Solange Pierre

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Solange Pierre (center) with Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, 2010 International Women of Courage Awards at the U.S. Department of State, March 3, 2010

Solange Pierre (1963 – December 4, 2011), known as Sonia Pierre, was a human rights advocate in the Dominican Republic who worked to end antihaitianismo, which is discrimination against individuals from Haiti or Dominicans of Haitian origin.[1] For this work, she won the 2006 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.[2]

Pierre was born in Villa Altagracia, San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic, in 1963 to parents of Haitian descent. One of twelve children,[3] she was raised in a migrant worker camp called a batey, where many of the Dominican Republic's people of Haitian descent live. Her birth certificate lists her name as Solain Pie, which Pierre "says is the result of an error by a government clerk."[1] Her nationality was disputed by some on the grounds that her birth certificate is forged, the residence status of her Haitian parents and the lack of evidenciary documentation from Haiti.[4]

At the age of 14, she organized a five-day protest by sugar cane workers on one of the country's bateyes, which led to her being arrested. However, the protest attracted enough public attention that the workers' demands—namely, to have their living quarters painted and be given better tools and pay raises—were met.[5]

Death[edit]

On December 4, 2011, Pierre died at the age of 48 from a heart attack while being rushed to the hospital in Villa Altagracia, San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic.[6]

Work[edit]

Pierre worked as director of the non-governmental organization Movement for Dominican Women of Haitian Descent (MUDHA),[2] which aims to end antihaitianismo or bias against individuals from Haiti in the Dominican Republic.

In 2005, Pierre petitioned the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the case of two ethnic Haitian children who were denied Dominican birth certificates. Called Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic, the case "upheld human rights laws prohibiting racial discrimination in access to nationality and citizenship."[2] The court also ordered the Dominican government to provide the birth certificates.

However, the Dominican Supreme Court later ruled that "Haitian workers were considered 'in transit,' and that their children were therefore not entitled to citizenship."[1]

Awards and honors[edit]

For her work, Pierre won the 2006 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award handed down by former US Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy, but NOT on behalf of the US Congress.(see.[2]) In presenting the award to Pierre, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy quoted a longtime friend of hers who said: "I am a better person today for having met, worked, and traveled this road with Sonia Pierre. With certitude, I can affirm that Sonia is one of the most selfless, courageous and compassionate human beings of my generation." [7]

Pierre also won Amnesty International's 2003 Human Rights Ginetta Sagan Fund Award,[5] and she and MUDHA were nominated for the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education in 2002.[8]

In 2008, she was awarded the Giuseppe Motta Medal for protection of human rights.[9] She was also honored by the United States Department of State with a 2010 International Women of Courage Award.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "A Rights Advocate's Work Divides Dominicans" by Marc Lacey, The New York Times, September 29, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d "DOMINICAN BORN HAITIAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST WINS 2006 RFK HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD" Press Release, RFK Memorial Center, accessed Sept. 28, 2007.
  3. ^ "Activist Sonia Pierre Receives RFK Award" by Andrew Miga, The Associated Press, printed in the Washington Post, Nov. 17, 2006.
  4. ^ "Jurista asegura Sonia Pierre no es dominicana" Dominican jurist affirms that Solange Pierre is not Dominican" by Antonio Santana. 2010-03-11 dominicanoshoy.com
  5. ^ a b "Dominican-born Sonia Pierre Wins Amnesty International's 2003 Human Rights Award for Working for Her People" by Tequila Minsky, April 2003, Haitian Support Group website, accessed Sept. 29, 2007.
  6. ^ "Sonia Pierre Obituary: View Sonia Pierre's Obituary by The Columbus Dispatch". Legacy.com. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  7. ^ "Dominican Activist Sonia Pierre Receives RFK Award". blog.thedemocraticdaily.com. Retrieved 2013-11-04. 
  8. ^ "Interview: Solange Pierre, focusing on Dominican-Haitian immigration" by Charles Arthur, Latin American Press, Oct 16, 2002.
  9. ^ http://motta.gidd.eu.org/#!medal-winners-2008/cypa Giuseppe Motta Medal Website
  10. ^ "Secretary Clinton With First Lady Michelle Obama and Honoree Sonia Pierre of the Dominican Republic". United States Department of State. March 3, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-07.