GREAT BAY/MARIGOT, St. Martin —St. Martin author Lasana M. Sekou has called on Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and President Aline Hanson, to “officially and publicly condemn the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court decision of September 13, 2013 (Sentencia TC/0168/13), which threatens to strip the citizenship status from at least a quarter of a million of its citizens, leaving them stateless based on the color of their skin—as Black men, women, and children—and their heritage origins.”
In the letter of November 22 to the government leader in both capitals of St. Martin, Sekou wrote that the “Court judgment is racist and will lead to gross human rights violation in the Dominican Republic (DR) against the affected citizens: theft of their property, destruction of homes, loss of jobs, small business ownerships and bank accounts with the life savings of families, denial of educational opportunities, and the perpetuation of a range of violence, including rape, abuse of children, the elderly and the sick, police brutality, military detention, and the mass murder that historically stems from such abhorrent laws—genocide.”
According to Sekou, the tribunal sentence has absolutely nothing to do with immigration and much more with ethnic cleansing. “The racist ruling will invariably affect DR citizens of St. Martin heritage that have been part of Dominican society, certainly since 1929, and thought to number at least 40,000 people,” wrote Sekou. The Court ruling has a retroactive feature from 1929.
Mostly DR citizens of Haitian origin are among those affected by the ruling, which, wrote Sekou, “is not acceptable to any civilized nation that abides by established norms of the international community and the principles and practices of humanity.”
Prime Minister Wescot-Williams and President Hanson “must condemn this infection of apartheid in the Caribbean,” wrote Sekou, and “take a leadership role in the solidarity call for immediate, practical, and just corrective measures to be taken in the Dominican Republic.”
Sekou wrote that objection to the “racist ruling” should also be made in regional and international fora “where the adjusted autonomy” of 2010 and 2007 allows both St. Martin territories to do so. The Southern and Northern parts of St. Martin are territories of the Netherlands and France respectively. Wescot-Williams is the prime minister in the Dutch territory and Hanson is the president of the French territory. Sekou is an advocate for the Independence and eventual unification of St. Martin.
Considered one of the prolific Caribbean poets of his generation, Sekou said that “the designated channels of communication” that allow the governments in Philipsburg and Marigot “to request and if necessary to demand that the Netherlands and France denounce the racist ruling … must also be promptly employed.” He noted that calls for the boycott of DR trade goods and tourism are already being sounded.
Sekou said this week that “the early, clear and strong statements to the DR president and government by the prime minister of St. Vincent and The Grenadines and protesting groups in Trinidad and Puerto Rico among other places are admirable. Their positions represent the best of a history of solidarity and victory over oppression among Caribbean peoples and support for oppressed peoples in the region and around the world.”
He also said that the support for the ruling among significant sectors of DR society, including Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, has not deterred or stopped the growing concerns, findings, and mounting protests by other government leaders; regional and international bodies such as CARICOM, OCHR, UNHCR, Amnesty, OECS, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; human rights groups such as Reconoci.do; and individuals inside and outside of the Dominican Republic. Former DR president Hipolito Mejia recently called the ruling “a shame.”
Concluding his letter to Prime Minister Wescot-Williams and President Hanson, Sekou quoted Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent & The Grenadines in his letter to President Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic — against the September 13 decision: “The fig-leaf of sovereignty cannot be invoked when time-honoured and universal principles of citizenship and human decency are trampled upon.”