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#2650: Haitian-Dominican leader in New York (fwd)


For Immediate Release           

Community Forum with Sonia Pierre,
of the Movement of Haitian-Dominican Women (MUHDA)  

Brooklyn, March 1, 2000.   This forum, to be hosted by the Justice Committee 
for Haitians and Haitian-Dominicans in the Dominican Republic, will convene 
at 5 p.m., on Sunday, March 5th, at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 319 Maple 
St. and Nostrand Ave. in Brooklyn.  Ms Pierre will talk about government 
persecution of Haitians and people of Haitian descent in the Dominican 
Republic, and about MUHDA's efforts to bring the Dominican government's 
denial of citizenship to children of Haitian parentage born on Dominican soil 
in front of the United Nations.  The forum, held in commemoration of 
International Women's Day, will also look at the travesty of justice in the 
Amadou Diallo murder trial in New York. A letter from the Justice Committee 
to Haitian foreign minister Fritz Longchamp, criticizing the Haitian 
government's lax attitude toward its Dominican counterpart, will be released 
to the public and to the press at the March 5th forum.

Ms Pierre is available for interviews through March 7th.

The Justice Committee for Haitians and Haitian-Dominicans in the Dominican 
Republic can be reached by writing to karioka9@cs.com, or by contacting 
Ernest Banatte at the Haitian Information Center: 1218 Flatbush Ave., 
Brooklyn, NY  11226; telephone: 718-284-0889; fax: 284-2545. For more 
information on the plight of Haitian workers and people of Haitian descent in 
the Dominican Republic, please see the attached fact sheet.

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-- On a recent news program on Radio Haiti-Inter in Port-au-Prince, a group 
of women interviewed in Haiti's Central Plateau talked about how they were 
tortured prior to their deportation from the Dominican Republic. The women 
testified of having been rounded up and beaten on their breasts by Dominican 

-- The weekly Haiti-Progrès reports the deportation last month of at least 
one truckload of school-age children to Haiti.  Many of the children involved 
had a school bag as their sole possession - they were grabbed on their way 
from school.  MUHDA is taking their case to the UN on grounds that the 
Dominican government violated its own Constitution by denying them Dominican 
citizenship, and that the United Nations recognizes to every child born, the 
right to citizenship in a country.

-- In the last quarter of 1999, the Dominican government deported several 
thousand Haitian long-term residents, Haitian-Dominicans and other black 
Dominicans to Haiti.  Former Dominican head of state Joaquin Balaguer and 
other Dominican leaders called for the "cleansing of Dominican blood."  The 
Justice Committee was formed to oppose what it then perceived as the 
beginning of a new campaign of ethnic cleansing, reminiscent of the 1937 
massacre of over 15,000 Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic.  

-- The Haitian government has signed various trade and border agreements with 
its Dominican counterpart. The Dominican government uses those negotiations 
as a smokescreen for its systematic deportation of long-term Haitian 
residents and of people born of Haitian parentage in the Dominican Republic. 

-- The conditions of labor for Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic have 
been likened to slavery by the International Labor Organization, Amnesty 
International, the United Nations and the Inter-American Human Rights 

-- According to a recent report from the Dominican daily, El Siglo, Haitian 
businessmen and industrialists have invested millions of dollars (over one 
billion Dominican pesos) in the Dominican economy, feeding Dominican economic 
growth and the growing economic crisis in Haiti.

-- The Dominican government announced last week that it would no longer 
recruit Haitian workers to cut cane.  The sugar cane industry, the largest 
sector in the Dominican economy after tourism, is to be mechanized.  There is 
a similar move to eliminate Haitian workers from the construction industry.  
Those measures will make life and the conditions of labor even worse than 
today for Haitian workers and their families in the Dominican Republic.

In light of these facts, the Justice Committee calls for amnesty for all 
immigrant workers in the Dominican Republic; citizenship rights for 
Dominican-born children of Haitian workers; and justice, human rights and 
reparations for those facing deportation.