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Unforgettable Butterflies

By: Uadaya Sivakumar Emerge Lanka Financial Officer

The 3 sisters, Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa were born in the 1920s in the Dominican Republic. All 3 sisters and their husbands became involved in activities against the Trujillo dictatorship government. As a result, the sisters and their families were continually persecuted and imprisoned at different stages for their activities against the State.

In January 1960, Patria took charge of a meeting that ultimately established the Clandestine Movement of 14 June 1960, in which all the sisters participated. When this plot against the dictatorship failed, the sisters and their families in the Clandestine Resistance Movement were persecuted throughout the country. On 25 November 1960, the sisters were murdered in an “accident” as they were being driven to visit their husbands who were in prison. The accident caused much public outcry, and shocked and enraged the nation. The brutal assassination of the Mirabal sisters was one of the events that helped propel the anti-Trujillo movement, and within a year, the Trujillo dictatorship came to an end. These sisters, referred to as the “Inolvidables Mariposas,” the “Unforgettable Butterflies,” have become a symbol against victimization of women.

In order to commemorate the death of these sisters 16 days of activism begins on November 25th and ends on December 10th, which is World Human Rights Day. This period will include 1st December (World AIDS Day), 3rd December (International Day of the Disabled), 6th December (Montreal Massacre Anniversary – commemorates the deaths of 14 young female engineering students who were shot dead at Montreal University in Canada in 1989. The gunman opened fire in 2 classrooms and the cafeteria after ordering 48 men in the room to leave. Before opening fire, the gunman shouted “You’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!”), and 10th December (World Human Rights Day).

Since 1991, approximately 1,700 organizations in 130 countries have participated in the campaign and this year the theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women!”

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