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Santo Domingo Book Fair: Don't celebrate Israeli apartheid!

The Santo Domingo International Book Fair in the Dominican Republic is set to honor apartheid Israel

The Santo Domingo International Book Fair should not pay homage to Israel's apartheid against the Palestinian people

Open letter by Dominican organizations to the Ministry of Culture and the Directorate General of Books and Reading

Milagros Germán, Minister of Culture
Ángela Hernández, Director General of Books and Reading

On May 2 of this year, it was announced that the XXV edition of the International Book Fair of Santo Domingo (FILSD) will be held in 2023 as a tribute to the State of Israel. We are concerned that a cultural event is being used by the Dominican government to pay homage to an apartheid state, as recognized for decades by Palestinian human rights organizations, and also denounced by international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and even by the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

The crime of apartheid is a crime of extreme gravity, a crime against humanity according to the Rome Statute, ratified by the Dominican Republic. It is an institutionalized regime of systematic racial oppression. The military occupation for more than five decades against the Palestinian people, the denial of their right to national self-determination, the definition of the State of Israel on racial and religious exclusivist bases, the limitations to free movement, the denial of political rights, as well as massacres, mass imprisonment, torture and other methods of state terror are part of the daily functioning of Israeli apartheid.

We, the undersigned organizations, reject the use of public resources and a cultural event such as the FILSD to politically support Israeli apartheid; we also reject other expressions of support such as the shameful announcement in 2020 that the Dominican embassy would be moved to Jerusalem, in open violation of UN resolutions.

But in addition, the Dominican government's homage to Israeli apartheid has a dangerous connotation for national politics, in view of the current deepening persecution of the Dominican population of Haitian descent and the Haitian immigrant community. The parallels between the racist regime that Israel has consolidated and the incipient elements of apartheid that we see in the Dominican Republic against Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitian immigrants cannot escape our attention. It is even more threatening to pay homage to Israeli apartheid while there is a concrete risk that our country is moving further in the same direction every day. We consider that the denial of citizenship to more than 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent more than nine years ago is a dangerous precedent for the construction of a regime of systematic racial oppression.

This year's FILSD itself was an event in which censorship was practiced with homophobic and racist criteria, with the interruption of concerts and suspension of book presentations, to the detriment of artists from oppressed communities. Instead of paying homage to an apartheid state, we call on the cultural authorities to guarantee next year a democratic space for the free exchange of ideas in the FILSD, and to make it possible to vindicate, without having to face police and ultra-right-wing repression, the black communities and bateyes, the Dominican Afro-descendants, and also to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and all other peoples who resist against racist and colonial oppression.

Yours sincerely

National Popular Coordination

Socialist Workers' Movement

Aquelarre RD

Mamá Tingó Socio-Political Women

Malapalabra Collective

Junta de Prietas


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