|"The sunrise here is beautiful. We are about to being the morning prayer, and entreat you to pray along with us." ~ Fr. Mario Serrrano Marte, S.J.|
(Washington, D.C.) March 13, 2013 — Fifteen activists were arrested Monday while conducting a peaceful protest outside the Dominican Republic’s Central Electoral Board (JCE by its Spanish acronym) in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo. Among those arrested was Jesuit Father Mario Serrrano Marte, Executive Director of Centro Bonó, and several members of Reconoci.do.
The protest was to bring attention to the discrimination suffered by Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, and the actions of the JCE which have denied many of them access to their identify documents, placing them at risk of statelessness.
Late in the evening on March 11, four police vans arrived at the protest and police began confiscating the belongings of the protesters. Shortly thereafter, those who were still protesting were arrested and taken to a police station on the outskirts of Santo Domingo.
An hour later, the group was released without being charged. At no point did the police provide any verbal or written reason for the arrest.
Later that evening, after the group returned to the site of their arrest without most of their belongings to continue their peaceful demonstration, Father Serrano recounted the events of the evening and then offered these words via email:
"The sunrise here is beautiful. We are about to being the morning prayer, and entreat you to pray along with us."
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA calls on all governments to respect the right of people to freely assemble and people of faith to join in prayer for the safety of all those, like Father Serrano, the young people of Reconoci.do, and many others in the Dominican Republic, who continue the struggle for justice.