|Sept. 18th San Francisco rally for Lovinsky|
Bay Area Indy Media [www.indybay.org]:
On Tuesday, September 18th, the Bay Area-based Haiti Action Committee held a rally in downtown San Francisco to call attention to the unresolved kidnapping of veteran Haitian human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.
East Bay drummers Ustadi, Tacuma, Rondo and Lanier kicked things off by playing West African percussion near the intersection of Market and Montgomery, a public transit hub in the city's financial district. Drums are the traditional lifeblood of political demonstrations in Haiti, and the music resonated for the many among those congregating who had witnessed Haitian protests first-hand. The drumming also emphasized the deep African roots of the Haitian people and their struggles against slavery and U.S.-backed colonialism.
MC Dave Welsh of the SF Labor Council, thanked the drummers and called Robert Roth to the microphone. Roth took part in a delegation to Haiti in late July that this reporter also joined in Port-au-Prince.
Roth, a San Francisco high school teacher and long-time HAC activist, explained, "It's been over a month since Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine has disappeared. He is a human rights worker, he's a psychologist, he's worked with victims of torture from the coup of 1991-1994. He's continued his human rights advocacy in Haiti during this recent coup in 2004, a coup organized and created by the United States government."
Roth continued, "When we were there in Haiti, we met with Lovinsky at his house, he talked to us about the current situation in Haiti and how the human rights violations continue against the people. He talked to us about political prisoners, and how they continue to be held in Haiti under the UN occupation, and how they continue to be held under the Preval government. We then went to a demonstration on the anniversary of the US occupation of Haiti, which took place in 1915… the US stayed until 1934. This was the anniversary of that occupation, and we went right in front of the UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince, to observe a protest of this occupation, which has not been for the people of Haiti, but has been for the rich of Haiti. It has not been for the poor, it has been for the elite, it has kept the elite in power and it is attempting to destroy democracy in Haiti. And Lovinsky was in the front of that demonstration, not only speaking directly to the UN, but then leading the demonstrators in a dance which was beautiful to watch."
Roth concluded, "I want to just say that he is a deep thinker, and he is a very, very important leader of the people's movement in Haiti. And he has disappeared for over a month, and that's a crime against the people of Haiti, it's a crime against anyone who believes in freedom and justice. It's a crime against anyone who believes in peace and dignity and human rights and all the things that we cherish. And so our hearts are with him wherever he is. And we will not give up. We will not give up our solidarity with Lovinsky. We will not give up hope for his safe return, we will not give up our demand that the authorities in Haiti account for his disappearance, and bring him safely back to his family, his people. And we don't see this as just about Lovinsky. It's about the people of Haiti, it's about the people of Iraq, it's about the people of Palestine, it's about the people of the Philippines, wherever people are fighting for justice. And so we take a moment here to honor him, and we take a moment to let people all over the world now that Lovinsky is with us, we're with him, and we'll continue to be out here until he returns home safely."
HAC co-founder Pierre Labossiere echoed that internationalist perspective in his comments about "this beautiful brother, psychologist, human rights worker, someone who's at the forefront of the movement for justice, for economic and social justice for the people of Haiti, and for people throughout the world." Labossiere described how when a member of the July delegation who was helping organize a Human Rights Tribunal on crimes committed during Katrina told Lovinsky of that New Orleans-based solidarity initiative, "Lovinsky said 'how do I support it? Let me sign up.' As a matter of fact he was supposed to attend the tribunal when he disappeared three weeks before, the actual tribunal took place. So Lovinsky is one of those brothers who care for people world-wide, he's just… not limited to Haiti. He sees the struggle for justice, and human rights, and equality as a world-wide struggle, and that people need to rally around from wherever you are from and link arms with each other, so we can have a world of peace, a world of justice, where human rights are respected."
Labossiere concluded that there was one message to deliver "to the US embassy in Haiti, to the Brazilian authorities, who are in charge of the UN mission in Haiti, to the Haitian authorities." That message: "we need them to exert all their influence – they are very powerful, very influential – with all sectors of Haitian society, from the very top politicians to the underworld, to demand one thing: that brother Lovinsky be returned to his family safely. We can do that, it's important, it's necessary that we do that."
A letter that local Dominican Sister Stella Goodpasture recently sent to the Brazilian government includes an important point about any investigation to gain the safe return of Lovinsky: "I must emphasize most emphatically that the Haiti Action Committee and other concerned friends and family of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine are NOT asking for the Brazilian mission in Port-au-Prince to crack down militarily as they have in the past. What we are asking for is that Brazilian officials express their concern through any and all channels that the kidnappers should negotiate with Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine's family and that Lovinsky needs to be released unharmed."
PLEASE CONTINUE TO CONTACT AUTHORITIES ON BEHALF OF LOVINSKY!
Contact the following offices of the Haitian government, the US embassy and the UN occupying powers. Express your concern that all efforts are being made to facilitate the safe return of Lovinsky.
Haitian Ministry of Justice
UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)
Or, Fax Office of General Secretary (New York) - 212-963-4879
United States Embassy
Tel: 011-509-223-4711, or 222-0200 or 0354
FAX: 011-209-223-1641 or 9038