We the people – not the lobbyists – took our rightful seat at the table and demanded that our elected officials in Congress defend the rights of people of Haitian descent being persecuted in the Dominican Republic. Since Advocacy Day, we and our allies have been confronted with a fierce backlash and accusations of promoting American imperialism and worse. These accusations are meant to silence dissent as the human rights crisis in the Dominican Republic rages on.
Dissent, however, is a Dominican tradition.
The suggestion that the Dominican Republic cannot be held to the same human right standards as other nations is inherently paternalistic. Respect for the most basic tenets of human rights is not a foreign concept that is being “imposed” on the Dominican Republic. The Dominican people have a long tradition of social justice and dissent that is defended daily by their civil society. Our advocacy in the United States only amplifies this tradition.
Remarkably, our detractors never mention the millions of dollars the Dominican government has spent on lobbying that very same United States Congress to advance its anti-immigrant, anti-black agenda. There is even less concern with “imperialism” when the Dominican Republic uses the $90+ million it received in U.S. military assistance to militarize its border and target an ethnic minority.
Human rights, though? Totally imperialist.
Truth be told, this is not an issue of imperialism or even moral authority. It is one of moral obligation. We have a moral obligation to act to protect vulnerable people targeted with weapons bought with our tax dollars. It is the antithesis of imperialism to stand on the side of the vulnerable against the strength of the very government that persecutes, rather than protects, them. Anything short of that will be written in the history books as a callous indifference towards humanity and justice.
It is in this spirit that we ask Congress to:
1. Introduce and ultimately vote for passage of a companion resolution to Congressman Meeks H. Res. 443 of the 113th Congress, which is a resolution expressly condemning these human rights abuses.
2. Write a public letter to Secretary John Kerry asking that the U.S. State Department investigate the ongoing issues resulting from the poor implementation of the Naturalization Law.
3. Hold a hearing to hear testimony from those facing statelessness in the Dominican Republic as well as from experts on this ongoing crisis.
Click here to send your own letter to Congress.