Your Chance to do a Work of Mercy

A reader writes:

Dear Friends and Family,

Your prayers.

Last 10 November, I received the email from Fr Dcn Peter Bushunow pasted below about the imprisonment of Fr Alexander Dorado, a priest serving the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (Agafangel) in Argentina, in a Uruguay prison on the charges of money laundering.

You can read about life in Uruguay prisons here, the 2011 Report on Prisons in Uruguay, the Atlas of Torture 2012 Report, Wikiversity on Punishment (Prisons) in Uruguay, a report from Legal Blogger, March 2012, and the 2012 Amnesty International Report on Uruguay (see the section on ‘Prison conditions’). Detainees in Uruguay are considered guilty until proven innocent, held without being charged, and held in cramped cells with multiple prisoners, many of whom are violent crime offenders. The prisoners survive largely on the food brought to them on the few visiting days. I include beneath Fr Peter’s letter a report from a parishioner who visited Fr Alexander last month.

We can call the prison and send packages to Fr Alexander, which requires some effort and expense (addresses and numbers below). We may help Fr Alexander easily and effectively, too, by sending email letters to the Uruguay Embassy and to that country’s consular offices in major US cities. I attach a sample letter for your cutting and pasting beneath this note and the email addresses of Uruguay’s American Embassy and consular offices. We can help protect Fr Alexander, speed his trial and his release, by demonstrating to Uruguay officials that Americans are concerned about his condition, safety, and his treatment in the Uruguay justice system.

Thank you for taking the time to write electronically the Embassy and one consular office today to ask for a report on Fr Alexander’s situation and why he is being held. We are called to help the helpless this Lenten season; let us reach out to help an icon of Christ who is incarcerated unjustly and held arbitrarily in a nightmarish prison that is considered an international scandal. Pray for Fr Alexander’s safety and early release, please, share this email with as many friends as you can, and send a few emails today to the addresses below.

Fraternally in Christ,

John Granger

Sample letter to Uruguay Embassy, United States, Washington D.C.

Email:uruwashi@uruwashi.org
Website URL:www.uruwashi.org

Subject Line:
Fr Alejandro Iwaszewicz Dorado

His Excellency Dr. Carlos Pita
Ambassador of Uruguay
Uruguay Embassy, United States

Dear Honorable Ambassador,

I write today to ask for a report on the status and safety of an Orthodox priest imprisoned in a Montevideo jail. Fr Alejandro Iwaszewicz Dorado has been held there without trial on charges of money laundering since late 2012. Orthodox Christians and friends of the Church around the world are concerned about his situation and want to know when he will be brought to trial, why he is being held in the prison he is, and if there is anything that can be done to guarantee his well being and speed his release.

Thank you in advance for sending me any information you can about Fr Alejandro’s situation and his future. He is being held at this address: Alejandro Iwaszewicz Dorado, MODULO 8, SECTOR A2, Cell 13, COMPEN-COMCAR, Ruta 1 km 20, Ciudad SANTIAGO VAZQUEZ, DPTO. MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY.

Respectfully,

[Full Name
Address]

The American Ambassador to Uruguay is the Honorable Julissa Reynoso. An email letter to her at the American Embassy in Uruguay should be addressed ‘Her Excellency’ and as above before sending to MontevideoACS@state.gov. Please ask her to make inquiries into the incarceration of Fr Alejandro.

Sample Letter to Uruguay Consulates, United States

Subject Line: Fr Alejandro Iwaszewicz Dorado

Consulate Official
Uruguay Consulate, [Name of City]

Dear Sir or Madam,

I write today to ask for a report on the status and safety of an Orthodox priest imprisoned in a Montevideo jail. Fr Alejandro Iwaszewicz Dorado has been held there without trial on charges of money laundering since late 2012. Orthodox Christians around the world are concerned about his situation and want to know when he will be brought to trial, why he is being held in the prison he is, and if there is anything that can be done to guarantee his well being and speed his release.

Thank you in advance for sending me any information you can about Fr Alejandro’s situation and his future. He is being held at this address: Alejandro Iwaszewicz Dorado, MODULO 8, SECTOR A2, Cell 13, COMPEN-COMCAR, Ruta 1 km 20, Ciudad SANTIAGO VAZQUEZ, DPTO. MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY.

Respectfully,

[Full Name
Address]

Here is a link to the phone numbers and addresses for theUruguayan embassy or the consulate offices, too.

On Sat, Nov 10, 2012 at 8:07 AM, Fr. Peter Bushunow wrote:

Dear Friends,

Evlogeite! Blagoslovite!

Your prayers, please!

I don’t know if you have heard of this, but Father Alexander Iwaszewicz Dorado, one of the most active priests in the South American Diocese of the Russian Church Abroad (not affiliated with the MP) was jailed under a ludicrous charge of money laundering.  Fr. Alexander has been under pressure from the authorities to bring his parish into the MP church, and has been threatened with arrest before.  Now he is facing a very real risk to his life and health, and his parish is facing a new struggle.

Please pray for Fr. Alexander, his family and his flock!

You can see pictures of his church and learn more at http://www.iglesiarusa.org.ar

I just signed the petition “Dra. Dolores SANCHEZ de LEON. Juez letrado Penal de 10º Turno.: free Alejandro Iwaszewicz dejar en libertad a Alejandro Iwaszewicz ” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.
Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support. You can open the following  and sign the petition here:
https://www.change.org/petitions/dra-dolores-sanchez-de-leon-juez-letrado-penal-de-10o-turno-free-alejandro-iwaszewicz-dejar-en-libertad-a-alejandro-iwaszewicz

In Christ,

Deacon Peter

Why is Fr Alexander in jail?

Fr. Alexander Iwaszewicz Dorado is the young, dynamic and kind rector of  Iglesia de Santisima Trinidad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He’s an excellent father of four, and sole provider for his family and elderly parents. Father is loved by all his parishioners and all those he came in contact with.

Father Alexander Iwaszewicz Dorado worked for an international company that has a branch in Uruguay. This company made a transfer of money and by signing a document, Fr. Alexander assumed responsibility.  The amount itself is ludicrously small compared with the crime being charged against Fr. Alexander: money laundering. According to what we now know, this trial was sparked by a rumor that the Uruguayan government took very seriously. When on November 1st, he was questioned in Uruguayan court, the District Attorney’s aggressiveness caused Fr. Alexander to pass out and be taken to the hospital. A few hours later, he came to. Due to the lack of a good medical examination, it is not known whether the collapse was due to simply a drop in blood pressure or something more serious such as a micro heart attack.

Current place of detention: Please write and send packages!

Alejandro Iwaszewicz Dorado
MODULO 8, SECTOR A2, Cell 13
COMPEN-COMCAR
Ruta 1 km 20.
Ciudad SANTIAGO VAZQUEZ
DPTO. MONTEVIDEO
URUGUAY

Additional Information:

It is well known in the international community, that the prisons of the Uruguayan Republic leave much to be desired and that they are rife with inhuman conditions. There exist international organizations that keep a registry of prisoners in Uruguay, and in the world, and make sure that their basic human rights are not violated. This is done regardless of whether the accused is guilty or innocent.

Unfortunately, Uruguay figures among one of the top countries in the world that detains innocent individuals, and/or provides unjust sentences. Uruguay also detains many individuals for extended periods of time without providing trial. Though the law states otherwise, de facto, the accused are often considered guilty before the trial.  The investigation of the case begins only after a suspect is arrested and placed in jail.  One is not presumed innocent until the Uruguayan court declares him as such.
Inter-American Commission on Human Affairs and Amnesty International keep a record of these cases and alert prison and judicial authorities that they are aware of the situation.

Fr Alexander Iwaszewicz is being held prisoner without charge or trial in Uruguay. Here is a report from a man who visited him earlier this month:

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Marina
Subject: injustice prevails ~ Pablo Colángelo visits F. Alejandro on 17/03/2013
Date: 26 March 2013 14:14:52 GMT

From Pablo Colangelo:

Yesterday (March 17, 2013) Miguel Berduc (h), Harry Tschubow and I went to visit Father Alejandro, and I want to briefly comment how we saw him.

We found Father well, as usual, when we go visit him.  Evidently, the difference with other visits is that now he is perceived more secure. I can’t say much about Father because his mood visibly doesn’t differ much, since he seems as strong as usual, but I consider it a good exercise not to forget where he is at and his overall situation, in order to avoid indifference setting it.

As we all know, Father is locked in a cell which is 99% cement, that is, when the weather is hot they burn up, and when it gets colder they freeze. They almost never go outside; he is locked with other three people. They seldom go to the courtyard because those are filled out with people, the only secure outlets are the visits (if so) on Thursdays and Sundays this month. Visits are very important because it’s his connection with his people and the outside world, besides being his contact with sunlight.

Something so simple for us is almost impossible for others!

The food: They refer to what is served as the “Rancho”. If they can recover a small piece of meat, they take it out to try to put together some other meal. The inmates feed themselves with what they get from their visitors, often times those who don’t have visitors get a share from those who do.

Taking a shower: Hot water doesn’t exist. Often times when heat was extreme there was no water, and the day before visitation when the inmate wants to get ready for his family and friends, unexpectedly there is no water.

Sleeping or relaxing: The noise from TVs and radios, and people shouting are constant, from morning till night.

Walking: It is impossible. The cell is approx. 4 x 5 [m], with 4-5 people in it. That’s why, when we go visit, we see a large number of inmates walking from one end to the other, together with a family member or a friend.

Yesterday, it was very difficult to get in.  We arrived at 7:30 and were able to enter at about 10:00. Some women got in at about 2:00 or 3:00 p.m., while they were waiting in line since 5:00 a.m. Father seems to be very affected by what happens to the other inmates, and suffers.

Father told us that the female Judge in charge of the case was very surprised to find out regarding the many letters of support he received [directly] in court and via internet from all over the world. It is very important not to drop the ball and mark our presence by all possible means, calling the prison, sending letters and visiting Father, or by any other means you can come up with. That is very important indeed, as a spiritual support and to show them that Father is a very important person to many people all over the world.

This is more or less a summary of our yesterday’s visit.

Pablo Colángelo

We ask for your prayers. Please continue to write and to call Fr Alexander! The necessary information for helping this brother in Christ is below.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Dimitri
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 2013 11:51:15 -0400
Subject: In Support of Fr. Alexander Iwaszewicz

(From Nasha Strana, March 9, 2013, Issue #2959)

How else can we help Fr. Alexander?

You can call him in the prison, where the unjustly incarcerated priest of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Buenos Aires is currently being held. Telephone: 59-8-2312-0197.

When they answer your call, provide them with extension 248.  A guard will pick up and you can ask him to pass along your message of greeting (or well wishes on feast days, etc.) to “Alexander Iwaszewicz.” Do not use his title and give his country of origin as Argentina. The guards usually agree to the request.

Besides telephone calls, you can send him postcards and letters to the following address:

Alejandro Iwaszewicz Dorado
MODULO 8, SECTOR A2, Cell 13
COMPEN-COMCAR
Ruta 1 km 20.
Ciudad SANTIAGO VAZQUEZ
DPTO. MONTEVIDEO
URUGUAY

All of this is important not only for moral support for Fr. Alexander, but to provide a measure of safety. The officials of the prison (which is often the scene of killings and riots) need to understand that Fr.  Alexander’s condition and plight is of interest to many people all over the world.

Here are some web site reports about the conditions Fr Alexander is living in — and how he can be held without trial among those already convicted.

About what you’d expect: something of a nightmare

  Explanation of Uruguay’s Pre-Trial Detentions, pictures of cells

  More data in confirmation of the above

Conditions so bad in Libertad Penitentiary that Guards go on Strike

Prison conditions

In May, the government announced that prisoners would no longer be held in steel boxes known as “Las Latas” in Libertad Penitentiary. Following his visit to Uruguay in 2009, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture had condemned conditions in these steel modules as cruel and inhuman.

In July the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed concern about serious shortcomings in the prison system including overcrowding, inadequate infrastructure and the widespread use of pre-trial detention.

By the end of the year the National Human Rights Institute and Ombudsman’s Office, one of whose roles is to implement the national preventive mechanism under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, had yet to be established.

Subject: Visit by Nicolás Kasanzew
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2013 08:33:34 -0700

First of all, let’s begin with some “technical” issues that might be useful for anyone travelling by Buquebus [ferry to see Fr Alejandro]. At the Colonia harbor, at 3 am, the exchange house was open. Across from the bus station in Montevideo, the exchange house opens at eight.

Just like Miguelito Berduc told us, I had to leave COMCAR at 2 pm not to lose my BUQUEBUS trip. …There were no taxis, and I was told that the bus takes an hour and a half. I was going to lose my Buquebus. So I hitchhiked, and the first vehicle that went by stopped immediately.- They were two young people who had also gone to visit a friend. They took me to Montevideo and when I tried to give them the 600 pesos I had paid the taxi, they refuse to take the money…

When I arrived turned around and immediately saw Father Valentin and Matushka around an amazing amount of food they had in the trunk of their car. I also tried to buy some food but Father Valentin asked me not to, but to take half of the food he had because he was afraid they wouldn’t let him take all that food through. I only bought some water and left my stuff at the shop’s box. I had travelled with the fewest things possible, but I found that people also left their bags on the floor of the shop for them to take care of it, for the same 20 pesos.

It was moving to see Father Valentin with his wheel chair carrying a huge amount of food, moving backwards, pushing with his legs since doing that with his arm was hard. However, although he had some physical restraint, I saw him strong as a bull and Matushka was quiet and sweet.

Now I have to say that there is some outdated and/or mistaken information at least on this two points:

1).You can only take the food for the day. Not only did Father Valentin and I go through with the food for over a week, but ALL the visitors had much more than what you can eat in one day (They did not let you go through with candy, you cannot go through with quince jelly but you can take quince jelly cake).

2). When you enter the jail they scan you, which seem to have replaced the previous humiliating frisks.

3). 99 per cent of visitors were women, most of them young, some of them pretty. I asked about what happened on Sundays and they said that there are more men but 90 per cent are still women.

There are hundreds of women. When I went out at 2 pm there was still a long row of women that wanted to enter. It seemed hard to believe that that large number of women was in danger of being harassed or that they wouldn’t be respected. Inside the prison I saw women hugging their husbands with their small children and the other prisoners treated them with respect.

Couples behaved with decency. I think that what they said at first, that women run risks at COMCAR was, perhaps, a misunderstanding based on some exception to the rule. I don’t think anyone would dare touch a woman against her will.

Among other things, as Father Pablo always says, the visit is sacred. And most of the visitors are women, thus, women are sacred. Before entering, two inmates came to help us with the load and when I thanked them, they repeated that the visit was sacred: No, thank You for coming!

I do not, by any means, want to encourage women to visit Father Alexander. His request not to go is also sacred. My only intention is to tell you how things are from my point of view.

When we entered, I have Father Alexander two hugs, one was mine and the other was Father Pablo’s, who had asked me to do so.

We sat at a table, one of the common rooms to the hall and although there was a lot of food, Father Alexander did not eat (we didn’t eat either, of course). We only had Mate and talked. Father Alexander is quite thinner, but I also felt that him and Father Valentin, were a bit more optimistic because “things” were starting to change in a hopeful way. When talking to Father Alexander, he was only focused on what happens in jail and his case, which is entirely logical. (Translators note re MATE  : Google it .Too long to explain .The Latin term  ilex paraguariensis.)

Some anecdotes:

At the door of his cell, which he shares with three more people, the inmates wrote “Church”.

The Father prays several times a day and no one interrupts him, his cell mates even try to make less noise. However, yesterday one of them touched him in the arm and told him: “Sorry, but it is very important for you to hear this: They chose an Argentine Pope!”

One of the worse things in jail is the smell of the latrine all through the cells. Anyway, in Father Alexander’s cell there is a smoker. “I had never imagined that I could ever be happy because of some who smokes around me : it covers the smell for some minutes”.

At all times Father Alexander was quiet, even when he read Anton Vasiliev’s poem that – curiously- I had from the poet from Moscow when I was leaving, and I took it to him. The poem is dedicated to Father Alexander and it is impossible to read it without crying. Father Alexander only cried when talking about his children and Matushka ( FA wife ).

It was moving when both Fathers prayed a moleben( special prayer) , where an orthodox imamate from Rumania participated. We were surrounded by criminals with the hateful radio music as loud as it could be. And as if that didn’t exist ¨It reminds me of the Easter mass celebrated by the bishops who were imprisoned in Solovki, Russia¨, said the father.

That mass was amazingly described by Boris Shiriaiev in his book ” The  inextinguishable votive lamp “. Where someone says to the author: “Don’t be afraid of Solovkii: there Christ is very close”. (Solovki was a famous Soviet Concentration camp where many Clergy suffered in the former USSR)

Nicolás Kasanzew

  • http://321force.blogspot.com Barbara

    Will the guards speak English? My spanishnis very rough…

  • Ivan

    Please note that this priest belongs to an ecclesial body in communion with nobody, including the rest of the Orthodox Church.

  • Marthe Lépine

    For Mark’s Canadian readers:
    CONSULATES OF URUGUAY IN CANADA:
    GENERAL CONSULATE OF TORONTO
    General Consul:.
    Chancellery Officer: Sra. Valeria Sofia
    300 Sheppard Avenue West, Suite 302
    Toronto, Ontario
    M2N 1N5
    Tel: (416) 730 1289
    Fax: (416) 730 0192
    Email: conurutor@on.aibn.com
    ________________________________________
    OTTAWA:
    Consular Section Manager: Ec. Alejandro Rodriguez Cotro
    Chancellery Officer:
    130 Albert St. Suite 1905
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    K1P 5G4
    Tel: (613) 234-2937
    Fax: (613) 233-4670
    Email: embassy@embassyofuruguay.ca
    ________________________________________
    MONTREAL
    General Consul: Dra. Beatriz Nuñez
    Honorary Consul: Cr. Máximo Miranda
    1411 Peel Street – Suite 603, 6th Floor
    Montreal, Quebec
    Tel: 514-288-0990
    Fax: 514-288-5308
    Email: conurumont@gmail.com
    ________________________________________
    VANCOUVER
    Honorary Consul: C. Scott M. Shepherd
    Chancellery Officer: Lic. Mariella Venier
    Suite 833, Three Bentall Centre
    595 Burrard Street
    PO Box 49058
    Vancouver, .BC. V7X 1C4
    Canada
    Tel: ++ (1-778) 329-0433
    Fax: ++ (1-604) 664-5838
    Email:uruguay@northstar.ca

  • Marthe Lépine

    The above was copied for the consulate’s Web site. Sorry for the double-spacing… I do not know how to correct it.

  • Vladimir Saemmler-Hindrichs

    My heart goes out to the father, but I’m more than a little disturbed that even at a tragic time like this, Agafangel’s weenies can’t seem to leave politics alone. This would evoke a good deal more sympathy if it hadn’t started out with an attack on the canonical jurisdiction, which, of course, Agafangel is not. Kak tebe ne stidno?


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