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We hear hope coming: Letter from Haitian National Penitentiary
“In many ways, Black August, at least in the West, begins in Haiti. It is the blackest August possible – Revolution, and resultant liberation from bondage.” – Mumia Abu-Jamal
Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, an outspoken advocate for democracy and human rights, especially for the poor, has been in prison in Haiti without written charges since July 21, 2005. May he and all political prisoners be liberated this Black August!
Haiti National Penitentiary, Port au Prince – Brothers and sisters around the world, allow me to thank you for what you have done for me personally and what you have done for the poor ones I serve and stand with, for all prisoners, especially the political prisoners of Haiti.
I know that thousands of you are advocating on my behalf. People from Haiti, from the U.S., from Brazil, Canada, Germany, France, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Nicaragua and the Netherlands have sent letters and faxes to the U.S. Embassy and the Haitian government trying to free me and to bring democracy and human rights back to Haiti.
Hundreds of churches and organizations who are helping out – I thank you. I especially thank the 29 members of the U.S. Congress who signed a letter for me. I read the letter, and you are so strong and clear. Well said! I wish our church leaders were so strong and clear.
I must tell you I am not doing well physically. I was almost dead Sunday morning. I fell unconscious for some time but was rescued when some of the other prisoners took me on their backs to the dispensary. God sends me back to you! I do not know what happened. My neck hurts, my skin is very bad and I ache a lot. I need medical attention. But I am glad to be alive and join all of you in the struggle for freedom and real democracy.
My cell is 8 by 2 and is very hot and smelly. We have a bathroom in the hall that works when there is water. There are no beds. I sleep on a one inch thick mat on the floor. Yet I am very thankful to God who allows me to wake up to another life.
I now have discovered so much support for the Haitian people and me from people all over the world I am in awe. I add my strength to those who stand all over the world for the rights of everyone, whatever color, whatever creed, whatever nationality. To Cité Soleil, to Bel-Air, Veye Yo, the 10th department, the Lavalas family, to all of you around the world, to the churches, especially my own St. Clare’s, I say to you “Chapo Ba!” (“I tip my hat!”)
There is a great fraternity in jail and with the poor. In jail we pray loudly, day and night.
Our spirits are uplifted when we hear about your work for Haiti, because we hear hope coming. We hear hope coming, and we know our victory for human rights and respect and democracy will be total one day.
Personally, regardless of all the hardship, I am still joining my voice to the voices of all democracy lovers to demand the return of constitutional order in Haiti, the physical return of our elected President Aristide, release of all political prisoners, respect of all human rights – and if that is done, then real elections can happen.
Keep up the advocacy. Keep up the peaceful demonstrations. Keep up the prayers.
Ill and in jail, I humbly add my suffering to that of Jesus to hasten peace and justice and love for everyone. Merci.
his message comes by way of Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans in the U.S. who is volunteering to assist Mario Jospeh, Fr. Jean-Juste’s lead Haitian lawyer. Mr. Joseph is a lawyer with BAI in Port au Prince. Bill is volunteering with the Institute of Justice and Democracy in Haiti. On Aug. 14, Bill Quigley hand delivered to the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti 791 letters, the letter signed by 29 Congress members and a petition signed by over 1,200 people, signifying strong support for freedom for Fr. Jean-Juste from a total of 2,020 people. To learn more and get involved, go to http://www.haitiaction.net.