FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 09, 2009
Contact : Brendan Fay
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.