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Christian Aid partner and human rights activist Sonia Pierre dies

December 2011

On 4 December 2011, leading human rights activist and long-term Christian Aid partner Sonia Pierre died of a heart attack in the Dominican Republic. She was an extraordinary woman who will be deeply missed.

Sonia was the founder and director of Christian Aid partner Mudha – the Movement of Dominico-Haitian women.

She was born in a 'batey' - a poor community that originally housed temporary sugarcane workers - to Haitian parents. From her early teens, she began to speak out about the situation of Dominicans of Haitian origin, particularly women, living in the Dominican Republic.

Christian Aid recently organised a human rights conference in Washington where Sonia was one of the leading voices condemning current practices by the Dominican government to revoke nationality for thousands of Dominicans of Haitian origin.

Video: Sonia Pierre and the work of Mudha

Speaking out on human rights

Sonia had been widely recognised for her human rights work. In 2007, she was presented with the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award and in 2010 Hillary Clinton presented her with an International Women of Courage Award.

However, being the international face defending the human rights of Haitians and their descendants in the Dominican Republic also meant Sonia and her family faced a huge amount of discrimination.

Sonia was even labelled a traitor to her country. She and her family lived under immense pressure as a result of threats against her but despite this she carried on her work. She showed amazing strength and compassion and spoke of her love for the Dominican Republic.

Sonia died of a heart attack on Sunday 4 December at her home in Villa Altagracia at the age of 48.

Sophie Richmond, Christian Aid Country Manager for the Dominican Republic, said, 'Sonia was one of the strongest, most amazing women I have met. She did not give up despite the abuse and threats she received as a result of her work.

'She had time to speak to everyone – from women in the poorest communities where Mudha worked, to high level international decision makers like Hillary Clinton, and all of these people recognised the warm and inspiring person she was. She will be greatly missed.'

Please keep her family and colleagues in your thoughts and prayers at this time.


Further content

ABC News: Dominican-Haitian Activist Sonia Pierre Dies at 48

Dominican Republic: country profile

 

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