Subject: [fem-women2000 700] FWD: WCAR Update from FIRE
From: Makoto TERANAKA <>
Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2001 16:52:42 +0900
Seq: 700

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Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2001 13:45:46 +0800
>From: Kathy Clarin <>
Subject: WCAR Update from FIRE

For Immediate Release by FIRE - Feminist International Radio Endeavour
September 3, 2001
Durban, South Africa

No Flags Were Burned at the UN:  Dominican-Haitian Activist Calls for End
to False Rumors

On a live Internet broadcast from Durban, South Africa last night by
Feminist International Radio Endeavour (FIRE), a Dominican-Haitian woman
activist denounced the false rumors circulating back in her country of her
presentation of an unofficial report on racism in the State of the
Dominican Republic at the NGO (Non-Governmental) Forum, which ran parallel
to the UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and other forms of Intolerance.

"I have come here with the truth that every good Dominican citizen should
recognize, that we have real problems of racism in our country," said
Solange Pierre, general coordinator of MUDHAMovement of Dominican-Haitian
Women (Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas, Inc.).  'The black and'
poor people of the Dominican Republic like me as well as the Haitians are
subject to racism.  The document that I brought here has been misinterpreted.

Solange explained that the unofficial report she presented on behalf of
MUDHA entitled, "Solidarity: The Struggle for Dominican Minorities of
Haitian Descent for Full Citizenship & Justice" addresses the struggles
of the minority group of Dominican Republic citizens who are of Haitian
descent.  However, contrary to rampant rumors back in her country, the
report does not criticize the people nor the government of the Dominican
Republic, but only addresses contradictions in state policy and
practice.  Nor is it an official UN document, contrary to these
controversial rumors, which have triggered an enormous public outcry
against Solange, as well as a denouncement and threats of deportation by
the Dominican Republic government.

Salonge said, "It has been said back in my country that I officially
presented the report to the UN that denounces the Dominican society.  But
in my document I do not even accuse my government, much less the people of
the Dominican Republic, who also suffer racism like me.  I hold the State
of the Dominican Republic responsible for having adopted legislation and
international conventions such as the Convention for the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination (CERD) that contradict what really happens, which I
show in statistics."

One example of discriminatory policies that Solange described from her
report is massive deportations of Haitians, many of whom were themselves
born or who have children who were born in the Dominican Republic.  The
national constitution grants citizenship to persons born there.  However,
the National Army has reported deportations of 45,135 Haitians in the past
year alone.

The Dominican government justifies these deportations with their
interpretation of the national Migration Law 95 passed in 1939 which states
that people 'in transit' do not have access to citizenship.  However,
Solange notes that it is a misinterpretation to assume that persons who
have lived in the Dominican Republic for 20 years, working at jobs and
bearing children, are 'in transit.'

Solange has presented the MUDHA report in numerous NGO (non-governmental
organization) forums which have been taking place parallel to the official
WCAR Conference, but as with other such documents, is not considered
official by the UN conference system.

The MUDHA report includes ample evidence of the contradictions between
legislation and laws adopted by the Dominican State, and examples of
discrimination, racism and xenophobia toward Dominican-Haitian minority
citizens in policies related to health, culture, citizenship, access to
justice, education, and employment, among others.

The last part of the document proposes 22 recommendations that the
Dominican government should undertake to elimination racial discrimination,
which ironically is precisely one of the main objectives of the UN WCAR
conference.  The Plan of Action now being negotiated and which will
eventually be adopted by governments at the WCAR are designed to overcome
such discriminations.

One example of these measures is a request that international organizations
such as the World Bank, the InterAmerican Development Bank, and the
European Union implement  programs addressed toward bettering the lives of
the Haitian minority population in the Dominican Republic.

Also recommended is that the government eliminate "all exclusive practice
that prevent the access of this population to health, housing, and justice,
and that these be accompanied by the implementation of positive programs of
action to facilitate their integration into society."

Another recommendation is that schools undertake multicultural and
antiracist education  "that disseminates the human rights instruments so
that children can be educated with a respect for diversity and in the
promotion of harmonious intercultural relations."

False rumors about anti-nationalist actions by the Haitian minority in the
Dominican Republic and the subsequent public uproar were described in an
incident this past spring by Solange during her interview by FIRE:  "Once
more we are being accused of actions that we have not committed, as with
what happened in April when 275 Haitians were falsely accused of having
burned a Dominican flag."

Solange continued, "Every Holy Week the Haitian and Dominican-Haitian
population celebrates El Gag=E1 , a black African religious ritual.  As a
symbol of the respect toward the country where the ritual takes place,
people carry a flag of that nation, which accompanies the marchers one
kilometer ahead of the main parade.  One time a few years ago somebody said
that the Dominican Republic flag had been burned in El Gag=E1.  As a result
of that rumor, the military came and public opinion was in an uproar with
great indignation against the Haitians.  As a result, 275 were beaten, put
in prison, and even deported.

Solange noted, "Afterwards it was proven that the flag was never burned
but was returned to the authorities who had lent it for El Gag=E1 who also
testified that the flag remained intact.  The facts were clarified, but no
one ever asked for forgiveness, nor were reparations ever offered for the
damages.  And all of this was caused by a rumor that was falsely disseminated."

Solange described to FIRE the backlash against her in her in the Dominican
Republic as a result of the misinterpretation yesterday of her unofficial
report on racism.  "The entire population has turned against me for
something that I didn't say," she noted.  "Throughout this whole day when
the information broke out into the news, people have been calling the and
writing to the media.  The public uproar is similar to that which took
place as a result of the rumor and false information about the burning of
the Dominican flag.  My family has been harassed to the extent that they
have had to leave their house.  And I have been publicly threatened to be
kicked out of the country when I go back."

The irony of the situation is that one of the main objectives of the World
Conference Against Racism is for civic society and governments to analyze
racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances in their
countries, and to propose measures in a Plan of Action that the UN and
member states will adopt as ways to overcome these prejudices.

Solange declared, "As a citizen of the Dominican Republic, I have a
responsibility to contribute to enhance and strengthen the democratic
system which we need for the country to be a better place for its citizens
and to develop a good international image about its policy."

Her words echoed those of Rigoberta Mench=FA, a Mayan woman activist from
Guatemala and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who spoke during the closing
ceremony of the NGO Forum.  She declared that all peoples should be
considered on an equal footing, that no single group should be placed above
the others.

For more information, contact FIRE at the WCAR at

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