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Shots Fired at Haitian Human Rights Defender’s Home
Escalating violence against KOFAVIV founder and 2012 CNN Hero
NEW YORK - August 26 - Early Friday morning, a group of armed men arrived at the home of Malya Villard Appolon, General Coordinator of KOFAVIV, a Haitian grassroots women’s organization and long-time MADRE partner. The assailants fired gunshots at Ms. Villard Appolon’s house, leaving several bullet holes in her front gate and striking and breaking her front doorbell. The attackers returned later while police were at the scene, but officers were unable to make an arrest or apprehend the shooters.
“We are being attacked for trying to change something some people do not want changed,” said Marie Eramithe Delva, co-founder of KOFAVIV, in a statement to MADRE Executive Director Yifat Susskind. “We are being punished for defending women who are abused and for publicly speaking for women and children who cannot speak for themselves. They won’t stop until they silence us.”
This attack is the latest in series of escalating threats against KOFAVIV workers and their families. Unknown attackers have killed Ms. Villard-Appolon’s dogs, entered her home without permission and attempted to obtain information about her whereabouts, and appeared at the KOFAVIV office and both Ms. Villard-Appolon’s and Ms. Delva’s personal residences demanding money.
Both Ms. Villard Appolon’s and Ms. Delva’s children have been followed, making it unsafe for them to attend school. Since March 2012, there have been several kidnapping attempts aimed at both Ms. Villard Appolon’s children and Ms. Delva’s children. Ms. Villard Appolon herself was kidnapped in 2010 and paid a ransom to be allowed to return to her family. Ms. Delva and Ms. Villard Appolon are outspoken survivors of politically-motivated beatings and sexual assaults.
MADRE strongly condemns the actions of the perpetrators who terrorized the home of Ms. Villard Appolon, as well as the escalation of aggression against KOFAVIV’s members and defenders of human rights throughout Haiti.