Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Many Organizations Demand Response to DR Lynching

Last week, a young Haitian man was lynched in the Dominican Republic in what many believe was a racist incident. We pitched in on an initiative to respond to the lynching by supporting a letter to DR Presidential Candidate Leonel Fernandez. The letter was circulated February 13th by Edwin Paraison, who has been working on DR/Haiti issues for decades.  IJDH Staff Attorney Nicole Phillips translated the letter into English, and we obtained dozens of signatures for it, including Edwidge Danticat and Noam Chomsky. The English translation is below.

Cliquez ICI pour la version française.

February 19, 2015

Mr. President,
Allow us to revisit here the undeniable fact that during the presidential elections of 1996 in the Dominican Republic, you benefited from the most heinous anti-Haitian campaign since the dictatorship of Trujillo.

Despite this temporary reinforcement of racism against nationals of a neighboring country and friend, your arrival in power had been welcomed on both sides of the island because it seemed to represent a revival in Dominican political life that could allow bi-national relationships to take a new direction.

Certainly your three terms (1996-2000, 2004-2008, 2008-2012) have been marked by some praiseworthy initiatives including the gift of the University Henri Christophe in Lemonade, as part of the reconstruction following the earthquake in Haiti. However, they were heavily tainted by some atrocious events, including the massacre in Guayubin in June 2000; xenophobic incidents against Hatillo Palma in 2005 and the odious crime against Carlos Nerilus in 2009, just to name a few.

Showing a barbarity like no other, on February 11, 2015, in Santiago, the hung corpse of Claude Jean Harry, covered in violent marks, brought tears of the Dominicans who knew him, the discontentment of society and pain of the entire Haitian community.

We therefore denounce and consider indecent and revolting all attempts to seek a scapegoat among the victim’s community.

With indignation, we bring to your attention that this dehumanizing act is a consequence of too much of the anti-Haitian crusade launched to support you and that hasn’t stopped growing.

The most radical supporters of this crusade were working with you and even now occupy far too important government positions based on their alliances with the PLD. We will save you the time of describing here the coincidences of their positions with yours on the migration case and particularly the right to the nationality of Dominicans of Haitian origin before the constitutional reform of 2010.

In addition, death threats made against Dominican journalists for their objective treatment of the Haitian issue and the presence of “masked groups” who, in addition to burning the Haitian flag on the public highway, declared war on illegal immigration deeply concern us.

Given the seriousness of the situation, we ask that you firmly condemn these intolerable acts. Also, we urge you, in your capacity as president of the Juan Bosch party, in close collaboration with competent authorities, to take control of an escalating situation; otherwise history will remember your heavy responsibility in a regression that could prove dangerous for peace between the island’s two countries.


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