Friday, January 06, 2006

Update on Holiday Card Action

The Miami Herald reports that Father Gerard Jean-Juste of Haiti has leukemia. We wrote cards of support to Father Jean-Juste during our December write-a-thon. Loyal Rights Readers will note the involvement of Paul Farmer, profiled in Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains.

Dr. Paul Farmer, a friend and supporter of Jean-Juste, says the jailed priest has chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a form of the blood and marrow disease that progresses slowly but can develop into a more virulent strain of cancer. In several e-mails and a telephone interview from Rwanda, where he is working this week, Farmer explained that he examined Jean-Juste without guards' knowledge on Dec. 23. He drew blood and brought it to Miami, where it was analyzed by a University of Miami hematologist. ''I can assure you he has leukemia,'' Farmer wrote to The Miami Herald on Wednesday. Jean-Juste, known as ''Father Gerry'' when he lived in Miami and led the nation's most powerful Haitian rights group, was arrested July 21 for alleged involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Haitian journalist Jacques Roche. He and his supporters vehemently deny the allegations. Many observers have expressed concerns that his detention is simply a move to silence Jean-Juste. Amnesty International calls him a ''prisoner of conscience'' and 42 members of the U.S. Congress signed a letter demanding his release.
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