Travels in Haiti with Father Jean-Juste

By BILL QUIGLEY

Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste just returned to St. Claire's Church after a morning in the police station. Fr. Jean-Juste was ordered to appear at the Police Judiciary at 10 this morning as a condition of his release from police custody on Friday afternoon. Fr. Jean-Juste had been falsely accused of entering Haiti, from Miami, with weapons, bombs and money for mercenaries. .Fr. Gerry told his packed church at services on Sunday that he did indeed have a powerful weapon to fight for human rights and democracy in Haiti ­ and held up his trademark rosary. The church roared their approval.

After waiting in a closed room without chairs or fan for over an hour and a half, Fr. Jean-Juste was finally advised that the police did not, after all, have any more questions for him about money or mercenaries or weapons. They told him they would get back in touch with him later if they wanted to see him.

An international outcry, including letters from Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D- CA) and many others, worked to secure his release from the police on Friday and apparently to stop this false prosecution. However, Fr. Jean-Juste must still appear in criminal court before Judge Peres-Paul on Wednesday, July 20, at 9:30 a.m., to answer questions about accusations that he was part of a plot to threaten the security of the state. The official paper ordering him to appear puts the date of the supposed plot as October 18, 2004 ­ when Fr. Gerry was already in jail. Masked police had arrested him while he was feeding hundreds of children. Three small children were wounded, that day, by gunshots from the police.

After forty-eight days in jail, Fr. Jean-Juste was released when the prosecution could present no evidence against him other than his repeated statements that he recognized only elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide as President. Fr. Jean-Juste refuses to recognize the unelected de facto government which, although it violates the Haitian constitution, currently maintains power

After leaving the police station, Fr. Jean-Juste stopped by the St. Claire summer camp. There, hundreds of young people - from tots to teens - were working on crafts, knitting, sewing, drawing. Each of the children is also fed a hot meal every day of the week. The volunteers and the children gathered around him and called out "Mon Pere!"

Fr. Jean-Juste said: "Haiti shall be free again. Thanks for all the help and prayers. This is not just about me but about Haiti's freedom. Free the political prisoners. Feed the hungry children. Return our elected President. Democracy shall come back."

Bill Quigley is a volunteer lawyer for Fr. Jean-Juste along with Mario Joseph of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. To contact Fr. Jean Juste call 509.405.3244. Quigley can be contacted at quigley@loyno.edu.

http://www.counterpunch.org/quigley07202005.html

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