Archive for the ‘Baghdad’ Category

Terror Campaign Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Iraqis Continues Unchecked by Iraqi Government

IRAQI LGBT – November 2009 – The rise of fundamentalist groups in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. led invasion has proven deadly to LGBT Iraqis, who are now being forced to either hide or face the consequences.

Using the internet as a means to track down new victims, militia members are now employing computer analysts to monitor traffic on gay dating and networking websites in the region. They work with internet café owners to single out people who frequent these sites and set up fake profiles in the attempt to lure them out.

On the 28th of August, police raided the houses of Asad Galib and Faeq Ismail, both 24 years old, and took them into custody. They were held and questioned for about four hours, accused of viewing gay websites in an internet café on the 21st of July. Both men denied the accusations and explained that the websites had already been open when they had begun using the computers. They were later released and are now in contact with Iraqi LGBT, a London based organization working to support and protect LGBT individuals in Iraq.

Others who have been accused or are suspected of such activities have not been as lucky.

On the 2nd of September, the body of 21-year-old student Mizher Hussien was discovered in Al Najaf, a city south of Baghdad. His head and genitals had been severed, and he had the word “pervert” written in black across his chest. The details of his murder are unknown, and Iraqi police have refused to launch an investigation into the cause or motivation of the crime.

On the 18th of September in Al Shatra Amara, two bodies were found exhibiting signs of torture. They had both been decapitated and left with a paper stating, “This is the end of all pervert homosexuals”.

Iraqi LGBT has been working since 2003 to raise awareness of the abuses being committed against LGBT people in Iraq, as well as provide protection to those who have been targeted. The organization currently funds a number of safe houses in the region, with nearly 100 individuals in Iraq directly benefitting from their work. In addition, Iraqi LGBT has been involved in securing asylum for Iraqi refugees who have been forced to flee the country.

Unfortunately, Iraqi LGBT has not been able to help everyone. The organization estimates that over 720 LGBT men and women have been murdered by these extremist militias in the last six years. The Iraqi government has largely been absent in pursuing the roaming death squads who carry out these acts, likely due to the influence of extremist Shia religious parties that are calling for a moral cleansing of Iraq.

With extremist militias threatening all those known to support LGBT rights, including the 2006 raid of an Iraqi LGBT planning meeting in which five activists were arrested, there is little hope for Iraqis suffering under the new socio-political climate. Once the most liberal and secular of the Arab nations, nowadays a religious extremism has taken hold of the country to the detriment of its people.

Iraqi LGBT calls for immediate international action to prevent the further torture and execution of LGBT people in Iraq. More information and details on making donations to the safe houses effort can be found at the Iraqi LGBT blog:

http://www.facebook.com/l/97cbb;iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/2009/11/terror-campaign-against-lesbian-gay.html

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HRW-Report-Iraq

New HRW Report :
“They Want Us Exterminated”
Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq

August 17, 2009

This 67-page report documents a wide-reaching campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, and torture of gay men that began in early 2009. The killings began in the vast Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, a stronghold of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia, and spread to many cities across Iraq. Mahdi Army spokesmen have promoted fears about the “third sex” and the “feminization” of Iraq men, and suggested that militia action was the remedy. Some people told Human Rights Watch that Iraqi security forces have colluded and joined in the killing.

Iraq: Stop Killings for Homosexual Conduct
No Protection by Authorities from Widening Murder Campaign
August 17, 2009

Related Materials:
“They Want Us Exterminated”

Iraq’s leaders are supposed to defend all Iraqis, not abandon them to armed agents of hate. Turning a blind eye to torture and murder threatens the rights and life of every Iraqi.
Scott Long, Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch

(Beirut) – Iraqi militias are carrying out a spreading campaign of torture and murder against men suspected of homosexual conduct, or of not being “manly” enough, and Iraq authorities have done nothing to stop the killing, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch called on Iraq’s government to act urgently to rein in militia abuses, punish the perpetrators, and stop a new resurgence of violence that threatens all Iraqis’ safety.

“Iraq’s leaders are supposed to defend all Iraqis, not abandon them to armed agents of hate,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “Turning a blind eye to torture and murder threatens the rights and life of every Iraqi.”

Silence and stigma surrounding sexuality and gender in Iraq make placing a precise figure on the number killed almost impossible, but indications are that hundreds of men may have died.

One man told Human Rights Watch that militiamen kidnapped and killed his partner of 10 years in April: “It was late one night, and they came to take my partner at his parents’ home. Four armed men barged into the house, masked and wearing black. They asked for him by name; they insulted him and took him in front of his parents. … He was found in the neighborhood the day after. They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out.”

The killers invade homes and pick people up in the street, witnesses and survivors said, interrogating them before murdering them to extract names of other potential victims. They practice grotesque tortures, including gluing men’s anuses shut as punishment. Human Rights Watch spoke to doctors who said that hospitals and morgues have received dozens of mutilated bodies, living and dead.

“Murder and torture are no way to enforce morality,” said Rasha Moumneh, Middle East and North Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These killings point to the continuing and lethal failure of Iraq’s post-occupation authorities to establish the rule of law and protect their citizens.”

Consensual homosexual conduct between adults is not a criminal offense under Iraqi law. Although many militias in Iraq claim to be enforcers of Islamic law, the Human Rights Watch report also shows how the killings – committed without evidence or trial, on the basis of prejudice and whim – violate standards in Sharia law for legality, proof, and privacy.

International human rights law forbids all forms of torture and inhuman treatment and guarantees the right to life, including the right to effective state protection. In its 1994 decision in the landmark case of Toonen v. Australia, the United Nations Human Rights Committee held that the protections against unequal treatment in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) extend to sexual orientation as a protected status.

The report also documents how fears that Iraqi men’s masculinity is under threat propel the killings as much as prejudices about sexuality. Many men told Human Rights Watch that their parents or brothers have threatened them with honor killings because their “unmanly” behavior threatens the reputation of the family or tribe. In a provision left over from the Saddam Hussein era, Iraqi law allows mitigated penalties for crimes committed “with honorable motives.” This exception encourages gender-based violence.

Many Iraqis who fear being attacked have sought safety in surrounding countries, but those countries are no safe haven, the report says. Consensual homosexual conduct is criminalized in most of these countries, and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity fosters violence and discrimination in all of them. Human Rights Watch urges the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as governments that accept Iraqi refugees, to offer rapid resettlement to these endangered people.

Accounts from the report (all names are aliases, to protect the speakers)

“[The killers’] measuring rod to judge people is who they have sex with. It is not by their conscience, it is not by their conduct or their values, it is who they have sex with. The cheapest thing in Iraq is a human being, a human life. It is cheaper than an animal, than a pair of used-up batteries you buy on the street. Especially people like us. … I can’t believe I’m here talking to you because it’s all just been repressed, repressed, repressed. For years it’s been like that – if I walk down the street, I would feel everyone pointing at me. I feel as if I’m dying all the time. And now this, in the last month – I don’t understand what we did to deserve this. They want us exterminated. All the violence and all this hatred: the people who are suffering from it don’t deserve it.”
– Hamid, in Iraq, April 24, 2009

“We’ve been hearing about this, about gay men being killed, for more than a month. It’s like background noise now, every day. The stories started spreading in February about this campaign against gay people by the Mahdi Army: everyone was talking about it, I was hearing about it from my straight friends. In a coffee shop in Karada, on the streets in Harithiya [Baghdad neighborhoods], they were talking about it. I didn’t worry at first. My friends and I, we look extremely masculine, there is nothing visibly “feminine” about us. None of us ever, ever believed this would happen to us. But then at the end of March we heard on the street that 30 men had been killed already.”
– Idris, in Iraq, April 24, 2009

“They did many things to us, the Mahdi Army. … They kidnapped [my partner] for six days. He will not talk about what they did to him. There were bruises on his side as if he was dragged on the street. They did things to him he can’t describe, even to me. They wrote in the dust on the windshield of his car: ‘Death to the people of Lot and to collaborators.’ They sent us veiled threats in text messages: ‘You are on the list.’ They sent him a piece of paper in an envelope, to his home: there were three bullets wrapped in plastic, of different size. The note said, ‘Which one do you want in your heart?’ … I want to be a regular person, lead a normal life, walk around the city, drink coffee on the street. But because of who I am, I can’t. There is no way out.”
– Mohammad, in Iraq, April 21, 2009

“At 10 a.m., [Ministry of Interior officers] cuffed my hands behind my back. Then they tied a rope around my legs, and they hung me upside down from a hook in the ceiling, from morning till sunset. I passed out. I was stripped down to my underwear while I hung upside down. They cut me down that night, but they gave me no water or food. Next day, they told me to put my clothes back on and they took me to the investigating officer. He said, ‘You like that? We’re going to do that to you more and more, until you confess.’ Confess to what? I asked. ‘To the work you do, to the organization you belong to, and that you are a tanta’ [queen]. For days, there were severe beatings, and constant humiliation and insults. … It was the same form of abuse every day. They beat me all over my body; when they had me hanging upside down, they used me like a punching bag. … They used electric prods all over my body. Then they raped me. Over three days. The first day, 15 of them raped me; the second day, six; the third day, four. There was a bag on my head every time.”
Nuri, on April 15 and 27, 2009

HRW Page Link

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San Francisco: 100 Protest LGBT Iraqi Murders – $5K Raised by Michael Petrelis

SF IRAQI PROTEST © Wilson Credit© Credit: Bill Wilson Photos

SF: 100 Protest LGBT Iraqi Murders, $5K Raised, Pelosi Criticized for Silence

By Michael Petrelis

Never doubt that a handful of pissed off queens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that has ever moved the queer movement meaningfully forward.

At least one-hundred people came out in today’s heatwave over the course of a one-hour rally and participated in San Francisco’s first action for IDAHO, International Day Against Homophobia, Sunday afternoon at Harvey Milk Plaza. We rallied against the killings and torture of LGBT Iraqis, and expressed unwavering solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the U.S.-occupied country.

Thanks to the efforts of my organizing colleagues, Gary Virginia of Gays Without Borders and Jeff Cotter of Rainbow World Fund, and several members of the ever-fabulous Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, over the past week and today’s bucket brigade, slightly more than $5,000 was raised. The funds will go to direct-relief aid for the LGBT Iraqi community. Tax-deductible donations can be made at http://rainbowfund.org.

My favorite moment came at the end of the rally. Gary Virginia criticized our very own Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who, he pointed out, is also Speaker of the House, and whose district includes the possibly gayest neighborhood in all of America, was recently in Baghdad and she was silent during her visit about the LGTB murders.

“She’s said nothing about the atrocities and that has to change,” explained Virginia, to boisterous applause and cheers.

How the hell is it possible our Congressional rep is 100% mute about the murders of homosexuals in Baghdad, is the great unanswered question of the day.

Artist and activist Clinton Fein is editing and preparing a video of today’s demonstration, which will be made public tomorrow. Look for it here and on his site Annoy.com.

Let’s look at photos from today and see a few of the fine people who showed up. On behalf of the organizers, we thank you. Most photos, except where noted otherwise, were snapped by me.

Full Article Here

See Also:

Gays Without Borders

Iraqi Suspected Homosexual

SF Gays Organize Rally for LGBT Iraqis

Leaders Want End to Torture and Murder
By Michael Petrelis

(San Francisco, CA) – A broad united coalition of human rights advocates and politicians will hold a spirited rally this Sunday, May 17, in solidarity with the LGBT citizens of Iraq, who face surging violence and killings. Recent reports out of Baghdad document the gruesome gluing of anuses of gay men, who are forced to swallow laxatives, leading to death by diarrhea, and come amid continuing genital mutilation of gays.

Responding to the atrocities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community organizers will hold a demonstration to support LGBT Iraqis:

WHO: Human rights activists and elected officials

WHAT: Rally and fundraiser

WHERE: Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets

DATE: Sunday, May 17

TIME: 12:30 – 1:30 PM

A diverse array of leaders will speak at the rally, including Sen. Mark Leno, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, SF Police Commission President Theresa Sparks, Karen Kai of the Rainbow World Fund, Rev. Lea Brown of the Metropolitan Community Church, Debra Walker of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, political artist Clinton Fein, and community organizers Michael Petrelis and Gary Virginia of Gays Without Borders.

There will be al so a “bucket brigade” at the rally and circulating through cafes and restaurants of the Castro soliciting donations for groups working with LGBT Iraqis. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a social advocacy organization, have donated $1,000, and will supply volunteers for the brigade.

Rainbow World Fund, a LGBT international humanitarian relief charity, is serving as the fiscal sponsor, and donations made through it are tax-deductible. The fund’s colorful and eye-catching school bus will be parked at Milk Plaza, to serve as a welcome-wagon full of banners, posters and donation buckets. Donations will be used to provide direct aid to the Iraqi LGBT community. More at http://rainbowfund.org.

Speaking for Gays Without Borders/SF, a group focused on global issues, Gary Virginia explained the motivations for the May 17 actions.

“We San Franciscans have a solemn duty to denounce anti-LGBT hatred in Iraq. Our demands to President Obama, the State Department and Congress are simple and doable – condemn the torture and slayings, investigate the human rights abuses, and create a sizeable number of asylum slots for LGBT Iraqis to enter and reside in America,” said Virginia.

Contacts:

Michael Petrelis
Email: MPetrelis@aol.com

Gary Virginia
Email: MRSFL96@aol.com

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They kill people like us, says gay Iraqi

Posted: Monday, May 04, 2009 1:04 PM

By Cheryll Simpson, NBC News Producer

BAGHDAD – Widespread violence is down across Baghdad, but not for one minority group.

Iraq’s gay population is being targeted by militia groups in a wave of killings that has claimed the lives of up to 25 young men and boys in the past month.

“They know I am gay. I don’t know if I am going to be killed, this is up to God,” said Moyad, a 38-year-old Baghdad resident who would not give his last name out of fear for his safety.

Visibly frightened, he said that he has many friends who have been sadistically tortured, some even murdered. “They are sticking glue up their anuses; some hospitals refuse to treat them. Is it a war waged against homosexuals?” he asked.

International outrage

Most of the attacks have happened in Baghdad’s Shia neighborhoods, and many believe that religious leaders have used Friday sermons in Sadr City as a platform to incite hatred and violence toward homosexuals. The bodies of three gay men were reported to have been found in Sadr City in April with pieces of paper bearing the word for “pervert” attached to them.

Posters and leaflets have been distributed in the Baghdad neighborhoods of al-Shola, al-Hurya and Sadr City with orders to, “Cleanse Iraq from the crime of homosexuality.”

Baghdad police didn’t respond to inquiries from NBC News about the attacks, but the surge in violence has gained attention by the international media.

In a letter to Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki in April, Amnesty International called for “urgent and concerted action” to stop the killings of men because of their sexual orientation.

Amnesty International expressed concern at the government’s failure to “publicly condemn the killings.” It urged the government to make sure that the killings are “promptly and effectively investigated, and to see that the perpetrators are brought to justice.” The letter also condemned statements from one senior police officer that,”appear to condone or even encourage the targeting of members of the gay community in Baghdad.” An Amnesty spokeswoman said there had not yet been a reply from Iraqi authorities.

Campaign of fear

Moyad described a recent crusade by vigilantes in which young men were tortured with hoses and shot.”For some time I never went out of my house,” he said. “I also had the feeling that they would break in and get me.”

Noor, a 24-year-old lesbian who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it is easier for her to conceal her sexuality, but she is still frightened about the possibility of being exposed – especially knowing that some of her friends were killed by the militias. “They were burned in Kadhimiya, Hurriya Al-Olaa, Hurriya Al-Thaniya, Dolaai and Dabaash.”

Moyad believes that many have been killed by their own families in an effort to preserve their honor. “My friend Ahmed, from the neighborhood of Zafaraniya, was killed by his family for looking like a female. Those commandos tell the families to kill them or else they will kill them. I expect that my own brother might lead those guys to kill me.”

‘Sense of panic’

Ali Hili is a gay Iraqi who fled to London and founded the fledgling U.K.-based organization,”Iraqi LGBT,” a human rights organization that supports Iraqi lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

“There is a sense of panic among the youth for fear of retaliation against anyone who is suspected of having a history of being effeminate, anyone with a homosexual past, if you act or dress like one or even have a western hairstyle,” said Hili. He said that attacks by the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia, and its supporters have increased and that death warrants have been sent to individuals.

Hili’s organization tries to help gays in Iraq who have come under attack by providing food, electricity, protection, medication and clothing at a safe house in Baghdad. The group also provides phone cards for people to report incidents of harassment, in order to document the situation, often at great risk to their safety in Iraq.

“Many people have nothing but the clothes on their backs, and sometimes not even that, no exaggeration at all here,” Hili said of people seeking refuge at the safe house. His organization also tries to help people seeking asylum in other countries.

Moyad said that unfortunately things have actually gotten worse than it was during Saddam’s reign things. “I was imprisoned because I was gay, but there was a court, a trial, and the judge let me loose at the time; now they kill people like us.”

http://worldblog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/05/04/1921277.aspx

Ali Hili – Iraqi Lgbt

Website : http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/

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Iraqi Gays Face Gruesome Torture/Murder Technique
By: Doug Ireland
Gay City News, 04/30/2009

yanat-mohammed

Yanar Mohammed, a leading Iraqi feminist leader, played the critical role in keeping the gruesome new torture/murder technique to light.

As the murder campaign targeting Iraqi gays intensifies, a leading Arabic television network last week revealed the use of a horrifying new form of lethal torture against Iraqi gay men – anti-gay Shiite death squads are sealing their anuses with a powerful glue, then inducing diarrhea, which leads to a painful and agonizing death. The use of this stomach-turning new torture was first reported by the Al Arabiya network, which is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates and was alerted to the story by a leading Iraqi feminist and human rights activist.

Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), told Al Arabiya that the torture substance “is an Iranian-manufactured glue that, if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile telephones in Iraq.”

Al Arabiya said its reporter confirmed the use of this anal torture by “visiting the Baghdad morgue in Bab-al-Moazaam in central Baghdad, where Neman Mohsen, the medical examiner, confirmed they have the bodies of seven homosexuals in the morgue. He said, ‘We were not able to identify the culprits, who dumped the bodies in front of the morgue and fled without being seen.'” A two-person team from Human Rights Watch (HRW) currently in Iraq to investigate persecution of LGBT people has also confirmed the use of this form of torture. In a widely-circulated email from Iraq, the head of HRW’s LGBT desk, Scott Long, said he and his colleague had gathered evidence which confirms the Al Arabiya report and that HRW would make its own detailed report after the organization’s two staffers return to the United States next week.

OWFI’s Mohammed, the woman responsible for gathering information about the use of this sadistic anal torture and passing it on to Al Arabiya, told Gay City News that “the story was so horrific that when I first heard it from gay friends I didn’t believe it. But then I investigated and found it was really true that the anuses of gay men were being glued shut.” Speaking by telephone from Toronto, where she was on a brief visit to relatives before a scheduled return to Iraq next week, Mohammed told this reporter that, “Fortunately, Al Arabiya has a very good human rights reporter, to whom I told what I had found, and he was able to confirm it by visiting the morgue.”

She said that “many older women in my organization were quite opposed to taking up the question of the persecution of homosexuals and didn’t understand why it was important. But I firmly believe that misogyny and homophobia are two sides of the same coin, and that we had a duty to speak out against the persecution of gays in Iraq, which is so little known that I was surprised by the extent of it when I began to look into it.”

Mohammed, 49, is well known for her courageous human rights work. She co-founded OWFI in Baghdad in June 2003 in the wake of the U.S. invasion and occupation, and the organization has led campaigns against so-called honor killings, the abduction of women, and trafficking in women and children. She also co-founded Iraq’s first feminist newspaper, Al Mousawat (Equality), which has been published quarterly for the last three years. Trained as an architect, Mohammed told Gay City News she has abandoned that profession to work full time for OWFI. She has received numerous awards for her work for women’s rights and human rights, including the Eleanor Roosevelt Global Rights Award given by the US Feminist Majority Foundation.

Ali Hili, the 33-year-old gay Iraqi exile who coordinates the association Iraqi LGBT, which is headquartered in London but has members and informants throughout Iraq, told Gay City News that he has also been able to confirm the use of lethal anal torture. “We have had reports, increasingly over the last four or five days, about the use of this technique not just in Baghdad but in smaller town and cities all over Iraq,” Hili said by telephone. “We have reports on seven young men who have been through this horrible experience in which they were arrested in the south of Iraq and had their anuses sealed, or ‘locked’ as the torturers say. Our sources told us that hospitals all over Iraq’s southern region have received so many cases of similar incidents where men have had their anuses glued, but that what makes the situation even worse and more lethal is that they have been refused treatment in hospitals when they sought it because of homophobia.”

As of this week, Hili and Iraqi LGBT have documented 617 cases of assassinations of LGBT people since a death-to-all-gays fatwa was issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of all Shiite muslims in Iraq, in 2005. The murder campaign of “sexual cleansing” of homosexuals has intensified in recent months, with 70 new killings since December alone (see this reporter’s April 16-29 article, “Iraqi Gay Murders Surge; World Finally Takes Note”).

Now, Hili says, “I have just received word of seven new murders of gays in one week, last week.” He provided Gay City News with the names and towns of origin of the most recent victims of the anti-gay-death squads. They are Abbas Mosa, 33, from Al Hay; Saeed Majeed, 27, from Al Samawa; Jabar Khothayer, 19, from Al Dewaniya; Majed Alawi, 41, from Al Hindiya; Hazim Hussein, age unknown, from Al Najaf; Mohammed Qasim, 25, from Al Dewaniya; and Rama Sabri, 19, from Al Mohanawiya.

At the same time, the Iraqi news website niqash.org reported last week that “Al-Baghdadiya, a satellite television channel based in Cairo… broadcast a report on April 7 saying that 20 young men accused of homosexuality were taken to Ibn al-Nafis hospital in Baghdad with mutilated genitals.”

Hili told Gay City News that much of the most recent wave of assassinations appears to be the work of the Mahdi Army, the militia led by fundamentalist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He said that one of Iraqi LGBT’s informants “is connected to high-ranking religious within the Mahdi Army, and he has been told of a campaign to target anyone who is suspected of being gay.” Increasingly, Hili said, leaflets and “Wanted” posters are appearing with lists of men targeted to be killed for what are called “crimes against morality,” meaning homosexuality. A list of Iraqi LGBT members to be eliminated is also circulating, Hili said, and he’s been told his own name is at the top of this list.

Hili also said that pharmacists have been reporting to the police about male customers who were regularly buying female hormones and cosmetic creams. In one such recent instance, two of these supposed transgendered men were arrested and taken to an unknown location, and have not been heard from since.

See also:

Iraq: IGLHRC Asks the Iraqi Government to Protect LGBT People
04/17/2009

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The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has sent a letter to the Iraqi Minister of Human Rights, Wijdan Salim, requesting that she takes specific measures to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqis and prevent hate crimes against those perceived to be gay. IGLHRC’s letter, written to coincide with Ms. Salim’s visit to Washington D.C., responds to a recent wave of violent crimes against Iraqi citizens perceived to be gay.

Just hours before IGLHRC sent its letter, an Iraqi group identified as “Fazilat” (Virtue) posted flyers threatening homosexuals with death on walls in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad. The flyers, distributed on April 17, list the names of some of the would-be targets and states that “we will soon punish all you perverts.” Residents of Sadr City say the people who were outed in these fliers have gone into hiding.

Previous acts of anti-LGBT violence in Iraq include the April 2, 2009 murder of two men in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad. An unidentified local official described these men as “sexual perverts (Monharef Jensiyan) who were killed by members of their tribe to restore their family honor.” Prior to death, the men’s relatives had disowned them and they were also thrown out of their tribes. So far no one has claimed their bodies and the government has not launched an investigation into the case. These murders took place one week after Iraqi authorities unearthed the bodies of 4 men killed by gunshots in Sadr City on March 25. The words “pervert” and “son of a bitch” (jaravah: a derogatory term to describe homosexuals) were written on the chests of the victims. As part of this new wave of violence, a coffee house in Sadr City that was frequented by gay men has also been burnt down.

Apart from these cases, IGLHRC has also received reports of the arrest, torture, and murder of several members of the group Iraqi LGBT amid a nationwide government crackdown on gay-friendly businesses across Iraq. Several other reports indicate dozens of extra-judicial murders of LGBT people across Iraq during the past few months.

In response to these violent murders, on April 8, 2009, IGLHRC and Human Rights Watch submitted an urgent appeal to the Special Procedures of the United Nations to ask for an investigation.

IGLHRC is also working closely with the D.C.-based Council on Global Equality to bring the plight of gay and lesbian Iraqis to the attention of U.S. government officials, who will be meeting with the Iraqi minister next week.

No Action is requested at this time. Below is IGLHRC’s letter to the Iraqi Minister of Human Rights.

April 17, 2009

Her Excellency Wijdan Mikhail Salim
Minister of Human Rights
Unios (Naqabat) St. Mansour
Baghdad, Iraq
Fax: +964-1-5372017
minister@humanrights.gov.iq
info@humanrights.gov.iq

Your Excellency:

On behalf of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), I am writing to express deep concern about an alarming increase in violence based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity in Iraq over the past few weeks. Iraqi officials have recently confirmed the murder of six men whose bodies were found in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad. The Iraqi authorities unearthed the bodies of 4 men killed by gunshots on March 25, 2009. On April 2, Iraqi police found the bodies of two additional men who were reportedly killed by members of their tribe to restore their family honor. Media reports suggest that vigilantes killed these men because of their perceived sexual orientation.

This wave of violence coincides with an arson attack against a Sadr City coffee house that was popular among gay men. IGLHRC has also received reports of official persecution—abduction, torture, trial without due process, and execution—of Iraqis who the government believes to have been part of a gay organization. In addition, IGLHRC learned today that an Iraqi group known as “Fazilat” (Virtue) has circulated flyers around Sadr City threatening gay men with death and listing the names of their potential targets.

As a signatory to international treaties that assure the right to privacy, liberty and security of the person and the right to non-discrimination, it is Iraq’s obligation to protect its citizens and ensure that human rights violations are fully investigated and that perpetrators are brought to justice.

The new Iraqi Constitution protects the equality of all citizens before the law (Article 14), guarantees everyone’s right to enjoy “life, freedom, and security” (Article 15) and reiterates the right of all Iraqis to live “in freedom and with dignity” (Article 35). The mob murder of men perceived to be gay also violates the Iraqi Constitution, since the law protects the private lives of all citizens (Article 17), makes any kind of violence against family members a crime (Article 29) and prohibits extra-judicial punishment (Article 19, Section 2). Despite the legal obligations of the Iraqi government to protect all citizens, crimes committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqis and those believed to be homosexual are not properly investigated or prosecuted.

In accordance with Article 2 of the Charter of the Ministry of Human Rights (CMHR), which was passed by the Iraqi parliament as law number 60 in 2006, it is the responsibility of your ministry to “promote …and secure the implementation of…. the culture of human rights and personal freedom in accordance with international treaties that Iraq has entered… and prevent its violation.”

To fulfill this mandate, we request that your ministry take the following steps:

* Actively and thoroughly document cases of human rights abuses against LGBT people and include this information in your annual report on the status of human rights in Iraq for submission to parliament and the cabinet. (Article 3, Section 2, CMHR)

* Prepare a comprehensive report on state, community and family violence based on sexual orientation with concrete recommendations on how to stop such human rights violations. (Article 3, Section 3, CMHR)

* Launch an investigation into the Iraqi legal system—including police, judiciary, and penal systems—to assure the full enjoyment of human rights principles by all people, regardless of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

* Promote a culture of tolerance and respect for the rights of LGBT people at the tribal level and within the larger Iraqi society. (Article 3, Section 11, CMHR)

IGLHRC is ready to support the efforts of the Iraqi government to secure the rights of its same-sex practicing citizens through training, consultation and information exchange.

We trust that you will give this matter due attention.

Yours sincerely,

Cary Alan Johnson
Executive Director
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

See also:

Video: San Francisco Gays Protest 6 Gay Iraqi Murders – April 6, 2009, Harvey Milk Plaza

Gay Iraq Vigils: NYC on Friday 10 April, London Next Thursday 16 April 2009

By Michael Petrelis

Two international actions are planned over the coming two week because of the murder of gay Iraqis in the slums of Baghdad.

Activists will gather in New York City this week, and in London next week, to protest the deaths of gay Iraqis, the continuing American occupation of the country, and to express strong solidarity with the LGBT people of Iraq.

Big thanks to Brendan and Ali for organizing the vigils.

Here are the details for each action that I’ve received from the organizers. If you’re near these cities, please try and get to the actions.

NEW YORK CITY ACTION:

Contact: Brendan Fay

E: brendan@stpatsforall.com

P: 718-721-2780

We will gather later this week to remember our murdered brothers in Iraq, at a vigil in front of the Iraqi mission to the United Nations. We will light candles, lay a wreathe with rainbow ribbons, and also speak out against homophobic violence everywhere. A letter of protest will be delivered to the mission.

Please join us!

What: Vigil of Remembrance & Solidarity With LGBT Iraqis

When: Friday, April 10

Time: 12 Noon

Where: Iraq Mission to the UN

14 E 79th St

New York, NY 10075

LONDON ACTION:

Contact: Ali Hili

Email: iraqilgbt@yahoo.co.uk

Web: http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/

What: Protest and Support Iraqi LGBT – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgendered

Date: Thursday, April 16, 2009

Time: 12:00pm – 4:00pm

Location: Home Office Direct Communications Unit

2 Marsham Street

London, United Kingdom

See also: London protest about Iraqi gay executions by LGBT Asylum News

See more details and RSVP via Facebook