Friday, September 09, 2005

A Visit With Father Gerard Jean-Juste, Incarcerated Servant of the Poor

On Wednesday, Sept. 7, as part of a human rights delegation from the U.S., I visited Amnesty International prisoner of conscience and Lavalas Party leader Father Gerard Jean-Juste. Jean-Juste, who seemed tired but in characteristically upbeat spirits, was recently moved from Port-au-Prince's main penitentiary to his current confines in a decidedly less medieval facility in the Pacot neighborhood.
The Pacot annex is a former private residence with clean surroundings, breatheable air, sunlight and room to move around, a far cry from the downtown lockup where I visited Jean-Juste in July. Getting in to see Jean-Juste was also more difficult in July, when the prison director told my colleague and me that we could not meet with the activist priest (apparently due to bureaucratic oversight, we later did anyway on a tour of the prison). On Wednesday, we arrived as a group of Jean-Juste's parishoners from St.Claire church were leaving. The five of them, including an elderly woman who was positively glowing, were happy to have relayed the message that Jean-Juste's feeding programs for hundreds of local children are ongoing despite his incarceration.
Jean-Juste's arrest on trumped-up charges was facilitated by a demonization campaign of ousted President Aristide's Lavalas Party waged by right-wing elites who control most of Haiti's media. Jean-Juste was violently attacked at a funeral he attended, the physical assaults on him only ending with his arrest, which he calls a classic case of "blaming the victim".
Lavalas has maintained consistent demands regarding Haitian elections the UN, with the support of U.S., Canada and France (the three countries most prominent in facilitating the coup which forced out President Aristide's Lavalas government and brought back a reign of military and paramilitary terror) has arranged for November and December. The party continues to argue that the elections cannot be free and fair unless there is an end to the brutal repression of Lavalas supporters, the over one thousand political prisoners are freed, and President Aristide and other political exiles are allowed to return to Haiti to help restore constitutional democracy. If this does not happen, Lavalas faithful are saying there will be "selections" by coup-friendly major powers, not true elections.
But given the millions of dollars being channeled into the electoral process (while cuts to Lavalas social programs by the coup regime exacerbate already dire conditions for most Haitians) seem likely to guarantee that elections will go forward no matter how the majorty feel, many on the streets are hoping that Jean-Juste will be named a last minute candidate.
Mario Joseph, Jean-Juste's Port-au-Prince based lawyer, told me, "People from the steets want him to run. People trust Father Jean-Juste and feel like they have no choice, so they'll take this chance. Father Jean-Juste feels embarassed at this call to be the candidate of the people, and doesn't want to leave his parish. But he's the only candidate people trust. Jean-Juste serves the poor, always goes to the poorest neighborhoods when there are demonstrations, and helps with funerals after police and UN soldiers kill protestors. Other politicians say they'll serve the poor, but usually don't."
Joseph added, "He has the trust and love of the people for all he has done for them, which is why the government wants to stop him and he is in jail. The U.S. embassy and UN don't want to use him as a peacemaker, because that would make him politically stronger and a threat to elite interests."
Jean-Juste concurred, saying that the son-in-law of the current de facto President had targeted the priest for "incendiary sermons." Jean-Juste had repeatedly said that Article 21 of the Haitian Constitution forbids cooperation with anyone working to destroy the government of Haiti, hence the coup regime should not be supported. He also argued that corrupt elites behind death squads and arbitrary executions are the worst criminals, and hence are hypocrites to accuse all street dissidents of being "bandits" (a term constantly used to describe vicitims of police and UN repression, including a man sitting outside his home confined to a wheelchair who was shot in the head by UN "peacekeepers").
Jean-Juste told our delegation, "I also spoke out to condemn the July 6 massacre of civilians by Brazilian troops in Cite Soleil, and in a visit to Miami called for a demonstration at the Brazilian embassy. So I'm paying for a lot of things. It is wrong for the government to take state power against an innocent person, to crush me. But I will forgive them on a spiritual level if they release me."

Of the potential for his candidacy, he said, "the amazing part is this is coming from the poorest ones" and expressed his admiration for the persistence of their struggle. He also made clear that he needs to speak to President Aristide (who remains exiled in South Africa) before making any decision, but such communication had not been permitted by his captors.
Jean-Juste pointed out that George W. Bush's betrayal of the people of New Orleans was similar to his silence on the demands of Congressional Black Caucus members to oppose repression of Lavalas. "We should take a lesson from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. When people are in need we should take care of them, and disengage from war. The young men and women at war in Iraq should not be there. It's a war for lies, the same as the right wing lies about Aristide."
He added, "if Aristide was still in Haiti, there would be uniforms and books for children who are now unable to start school. Malnutrition is so high, food is so expensive. This is what the coup has brought."
Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, another high profile prisoner the coup regime is refusing to release despite sustained international pressure, is confined in a separate wing of the Pacot annex. Jean-Juste had not been allowed to visit Neptune, but briefly saw him and said his health was "bad". Jean-Juste himself is in need of blood and other tests after collapsing in his former cell, but though the interim government provided treatment for a skin condition shared by many  in the National Penitentiary, the Lavalas leader has not yet received the needed tests. When asked how if he felt confident of his security in the current facility, he answered "no".
He expressed his appreciation for international solidarity, and asked that it be continued as much as possible. To disheartened fellow Haitians, he said, "Don't cry too much, there's work to do. Let's do it."

Open letter to the World Bank regarding recent statement on Haiti
ZNet | Corporate Globalization

Open letter to the World Bank regarding recent statement on Haiti:
by Many Signers; September 04, 2005

August 30, 2005

Paul Wolfowitz, President
The World Bank
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
 Dear Mr. Wolfowitz,
We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, write in response to the World Bank's recent statement on Haiti.
On July 27, the World Bank posted on its web site an article titled "Haiti: One Year Later"[1] that grossly misrepresents the current reality in Haiti.
To lead readers to the article, the World Bank posted a banner headline at the top of its home page reading: "Haiti's Recovery, A Year of Progress" and the teaser: "New schools, roads, and jobs are among the achievements of the Interim Cooperation Framework, Haiti's economic, social and political recovery program." This is an inexcusable whitewash of the terrible nightmare that most Haitians have suffered through since their democratically elected government was overthrown on February 29, 2004.
Haiti's economic situation remains dire. The country's GDP declined by 3.8% during the last fiscal year, which ended September 2004, and there is little evidence to suggest that there has been substantial improvement since then. The past year has been one of sharp decline in living standards for the vast majority of Haitians. The Haitian people have had to endure arbitrary, politically motivated detentions by the state, police violence including extra judicial killings (particularly directed towards residents of Haiti's slums), and a sharp increase in kidnappings, rapes, and murders. Under the interim government of Haiti human rights conditions have deteriorated so dramatically that United Nations Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno stated at the end of June that "Haitians in Cap Haitien …are in [a] worse situation than some of the IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] I saw in Darfur."[2]
The Bank touts "recruiting 2,300 new police officers" as one of Haiti's achievements since the coup. It is well known that former members of death squads and of the military, which was disbanded by Aristide in a widely popular move, have been reincorporated into the police.  According to the Catholic Institute for International Relations, many members of the Haitian National Police (HNP) have "links to the previous military or have been involved in drug rackets, kidnappings, extrajudicial killings or other illegal activities."[3] Since the incorporation of former military personnel in its ranks the HNP has been accused of numerous human rights abuses from a variety of sources including: the Bureau of International Lawyers, the Center for the Study of Human Rights at the University of Miami School of Law, the Harvard University Law School Advocates for Human Rights, and Amnesty International.
An investigation of human rights in Haiti published in January 2005 by the University of Miami Law School Center for the Study of Human Rights found Cité Soleil and Bel Air (two of Haiti's largest slums) to be under siege by the HNP and UN forces. The report found that UN forces and Haitian police enter these neighborhoods, which are filled with supporters of the elected former government and the Famni Lavalas political party, and mount violent attacks that routinely kill residents.  The report also described numerous attacks on unarmed demonstrators and residents of these neighborhoods by the Haitian police including the shooting of unarmed demonstrators in downtown Port-au-Prince on September 30, 2004[4]. 
Cases of summary executions of unarmed civilians have also surfaced. Haitian police are accused of executing 12 young men on October 25, 2004 in Fort National and 5 men on October 27, 2004 in broad daylight in Delmas.[5] Judy Dacruz, an independent human rights lawyer, has documented eyewitness accounts of summary executions of at least 32 unarmed people by the police between October 2004 and February 2005.[6]
The security situation is not improving, due in part to collaboration between UN and police - in fact, the situation has been made worse. A July 6, 2005 raid in Cité Soleil left at least 23 people dead (including women and children). According to residents who witnessed the raid, UN troops were the chief perpetrators of the violence.[7] Although the UN initially denied reports of unarmed civilian deaths, it later admitted to this possibility and announced an investigation.
Currently hundreds of political prisoners are being detained throughout Haiti.[8] Haiti's two most high profile political prisoners are former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and more recently Father Gerard Jean-Juste, a popular Catholic priest.  In both cases these men were arrested for crimes despite an apparent lack of evidence of their involvement. Yvon Neptune was charged with allegedly orchestrating a massacre of anti-Aristide protestors, which to date the government has not been able to prove actually occurred. Father Jean-Juste, who has been an outspoken supporter of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and a critic of the present government, was illegally arrested without a warrant on July 21, 2005 for supposedly murdering a journalist whose death occurred while Jean-Juste was himself abroad.[9] Amnesty International has declared Jean-Juste to be a prisoner of conscience and has raised a "health" and "legal concern" over Neptune, urging the interim government to "abide by its own constitution" and grant Neptune a fair trial.[10] The UN Special Envoy to Haiti, Juan Gabriel Valdes, has also called for Neptune's release.[11]
The World Bank reports that Haiti's interim government is "launching an ambitious electoral registration process." The Bank's claims were at odds with the findings of a report the International Crisis Group issued the next day, which found that only one-fifth of eligible voters - some 870,000 people - had been registered by July 29, none had yet received their new national identity cards required for voting, and only 327 registration centers were open.
Because of deficiencies in the electoral process and the violent repression of many of its members and supporters, Haiti's largest political party, Fanmi Lavalas, is boycotting the proposed elections. But the Bank gives only the unelected government's view of the situation.
The Bank also misrepresents the economic situation in the country, painting of picture of economic progress since last year's coup. The article cites the creation of "tens of thousands of jobs." But since the labor force has been growing by 60,000- 80,000 people per year, it is not clear that the jobs cited have even been enough to keep Haiti's massive unemployment rate from growing (some two-thirds of the population do not have formal employment).[12]
The World Bank's whitewash of Haiti's dire situation is especially troubling in light of the Bank's own role in helping to topple Haiti's democratically elected government by "suspending aid, under vague 'instructions' from the US," according to Columbia University's Jeffrey Sachs, special adviser to the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.[13]
We call upon the World Bank to cease taking sides in Haiti's civil conflict, and to conduct an independent investigation into its own role in helping to destabilize the prior elected, constitutional government.
[Please direct response to Tom Ricker, Quixote Center, PO Box  5206, Hyattsville, MD 20782, or ]


Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center
Tom Ricker, Co-Director

TransAfrica Forum
Bill Fletcher, President

Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean (EPICA)
Olivia Burlingame-Goumbri, Director

The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights

General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church
James Winkler, General Secretary

United Church of Christ Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility
Rev. Douglas B. Hunt, Director, International Programs

Hospital Employees' Union (Canada)
Fred Muzin, President

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
Brian Concannon Jr., Esq., Director
Haiti Action Committee
Charlie Hinton 

Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA)
Peter Rosset

Fondasyon Mapou
Eugenia Charles, Executive Director

Global Exchange
Kirsten Moller, Executive Director

Friends of the Earth, Honduras
Ambika Chawla

Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas
Dale Sorensen, Director

Global Justice Ecology Project
Orin Langelle , Co-director

Office of the Americas
Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., Director

Peter and Gail Mott, Co-Editors

Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA
Director, Patricia Davis

L.A. Weekly
Doug Ireland

Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala
Andrew de Sousa, National Organizer

Nicaragua Center for Community Action
Diana Bohn , Co-coordinator

Nicaragua Network
Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinator

Safe Earth Alliance
Dr. D.K. and F. L. Cinquemani - Largo, FL

Dominican Sisters of Mission, San Jose, CA
Stella Goodpasture, OP, Justice Promoter

Dominican Sisters of San Rafael
Marion Irvine, OP, Promoter of Social Justice

Central NJ Coalition for Peace and Justice
Robert Moir, Steering Committee Member

Chicagoland Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights
Dennis Dixon

No. Colorado Justice for Cuba Group
Elaine Schmidt

Portland Peaceful Response Coalition
William Seaman

San Francisco Bay Area Debt Cancellation Coalition

Thomasville Student Peace Organization
Elias George Mathes

Individuals (alphabetical)

Peter Ackerman
Peace & Social Justice Clerk
Ft. Lauderdale Friends (Quakers)*

Michael Albert

Ed Allen
Associate Professor of English, University of South Dakota*

Badrul Alam, President
Bangladesh Krishok Federation*

Julio Soto Angurel

Roger Annis - Haiti Solidarity BC

Dean Baker, Co-Director
Center for Economic and Policy Research*

Natylie Baldwin
Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center*

Nancy Bennett - Santa Fe, New Mexico

Ellen Boldon -Auburn, ME

Gary Bono

Martha Bushnell, Ph.D.  -  Boulder, CO
Noam Chomsky, Professor
Massachusetts Institute of Technology*

Truman C. Dean

Raymond Dubuisson
Co-coordinator, Comité des Haïtiens de l'outaouais pour la reconstruction d'Haïti (CHORHA)* Ottawa, CANADA

Kostas Diakolambrianos - Greece

Rev. Derek V. Dudek, D.D.

Rosemary Everett, SNJM- Cupertino, CA
Paul Farmer, M.D.
Partners In Health*

Ebrahim Gassab
General Secretary of Banker's Union - Kingdom of Bahrain

Harold Geddings, III
University of South Carolina-Upstate*

Sarah Haywood - Toronto, Ontario

Ken Heard
Political Affairs Officer
Philadelphia National Writers Union*

Devin Hoff - Oakland, CA

Nadia Hyppolite

Felix Ibarra

Connie Jenkins
Pax Christi Maine*

Alejandra Juarez, Student
CSU Stanislaus

Paul S. Kaczocha

Philip Kaisary
Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies Warwick University* - UK

Rob Keithan
Director, Washington Office for Advocacy
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations*

Ira Kurzban, Attorney
Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger & Tetzeli, P.A.*

Marilyn Langlois
Haiti Action Committee (signed as organization above)*

Robert Levee - Kennesaw, GA

Liam Long - Lansing, MI

Erwin Marquit
Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota*

Jackie Mauro
International High School*

Don Matsuda

Lizbeth McDermott - LeClaire, IA

Edmund McWilliams (Senior Foreign Service, ret.) - Falls Church, VA

Mary E. Meehan - Boston, MA

Bridget Miller

Keith A Miller, CPhT

Henry Millstein  - Novato, CA

Stuart Neatby
Haiti Action Committee, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Brian O'Connor  - North Bay, Ontario

Paul Pallazola - Gloucester, MA

Kate Patterson - Brooklyn, NY

George Ann Potter - Bolivia

William Przylucki - Boston College '07

Suzanne Radford, Alexander Balfour, Erik & Victoria Grunewald, Dr. Theo Eridanos
Gnostic Communications*

Joan Rae - Fayston, VT

Wey Robinson -Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Jillian Rouleau - Mesa, AZ

John Sanchez

Rachel Satterlee - Minneapolis, MN

Mark Schafer - Cambridge, MA

Emile Schepers  - Great Falls, VA

Charles Scurich - Oakland, CA

Paul Sipple - Fayston, VT

Thomas Skayhan - DeFuniak Springs

Ursula Slavick - Portland, ME

William Slavick  - Portland, ME

Anne Sosin
Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Courtney Szper - Portland, OR

Esequiel Armijo Vargas, UCSB student, CA

Marc Arthur Voorhees, Jr

Jessica Watson-Crosby - New York, NY

Phil Webb

William Webb, CEO
WorldWideTrade Corporation*

Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director
Center for Economic and Policy Research*

Paul Whetstone, Attorney

Tom Whitney, South Paris
Maine Haiti Solidarity*

Jeremiah Wishon

Greg Wolfe

John Woodford, Journalist

Lisa Wright - Chico, CA

*Indicates organization appears for purposes of identification only. 



[1]Found at,,contentMDK:20594578~pagePK:64257043~piPK:437376~theSitePK:4607,00.html
[2] Heinlein, Peter. "UN Peacekeeping Chief: Haiti Worse than Darfur." Voice of America. June 28, 2005 Url:
[3] Catholic Institute for International Relations. "Haiti: free and fair elections unlikely as security worsens." August 2, 2005. []
[4] Griffin, Thomas. "Haiti: Human Rights Investigation, November 11 - 21, 2004" Center for the Study of Human Rights, University of Miami School of Law, 2005, pg. 9.
[5] Ibid, pg. 10.
[6] Lindsay, Reed. "Among Haitians, Police Are Seen As a Deadly Force." Boston Globe, February 27, 2005, Pg A15.
[7] Buncombe, Andrew. "Peacekeepers accused after killings in Haiti," 29 July 2005. See also Haiti Information Project, "UN 'peacekeepers' in Haiti accused of massacre," July 13, 2005. []
[8] Griffin, Thomas. "Haiti: Human Rights Investigation, November 11 - 21, 2004" Center for the Study of Human Rights, University of Miami School of Law, 2005, pg. 12.
[9] Amnesty International. "Haiti: Arbitrary arrest/prisoner of conscience: Gérard Jean-Juste (m), aged 59, Catholic priest." July 25, 2005 [].
[10] Amnesty International. "Haiti: Arbitrary arrest/prisoner of conscience: Gérard Jean-Juste (m), aged 59, Catholic priest." July 25, 2005; Amnesty International. "Haiti: Health concern/legal concern, Yvon Neptune." May 6, 2005. [ ]
[11] Delva, Joseph Guyler. "U.N. envoy in Haiti wants jailed ex-PM released." Reuters. June 24, 2005.
[12] Data from CIA World Factbook,
[13] Sachs, Jeffrey. "The Fire This Time in Haiti was US-Fueled" in Taipei Times, March 1, 2004

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Half-Hour for Haiti: Plan for Worldwide Solidarity Protests on September 30

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Brian <>
Date: Sep 6, 2005 8:42 PM
Subject: [Lethaitilive] Half-Hour for Haiti: Plan for Worldwide Solidarity Protests on September 30

September 6, 2005

Half-Hour for Haiti: Plan for Worldwide Solidarity Protests on September 30

This week's action is to plan to join grassroots activists in Haiti commemorating September 30, the 14th anniversary of the 1991 coup d'etat against Haiti's elected government, and the one year anniversary of an intensification of a crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Haiti.

The call to action was launched by the Fondasyon Trant Septanm  (September 30 Foundation), Haiti's largest and most persistent grassroots human rights group.  The Foundation has organized a march for justice in Port-au-Prince almost every Wednesday since 1997, often at great risk.   Fondasyon Trant Septanm  and has commemorated September 30 in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti for eight straight years, even as the people they protested about returned to power and their former brutality. 

This year, Fondasyon Trant Septanm teamed with U.S.-based activists to form the Sept. 30th Organizing Committee, which is coordinating an international day of action in support of justice and democracy in Haiti.  International solidarity is particularly important right now because last year Haitian police tried to stop Fondasyon Trant Septanm's legal demonstration, and when they could not, they opened fire on thousands of protestors.  This attack ushered in a wave of attacks against political opponents over the following several weeks.  This year, we can help protect vulnerable Haitian democracy activists by showing up on that day and showing the world that we care.

The Committee's announcement is below,.  We have a website section for the protest, and will soon post a list of planned actions.  If there is not an activity already planned near you, try to organize something with your church, peace, school or community group.  Activities can range from large marches to a few people gathering for a vigil.  Just be sure that you let the the Sept. 30th Organizing Committee (510-847-8657 or know, so that your efforts will be counted as part of the international mobilization. 


A Call to Action in Solidarity with Haiti


Coordinated International Protests in Many Cities

on September 30, 2005


Dear Activists for Haiti,


The coup regime in Haiti – backed to the hilt by the US, the UN, France and Canada – continues its bloody assault on the poor majority, targeting especially leaders and supporters of the Lavalas grassroots democracy movement.


Now Fondasyon Trant Septanm, a Haitian organization supporting victims of the repression in Haiti, has issued a call for renewed protests in many cities of the world on September 30, the anniversary of the first US-sponsored coup that ousted President Aristide in 1991.*  Haiti will be demonstrating on that day – so should we!  


We need to act now in solidarity with our Haitian sisters and brothers, whose unbreakable spirit, in the face of this genocide, just won't stop. Let us take up this call from Haiti, and make September 30th an international day of outrage against the US-inspired massacres and the trampling of Haiti's sovereignty.


Building on the success of the July 21st coordinated demonstrations

The July 6th massacre by UN troops in Cite Soleil sparked an international campaign, culminating in a day of solidarity actions in 15 cities and five countries on July 21 st.

The campaign succeeded in breaking through the media blockade, exposing the massacres, and putting US and UN officials on the defensive. It also brought into being an international network of committed people ready to spring into action in a coordinated way. [See "Wave of Protest" report, sent separately.] Now we need to activate and expand our network – to more cities and countries.


Our call is for each city to organize its own Haiti solidarity activity

on or around Friday 9/30 -- to be coordinated as a single worldwide mobilization to support Haiti's struggle for sovereignty, democracy and a just society.


It could be a march, rally, public meeting, vigil, house meeting or civil disobedience – whatever you are able to do -- in support of the following demands:




·       Stop the Serial Killings and Massacres of the Poor, in one popular neighborhood after another, by UN troops, Haitian National Police and paramilitary mercenaries under police control.

·       Restore the Democratically Elected Government of President Aristide

·       Free Fr. Jean-Juste, So' Anne, Prime Minister Neptune – and ALL the Political Prisoners

·       End the Brutal US/UN Occupation – Restore Haiti's Sovereignty – Respect the Will of the Haitian People


Please join us in this important mobilization. Let us know by phone or email what solidarity activity you are planning for September 30 th, so we can build the campaign. Use your contacts in other cities and countries to spread this movement.


For the September 30th 2005 International Day of Solidarity with the People of Haiti,


Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine

Fondasyon Trant Septanm (September 30th Foundation)


Lavarice Gaudin

Veye Yo


Dave Welsh

Organizer, US Labor/Human Rights Delegation to Haiti (June-July 2005)


Sister Maureen Duignan

Director, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant



Contact the Sept. 30th Organizing Committee at 510-847-8657 or



* The Fondasyon Trant Septanm statement, calling for an international day of solidarity with the Haitian people on September 30, 2005, can be found in French and Kreyol at The statement calls for demonstrations in major world cities on that day "to denounce and condemn the dictatorship and the US/UN repression against the poor in Haiti." You should already have received an English version of the Foundation statement by email.




For more information about the Half-Hour For Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti or human rights in Haiti, see


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