tell your congressperson to sign on Waters letter BY THURSDAY
from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
August 9, 2005
Half-Hour for Haiti: Time for Congress to Stand Up For Justice in Haiti
First, an apology- many people found last week's alert confusing. We
appreciate you contacting us about it, and promise to be more clear in
future alerts. If you want to sign the International Declaration of
Support for the Haitian People, send an email with your name, city and
state to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week's alert is an opportunity to convince our Congressional
Representatives to stand up for justice in Haiti. Rep. Maxine Waters
has asked all her colleagues in the House to join her in a letter to
President Bush, urging him to immediately intervene for the release of
political prisoner Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste.
Signing Rep. Waters' letter (below) should be an easy decision for any
member of Congress who believes in justice. It is well-documented and
obvious that Fr. Jean-Juste's arrest was illegal and part of a
campaign of political harassment.. Your Representative's place on the
political spectrum or opinion of the Lavalas movement is not relevant-
what matters is a belief in the rule of law.
This is an excellent time to contact Congress, because members are in
the districts for the summer recess, where they are particularly
attuned to constituent concerns. We've been told that calls from a
dozen or more friends, family or members of your solidarity, church,
school or other group can get this action onto your member's radar
screen. Unfortunately, time is tight- the deadline for signatures is
the close of business Thursday, so please act now.
Action: Contact your member of the House of Representatives; urge him
or her to sign onto Rep. Waters' letter to President Bush by Thursday.
The best way top do this is to speak with the Member at a local
event. Second best is calling the Washington office, and asking to
speak with the legislative aide who covers foreign affairs. Send a
follow-up email. Local office numbers should be in your phone book,
Washington offices can be reached through the House Switchboard, (202)
224-3121. Local event schedules, all numbers and email addresses are
available on each member's website. To find that, click the US House
of Representatives website, and type in your zipcode.
1. Fr. Jean-Juste's arrest was illegal: he was arrested without
a warrant while attending a funeral. He had already been questioned
twice in the preceding week on different charges by police and a
judge, none of whom found any reason to arrest him (more information
on the arrest.).
2. The arrest is the latest in a long series of
politically-motivated attacks against Fr. Jean-Juste. In October, he
was arrested illegally and held for seven weeks in prison, with
absolutely no evidence against him.
3. Amnesty International, and Human Rights First, among
others, have called for Fr. Jean-Juste's release.
4. Do not let the Member or aide dismiss you with concerns about
the Lavalas movement. Appeal to our shared fundamental belief in
justice and freedom of conscience- that imprisoning people for their
political opinions is wrong, no matter what those opinions are.
"Letting the Haitian justice system take its course" is not
acceptable: the last time Fr. Jean-Juste spent seven weeks in prison
illegally. The U.S. is the Haitian Interim Government's principal
patron, and has more than enough leverage to pry open the political
prisons if it wants to.
Click here for much more information on Fr. Jean-Juste's arrest
Already Standing Up For Justice : Reps. Tammy Baldwin , Corrine Brown,
Sherrod Brown, Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick, John Conyers, Barbara Lee,
Kendrick Meek, Major Owens, Donald Payne and Jan Schakowsky have
joined Rep. Waters and signed the letter by Tuesday afternoon. If one
of these members represents you, please send a note of thanks for
their support of justice in Haiti.
Support the Release of
Father Gerard Jean-Juste,
Who is Unjustly Imprisoned in Haiti
DEADLINE: Thursday, August 11, COB
August 12, 2005
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write to express our profound concerns about the unjust
imprisonment of Father Gerard Jean-Juste in Haiti. We urge you to
take action at once to seek his immediate and unconditional release
Father Jean-Juste is a widely-respected Catholic priest and a
courageous advocate for peace and human rights in Haiti. During the
1970's, he founded the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami, Florida, where
he worked to provide assistance to refugees who were fleeing
persecution under the Duvalier regime. He returned to Haiti in 1991
and currently serves as the pastor of Saint Claire Church in
Port-au-Prince and runs a soup kitchen for impoverished children in
his parish. Fr. Jean-Juste has always spoken out forcefully against
all forms of violence.
Father Jean-Juste was arrested on July 21, 2005, while
attending the funeral for Jacques Roche, a Haitian journalist who was
kidnapped, held for ransom and then murdered. Haitian police claimed
he was arrested because a "public clamor" at the funeral accused him
of murdering Jacques Roche, although he was in Miami at the time of
the murder. He currently is being detained in the Haitian National
Amnesty International has determined that Father Jean-Juste is
a prisoner of conscience, who is detained solely because he has
peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression. Amnesty
International has urged that he be immediately and unconditionally
We respectfully request that you urge the Interim Government
of Haiti to release Father Jean-Juste immediately and unconditionally.
We appreciate your attention to our concerns.
cc: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Special Representative Juan Gabriel Valdés, MINUSTAH
Ambassador James Foley, U.S. Embassy in Haiti
Douglas M. Griffiths, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy in Haiti
Dana Banks, Human Rights Officer, U.S. Embassy in Haiti
For more information about the Half-Hour For Haiti Program, the
Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti or human rights in Haiti,
Brian Concannon Jr., Esq.
Director, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
PO Box 745
Joseph, OR 97846