On 12 August 2007, I arrived in Port-au-Prince at about lunch time. My host was Rea Dol, a community organizer, member of Fanmi Lavalas, the political party mainly supported by the poor, and director of SOPUDEP School, which serves the poorest children of the city.
But that sunny August Sunday was not a good day for Rea and thousands of other Haitians. A car that belonged to human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine was found abandoned by the roadside not far from Rea’s home on the outskirts of the city. At that moment there was still hope, given that kidnappings are regular occurrences in Haiti. Although rumours abounded, phones were ringing as people mobilized to try to find out who had taken Lovinsky and where.
It’s been three years now since that fateful day. During this time, Port-au-Prince suffered the terrible earthquake earlier this year. Up until the earthquake, Lovinsky’s family and friends maintained a great deal of hope that he was still alive and would be released. Since the earthquake, however, hopes have been dashed and hardly anyone can even bring themselves to talk or think of Lovinsky.
So who is Lovinsky?
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine is an internationally recognized Haitian human rights activist, and also a father, a husband and member of an extended family. He is an active participant in Fanmi Lavalas and various human rights organizations such as Fondasyon Trant Septanm (30 September Foundation) which works with victims of the coups d’état of 1991 and 2004, Fondasyon Kore Timoun Yo (Foundation for the Support of Children), FAM (Foyer pour Adolescentes Mères) – a centre for teenage mothers), and Map Viv (‘I Live’), a programme which provides medical and psychological help to the victims of the 1991 coup.
Since Lovinsky’s disappearance, weekly vigils calling for his safe return have been held in London, Los Angeles and San Francisco. At one of the earlier vigils in San Francisco, Robert Roth, who had visited Lovinsky just a month before he disappeared, said this:
‘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 honour him, and we take a moment to let people all over the world know that Lovinsky is with us, we’re with him, and we’ll continue to be out here until he returns home safely.’
He never has. Lovinsky was declared invisible from the first day of his disappearance. Despite constant demands from Haitians and their friends for an investigation into his disappearance, none has ever taken place. Now it is highly unlikely that we will ever know what happened to Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.
The real wrongs of Haiti are never spoken about.
Photo: (top) Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, copyright Darren Ell
(middle) copyright Haonavy/Noah Darnell under a CC licence
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