[News] Haiti - Update on Fr. Jean-Juste | Maxine Waters

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Wed Aug 24 08:45:31 EDT 2005

Haiti prisoner Father Jean-Juste denied medical treatment by coup government

Update on Fr. Jean-Juste medical condition by Bill Quigley:

Fr. Jean-Juste remains ill with injuries from his beating at the church and 
swelling on both sides of neck and under arms. Johanna Berrigan, a nurse 
practitioner from Philadelphia went to visit him today in Haiti with Bishop 
Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit. Johanna Berrigan was not allowed to bring in 
her medical equipment, nor to conduct a real examination of Fr. Jean-Juste. 
The US Embassy also went to visit Fr. Jean-Juste late last week with a 
physician, but was also denied the opportunity to perform a medical 
examination. Please keep the pressure on the US and Haitian governments to 
release Fr. Jean-Juste and all the political prisoners. This is the report 
of today's visit.

Report by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton and Johanna Berrigan of visit on 8.23.05
with Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste in Haitian National Penitentiary:

Bishop Tom Gumbleton and Johanna Berrigan were able to visit with Fr. Jean 
Juste for an hour today, Tuesday, August 23,2005. We met with him in the 
courtyard of the National Penitentiary. He remains in a small cell in 
isolation in a basement area. There is no light in his cell which leaves 
him in darkness. There is only one small light outside the cell. There is 
no room to lie down, it is dirty and the smell is very bad. He had much to 
share with us. He has not been allowed to have any visitors.

Fr. Jean Juste is spiritually strong, but he is physically not well. He 
appears to have lost some weight. He is clearly in pain. He said " since 
the beating, I am suffering so much." He reports a lot of pain in his neck. 
He attributes this to the beating at the time of his arrest at the funeral. 
( See Bill Quigley's report of the beating and arrest). The swelling on 
both sides of his neck is very obvious. He is also swollen under his arms. 
He also suffered from some type of skin rash due to a chemical that the 
guards sprayed on him that seems to be getting better.

Fr. Jean-Juste shared with us the details of the accusations, harassment, 
and arrest. Although he was the victim of abuse at the funeral where he was 
beaten, he is the one prison rather than his attackers. He was taken to 
jail on the pretense that it was for his safety. 
<http://www.haitiaction.net/News/BQ/../HIP/8_23_5/8_23_5.html>He remains in 
prison on charges of " incendiary sermons" and "public clamor, " which 
accused him of the murder of Jaques Roches. Fr. Jean Juste was in Miami at 
the time of the murder.

He spent only minutes talking about his own condition, then he quickly 
proceeded to tell us of his concerns for the other prisoners. He said "the 
inhumanity is something unbelievable, I discovered many injustices." Fr. 
Jean-Juste shared with us that many have been arrested arbitrarily and on 
false accusations. He is very concerned for the deportees who he says are 
in a hopeless situation. They have been deported from the U. S., but they 
have no representation. He spoke of the horrible treatment of the prisoners 
who are mentally ill. They are receiving no treatment, just more abuse.

Fr. Jean-Juste told us many prisoners are planning a hunger strike to begin 
Thursday. The demands of the political prisoners and detainees are:

Freedom for all political prisoners.

Freedom for all of the deportees

Respect for the rights of prisoners based on the U. N. charter for human 

Stop the arbitrary arrests and indefinite detention of prisoners.

Allow all prisoners to have Religious services according to their faith 

Stop the beating and mistreatment of prisoners who are mentally ill.

Pere Jean-Juste shared a story of one of the prisoners who is mentally ill 
and being held naked under a very hot stairwell. Fr. Jean-Juste said: "It 
hurts me so much to see this, please hear our call to give justice to all."

Fr. Jean-Juste continues to be very determined to speak out against all of 
the injustice.

Fr. Jean-Juste stated that "the de facto government are the real criminals 
as they are violating article 21 of the Haitian Constitution. Instead of 
reform of justice in the penitentiary system, the de facto government is 
abusing their power. There is no due process. Government officials are 
using state power to crush innocent citizens. The weaker you are, the 
longer you stay. They forget you. They don't even know your name. We are 
not protected at all. Anybody in power can point a finger at you and you 

"This government should go and the legitimate government should be restored 
to power. All political prisoners should be released, there should be 
respect for the human rights of all. I have hope in fighting the system, I 
may at some point be released - for the other prisoners, forget it."

Finally, he said "Thanks to all of you who are working for my release. I 
was so happy when I heard about the many letters that are pouring in and 
about the letter signed by the Congress people. I was so happy and that is 
what keeps me going. " He thanked us for the visit, by the end of the visit 
he was smiling and said "It feels so good for my soul to be out of the 
dungeon even for a little while."

We ended our visit in a circle of prayer where Fr. Jean Juste thanked God 
for all of us who are working and helping him in doing God's work of peace 
and justice.

Letters and faxes calling for Fr. Jean-Juste's freedom are still coming in 
for delivery to Haiti.


US Ambassador to Haiti
c/o Professor Bill Quigley Loyola University School of Law
7214 St. Charles Avenue, Box 902
New Orleans, LA 70118

Dear Ambassador: Please do everything in your power to persuade the 
unelected Haiti government to release Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste from the 
Haitian National Prison. Fr. Jean-Juste does not even have any written 
charges against him and has already spent more than a month in prison. Fr. 
Jean-Juste has been identified as a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty 
International, Human Rights First and many other human rights 
organizations. I know the US can help out. Please help as soon as possible.


Your name

mail or fax 504.861.5440.



For Immediate 
Release                                           Contact:  Mikael Moore

August 23, 2005                                                 (202) 225-2201


         Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-35) released a 
statement in response to Ambassador James B. Foley's comments regarding the 
interim government of Haiti.  The Congresswoman's statement follows:

                     I commend Ambassador James B. Foley for taking a 
courageous stand in support of justice and the rule of law in Haiti prior 
to his final departure as the United States Ambassador to that tormented 
nation.  Ambassador Foley said the interim government of Haiti tarnished 
the country's image by releasing convicted killer and death squad leader 
Louis-Jodel Chamblain from prison while continuing to detain former Prime 
Minister Yvon Neptune.
                     Time and time again, I have decried the incompetence 
of the interim government of Haiti, which continues to be supported by the 
Bush Administration.  Kidnappings, murder and other crimes have become 
widespread in Haiti since the interim government came to power a 
year-and-a-half ago.  Roads and infrastructure have fallen into disrepair, 
and public services have virtually disappeared.  The interim government has 
done nothing to stem the growing violence in the country, and it has done 
nothing to make millions of dollars in promised aid from international 
donors available to the Haitian people.  Just about the only thing the 
interim government has done is jail hundreds of political prisoners.

                     Yvon Neptune is one of these political prisoners.  He 
served as Haiti's prime minister prior to the February 2004 coup d'etat, 
and he is now the most prominent member of Lavalas, the largest political 
party in Haiti.  The interim government arrested him over a year ago 
without charges and continues to detain him without a trial.  Twenty-eight 
Members of Congress called for his release in letters sent to President 
Bush last May.

                     Another one of these political prisoners is Father 
Gerard Jean-Juste, a widely-respected Catholic priest.  Prior to his arrest 
last month, Father Jean-Juste operated a soup kitchen for hungry children, 
one of the few social services available in a country whose government has 
abdicated its responsibilities.  Amnesty International declared him a 
prisoner of conscience, and twenty-nine Members of Congress signed a letter 
calling for his release.  Other prominent political prisoners in Haiti 
include former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert and Haitian singer Anne 
Auguste, both of whom have been detained without a trial for over fifteen 

                     There is a growing consensus that there can be no free 
and fair elections in Haiti under the violent conditions that exist 
today.  Nevertheless, the interim government is determined to hold 
elections in November of this year, despite rampant violence and the 
continuing imprisonment of Lavalas party leaders.  Under these 
circumstances, it is hard to believe that the Haitian people would ever 
accept the results of the elections.  Suspicion is already widespread that 
the interim government's real motive in keeping Prime Minister Neptune and 
Father Jean-Juste behind bars is to prevent them from running for office.

                     The interim government's decision to let death squad 
leader Louis-Jodel Chamblain out of prison must be seen in light of the 
upcoming elections.  Chamblain's history of organizing violence against 
political activists is enough to make any potential candidate afraid to run 
for office.  Setting him free three months before the elections could 
possibly further endanger potential Lavalas candidates and lead to 
incidents like the 1994 Raboteau massacre, a brutal massacre in a 
low-income neighborhood, for which Chamblain was later convicted.

                     We may never know why James B. Foley left his post as 
the Ambassador to Haiti. We may hope he decided that he could not in good 
conscience continue to stand by while the interim government imprisons 
potential candidates and allows violent criminals to control the 
countryside.  Perhaps he grew tired of operating an embassy with a skeleton 
staff after other personnel returned to the United States to escape the 
escalating violence.

                     What we do know is that there can never be free and 
fair elections in Haiti as long as thugs and killers are allowed to roam 
free and innocent priests and politicians remain behind bars.

The Freedom Archives
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