Activist Sonia Pierre was a beacon of hope for Haitians living in the Dominican Republic

Pierre – who fought since childhood for the rights of immigrants — was remembered last week, as Jared McAllister writes in The New York Daily News.

For the critics, Sonia Pierre shed too much light on a situation. And for others, that light was a bright beacon of hope.

Pierre, 48, who died of a heart attack last Sunday, endured death threats, assaults and jail because of her work and her positions — a main one being that the children of Haitian immigrants born in the Dominican Republic should be Dominican citizens. Right now, that is not the case.

And ExtremeR, in a post on the website agreed with that point: “There’s one thing I will always agree with her. The fact that Haitians are not declared Dominicans on birth in the DR. I find it to be a coward solution to the immigration problem in the DR. Any kid born in the DR should be Dominican period. But that’s my POV.”

Much of the hatred in the DR against Pierre came from her tendency to not take “no” for an answer when it came to Dominico-Haitians’ rights. When nos came from the Dominican government and the country’s highest courts, she charged that the actions were international human rights abuses and highlighted them.

She was recognized for her efforts. Among the honors she received was a Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights award and the U.S. State Department International Women of Courage award, in 2006 and 2010 respectively.

“Though the world is somber today because of her too-soon departure, she has changed the world for the better by her tireless advocacy for human rights,” Lily Cerat, co-founder of the New York-based Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees and a steadfast friend and fan of Pierre, said last week.

“Living daily amid great hostility in her homeland, the Dominican Republic, Sonia remained steadfast in her advocacy for the human and civil rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent.”

Over the years, Cerat’s organization and Pierre’s MUDHA — Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitiana (Movement of Dominican Haitian Women) — have worked together on humanitarian and educational projects in the DR and Haiti.

“[Sonia] has shown that each one of us can make a difference and play a role in making this world a truly democratic place where we respect the existence of one another,” Cerat said. “Part of her legacy is never to be afraid to challenge civil rights abuses from others or nation-states, to denounce the wrongs perpetrated against disenfranchised peoples and communities and to truly be keepers and protectors of our brothers, sisters and children.”

Last Thursday, hundreds of people protested outside the Dominican Supreme Court, calling for the government to change the measure that denies birth certificates for residents of Haitian descent.

“Sonia’s oldest daughter spoke so eloquently,” Cerat said, “and said her mother died but many replacements are reborn today.”  And the struggle goes on.

For the original report go to

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