Newly-elected Haitian American Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte on Tuesday ended a four-day hunger strike as the New York State Assembly finally voted to approve a resolution calling on the United States Congress to adopt House of Representatives Resolution 443 (2013-2014) condemning actions of the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court that strip hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship.
“Today’s vote sends an unequivocal message that the Dominican Republic’s persistent abuse of Dominicans of Haitian descent must stop,” Bichotte, the first Haitian American to be elected to the State Assembly from New York City, told Caribbean Life.
“As happy as I am to bring my hunger strike to an end, it was nothing compared to the deprivation and persecution suffered by Dominicans of Haitian descent,” added Bichotte, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.
“I applaud my colleagues in the Assembly for joining me in voting to condemn these human rights violations,” she continued.
Resolution K376 addresses recent laws and court decisions in the Dominican Republic that have left hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent without citizenship rendering them stateless, as well as other human rights abuses faced by that community.
The resolution had widespread support from numerous organizations including the United States National Bar Association, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Amnesty International (AI), Haitian American Lawyer Association of New York (HALANY), 1199 Service Employees International Union (1199 SEIU), and the Coalition of Dominicans Against Racism (CDAR).
“Individuals born in the Dominican Republic should not have their citizenship status retroactively challenged,” said New York State Assemblyman David I. Weprin, who joined his colleagues in voting for the resolution’s passage.
“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,” he added.
The international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International USA, said 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.”
The Dominican Republic government had stated that on or about June 15, 2015, it will begin mass deportations of Dominicans of Haitian descent from the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country.
“Such an action by the government will only exacerbate this humanitarian crisis,” Bichotte said.
The Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York joined Bichotte in urging Santo Domingo 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,” the group told a press conference here on Tuesday.
“Being recognized by a state is a fundamental right that should be afforded every human being,” it added.
“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,” the lawyer group continued.
“People without state recognition are vulnerable, invisible and have no protection under international law,” it said. “They lack basic human rights and physical security.”