Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune on hunger strike rushed to hospital in critical condition
March 11, 2005
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Haiti's Prime Minister Yvon Neptune rushed to hospital in critical condition

Yvon Neptune, Haiti’s prime minister under President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, on a hunger strike since Feb. 20, has fallen into critical condition and was rushed to a hospital by U.N. soldiers Thursday evening, according to sources in Port-au-Prince. Neptune and Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert have been refusing food to protest their illegal detention as well as the imprisonment of hundreds of Aristide supporters who have not been charged with any crime.

Prime Minister Neptune was taken to the MINUSTAH hospital — run by the UN Argentinian soldiers — across the highway from the main airport. He was not forced to leave against his will, but was occasionally unconscious.

“It has been a crime for people to express their solidarity with President Aristide in Haiti since the coup d’état against President Aristide Feb. 29,” said Pierre Labossiere, a founding member of the Haiti Action Committee. “It’s a crime punishable by summary execution in thousands of cases. Those who aren’t killed are put in jail just for expressing their support for Lavalas [Aristide’s party], even wearing Aristide t-shirts in peaceful demonstrations. This is the situation that has kept Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, Minister of the Interior Jocelerme Privert, folk singer Annette Auguste (So Anne) jailed in miserable conditions.

“The prime minister and other political prisoners were facing the prospect of being killed in jail – several unsuccessful attempts against the prime minister’s life had been reported. It was these intolerable conditions that brought the Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and the Minister of the Interior Jocelerme Privert to start a hunger strike. The Gérard Latortue government, in partnership with the U.N. and the governments of Canada, France and the United States, bear the ultimate responsibility for the human tragedy that has befallen Haiti since the kidnapping of the popular, democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.”

Visited in his jail cell on Monday by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, Neptune refused to quit the hunger strike, telling the congresswoman he would not break his fast until the unjust circumstances of his arrest were addressed.

In a press release after the visit, the congresswoman reported: “The conditions that I observed in the prison where Prime Minister Neptune is being held were deplorable. Prime Minister Neptune was weak and could only speak in a whispering voice. He insisted that he had been jailed without justification and that he had committed no crime. He has not been allowed to go before a judge to challenge his confinement as required under the constitution of Haiti, and he believes he has been targeted to be killed.”

She continued: “I urge the interim government of Haiti to set Prime Minister Neptune free and release all political prisoners in Haitian prisons. The interim government’s repression of dissenters like Prime Minister Neptune must end immediately. The whole world is watching.”

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