Junot Diaz Stripped of Dominican Republic National Award Over Human Rights Advocacy

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The Dominican Republic announced that on Thursday they rescinded the national Order of Merit award given to Junot Diaz after he publicly asked the United States to act on behalf of the Dominican Republic’s undocumented immigrant population.

Diaz, Dominican-born and raised in the U.S. from age six, joined Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat in Washington D.C. on Thursday, where they asked Congress to intervene to aid immigrants (predominantly Haitian) who face deportation from the Dominican Republic. According to The Guardian , Diaz and Danticat called the country’s immigration policy a “human rights crisis,” which has left its undocumented population in a “state of terror.”

The Dominican Republic’s consul, Eduardo Selman, released a statement Thursday calling Diaz’s statement “anti-Dominican.” Spanish-language media reported the award, which the government granted him in 2009, had been withdrawn shortly after.

The Dominican Republic has received a surge of refugees from neighboring Haiti since the massive 2010 earthquake. In June 2015, the country announced it would deport all unregistered immigrants. But according to a report by NBC News, citizens attempting to register in capital Santo Domingo have been unable to do so.

“The last time something like this happened was Nazi Germany, and yet people are like, shrugging about it,” Diaz told Fusion. “Think about how much fear you would have to feel for you to suddenly pick the fuck up and flee.”