United Nations forces have moved deposed and jailed Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, who launched a hunger strike three weeks ago to force the Haitian government to guarantee his safety, to a UN-run hospital in Port-au-Prince as a result of his deteriorating health.

Marguerite Laurent of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network told the World that she spoke with Neptune recently in the UN hospital and that he was alert but in critical condition. He told her in a voice barely above a whisper that he is going to continue his hunger strike until his safety is assured and he is brought to trial.

“He said that he wants to live in Haiti as a free man, and he is not going to continue living with his life threatened,” Laurent said.

On Feb. 19, Haitian police disguised as gunmen attacked the National Penitentiary where Neptune and another former minister, Jocelerme Privert, had been held. Former soldier Anel Belizaire admitted that he was given a gun by someone from the current, U.S.-backed, prime minister’s office and told to kill Neptune in the ensuing commotion, but said he refused to do so. Neptune said that this was the third recent attempt on his life.

Laurent also spoke to Privert, who remains at the National Penitentiary and who is also on a hunger strike. She reported that he is in better condition and has vowed to continue until the government assures his and Neptune’s safety.

Laurent stated that both Lavalas Party leaders expressed criticism of France, the U.S. and Canada for not helping them. They charged that these three countries — which played a prominent role in deposing the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and replacing it with the present unelected regime on Feb. 29, 2004 — have the power to order the current government to keep them safe and bring them to trial but have chosen not to do so.

Privert noted that when police arrested him on April 6, 2004, they transported him to jail in a car that had French diplomatic license plates. Neither men have been brought to trial since they were arrested.

tpelzer @ shaw.ca