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Friday, January 28, 2005
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Event Type:
Press Conference
Margaret Trost
Location Details:

Berkeley Montessori School
1310 University Ave, Berkeley (near Acton St., at the former Santa Fe

Fr. Gérard Jean-Juste, celebrated Haitian humanitarian, personal friend and political ally of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was arrested while feeding hungry children at his Port-au-Prince church and released after seven weeks due to pressure from international church and human rights organizations and political leaders.

He will be in Berkeley Fri. Jan. 28 – Sun. Jan 30 and address the press:

11:00 – 11:10 School children present priest with funds collected for Fr. Jean-Juste’s feeding program.
11:10 – Fr. Jean-Juste updates press on the fragile political situation in Haiti since the U.S. forced democratically-elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide out of office Feb. 29, 2004; he will respond to questions.

Background: Excerpts from an interview with Fr. Jean Juste,Dec. 20, 2004:
(ON HIS DETENTION) I was arrested while I was feeding hundreds of children and young adults…. They told me that -- I saw them writing on the book – “arrested for disturbing the public peace.” But what was hurting me the most that day, why some of us in Haiti are trying to help the most desperate people, is…the repressive forces from the…de facto government came and shot at our people. Three children have been shot, one girl and two boys. … I think instead of brutalizing us, instead of arresting us arbitrarily, they could congratulate us for helping them, because I think that by feeding the people, by taking care of the children, by educating them, we are helping the government….

I went through the court system after a month staying in jail without
seeing a judge, and the judge looked at the file, and thought it was
frivolous. There was nothing. They said, “Hey, you have been accused of
plotting against the government.” I said, “What? Plotting against the
government?”…. There was no proof. At that time the judge said, “Hey, I have to order your release.” The judge did order my release, and then the commissioner, the one who is responsible for approving the judge's decision -- it is supposed to take five days -- he (waited) two weeks before accepting the reality that I should be free.

(ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN HAITI) The jails are too overcrowded. While I was at the main penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, there were over 1,200 -- that's a jail that's supposed to take 600 prisoners. That’s the reason why right now I’m appealing to the de facto government to make a humanitarian gesture. Too many people, too many youngsters have been arbitrarily arrested…. they are being forgotten in jail…

(ON THE COUP AGAINST ARISTIDE) I am really sad to see that so many right wing elements within the President Bush administration had participated in the coup d’état against President Aristide on February 29. Also for me having lived in the U.S. for many years where many of us in this country are calling for respect, for democracy… I think it's
really very sad to see that in Haiti, while we're trying to make a democracy to take place, [right wing U.S. elements are trying to destabilize the country.]

If we keep acting that way, every time we have an elected official, an elected president, and some other country may not like the president and decide to plot against the president, and get rid of him, so we are killing the democracy everywhere. Killing it in Haiti, it's been that you are killing the democracy in the United States of America…. Whatever you see take place in any corner of the world can be repeated in any other corner of the world.

(ON THE ROLE OF THE U.N.) That's another point. Where the U.N. is supposed to be a respectable… international institution, and in that case, we find the U.N. on the side of the repressive government, and the people cannot understand it at all.

(ON COLIN POWELL’S VISIT) He visited Haiti, and we have left with the impression that he's strongly backing up the repressive system, the de-facto, the unconstitutional, the illegal government that is now running Haiti.
WITHIN 150 MILES OF HAITI) This is what I cannot understand. One official, some official, will decide for a nation, and we are talking about democracy in the United States. Can we accept that in the United States? I think that this is abuse of power from some officials of the United States. They are abusing the power and repressing this black nation.

(ON TARGETING ARISTIDE SUPPORTERS) We are not only targeted, we are being chased. And in the jail over half of the population are arbitrarily arrested, and kept in jail, and most of them are Aristide supporters….You should see …. among them there was a very young man, a great artist from Bel Air, and he composed two beautiful songs while he was in jail. I said, “What happened to you? How come they beat you so badly?” He said, “Because I composed this song, these songs are in favor of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. I still recognize him as the president,” and they beat him that badly and broke his head. And fractured some of his limbs.

From an interview on Democracy Now! By Amy Goodman; full interview at

From Oct. 14, Human Rights First Press Release:
In the 1970s, Rev. Jean-Juste founded the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami, Florida. He served as its Executive Director for a number of years. While at the Haitian Refugee Center Rev. Jean-Juste worked closely with Human Rights First and others to assist those who fled Haiti during the Duvalier regime. …
Rev. Jean-Juste returned to Haiti in 1991 and became parish priest at the Sainte Claire Catholic Church. He was a vocal supporter of former
President Aristide. Since Aristide’s forced exile in February 2004, Rev. Jean-Juste has been outspoken in his criticism of human rights abuses carried out by armed forces with ties to the government.

1992 Interview

Bay area appearances

Friday, Jan. 28, 7 p.m.
Braun Auditorium, Mudd Chemistry Building, 333 Campus Drive, Stanford
6-7 p.m. reception in auditorium lobby
7 p.m.: Fr. Jean-Juste speaks
(for Stanford event only: 503-807-8923)

Saturday, Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m.
St. Joseph the Worker Church
1640 Addison St., Berkeley

------ End of Forwarded Message
Added to the calendar on Wed, Jan 26, 2005 10:13PM
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