Monday, November 13, 2006

Haiti Update: New Blog, Quigley on Jean Juste...

For almost a year my primary focus as a blogging journalist was the situation in Haiti since the February 2004 coup that chased President Jean Bertrand Aristide from the island (by armed US-Americans working for the embassy).

Well, Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti now has his own blog, which features a call to support Haitian priest Gerard Jean Juste by Bill Quigley, a Loyola, New Orleans law professor and amazing human being.

Jean-Juste was one of many prominent supporters of Haitian poor who were beaten and jailed after the coup on falsified charges. He, like many others, was considered a "prisoner of conscience" (or political prisoner) by Amnesty International. There was never any evidence against Jean Juste, (he was out of the country when the murder he was accused of committing occurred, and the murder victim was a family friend). People have speculated that his arrest was a preemptive move to keep Jean Juste, a popular political leader, from running for president against the coup supporters.

The coup government was voted out of power in favor of Lavalas movement candidate Rene Preval anyway, but many prisoners remain incarcerated. While Jean Juste was freed temporarily to seek cancer treatment in Miami (after an international campaign to prevent him from dying in prison), he is on his way back to Haiti currently, where he could still potentially face the bogus murder charges.

The letter from Bill Quigley begins as follows:
Friends of Pere Jean-Juste:

It is time again to ask for your support for Pere Jean-Juste.

Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste has completed a series of chemotherapy treatments in Miami and is hoping that he will receive permission from his doctors to return to Haiti in the next couple of weeks. When he returns to Haiti, Fr. Jean-Juste still faces pending criminal charges and the possibility of being returned to prison. Fr. Jean-Juste is prepared for whatever the government does when he returns.

However, there is another problem. It is with the Church.

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