Iraqi Murder Campaign of Gays Spurs Vigil, Rally In NY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 09, 2009

Contact : Brendan Fay

(917) 402-3134

Walter Armstrong

(212) 674-6168

Iraqi Murder Campaign of Gays Spurs Vigil, Rally In NY
Gay and Human Rights Groups To Demand Immediate Investigation and Diplomatic Intervention from Pres. Obama, Sec. Clinton., Other Officials On ‘Sexual Cleansing’
(NYC) LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and human rights groups, increasingly alarmed about reports by the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters on the continuing harassment and murder=2 0of gay men, including 6 last week, and of the fate of an estimated 128 men on death row (many convicted for the ‘crime’ of homosexuality), will hold a protest and vigil outside the Iraq Mission, 14 E. 79th Street in Manhattan, Friday, April 10, 2009 at 12 Noon.
Organizers of Friday’s protest point to the staggering number of gay men killed: over 400 since 2003, and over 85 since 2005. Men have been identified in and around Baghdad’s Shiit slum known as Sadr City with bullet-ridden bodies, some with broken arms and legs, and with the words “pervert” or “puppy” (a derogatory word used by residents in Sadr City to refer to gays) written on their chests. In an act of intimidation, a café frequented by lgbt citizens of Sadr City has been firebombed.
Reports on the root cause of the murders range from religious decrees by clerics — Moktada al-Sadr, an influential, anti-American cleric with considerable influence in Sadr City recently d evoting Friday prayer service to inveigh against homosexuality – to families and tribal groups repulsed by homosexuality who defend their killings as being perpetrated at the behest of the ‘democratic’ Iraqi government. Shiite and Sunni death squads, militias, and officials point to homosexuality as a ‘crime punishable by death’. The Iraqi government continues with its plans to execute in ‘batches of 20’ gay men detained without legal representation and verbally and physically forced into some ‘confession’.
“These gross human-rights violations are not a series of isolated or sporadic acts of violence but the widespread practice of ‘sexual cleansing’ against the Iraqi gay community,” states Walter Armstrong, an organizer of the vigil and rally Friday. “We are delivering a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanding that he take immediate steps to publicly condemn this anti-gay terrorism and order his security forces to put an end to it. We also ask President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to hold al-Malaki accountable for these violations of international law.”
Brendan Fay, a co-organizer, is urging immediate intervention by U.S. officials, namely President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. “LGBT people are being harassed, threatened, detained, tortured, shot and maimed with no right to legal representation, all this with the unabashed cooperation of family, tribal leaders and state officials. We cannot afford to wait until GOP leaders lift their hold on President Obama’s nominee Christopher Hill to the post of Ambassador to Iraq. We merely need aggressive, diplomatic action from Obama, Secretary Clinton and anyone with the power and will to save the lives of our brothers in Iraq.”
Ali Hill, an exiled, self-identified gay Iraqi runs a London-based group called Iraqi LGBT that is working to put a stop to the murders. Iraqi LGBT has posted a petition at its web site, iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com. Additionally, his group operates a series of safe houses for lgbt Iraqis.
On Friday organizers will demand that the State Department help support the protection of targeted or threatened lgbt Iraqi’s with funds and other resources to expand the network of safe houses and the “underground railroad” that currently takes at-risk individuals out of the country. Additionally, Fay, Armstrong, Hill and Michael Petrelis, who helped form a similar rally in San Francisco on April 6th, ask that members of the lgbt and human rights communities contact their elected officials and advocacy organizations to demand change of ‘lax’ U.S. policy towards persecuted lgbt individuals worldwide, most pressingly in Iraq.

See also previous posts:


  1. skatp

    Dear Gays Without Borders –

    I’m searching the site for a “contact us” email or form, but I’m not finding it. How do I send GWB a press release? I thought you might appreciate knowing about a new refugee advocacy organization with a focus on LGBTs that launched last week: ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration.

    ORAM’s mission is to advocate for refugees fleeing sexual or gender based violence. Only through raising consciousness of LGBT refugee issues to governments, refugee organizations, communities and the media, will help come to these individuals, who are among the most persecuted people in the world today.

    The events unfolding in Iran right now could greatly impact our work – especially if today’s chaos becomes tomorrow’s outpouring of refugees.

    Details of our work and mission appear in the press release below. Whether your concern is LGBT rights, refugee rights or both, we invite you to learn more about us by visiting http://www.oraminternational.org.

    Regards,

    Scott Piro, Communications Director
    ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration
    Tel: +1 415 373-5299|Fax: + 1 415 373 9191| http://www.oraminternational.org

    For Immediate Release
    Contact: Scott Piro (piros@oraminternational.org)
    ORAM, 415.373.5299

    GROUNDBREAKING REFUGEE ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION

    FOCUSES ON REFUGEES FLEEING SEXUAL & GENDER BASED VIOLENCE

    ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration Launches Programs for
    Middle Eastern Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Refugees and Migrants

    http://www.oraminternational.org

    San Francisco, CA (June 18, 2009) – ORAM, a groundbreaking international refugee advocacy organization, announced its launch today. The Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration is the first non-governmental organization (NGO) to focus exclusively on refugees and asylum seekers fleeing sexual and gender based violence.

    ORAM provides free legal counsel for LGBT refugees in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), who have escaped violence, executions and “honor killings” in their home countries. Additionally, ORAM conducts wide-ranging international advocacy to advance the protection of all LGBT refugees and asylum seekers.

    LGBTs often become “stuck” in their countries of first asylum, typically neighboring the places they have escaped harassment, violence, torture or death threats. With hostility toward LGBTs rampant in many areas, they are uniquely at risk, both in the countries they’ve escaped and in their “transit” countries.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton highlighted these facts in her statement earlier this month that “gays and lesbians in many parts of the world live under constant threat of arrest, violence, even torture.” According to the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), homosexuality remains illegal in eighty-five countries and carries the death penalty in seven. Often lacking formal refugee protection, LGBT refugees are particularly at risk.

    “LGBT refugees often ‘fall through the cracks’ of the international refugee regime,” according to Neil Grungras, executive director of ORAM. “They have escaped systematic hatred and violence at home, and their LGBT identity brings serious new threats to their safety and protection in countries of first asylum. Many live in a toxic mix of destitution and desperation.”

    Grungras has more than twenty years experience working on behalf of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers. He founded ORAM in January 2009 after serving as director for Europe & the Middle East at HIAS, a leading refugee and migration organization. Among his postings, he directed the U.S. Department of State Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) for Iranian refugees in Vienna, Austria.

    Alongside its work helping individuals, ORAM also passionately advocates and educates on behalf of LGBT refugees as a group. Raising consciousness about their plight to governments, refugee organizations, communities and the media is critical in bringing desperately needed basic protection to this at-risk population.

    The NGO hopes its community-based “Adopt a Refugee” program will create a grassroots network of inspired advocates for susceptible LGBT refugees. Supporting institutions can follow migrants and refugees through their trek to freedom, receiving case updates. Adopted refugees are invited to communicate with their sponsors, forming unique bonds of additional support.

    ORAM has already assisted dozens of LGBTs who’ve escaped persecution and honor killings in the MENA region. Using communications technology to assist refugees in places where help was previously unavailable, the organization has been able to work with many LGBT refugees who have sought its help in existing project areas.

    “The recent surge in homophobic violence in Iraq has shone a spotlight on the painful truths we’re dealing with first-hand in the Middle East,” said Grungras. “LGBTs are the most persecuted people in many regions of the world today. For every reported execution, there are likely tens of judicially or family sanctioned murders, often in the name of honor.”

    ORAM will co-publish its first report later this month on LGBT asylum seekers and refugees in Turkey. For more information, visit http://www.oraminternational.org.

    # # #




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