate release of Annette Auguste
5. Amnesty International, Release political prisoner Annette Auguste, January 10, 2006.
8. Sasha Kramer and Zoe Moskovitz, "The Politics of Injustice in Haiti," August 24, 2004.
9. Amnesty International, Op. cit.
10. Canada - Haiti Relations
11. Laura Flynn, Robert Roth, Leslie Fleming, "Report of the Haiti Accompaniment Project, June 29-July 9, 2004," p.1
12. Kramer and Moskovitz, Op. cit.
13. Richard Sanders, "Embedding CBC Reporters in Haitiís Elitist Media," Press for Conversion! May 2008, pp.26-33.
14. Haiti Information Project, "Haitians Seized, Abused by U.S. Marines," May 13, 2004.
15. Amnesty International, Op. cit.
16. Annette Auguste, "The Roots of Lies and Falsehood are Not Deep," Statement from Petionville Penitentiary, Haiti, July 18, 2004.
17. Hallward, Op. cit.
18. Amnesty International, Op. cit.
20. Hallward, Op. cit.
21. Yves A. Isidor, "Aristide, the man who turns to voodoo to put a curse on presumed enemies," January 21, 2001.
22. A Shadow Over the Rule of Law, June 2006 Ė June 2007, July 2007.
23. Background Paper on Haiti Addressing the Issue of the Departure of Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, March 2006.
25. BrŤve rťtrospective des ťvťnements survenus en HaÔti au cours des derniers mois, July-November 2006.
26. "Haitians Seized..." Op. cit.
27. City-by-city Report... Op. cit.
28. Marguerite Laurent, "At least 9 demonstrators killed during huge march on Haitiís Flag Day."
30. "Haitians Seized...," Op. cit.
31. Kramer and Moskovitz, Op. cit.
32. Flynn, Roth and Fleming, Op. cit.