Assemblymember Bichotte Announces Hunger Strike to Protest the Persecution of Dominicans of Haitian Descent

Albany – Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte announced that she will be on a hunger strike at a press conference yesterday urging a vote in the New York State Assembly on resolution K376, which calls for the United States Congress to adopt House of Representatives Resolution 443 (2013-2014), condemning actions of the Dominican Republic's Constitutional Court which stripped hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship.

"I take this action to draw the world's eyes to the Dominican Republic's abuse of Dominicans of Haitian descent and efforts to strip them of their rights and citizenship," said Assemblymember Bichotte. "As a Haitian-American, I would be justifiably outraged if the United States suddenly declared me a noncitizen for no other reason than my heritage. I'm no less outraged to see this done to Dominicans of Haitian descent. This is a brazen violation of their human rights."

"This is an issue on whether we believe in human rights. Are we committed to the rule of law throughout the world or will we make exceptions when it is convenient? This is not a hard issue for me," said Senator James Sanders, Jr. "I stand with the oppressed the world over, whether they be Catholics in Northern Ireland, East Timores in Asia or the Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic who have unjustly lost their citizenship. I call upon the Dominican government to respect international law and defend the rights of all their citizens regardless of where their grandparents came from, and to prosecute any vigilantes who abuse these citizens."

"As state legislators, many of whom represent Haitian constituents, we have a definite interest in what happens to Dominicans of Haitian descent in their own country, and we feel compelled to express our concerns as a state legislature," said Senator Velmanette Montgomery. "This resolution represents our concerns and we hope this resolution is a step forward in resolving this important issue."

"Individuals born in the Dominican Republic should not have their citizenship status retroactively challenged," said Assemblyman David I. Weprin. "I wholeheartedly endorse Assemblywoman Bichotte's resolution that condemns the Dominican Republic's recent court decisions, which retroactively deprived thousands of their own citizens of their fundamental right – the right to a nationality."

"I commend Assembly Member Bichotte for her efforts to raise awareness of the citizenship rights of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent. The recent court decision leaving these individuals stateless is an injustice we hope to reverse by adopting Assembly resolution K376," said Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix W. Ortiz.

Amnesty International USA stated that it “welcomes the resolution and calls on all members of the Assembly to stand in solidarity with Dominicans of Haitian descent who have been stripped of their nationality.”

"Let us understand that the decision of the Constitutional Court was made on the basis of petty political gains and it is economically influenced as well. Let us not be mistaken, this law affects not only Dominicans of Haitian descent but also other black Dominicans, as we have witnessed due to unfortunate discriminatory acts perpetuated against these individuals and their families due to the insensible hate that the ruling has inspired," AHORA/Now said in a statement.

"Being recognized by a state is a fundamental right that should be afforded every human being," stated the Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York at the press conference. "Stripping away the citizenship of those born in the Dominican Republic has left over 200,000 people without a recognized country to call their own. People without state recognition are vulnerable, invisible and have no protection under international law. They lack basic human rights and physical security.

The Dominican government has stated that on or about June 15, 2015, they will begin mass deportations and expelling Dominicans of Haitian descent from the country. Such an action by the government will only exacerbate this humanitarian crisis. The Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York urges the Dominican government to return citizenship to all from whom it was taken and to cease all deportations. To the extent any deportations are to take place, we ask that they are done in accordance with international law and due process."

We look forward to the passing of Resolution K376 by the New York State Assembly.

For a copy of the current resolution please click here

For the Video click here