Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Time for.a Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions Campaign Against the Dominican Republic?

There is a nation in our hemisphere that has declared that all people of a defined "type" must go into camps, and must be expelled by the end of the summer.

Sound familiar? Specifically, the government of the Dominican Republic has declared that black Dominicans must go into concentration camps, which the government euphemistically calls "shelters." The government wants people to register their nationality status by tomorrow, June 18. Afterwards, it would appear, the army is slated to take action, as the Nation reports in "Concentration Camps in the Dominican Republic?":

General Rubén Darío Paulino Sem, the army official in charge of the deportation, says the expulsion will start this Thursday, June 18. Sem has been overseeing the construction of seven concentration camps—which he calls “shelters,” or “centros de acogida”—where Dominicans suspected of being of Haitian descent will be housed until a “final evaluation” can be made.

The world should not naively wait until things get worse. Witness Nazi Germany in the 1930s or Rwanda or Bosnia, in each case, before matters really heated up. People said, "oh, this is just talk. Let's wait and see what happens. This could just be talk." Witness Bosnia, with the hair-splitting about whether and when harassment or killing could be deemed the hint of genocide to come or the beginning of genocide.

As Chris Hayes reported on MSNBC last night, this is not just a matter of Haitian nationals in the Dominican Republic, but it is in reality a campaign against black people in the Dominican Republic. On this note we should applaud the Washington Post for being more alert to the ethnic cleansing character of this harassment. By contrast, the New York Times is introducing the story with the more tepid approach by referring to the targets as Haitians.

So, I dare human rights activists and leftist organizations to fight potential ethnic cleansing or genocide and challenge the Dominican government where it will hurt: its economy. Wouldn't a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign be in order? Has Israel made camps for Arabs, told them to register with the government and threatened to expel them? It would be interesting if all the activist organizations making Israel its sole or number one focus would stay silent on this one.

As one might draw from the Washington Post article, the United States had some responsibility in countenancing the racist harassment against Haitians. In both the 1930s, under a Democratic administration that of Frankin S. Roosevelt, mind you, the U.S. supported strongmen that led mass killings of Haitians and black Dominicans. And we did not challenge these massacres. 

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