Tags: Baptists | Haiti | help | US

Baptists Held in Haiti Plead for U.S. Help

Tuesday, 09 February 2010 10:16 AM

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The 10 American Baptists detained in Port-au-Prince on child trafficking charges are pleading for the United States government to do more on their behalf and for the media to focus on them less.

Carla Thompson, right, and Corinna Lankford in their cell at a Haitian prison on Tuesday.

“Help us,” one of the detainees, Carla Thompson, said in a jailhouse interview Monday as she lay on a bed in a scorching 8-by-5 foot jail cell, her ankles bandaged from infected mosquito bites. “That’s the message I would give to Mr. Obama and the State Department. Start helping us.”

Sitting on a dirty concrete floor, another detainee, Corinna Lankford, nodded in agreement, a frustrated look on her face.

“I have faith in God,” Ms. Lankford said. “But maybe the U.S. government could help a little more too.”

“No one is giving us any kind of information about what is going on,” she added.

The Baptists, who arrived in the chaotic days following the Jan. 12 earthquake, were detained as they tried to take 33 Haitian children whom the Baptists had said were orphaned into the neighboring Dominican Republic.

Some of the children later said they had parents, and Haitian prosecutors have suggested the Americans may have been part of a child-trafficking scheme in charging them Jan. 26 with kidnapping and criminal association. The Americans have said they were on a humanitarian charity mission to aid Haiti after the quake, which has left an estimated 200,000 people dead.

Asked whether they believed their case had become a distraction to the quake disaster, several of the prisoners became upset.

“Yes, without a doubt,” said Ms. Thompson as she suddenly started to cry.

“We came here to help and now there is all this attention on us,” Ms. Lankford chimed in, as she too began to cry.

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Tuesday, 09 February 2010 10:16 AM
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