Human Rights Day Panel: Sonia Pierre and the Struggle for Citizenship in the Dominican Republic

Miriam Neptune, Manuela Pierre, Ninaj Raoul, and Monisha Bajaj

Sonia Pierre

Sonia Pierre (1963-2011), mobilized communities in the Dominican Republic to advocate for citizenship and human rights for Dominicans of Haitian descent. At age 13, Pierre led strike to improve working conditions for sugar cane cutters in the batey where she was born. As the director of Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitiana (MUDHA), she used legal challenges in domestic and international courts to defend the citizenship rights of first and second generation children born on Dominican soil. This panel will highlight the activism of young women who are moving forward with Sonia Pierre’s work on behalf of Dominicans of Haitian descent, and address the question of how international pressure impacts efforts by marginalized groups to demand recognition.

Manuela (Solange) Pierre is the oldest daughter of the human rights activist Solain Pie (Sonia Pierre), and the founder and coordinator of the Dominican Network of Young African Descendants (Red Dominicana de Jóvenes Afrodescendientes), which was founded three years ago with the goal to empower young Dominicans in making decisions and in the recognition of themselves as African descendant peoples. The organization’s objective is to cultivate a conscience in the youth and empower them toward a clear goal. Since she was very young, Solange was involved in her mother’s work. Over the years, Solange participated in the workshops and meetings, acquiring knowledge that brought her to work in the legal department of the UASD as Departmental Assistant. She is completing her studies at la Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo’s (UASD) law school.

Ninaj Raoul is the Executive Director of Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, a Brooklyn-based group that collaborated closely with MUDHA for 15 years to organize disaster relief efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Monisha Bajaj is Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education at Teachers College. A longtime friend of Sonia Pierre, she is the editor of the Encyclopedia of Peace Education and the author of a teachertraining manual on human rights education written while she was a Fulbright scholar in the Dominican Republic.

Miriam Neptune (moderator) is a video producer who documented collaborations between Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees and the Movement of Haitian Dominican Women from 2004 to 2010. Her video Birthright Crisis is an award-winning documentary depicting the cycle of deportation and violence faced by Dominicans of Haitian descent. She is currently an Instructional Media Specialist at Barnard College.

Co-sponsored by Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees. This event is free and open to the public. Venue is wheelchair accessible.

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