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(DV) Quigley: Prison Meeting with Pere Jean-Juste 12.13.05







Prison Meeting with Pere Jean-Juste (12.13.05)
by Bill Quigley
December 16, 2005

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Red and white bougainvillea flowers and guards with jeep-mounted machine guns surround the high walled prison in Port au Prince. 

The first thing I noticed about Haitian political prisoner Pere Jean-Juste was his neck. It is very swollen on both sides. A pink rosary peeks out from the white bandana around his throat. He admits he is in pain, but shakes off questions about it. Someone from the U.S. embassy suggested the authorities could take him to another place so a doctor can do a biopsy or an operation. He refused for security reasons. "No doctor from this government is going to cut on my neck," he said. 

"My medical condition is serious. I must be released so I can go to the US for treatment." 

He broke into smiles as we emptied a bag of mail for him. AIUSA organized a campaign to have people send him holiday cards and he was amazed at the response. There are already over 700 cards in from all over the US and the world with more coming in every day. "Oh my God, this is great," he kept saying as he looked at the cards one by one. Fr. Gerry stood on a folding chair and screwed a light bulb into the ceiling so he could read the cards. 

Pere Jean-Juste became serious again as we talked about his time in prison. "Everyone knows I am innocent. There are not even any charges. The judge has concluded his investigation weeks ago. Half the Supreme Court Justices have just been fired. I am no longer willing to be their scapegoat. Stop the games. It is time for unconditional release." 

"It is not time to be quiet. It is time to push harder. I salute those who have put pressure on in Congress, in Miami, in Boston, in California, and in Haiti." 

As the guards told us our time was up, Pere Jean-Juste gathered us together. As we held hands in the prison he led us in prayer. He ended with "The holiday season is not just the time to talk about peace, the holiday season is the time to DO the work of peace." Amen. 

Bill Quigley is a professor at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law and can be reached at:

Other Articles by Bill Quigley

* Rights Leaders Call for Freedom for Jean-Juste, Neptune and Haitian Political Prisoners
* No Home for the Holidays: Stop Evictions of Katrina Evacuees
* Why Are They Making New Orleans a Ghost Town?
* New Orleans: Leaving the Poor Behind Again!