Dominican-Haitians protest government crackdown

AP News
Posted: Dec 08, 2011 6:18 PM
Dominican-Haitians protest government crackdown

Hundreds of people protested Thursday in front of the Supreme Court against what they say is a Dominican government practice of confiscating or annulling birth certificates for residents of Haitian descent.

Protesters demanded the government revoke a 2007 resolution aimed at reducing the use of fake documents that they say has led to extreme and unnecessary measures aimed at Dominicans of Haitian descent.

Among the protesters was 14-year-old Melania Richard who carried a sign that read, "I am Dominican, you know it." She said she was born in the Dominican Republic to Dominican parents whose ancestors came from neighboring Haiti.

"If I don't get a copy of my birth certificate, I will have to quit school," she said.

Nonprofit organizations have said at least 1,600 Dominicans have been denied their documents. The groups have filed complaints with the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, which is holding hearings on the matter.

The protesters also paid homage to Sonia Pierre, a human rights activist who died Sunday and had fought discrimination against poor Dominicans of Haitian descent for three decades.

Her daughter, Manuela Solaine, was among the protesters.

"Today, another Sonia Pierre is born," she said. "She lives in the Dominican-Haitian people."