Photo of GTAH and UAC at the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to deliver letter protesting the mistreatment of Haitians and persons born in the Dominican Republic of Haitian descent by the Government of the Dominican Republic
Give Them A Hand Foundation and United African Congress meet with the UNHCHR in December 2013 to present a letter from them protesting the mistreatment in the Dominican Republic of Haitians and persons of Haitian descent by the Government of the Dominican Republic. Shortly after this letter was presented and forwarded to the Human Rights Council that was meeting in Geneva, the Government of DR suspended its deportation programme. However, this suspension lasted for only a short period of time and the Government is now back to driving thousands of these persons out of the country in violation of their human rights and civil rights and creating unhealthy and unsanitary refugee conditions on the border between the two countries. It’s time that the world stops looking the other way and boycott the DR tourist industry until there is a change in its behaviour.
LETTER FROM GTAH/UAC TO UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS:
December 16, 2013
HE Ivan Simonovic Assistant Secretary General OHCHR in New York
New York NY 10017
Re: Citizens of the Dominican Republic of Haitian Ancestry
“All victims of human rights abuse should be able to look to the Human Rights Council as a forum and a springboard to action.” Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations.
The ruling of the High Court of the Dominican Republic on September 23, 2013 stripping Dominicans of Haitian decent of their citizenship rights has rendered an estimated quarter million of them suddenly stateless. This latest outrage follows a long history of discrimination against Haitians in the Dominican Republic. In 1912, the government passed laws restricting the number of black-skinned people who could enter the country. In a 5-day orgy of killing in October 1937, the Dominican Dictator Trujillo massacred an estimated 20-30 thousand Haitians to “cleanse the border”as he put it. This crime against humanity went unpunished. His successor, Balaguer, had said that the presence of Haitians would “contaminate Dominican blood” and in 1983, he made the racist remark that Haitians “multiply with the rapidity that is almost comparable to vegetable species.” It is against this historical backdrop that the current shameful court ruling should be viewed. The ruling is all the more egregious as it makes the law retroactive to 1929, thus putting the lives of several generations of Dominicans of Haitian decent in jeopardy. This ruling goes against all acceptable norms and standards of civilized behavior and violates almost every article of the UN Universal Declaration of Human rights.
Widespread incidents of abuse, killings and deportation of Haitians without due process since the court ruling have been reported by media outlets. This is a matter of the utmost urgency for the UN Human Rights Commission to address, lest we become yet again helpless witnesses to a human tragedy as history of the plight of Haitians in the Dominican Republic repeats itself. This is the time for the Commission to use its offices as a ‘springboard to action’ as the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon implored the UN Human Rights Council.
As immigrants of people of African descent, other people of color and citizens of the United States, we cannot remain silent and become passive observers to this latest atrocity which is an affront to the world community and a flagrant violation of international law.
We therefore call on the UN Human Rights Commission to put the Dominican Republic on notice that it is violating international law and should therefore immediately cease the implementation of this repugnant and reprehensible law.
Failing compliance with the UN demand, the Commission should recommend immediate action by the Security Council to take further actions such as sanctions and bringing the Dominican Republic to the international court if need be, to answer for its behavior that is not acceptable under international law in the 21st century.
We urge the Commission to demand of the Dominican Republic that the citizenship rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent be immediately restored and proper state protection be given to the undocumented migrant workers while humane and just solutions are sought in consultation with the UN and the Haitian Government.
We further urge the Commission to monitor compliance by the Dominican Republic in implementing the UN recommendations expeditiously.
We, as civil society, will continue to follow the progress closely. We will, in the meantime, garner mass support for our campaign for human rights of Haitians in the Dominican Republic and urging our government and the CARICOM nations to bring pressure to bear on the Dominican Republic with the threat of sanctions and boycott of its tourist industry should it fail to comply with their demands.
We are hopeful the UN Human Rights Commission will take up this issue as a top priority and live up to the promise of the office when it was established and fulfill its obligations.
(signed) Mohammed A Nurhussein MD, National Chairman of the United African Congress (UAC)
(signed) Gordon M. Tapper, Founder and President of Give Them a Hand Foundation (GTAH)
Copies to: Hon. Sidique A. Wai, President and Chief Spokesperson of the United African Congress (UAC)