Poet Sekou urges PMs to denounce Dominican Republic’s racist ruling

POSTED: 12/11/13 6:52 PM

GREAT BAY/MARIGOT  Author Lasana Sekou has called on Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and COM-President Aline Hanson, to “officially and publicly condemn the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court decision of September 13, 2013 that threatens to strip at least a quarter of a million people of their citizenship. This leaves them stateless based on the color of their skin—as black men, women, and children—and their heritage origins.”     

In a letter dated November 22 to both government leader, Sekou wrote that the “Court judgment is racist and will lead to gross human rights violation in the Dominican Republic (DR) against the affected citizens. There will be theft of their property, destruction of homes, loss of jobs, small business ownerships and bank accounts with the life savings of families.” He also fears that these stateless citizens will be denied educational opportunities, and the perpetuation of a range of violence, including rape, abuse of children, the elderly and the sick, police brutality, military detention, and the mass murder that historically stems from such abhorrent laws—genocide.”

The tribunal sentence has absolutely nothing to do with immigration and much more with ethnic cleansing, Sekou notes. “The racist ruling will invariably affect Dominican Republic citizens of St. Martin heritage that have been part of Dominican society, certainly since 1929, and thought to number at least 40,000 people.” The Court ruling has a retroactive feature from 1929.

Dominican Republic citizens of Haitian origin are among those affected by the ruling. “That is not acceptable to any civilized nation that abides by established norms of the international community and the principles and practices of humanity,” Sekou wrote.

Prime Minister Wescot-Williams and President Hanson “must condemn this infection of apartheid in the Caribbean and take a leadership role in the solidarity call for immediate, practical, and just corrective measures to be taken in the Dominican Republic,” Sekou wrote.

The poet and author added that objection to the “racist ruling” should also be made in regional and international fora “where the adjusted autonomy” of 2010 and 2007 allows both St. Martin territories to do so. Wescot-Williams is the prime minister in the Dutch territory and Hanson is the president of the French territory. Sekou is an advocate for the independence and eventual unification of St. Martin.

Considered one of the prolific Caribbean poets of his generation, Sekou said that “the designated channels of communication” that allow the governments in Philipsburg and Marigot “to request and if necessary to demand that the Netherlands and France denounce the racist ruling … must also be promptly employed.” He noted that there are already calls for the boycott of Dominican Republic goods and tourism.

Sekou said last week “that the early, clear and strong statements to the Dominican Republic president and government by the prime minister of St. Vincent and The Grenadines and protesting groups in Trinidad and Puerto Rico are admirable. Their positions represent the best of a history of solidarity and victory over oppression among Caribbean peoples and support for oppressed peoples in the region and around the world.”

He also said that the support for the ruling among significant sectors of the Dominican Republic’s society, including Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, has not deterred or stopped the growing concerns, findings, and mounting protests by other government leaders. Sekou mentions regional and international bodies such as Caricom, OCHR, UNHCR, Amnesty, OECS, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; human rights groups such as Reconoci.do; and individuals inside and outside of the Dominican Republic. Former DR President Hipolito Mejia recently called the ruling “a shame.

Concluding his letter to Prime Minister Wescot-Williams and President Hanson, Sekou quoted Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent & The Grenadines in his letter to President Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic — against the September 13 decision: “The fig-leaf of sovereignty cannot be invoked when time-honored and universal principles of citizenship and human decency are trampled upon.”



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