Archive for the ‘Outrage’ Category
Olympic torch ambushed in London
Bus halted, gay activist Tatchell arrested
“Gordon Brown colludes with China’s tyrannical leaders”
London – 6 April 2008
The bus bearing the Olympic torch was today ambushed outside Selfridges department store in Oxford Street, London, by gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage!
Mr Tatchell ran in front of the bus carrying the Olympic flame. He held up a placard which read: “Free Tibet, Free Hu Jia.” He shouted the same words as he ran along in front of the bus.
The police wrestled Mr Tatchell to the ground, which delayed the bus briefly while he was removed to pavement. After questioning, he was later released without charge.
“Hu Jia was jailed for three and half years last week for campaigning for free speech, Tibetan autonomy, environmental protection, and for the human rights of the rural poor and people with HIV,” said Mr Tatchell.
“He exposed the Chinese government’s cover up of the use of HIV contaminated blood, the lack of support and care for people with HIV, and he challenged social prejudice and discrimination against people with the virus.
“Hi Jia is a truly heroic figure, who has shown immense foresight, determination and bravery. He has kept campaigning, even though he knew it would put him at risk of arrest, torture and imprisonment.
“In jail, Hu Jia is likely to be mistreated, denied medical treatment for his hepatitis B infection and starved of proper food.
For more information about Hu Jia, see here:
“Gordon Brown has shamed himself and Britain by greeting the Olympic torch at Downing Street, at a time when China is shooting dead Tibetan protesters and jailing and torturing hundreds of political prisoners,” added Mr Tatchell.
“It is hypocritical for the Prime Minister to boycott the Zimbabwean regime, but not the dictatorial regime in China. These double standards bring our government into disrepute.
“The UK should not be colluding with a police state like China. Attempts to gently persuade the Beijing leaders to stop their human rights abuses have failed. They are manipulating the Olympics. We must
not allow them to exploit the Beijing games to divert attention from China’s abysmal human rights record.
“All countries that love freedom, democracy and liberty should refuse to host the Olympic torch and boycott the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. Athletes should wear Tibetan flags during their events and on the podium when they collect their medals.
“China should be subjected to sporting protests in the same way that apartheid South Africa was subject to sporting protests.
“China is one the world’s most vicious anti-worker regimes. It has poor labour laws. Employees have little protection against abuse. Independent trade unions are banned and their leaders jailed.
“To make way for new cities, millions of rural people have been forced off their land with little or no compensation. China is free market state capitalism at its worst. The gap between the rich and poor is
one of the widest of any country on earth.
“The idea that China is any longer a communist state is laughable. The Communist Party has become a new ruling class and a route to personal advancement, corruption and wealth aggrandisement.
“The Beijing leaders are new emperors who ride roughshod over their own people. They have almost total power and they abuse it to oppress and exploit the Chinese nation, in ways that are often similar to the old feudal and colonial powers of the nineteenth century,” said Mr Tatchell.
Peter Tatchell 020 7403 1790
Conservative MEP John Bowis made the following powerful speech in the European Parliament in favour of the successful resolution supporting Mehdi and Pegah Emambakhsh.
Bruxelles: The European Parliament has approved with 60 votes (46 in favour, 2 against and 12 abstentions) an urgent resolution on the case of Seyed Mehdi Kazemi – the 19-year-old Iranian gay – member of EveryOne Group – who is about to be extradited from Holland to the United Kingdom. He risked immediate deportation from London to Teheran, where the death sentence awaits him because of his homosexuality.
Full text of the European Parliament’s Resolution on Mehdi Kazemi’s case:
The European Parliament,
– having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and in particular to Article 3 thereof, which prohibits the removal, expulsion or extradition of persons to countries where there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,
– having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and in particular to Articles 18 and 19 thereof on the right to asylum and on protection in the event of removal, expulsion or extradition respectively,
– having regard to the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the Status of Refugees,
– having regard to Council Directive 2004/83/EC on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted (Qualifications Directive) and to Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 on the criteria and mechanisms to determine the Member State responsible for assessing asylum applications (Dublin Regulation), as well as to other EU asylum instruments,
– having regard to the letter of 10 September 2007 from its President to the UK Prime Minister on the case of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian who risked being sent back to Iran after her request for asylum was turned down,
– having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas Mehdi Kazemi, a 19-year-old gay Iranian citizen, requested asylum in the United Kingdom and had his application turned down; whereas, fearing deportation, he fled to the Netherlands, where he applied for asylum; whereas Dutch authorities, after examining his request, have decided to send him back to the UK,
B. whereas UK authorities are now left with the final decision on his asylum application and possible deportation to Iran,
C. whereas Iranian authorities routinely detain, torture and execute persons, notably homosexuals; whereas Mehdi’s partner has already been executed, while his father has threatened him with death,
D. whereas in the similar case of Pegah Emambakhsh the UK authorities decided, after international pressure, not to deport her back to Iran, but whereas it is still not clear what her fate will be,
E. whereas the UK Prime Minister’s spokesperson, while not commenting on the case of Mehdi Kazemi, gave general assurances as to the conformity of UK asylum procedures with international commitments and to the possibility of appealing against asylum decisions to an independent judge, as well as to the fact that the authorities would not remove anyone who would be at risk on his or her return,
F. whereas more attention should be devoted to the proper application of EU asylum law in Member States as regards sexual orientation,
1. Expresses its serious concern regarding the fate of Mehdi Kazemi;
2. Asks for the proper and full application of the Qualifications Directive, which recognises persecution for sexual orientation as a ground for granting asylum and requires Member States to consider the individual case and the situation in the country of origin, including laws and regulations and the manner in which they are applied;
3. Believes that the EU and its Member States cannot apply European and national laws and procedures in a way which results in the expulsion of persons to a third country where they would risk persecution, torture and death, as this would amount to a violation of European and international human rights obligations;
4. Appeals to the Member states involved to find a common solution to ensure that Mehdi Kazemi is granted asylum or protection on EU soil and not sent back to Iran, where he would be executed, thus ensuring that Article 3 of the ECHR is fully respected by all European authorities and notably, in this case, by the UK; asks the Commission and the Council to fully cooperate with the Member States on this case;
5. Asks EU institutions and Member States to take action to prevent similar situations, in the future, through cooperation and EU guidelines to find solutions in similar cases; asks the Commission to monitor and evaluate the application of EU asylum law in Member States, and in particular as regards sexual orientation, and to report to the European Parliament; underlines the fact that the Commission has announced, for 2008, amendments to the Dublin Regulation and the Qualifications Directive which will address the issues raised in this resolution;
6. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Member States, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Mehdi Kazemi.
Galloway’s Iranian propaganda?
The Respect MP has turned on supporters of gay rights in Iran and falsely accused us of war-mongering
By Peter Tatchell
The Guardian – Comment Is Free – 26 March 2008
Left-wing Respect MP George Galloway has been accused of making allegations that border on paedophile smears and play to homophobic prejudice. He claims that the boyfriend of gay Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi was executed for “committing sex crimes against young men.”
At the anti-war protest in London on 15 March, which I supported and attended, Mr Galloway repeated these claims in his keynote speech. He said the “khaki war machine now has its pink contingent.” He went on to imply that people who support gay rights in Iran are “useful idiots” and said their aim is to “bamboozle the public to go along with mass murder in Iran.”
It is untrue and deeply offensive to suggest that those of us who oppose homophobic persecution in Iran are backing the bombing and invasion of Iran. We are not. I am on record in my writings and speeches as opposing an attack on Iran. When, for example, I exposed Tehran’s racist and neo-colonial persecution of its Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority, I stated categorically: “I am part of a new campaign group, Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI).
“HOPI opposes both a US war on Iran and the tyranny of the Iranian regime. My motto is: Neither Washington nor Tehran! “A war against Iran would be another disastrous neo-imperial adventure, which would strengthen the Tehran dictatorship. President Ahmadinejad would play the patriot and manipulate nationalism to rally the population behind him. He would use a US military attack as an excuse to further crack down on dissent in the name of safeguarding national security. “The overthrow of the theocratic police state by the Iranian people – not by US military intervention – is the best way to resolve the nuclear crisis and prevent a needless, unjustified war. With no dictatorship in Tehran, President Bush and the neo cons would lose the rationale for a military strike against Iran.”
Defend Mehdi Kazemi
Oppose Iran’s homophobic persecution
Reform the asylum system to protect LGBT refugees
Join the protest
This Saturday, 22 March
2pm to 3pm
Opposite Downing Street, Whitehall, SW1
Friends and supporters of gay Iranian asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi, are asking you to join our protest opposite Downing Street this Saturday, March 22nd:
Our demands are:
- Don’t send Mehdi Kazemi back to his death in Iran
- Down with Iran’s homophobic laws
- For the right to settle in the UK.
The event is sponsored by Middle East Workers’ Solidarity and the National Union of Students LGBT campaign, and is supported by the LGBT human rights group, OutRage!
www.union-solidarity.org has more details.
OutRage! is highlighting the five failings of the Home Office with regard to LGBT refugees:
- No training on sexual orientation issues for asylum staff and adjudicators
- No explicit official policy supporting the right of refugees to claim asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation
- No action to stamp out the abuse of LGBT refugees in UK asylum detention camps
- No accurate, up-to-date information on the victimisation of LGBT people in violently homophobic countries
- No access to adequate legal representation for LGBT asylum applicants
We hope to see you on Saturday at 2pm.
Solidarity and appreciation, Peter Tatchell, OutRage!
Activist Peter Tatchell explains the life-threatening situation for lesbian and gay people in Iran, during the BBC News – 12 March 2008 – item on gay asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi.
Gay activists have told PinkNews.co.uk that the government need to reconsider the cases of other gay asylum seekers following the reprieve of Iranian teenager Mehdi Kazemi’s.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced yesterday that in the light of “new circumstances” gay Iranian Mehdi Kazemi should have his case reconsidered upon his return from the Netherlands, where he fled when his first application was denied.
The 19-year old, who has lived in Britain since 2005, was facing deportation and possible execution in Iran, where homosexuality is illegal.
Although the decision has been met with support, gay activists have warned that there are many similar cases which are being overlooked by the government.
Omar Kuddus, a gay rights activist who campaigned for Kazemi’s case, told PinkNews.co.uk:
“The British government has for once done the right thing and given this young man a chance and hope for his future.
“There is no question of the fate awaiting Madhi if he is deported back to Iran – execution, just for being gay.
“Homosexuality is not accepted and the state kills and punishes those guilty of being gay.
“To say that homosexuals are safe as long as they are discreet and live their lives in private, is to say that Anne Frank was safe from the Nazis in World War Two as long as she hid in her attic, there is no difference.
“Homosexuality shall never be acceptable in Iran as long as the Ayatollahs and Sharia law is in place.
“I am grateful that Mehdi can now make his case and establish the true dangers awaiting him in Iran.”
The Home Office said last week that even though homosexuality is illegal in Iran and homosexuals do experience discrimination, it does not believe that homosexuals are routinely persecuted purely on the basis of their sexuality.
Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner and member of gay rights group OutRage! believes that there are dozens of other gay asylum seekers whose cases the government are refusing to review.
Mr Tatchell said:
“The review of this case is welcome, but there are still many more which need to be reconsidered, including Pegah Emambakhsh and many other individuals who are fleeing violently homophobic countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, Iraq, Zimbabwe and Palestine.
“The underlying problem is the government’s whole asylum system and the way it is rigged to fail as many applicants as possible, combined with the homophobic biases of the asylum process.
“Asylum staff and adjudicators are given no training on sexual orientation and there is no explicit official policy supporting the right of refugees to claim asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation.”
The growing public outcry over the issue prompted a response from the European Parliament and 60 MEPs signed a petition asking Gordon Brown to reverse the decision on Kazemi.
Liberal Democrat European justice spokeswoman Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP welcomed the change of heart by Jacqui Smith, but believes the decision should have been made sooner.
Baroness Ludford said: “This is a welcome move, even if it should have come voluntarily and without the need for so much pressure.
“We must not forget other gay Iranians fearing not only their liberty but their lives, such as Pegah Emambakhsh. They deserve justice too.”
Ms Ludford has written to the Home Secretary requesting a review of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian who faces deportation after losing the latest round in her battle to be granted asylum.
Ms Emambakhsh, 40, who fled to Britain in 2005 after her girlfriend was sentenced to the death penalty, narrowly avoided deportation in August last year when her local MP Richard Caborn persuaded the government to allow her to stay while further avenues of appeal were explored.
Last month, however, the Court of Appeal turned down her application for permission for a full hearing and she now plans to apply for a judicial review at the High Court.
After the historical approval of the European Resolution on the case of Seyed Mehdi Kazemi (see below) the British Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, decided a few hours ago to suspend the procedure that would entail deportation to Iran for Mehdi Kazemi, the young Iranian gay, member of EveryOne Group (www.everyonegroup.com).
What happened today is the result of the international intervention which saw EveryOne Group with the Nonviolent Radical Party and the associations Nessuno Tocchi Caino and Certi Diritti on the front line.
“When we took on the task of trying to save Mehdi”, say the leaders of EveryOne Group, Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, enthusiastically, “the young Iranian boy faced deportation and death on the scaffold in Iran. Then we and our allies found ourselves flanked by a network of solidarity which prevented yet another crime against human rights. It is the first step towards a society that is no longer indifferent, a society that is capable of respecting the rights of refugees who are the weakest link in humanity.
We have to express our deepest satisfaction at this important victory on the field of human rights, which has resulted in the saving of a human life and written an important page in European history: from now on the highest authorities will guarantee that in all the Member States Directive 2004/83/CE is applied, which calls for the recognition of refugee status also for people persecuted in their country of origin because of their sexual orientation.
“It is a triumph for human civilization”, conclude the leaders of EveryOne, “a prelude for our next campaigns, the aims of which are to safeguard refugees and other persecuted minorities.
While we celebrate the saving of a life, however, we must continue to fight so that nations travel along the road of human rights and abandon persecutions and injustices which are the legacy of ages we have to leave behind us.”
Galloway’s Iranian Propaganda? Anti-gay?
Sex abuse allegations – where’s the evidence?
Mehdi Kazemi’s boyfriend defamed.
LONDON, 13 March 2008
George Galloway MP is accused of mouthing “the propaganda of the Iranian dictatorship” after he claimed on the Channel 5 TV talk show The Wright Stuff this morning that the boyfriend of gay asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi was executed for sex crimes (see full transcript below). The criticism comes from the gay human rights group, OutRage!. “We are calling on George Galloway to explain the source of his claim that Mehdi Kazemi’s boyfriend had committed sex crimes and this was the reason he was executed,” said OutRage! spokesperson, Brett Lock. Mr Galloway also denied that Iran executes homosexuals.
“Neither OutRage! nor any other human rights group has seen any evidence to suggest that Mr Kazemi’s partner was a rapist or sex-abuser.”
“George Galloway has made this claim. He should now produce the evidence.”
“This looks like the Iranian propaganda. The homophobic tyrants in Tehran frequently defame political, religious, and sexual dissidents with false claims of rape, alcoholism, drug-taking and hooliganism. But in this case, not even the Iranian authorities have made these allegations against Mehdi Kazemi’s boyfriend,” noted Mr Lock. “Furthermore, Mr Galloway’s claim that gay people are not executed in Iran is refuted by every reputable human rights body, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Iran has the death penalty for homosexuality and gay people are often tortured to make confessions. They are hanged in public by the barbaric slow strangulation method which is deliberately designed to maximise and prolong the suffering of the victim,” said Mr Lock.
GG: The Independent has a story about Peers calling upon the Home Secretary to halt the deportation of a gay Iranian. In part this is being used as part of the on-going propaganda against Iran. All the papers seem to imply that you get executed in Iran for being gay. That’s not true.
MW: His boyfriend was hung though, wasn’t he?
GG: Yes, but nor being gay. For uh, committing sex crimes, uh, against young men.
GG: I mean, I’m against execution for any reason in any place, but it is important to avoid that propaganda.
MW: So you’re saying that his guy they want to deport should be deported because there is no risk of his sexuality.. or he shouldn’t be deported because there is at risk?
GG: He should not be deported not least because after all this Iranian propaganda he will be accused of being the source, or one of the sources. It would be ridiculous to deport him, and I don’t think he will be deported now.
For further information: Brett Lock – Peter Tatchell
Iraqi LGBT have recently obtained new video evidence highlighting the brutality of the Badr Corps and police treatment of LGBT people in Iraq. It shows LGBT people being arrested, held in custody and having their heads shaved and taunted with songs of hate and revenge.
The first video shows two gay men celebrating a wedding ceremony when they are stopped at a checking point between Al-Kut and Baghdad and violently pulled out of their car.
The second video is of Ali, a Trans member of Iraqi LGBT, he was living in a Basra safe house supported and run by the group. Many LGBT people face threats and violence, and these shelters are the only refuges from attacks.
In November, Iraqi LGBT was forced to close the three safe houses it ran in the south of Iraq, including the one in Basra, due to lack of funds.
“We have, sadly, lost contact with many of those who were sheltered in our safe houses which we were obliged to close,” Ali Hili of Iraqi LGBT explained, adding, “Of those with whom we have still had some contact, we know that they have sold everything they had to survive and rent a room to live in, as they were all rejected by their families because of their homosexuality. Some have been forced to work as prostitutes because they are too obviously gay and can get no other work.”
Iraqi LGBT members obtained the above listed video by bribing a police officer with $200.
“The video, apparently made by police for their amusement, is disturbing[...] in addition to showing the police standing around and laughing and making crude remarks in Arabic about Ali’s sexuality, it is also dubbed with hate and revenge music in Arabic.”
Iraqi LGBT has documented over 400 separate cases of LGBT Iraqis who have been murdered by Shia militias.
Most of these killings have been the work of the Badr Corps, the armed militia of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the largest Shiite political formation and the core of the current US-backed government. The Badr-Corps’ spiritual guide, the 77-year-old Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a death-to-all-gays fatwa in 2005.
New reports we have received from underground gay contacts inside Iraq suggest intensified homophobic abuse, threats, intimidation and violence by fundamentalist supporters of Sistani and other Shia leaders.Sources inside Iraq report new arrests and disappearing of gays and trans people.
These killings are just the ones information is available about. They are the tip of an iceberg of religious-motivated summary executions. Gay Iraqis are living in fear of discovery and murder.
Hussein, Mawla, Najim, Haydar, Khalid, Basim, and Rasool — are all presumed dead, but their last names cannot be published on the slight chance that one or more of them might still be alive.
Three transgendered Iraqis also disappeared last month in different parts of Iraq after receiving multiple threats of death if they didn’t move out of the neighborhoods where they lived.
Friends can send Donations to IRAQI LGBT:
The immediate urgent priority is to Support and Donate Money to LGBT activists in Iraq in order to assist their efforts to help other Lesbians, Gay, Bisexuals and Trans gender Iraqi’s facing death, persecution and systematic Targeting by the Iraqi Police and Badr and Sadr Militia and to raise awareness about the wave of homophobic murders in Iraq to the outside world.
Funds raised will also help provide LGBTs under threat of killing with refuge in the safer parts of Iraq (including safe houses, food, electricity, medical help) and assist efforts help them seek refuge in neighboring countries.
You can review these videos on this link.
More Iraqi LGBT news: