Letter from Switzerland

Dear Rogelio,

You know how close you are to all of us in our family, mainly of course to our dear Isabelle.

This morning I went through your death watch journal, day by day ; and I shared your feelings,  your loneliness in your tiny cell ; your attitude to  your direct surroundings, the compassion and friendship you feel towards your fellow inmates in the death row but also your capacity to stand back from  the behaviour of some officers inside the prison ; what strikes me is also your courage, the strength of your mind and, here and then, a touch of humour ; many times, shall I say, tears came to my eyes and I wondered how a State and the machinery of the law can assume the right of the death penalty against the citizens, knowing that  fatal errors are always possible (according to many studies, a part of the inmates in the death row are innocent) and knowing also that human beings are able to change positively, becoming more responsible inside the society ; as you say yourself, you are no more the young man you were…

As far I am concerned, I have always been faced by the question of the sense, the meaning of life. I have been lucky enough to meet, in Africa as well as in my country, quite a number of people dedicated to the building of a more human and equitable society. And I tried – and still now – to give my own contribution to this aim.

Difficult to say if I really succeeded… ; anyway it gave sense to my life ; as the Indians say, I did my level best…

Since I retired, I have more time to think about the destiny of human beings. Yesterday, for instance, I had a discussion within a group of friends interested in philosophy; we talked about Socrates, a man who lived in Greece 400 years B.C.  He was sentenced to death by the City Council of Athens on account of his philosophical ideas (according to Socrates, the dignity of human beings comes first, before the so-called wisdom of the State); alas !, as you know, the Socrates scenario reoccurred very often throughout human history.

I am deeply convinced that none of the states in the world should assume the right to sentence to death one of his citizens, whatever the reason of such a decision.

And as I go through your daily journal, I have a sense of revolt and indignation about your fate on death row. There is such a long way from your doings as a teenager and the man you are now. But this kind of argument has no weight in the judiciary system and the inhuman surroundings you have been put into.

Dear, Roy, you know you are now a member of our family and whatever happens to you, you know that you’ll always have a special place in our minds and our souls.


October 5, 2008




2 Responses to “Letter from Switzerland”

  1. Christiane Bitz Says:

    Dear Jean-Maurice,
    I’m truly agree with what you said…. no more to add !
    Rogelio is lucky to have a friend like Isabelle and all her family ! I admire his courage and strenght !
    Christiane Bitz

  2. Françoise Says:

    Thank you, Jean-Maurice, for these very sensible and full of affection words.

    I am full or revolt, too. How can some persons, facing the world and the media, claim high and clear their faith and devotion to God and deny totally the eventuality that men can change, become even better that the majority of us will ever be, and refuse them forgiveness, which is the first condition to live in a real christian attitude?
    It is true: reading Rogelio’s entries, the tears are never very far but it also gives us courage and hope in the human being, able to surpass the unsupportable, with unshakeable faith and hope.
    Love to all of you, caring so deeply for Rogelio

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