Border of Lights, October 4-6, 2012 – Dajabón, Dominican Republic. People from around the world will come together under the banner of Border of Lights to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Haitian Massacre, also known as the Parsley Massacre.
In 1937, the Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo, ordered the slaughter of as many as 20,000 Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent in an ethnic cleansing on the Dominican-Haitian border. Border of Lights invites artists, activists, students, parents, teachers, and clergy to gather together to honor a tragedy long forgotten, and unknown to many people.
The name “Parsley Massacre” comes from the story that the Dominican army and conscripted civilians asked dark-skinned residents to identify a sprig of parsley, “perejil,” in Spanish. The word is difficult for speakers of Haitian Kreyòl to pronounce, so it was used to determine whether someone was Haitian. Those who failed would then be murdered.
Among the notable artists supporting and attending the gathering is author and activist, Julia Alvarez. “Many Dominicans in the diaspora and in the country have been waiting for an opportunity to acknowledge a shameful event in our past, the 1937 massacre of thousands of Haitians, ordered by the dictator Trujillo, and carried out by Dominicans. We feel compelled to do what our governments and our treaties, our accords and our conferences have not done: to express our sorrow for this shameful crime. We would also like to celebrate our many collaborations, our brotherhood and sisterhood. We look to the future and our shared hopes for this whole island and small planet,” says Ms. Alvarez. The project has the support of other leading public figures, including Edwidge Danticat, Michele Wucker, and Junot Díaz.
“Border of Lights supports and encourages strengthening a new understanding of border. Not one that is expressed with confrontation or isolation, but rather side-by-side so they may culturally enrich each community of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Our diversity, enriches us, strengthens us and does not erase our identity,” says Father Regino Martínez, Director of Solidaridad Fronteriza in Dajabón, DR, who will lead the vigil ceremony at the border.
The three-day event begins with a peace walk and vigil on October 4th. Community members from each side of the border will meet at the Dajabón Bridge crossing for the commemoration. On Friday, volunteers will spend the day cleaning and beautifying a park in Ouanaminthe, Haiti. The event culminates with a series of teach-ins and an art installation in Dajabón, with the theme of unity.
“These events seek not only to remember the victims of the massacre but also shine a light on ongoing injustices faced by those of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic,” says Cynthia Carrion, one of the key organizers of the gathering. The Border of Lights Collective has created a website (www.bordersoflight.org) to announce activities, host resources, and house an archive of personal stories about the massacre and its legacy. It held a commemorative event in New York City August 27, curated by Nehanda Loiseau, in which actors performed a series of monologues conveying the experiences of Dominicans and Haitians affected by the Massacre. Border of Lights Collective has also begun a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds needed for the park cleanup and art installations (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/borderoflights/border-of-lights)
ABOUT BORDER OF LIGHTS
Members of the Haitian and Dominican diaspora and activists across the country are coming together on the 75th anniversary of the Haitian massacre to commemorate, collaborate, and shed light on current injustices faced by Dominicans of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic. Activities are planned for October 4-6, 2012.
CONTACT: Cynthia Carrion or Edward Paulino – Border of Lights
For more information and to get involved, visit borderoflights.org.