37rd Anniversary of the Unlawful Societies and Associations Act Popularly called the Dread Act.
November 21st, 2011 is the 37th anniversary of the Unlawful Societies and Associations Act Popularly called the Dread Act.
At 12:30 PM, on Monday 21st November 2011, the Rastafarian community in Dominica will host a press conference at the House of Kaiso, head quarters of the Dominica Calypso Association on Valley Road in Bath Estate Dominica.
The law is one of the most draconian 20th to 21st pieces of legislation passed in any part of the world. The law which gave citizens the right to shoot other citizens on site without question, was passed by the Dominica Labour Party under the leadership of former Prime Minister, Patrick Roland John and was supported and unopposed by the official opposition the Dominica Freedom Party under the leadership of Mary Eugenia Charles.
The law aimed to stem the spread of and influence or the Rastafarian movement in Dominica by sentencing members to nine months in prison for the hairstyle dread locks or dreads or any memorabilia that identified them as Dreads as they were call at the time. This law resulted in the imprisonment of many youth, disrupting their education, family life and careers. Along with the negative social and economic impact on those affected by the law, enforcement of the law proved to be brutal, resulting in death and injury to many dreadlocks, wearing individuals who fled to the hills for refuge. The law was briefly repelled and again reinforced in 1976 but has since then been replaced by the terrorist act.
In order to generate discussion on the dread act and promote reconciliation and healing, the Rastafarian community in Dominica asks the questions:
What led our society to pass, enforce and tolerate such blatant violation of human rights in the 20th century?
What was the impact on those who enforced the law, victims of the law, their families and the wider society?
How do we create opportunity for healing and recovery for victims who directly experienced the trauma of such harsh legislation?
How do we create a space for healing those who passed and directly enforced such legislation?
How do we as a society get engaged in undoing the damage of such inhumane legislation and its enforcement?
How do we prevent the future repeat of human rights violation in our island nation?
The Rastafarian community appeals to and invites individuals, institutions and organizations in Dominica including churches, unions, political parties, non government organizations, the bar association, scholars and to facilitate and be engaged in an ongoing process of exploring the issues related to the law.
To address the issues raised, answer the questions, document the series of events, individual and group experiences, the Pink & Blue Arts for Violence Prevention project will to produce a documentary film to be released on the 38th anniversary of the Unlawful Societies and Associations Act (the Dread Act) in 2012.
Ras Mo Moses
Pink & Blue Arts for Violence Prevention Project
November 19th 2011
Delmance Ras Mo Moses