Friday, 25 February 2011

Missionary being Held in Haiti need prayer

This news was sent to us from a friend in the US. Please pray for Daniel Pye, a missionary being unlawfully held in Haiti since October.
Thank you!

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Sent: Wed, February 23, 2011 2:56:55 PM
Subject: prayer request

Please pray for the release of an American missionary,Danny Pye, who is in jail
in Jacmel since October. Pray for health for Danny, his wife who is pregnant and
that he may be able to continue on with the ministry that God called him to
Haiti to do. An article about him follows:

CHRISTIAN AID WORKER DANNY PYE HAS BEEN HELD IN A HAITIAN PRISON SINCE OCTOBER
(The Awl) - By Abe Sauer

"I am amazed that I could spend four months in prison with no charge and the
embassy does nothing," said Danny Pye. "It's just weird." But so far, Pye is
lucky. He's only had malaria, several bouts of gastroenteritis and some kind of
fungal infection—but not cholera. Many of the othe 20-odd men that share his
small room have not been as lucky.

Pye, an American, has been in prison in Jacmel since Oct.13, 2010. He has not
been charged with any crime. The only people who seem to know this are a few
friends in Haiti, the country's Ministry of Justice, newly elected Haitian
senator (and former Jacmel mayor) Edo Zenny, the judge that refuses to sign his
release, the NGOs with which he's been affiliated, his wife, Leann, the 22
Haitian children whose only home is the orphanage that he and his wife built—and
the U.S. Embassy.

A friend of Pye's was able to get a cell phone into the Jacmel prison a couple
days ago and he spoke with The Awl for the first time. Thanks to cholera, the prison is quite literally a toilet. The only new structure at the prison is a building that's been painted green and white, the color combo reserved in Haiti for medical buildings. This overcrowded prison within a prison houses inmates suffering from cholera, TB and HIV.

Reinforced last July after the earthquake, a Red Cross engineer said that
Jacmel's prison was vastly improved by the addition of bunk beds because "each
bed has three levels and is big enough for at least six people to sleep in."

Pye's wife Leann says the Red Cross' already-horrible description of the prison
"makes it sound much better than it actually is."

Pye's cell, which he estimates is 10 by 12 feet, houses 25 prisoners. (That's
fewer than previously, when people were getting cholera.)

By car, Jacmel (Jakmèl) is four hours south of Port-au-Prince, on the south
seaside of the island's long peninsula. The city itself is home to 40,000 or so
and the surrounding area another 100,000. With beaches and architecture built in
the wonderful style of New Orleans by wealthy 19th-century merchants, Jacmel is
not the desperate urban picture of Port's Cité Soleil, the only Haiti most
Americans know exists.

Pye is not one of the aid workers who flooded into the nation after 2010's
earthquake. In 2003, Danny Pye and his wife Leanne moved to Haiti to start an
orphanage. They established the Joy in Hope Ministries in 2008, which now
operates 16 schools that teach over 3,000 children. Danny and his wife
themselves operate an orphanage, today home to more than 20 children: Mackendy,
Evens, Berline, Blanca, Omega, Loudrige, Rico, Chachoue, Lovelie, Toto,
Ticarlis, Magdaline, Elinda, Woody, Mackenson, Diane, Nerry, Nesley, Vania,
Patrick, Tina, Slendia, Riann.

Last year, Danny and Leann separated from the ministry they founded to go their
own way. After some negotiations and conflict, Pye and a representative of the
organization appeared before a local magistrate on October 13th, to negotiate
the legal dividing of property and other assets. Pye, to everyone's surprise,
was ordered to prison.

No charge was leveled by the judge against Pye. He was only told that he would
not be released until he signed over his old assets—which he did, on October
16th. His family was then told he was being held in the court's custody, pending
an investigation. Haitian law allows judges to imprison a person for up to 90
days without charge while awaiting an investigation. Danny's wife immediately contacted the embassy.

Ryan Price, a longtime resident of Haiti and missionary with the Fellowship of
Christian Optometrists who took the phone in to Pye, said that, recently, "they
have been redoing the sewers under the prison, so the whole block smells like
sewage." Price said that Danny does get outside for some time every day; he used
some of that time to carry water to other prisoners. Recently, "he is too weak
to do this." Being out in the yard can be dangerous, as fights are a regular
occurrence. Fights aren't the real danger, Price said: it's the guards who storm
the yard intent on breaking it up. They swing batons at anything that isn't already lying flat on its face.

"Physically, I'm feeling better. I'm back to holding down food and liquid," said
Pye. That wasn't the case two weeks ago, when Pye began not sleeping at all and
retching after meals. The "food" he holds down is crackers.

There are about 200 people on his small floor. Pye said that a third of them are
here for trumped up charges, or no charges at all. "When I first got here I
thought it was closer to 50 percent," Pye said. "But then you get to know people
a little and… well…." He knows at least one cellmate who has been held for years
with trial. "On Christmas Eve, a 14-year-old kid was brought in for stealing a
goat worth maybe 12 dollars. He still hasn't seen a judge," he said.

It was also on Christmas Eve that Pye was released—for the first time. But, as
he was walking out to meet his pregnant wife, Pye was spun around and returned
to his cell. He didn't even make it to the car: the same judge had issued a new
charge, this time for possessing illegal documents.

It's not been confirmed that those "documents" (Pye's government-issued
identification card) are "illegal." It was the judge himself who did not
understand the very laws he was there to enforce.

* * *

A reliable and trustworthy justice system can be considered the most important
building block of a functional democracy. Lisa Quirion, a former Deputy Warden
at the Correctional Service of Canada who worked with the UN Stabilization
Mission in Haiti (which goes by the acronym MINUSTAH), said (before the
earthquake), "People want to build hospitals, they want to build schools, they
want to put a well in the town, but nobody wants to invest in prisons."

It's not just unsexy to invest in prisons, but in the whole justice system in
general. Still, in the 1990s, USAID provided around $27 million to fund the
Administration of Justice Program in Haiti which brought in American legal
experts to improved magistrate, prosecutorial and judicial management training
as well as expanding citizen access to justice services.

Today, a new joint program between the UNDP and MINUSTAH to improve "ethics,
judicial competences, the application of just laws, public persecution,
individual liberties in the judicial process, and economic and financial
infractions" plans to involve "roughly one hundred" prosecutors… "by December
2011." A spokesman for the UNDP said that the entire 2011 budget for training in
the field of justice in Haiti is $500,000. (That's a 100 percent increase over
the 2010 budget of $250,000 for training in Haiti's justice system.)

* * *

On February 18th, the head of Haiti's justice system came to visit Pye, and told
him that the judge had admitted the false documents charges were fraudulent. The
judge, however, wants to revisit a contempt of court charge. Pye was told that
he will be out next week. "It's kind of the running joke of the place," Pye
said. "Each week it's, 'Oh, you'll be out next week.'"

"I haven't packed a bag," he said. Pye's release would mean he might not miss the birth of his son. Leann remained in Haiti for much of February, to care for the orphanage. While seven months pregnant, she would ride on a scooter taxi to get supplies. She is back in Florida, where she and Danny own a small home, and her
delivery date is imminent. With Leann gone, the children from the orphanage bring Pye what meals they can.

As forgiving and good-spirited as Pye is (his positive disposition and good
humor over the phone were remarkable), he is exasperated with the U.S. Embassy
inaction. "I've never heard of a situation in which an American was held for
four months without charge and the embassy did nothing," he said. Medicines and
other necessities have been supplied by friends or family. "I'm more disappointed than anything else," he said.

Leann said that the embassy has, at best, given the situation a perfunctory
treatment. Danny said that the few times embassy officials visited, their
conversations were short and unproductive. Leann said they just told her to go
hire a Haitian lawyer, which she did.

In November, Leann sought assistance from her U.S. Senator, George LeMieux. The
response was an email with a PDF attachment telling her that the senator, due to
privacy rules, would not follow up until Leann could "print, complete and return
it to our office via fax." In Haiti, faxing anything was impossible. Leann tried
to get the paperwork together—and then this January, LeMieux was replaced by
Marco Rubio. Leann repeatedly followed up with the embassy. The embassy
said it could not take diplomatic action, seemingly saying that it had no
influence in the nation beyond what existed in the most formal of diplomatic rules.
Just a year earlier, in a cable published by Wikileaks, the Embassy spoke of how
a "key to our success and that of Haiti" was the embassy "managing" President Preval. How effective can the State Department be in influencing Haitian politics and reconstruction if it can't even move the wheels for one American in prison?

* * *

There's a deeper irony, because when the diplomatic community needed Danny Pye,
he was there. Seventy percent of structures in Jacmel were damaged or destroyed after the quake. With the aid focus on Port-au-Prince, few supplies
reached beyond the city. What aid could get in had no on-the-ground organization. Creole speakers, Pye and Leann were able to quickly organize and reopen the
airport. The two, with a team of Haitians, staffed and ran the Jacmel airport
until the Canadian military arrived. Experienced in the area, and trusted by
the community, the Pyes were invaluable in the international aid effort for
which the diplomatic and NGO community took, and continues to take, so much
credit.

And just a couple years ago, the US Embassy asked the Pyes to serve as wardens
for the Sud-est (one of Haiti's ten regional départements in which Jacmel is
located).

Two weeks ago, Leann received an email from Brandon Doyle, the embassy's vice
consul. Doyle wrote that the embassy had "learned that, unfortunately, no action
has been taken on his case." Doyle went on to acknowledge that "this can now be
considered a serious violation of Haitian law since your husband has been
detained without charges for a period longer than allowable according to the
laws of Haiti." Doyle said that the embassy would prepare a formal diplomatic
note addressed to the Haitian Ministry of Justice "calling for action on Mr.
Pye’s case." Doyle wrote this action is "the most formal and forceful course of
action available to us and allowable under diplomatic practice" and that the
note would be "sent early next week."

That email, of February 8th—a Wednesday—,meant that, after months, the embassy
would not be taking any action until nearly a week later.

If the embassy's limp official reaction to Pye's situation is deplorable (and it
is), its public reaction is inexcusable. Why, to this day, has the embassy not
issued a public statement about Danny Pye?

The vice consul is certainly correct describing the "note" to the Ministry of
Justice as the only course allowed it "under diplomatic practice." But this says
nothing about the use of the press, easily as powerful a diplomatic tool as a
formal note. Within a day of the arrest of an American accused of shooting
citizens in Pakistan, embassy officials were publicly calling for his release.
The State Department has loudly, and continually, issued statements calling for
the release of the American hikers arrested in Iran (who are now on trial).
State Department officials have even issued a demand for the release from Syrian
prison of a young blogger… who isn't an American. When Khairy Ramadan Aly, an
Egyptian carpenter employed by the embassy in Cairo, was killed just two weeks
ago, the State Department issued statement of condolences from Secretary
Clinton.

The embassy in Port-au-Prince as well issues press releases all the time. But
not for Pye, even as he rotted away in a U.S.-funded hellhole, kept from doing a
job that U.S. governmental bodies are proving themselves increasingly incapable
of performing.

We spoke with a few journalists, one for a major US national source, all of who
said they had never heard of the Pye case. Asked if they would have pursued the
story had the the embassy in Port-au-Prince issued a statement about it, all
confirmed that is absolutely would be newsworthy.

The embassy has not responded to numerous calls and emails made by The Awl.

Pye is a missionary but he's of an entirely different stripe from the ministries
with logos printed on every bit of aid they hand out. Pye went to Haiti to do
with his bare hands what billions of dollars of American aid was failing to do.
Pye, a U.S. taxpayer, remains in a MINUSTAH-run U.S.-subsidized prison.

But then this is Haiti, a place few can find a reason to care about. Unless, of
course, 300,000 die… or Sarah Palin visits.

Residents of Florida, the Pye's representatives are:
Senator Bill Nelson
Ph: (202) 224-5274

Rep. Vern Buchanan
Ph: (202) 225-5015

Senator Marco Rubio
Ph: 202-224-3041

An especially good target for pressure is Republican Senator Marco Rubio. As a
member of the Christ Fellowship Church in West Kendall and a favorite of the
Christian Coalition, one would think Rubio would be especially interested in
and in an especially good position to take advantage of the benefits of) seeing
to the speedy release of one of the more (genuinely) faithful and pious of his
constituents.

Never contacted a member of Congress? Email makes it easy, fast and free of
cooties. For example, a message might go:

Dear Sir,

I was shocked to learn that Danny Pye, a Christian missionary, has been held in
a prison in Jacmel, Haiti, for more than four months without charge. I was even
more shocked to learn that the U.S. Embassy is aware he is there, admits he is
innocent and yet claims it is helpless to do anything.

Danny Pye, a resident of Florida, desperately needs your help.

Here is the final kick to the stomach.

Through it all, Pye tells us his greatest fear, a sentiment echoed by his wife,
is that this will somehow jeopardize their family's opportunity to stay in Haiti
and continue to operate the orphanage and school. "I plan on supporting them for years to come," Pye said, just before handing the phone back.

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