Popular Haitian Rapper Izolan, is a free man after being arrested Wednesday night at the Toussaint Louverture international Airport in Port-au-Prince by agents of the anti-drug trafficking branch of the Haitian National Police. News of the arrest went viral on Twitter and Instagram after lawyer and opposition leader Andre Michel alerted his followers.
La DCPJ vient de procéder illégalement à l’arrestation de Jean Léonard Tout Puissant( IZOLAN),un artiste populaire.Maitre Palvin Phizéma, un avocat du du Secteur Démocratique et Populaire,est en route pour la DCPJ.Le Secteur Démocratique et Populaire exige sa libération immédiate— Me. André Michel (@avokapepla) March 24, 2021″DCPJ has just illegally arrested Jean Leonard Tout Puissant (IZOLAN) a popular artist. Palvin Phizema, a lawyer who works for the Democratic and Popular sector (of opposition groups), is on his way to the DCPJ. The Democratic and Popular Sector demand his immediate release,” Michel tweeted.
VOA spoke to Phizema shortly after he arrived at the headquarters of the judiciary police, DCPJ. He told VOA he had not yet been allowed to see or speak with the rapper. It is still unclear why the rapper was arrested.
Popular Haitian American rapper Wyclef Jean, who has recorded several songs with Izolan, posted a video on his Instagram account condemning the arrest. .@wyclef on the news that pioneering rap Kreyol artist @izolanofficial was arrested today in #Haiti, (we’re still waiting info from @PNH_officiel ) calls for his immediate release. pic.twitter.com/JMHIlcNIEL— Jacqueline Charles (@Jacquiecharles) March 25, 2021
“I’m only going to say this once, this thing – I’m not going for it,” Wyclef said, speaking in a mixture of Haitian Creole and English. “I’m not going for it, we’re not going for it … Let Izolan go. Please let Izolan go.” The video has since been deleted from Wyclef’s Instagram account.
About 10 p.m., after being released from DCPJ custody, Izolan posted a black-and- white selfie on his Instagram account and thanked fans for their support.
“Thanks everybody for your support. DCPJ asked me to join them to respond to some questions. I didn’t panic because I know myself. I will always be who I am, nothing can change that,” Izolan posted in Creole.
The rapper told a local radio station he had been interrogated but did not elaborate. He would say only that he was not asked about his ties to Fantom 509, the renegade group of former and current police officers who have been blamed for a series of jailbreaks, looting, violence and the Monday hold-up at gunpoint of the Belize national team bus, shortly after they arrived in Haiti for a World Cup qualifier. The team was unharmed. The U.S. State Department has described the group as “criminals.” Earlier this week, the national police announced several arrest warrants for members of Fantom 509.
Lawyer Michel tweeted his thanks.
“Good News. IZOLAN has just been released. In the name of the Democratic and Popular Sector I would like to thank all the lawyers who went to the DCPJ to help IZOLAN,” he tweeted.
Bonne nouvelle. IZOLAN fenk Jwenn liberasyon li.Nan non Sektè Demokratik e Popilè a,Mwen Remèsye Tout Avoka( Mèt Palvin Phizéma, Arnel Rémy, Jules Frantz, Bellevue, Théophin) Ki te rive nan DCPJ nan Kad Dosye IZOLAN an.— Me. André Michel (@avokapepla) March 25, 2021Izolan says he is ready to talk to the police again if needed.
The rapper has been an outspoken critic of President Jovenel Moise’s governance and widespread insecurity. In an interview with VOA during a pro-democracy demonstration on February 21, Izolan said he has received threats due to his outspokenness.
“I’m one of the people who receives threats all the time because of my political views. That’s why I don’t bother anyone, and I don’t want anyone to bother me either. Everyone clearly sees that gangs rule this capital [Port-au-Prince],” he told VOA. He also had a message for Fantom 509. “Everyone knows the 509 policemen are not illegal, they are legal, they are working with the union (SPNH17) to claim their rights. They are unable to eat or sleep and they spend their days out in the streets,” he told VOA, adding that as an artist he considers the police to be heroes.
Our reporter ran into rapper @izolanofficial on the street during the protest against dictatorship and kidnapping in #Haiti. He expressed support for the 509 Policemen who are trying to unionize. 📹Matiado Vilme pic.twitter.com/BcxdoSz62w— Sandra Lemaire (@SandraDVOA) February 21, 2021
Izolan says he will participate in two days of protests on March 28 and March 29. The demonstrations, organized by Haitian civil society groups, aim to protest violence and demand respect for the constitution.Matiado Vilme in Port-au-Prince, Haiti contributed to this report