Free the Idaho Ten!
By FRANK BAJAK
The Associated Press
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti | Ten U.S. Baptist missionaries were charged Thursday with kidnapping for trying to take 33 children out of Haiti to a hastily arranged refuge.
Their arrests Jan. 30 came just as officials were trying to protect children from predators amid the chaos of the Jan. 12 earthquake.
[The missionaries] began buying used clothing and collecting donations from their Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho. In November, [their organizer] registered the New Life Children’s Refuge Inc., the nonprofit organization coordinating the rescue mission. … When the quake struck, [she] recruited other church members to help kick her plans into high gear. The 10 Americans rushed to Haiti and spent a week gathering children for the project. Most of the children came from the village of Callebas, where residents told The Associated Press that they handed over their children to the Americans because they were unable to feed or clothe them after the quake. They said the missionaries promised to educate the children and let relatives visit.
In Haiti it seems that some good deeds are worth a show trial. Think of it this way. The corruption-riddled government of Haiti is the closest thing to a failed state among all Pac Rim countries. That government, in the midst in the worst humanitarian crisis in recent memory, in the face of heroic efforts by outsiders to restore the shreds of civilized life to its citizens, at a time when the local government was impotent to restrain rioting by its own people, simply decided to assert its authority by prosecuting 10 Christians from a small Idaho town for trying to help some abandoned orphans. Only a clique of embattled, small minded bureaucrats would seek to enforce the letter of the law over its spirit and larger purpose (to help Haiti’s children) as a belated show of petty authority.
It’s one thing to prevent the removal of children to a better place, quite another to criminally prosecute their would-be rescuers.
Our Secretary of State has approached the matter with typical caution:
“On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it was ‘unfortunate’ that ‘this group of Americans took matters into their own hands’ by trying to take the children across the border without proper documentation. ‘We are engaged in discussions with the Haitian government and looking for the best way forward on this,’ she added.”
Sorry, that’s not good enough. A single phone call from our new president is in order, “Free our citizens. Allow them to return to the USA now,” should do the trick. Failing that, a second call to US military personnel is in order.
The bruised egos of shamefully incompetent, small minded government officials is a secondary consideration.