Award-winning human rights activist Sonia Pierre died Sunday at 48, after suffering a heart attack. Pierre dedicated her life to defending the human rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent. Between 500,000 and 1,000,000 persons of Haitian descent currently live in the Dominican Republic. Hundreds of thousands are systematically denied citizenship rights at birth; many others are denied basic human, civil, and legal rights, facing harsh discrimination. Pierre fought for citizenship rights and education for ethnic Haitians in the Dominican Republic.
Born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian sugar cane workers, she founded the Movement of Dominican Women of Haitian Descent in the early 1980s and served as its director until her death. Pierre was honored for her courageous work with the Amnesty International Ginetta Sagan Fund Award in 2003; the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2007; and the U.S. International Women of Courage Award in 2010.
Pierre’s death is a tremendous loss to all Dominicans and human rights defenders everywhere. WOLA recognizes the importance of Pierre’s work, and we express our condolences to Pierre’s family members and loved ones.