Sonia (Solange) Pierre is an important voice in the defense of the Dominican-Haitian population. Born to Haitian parents and raised in the Dominican Republic, Pierre was just 13 when she was arrested and threatened with deportation for leading her fellow residents of Haitian descent in a march for sugar cane-cutters’ rights. More recently, Pierre began a human rights movement on behalf of the stateless children in the Dominican Republic. Her concerns focused on the inability of these children to attend school or receive health care and spoke about the pressing need for action. She created El Movimiento de Mujeres Domínico-Haitianas [MUDHA; Dominican-Haitian Women’s Movement]. The main goals of this organization are to push for changes in Dominican legislation, to promote the organization of Haitian and Dominican women, and to implement training, human rights, to create community health plans, and especially, to make the Dominican-Haitian community a visible and legitimate part of Dominican society.
Pierre was at the forefront of the Dilcia Yean and Violeta Bosico vs. Dominican Republic law case at the Inter-American Court on Human Rights in 2005, which involved two young girls born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents. The girls had been denied the registration of birth certificates based on their ethnic background and because their parents purportedly had been residing in the Dominican Republic illegally. According to the Civil Registry this meant that they had no legal right to citizenship. The court ruled that the country’s authorities had violated the girls’ rights to nationality and equality in the Dominican Republic. Because of her work on this case and her role in the creation of various movements that raise awareness of the undocumented persons living in the country, Pierre won the 2006 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Awards. Unsettled by her success, the Dominican government called Pierre’s citizenship into question and threatened deportation to Haiti.
Earlier this year, Pierre spoke out strongly about the decapitation of Carlos Nérilus. Later, Pierre’s home caught in fire and the entire second floor of her house and its contents were destroyed. She told a reporter, “I will always maintain that beheading someone on a public square is a savage act. No one, black or white, Haitian or Dominican, should be treated like that. As for the fire that destroyed my house, if it is found to be arson, I would be truly saddened by that. I am patriotic; I love my country and my culture. In my daily job, I only try to appeal to the greater humanistic and democratic ideals of my compatriots and government about the way all human-beings ought to be treated, Dominican or not. Xenophobia has no place in our country or in the world.”
For more information on Sonia Pierre, see http://www.rfkmemorial.org/legacyinaction/2006_Winner/
For article on questions regarding her citizenship and possible deportation (in Spanish), see http://www.diariodominicano.com/n.php?id=11453