Target: Godson Orélus, General Director of the Haitian Police
Goal: Secure protection for LGBTI activists whose personal information has been compromised by a recent break-in
Since 2009, Haitian organization Kouraj (formerly known as Amis-Amis) has been “working for the promotion of the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.” However, a recent break-in at Kouraj’s office has left activists fearing for both their own safety and the fate of their organization. Urge Haitian authorities to protect the activists and to officially recognize that LGBTI issues are human rights issues protected under various international agreements.
Kouraj, which means “courage” in Haitian Creole, has been the target of hatred and suspicion from many in Haiti. Homophobia has been on the rise in Haiti since the earthquake in 2012, activists report. A major contributing factor is the influx of “religious groups from North America” who demonize homosexuality and claim it was what brought the earthquake upon Haiti.
In this highly-charged atmosphere, Kouraj is unfortunately accustomed to receiving homophobic threats. However, threats recently boiled over into actions as three men attacked the organization’s office, beating and tying up the two staff members present and ransacking the office. The attackers, who were armed with machetes and guns, stole personal items and office supplies, including two laptops. They may also have taken confidential files, although it is hard to tell what exactly is missing. The files in question contain personal contact information for Kouraj’s members, leaving them vulnerable to harassment, threats, and violence.
Violence and fear-mongering are unacceptable, regardless of whether or not one agrees with the political or personal beliefs of another person. Sign the petition and demand that the Haitian police offer protection to the activists in accordance with their wishes. Urge them to launch a full investigation into the break-in at Kouraj’s headquarters. And finally, call on Haiti to recognize and respect LGBTI rights.
The November 21 attack on LGBTI organization Kouraj’s headquarters has put the safety and well-being of many activists in jeopardy. I urge you to do all in your power to protect the organization’s members in accordance with their wishes, to fully and impartially investigate the attack on the office, and to publically recognize LGBTI rights as basic human rights.
In early afternoon on November 21, 2013, three men armed with guns and machetes broke into Kouraj’s headquarters and ransacked its offices after beating and tying up two staff members. Many items were stolen as well, including laptops, office supplies, and personal objects. Staff members at Kouraj also fear that personal contact information for the organization’s members has been compromised, leaving many people open to harassment and further violence.
Please stand behind Kouraj. Whether or not you agree with the organization’s mission statement, it is appalling that three men can wreak such violent havoc on so many lives with impunity. Basic human rights are at stake here, and it is Haiti’s job to ensure that its citizens are being treated as fairly and respectfully as possible. Haiti has an obligation under the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders to facilitate the work of human rights organizations, and Kouraj is no exception. I therefore urge you to protect Kouraj’s members in accordance with their wishes, to launch a full, unbiased investigation into the violence attack on Kouraj’s offices, and to publicly state that homophobic attacks will not be tolerated.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ludovic Bertron via Wikimedia Commons