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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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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SOME RELEVANT FACTS ABOUT HAITI AND THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC:
-- 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.