Archive for the ‘Torture’ Category
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.
- Chicago: Protest Focuses on Obama’s Failure to Denounce Rampant Anti-Gay Violence in Iraq
- Improving Security Prompts UN to Revise Guidelines for GAY Iraqi Asylum Claims
- They Kill People Like Us Says Gay Iraqi
- Iraqi Gays Face Gruesome Torture/Murder Technique by Doug Ireland
- Iraq: Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of LGBT People – Iraqi Militia Have Deployed a Painful Form of Torture Against Homosexuals by Closing Their Anuses With Glue
- Iraq: IGLHRC Asks the Iraqi Government to Protect LGBT People
- NYC: Brendan Fay – Protest At Iraq Mission Over Murders Of Gay Men In Iraq
- San Francisco Gays Protest 6 Gay Iraqi Murders – April 6, 5 PM, Harvey Milk Plaza
- Iraq: Six Gay Men Murdered in Iraqi Slum
- URGENT: Stop Executions of Gay Iraqis – Members of Iraqi LGBT Group on Death Row – Action Needed to Halt Judicial Executions
- Iraq’s Queer Underground Railroad: A Secret Network of Safe Houses and Escape Routes Is Saving Gay Iraqis From Execution by Islamist Death Squads
- Iraq’s Underground Queer Railroad – Safe Houses and Escape Routes Save LGBT Lives by Peter Tatchell
- UK: Queer Fear 2 – The Sexual Cleansing of Iraq – Film Screening November 3rd 2008
- Sexual Cleansing in Iraq: Bashar, Coordinator of Iraqi LGBT in Baghdad Assassinated – Islamist Death Squads Are Hunting Down Gay Iraqis and Summarily Executing Them
- Iraq: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Do Kill – Newsweek’s Inquiry About Gays Persecuted
- Iraq: Out of the Gathering Darkness – Two Iraqi Lesbians, Amal and Zahra, Shot Dead and Decapitated
- U.S. Invasion Has Made Life Worse for Iraqi LGBT Community
- New York: Benefit Party for Iraqi LGBT at the North Star Fund
- Iraqi LGBT Have Recently Obtained New Video Evidence
- New Disappearances of Gay People in Iraq
- Treatment of LGBT People In Iraq by Police
- From Iran to New Iraq, Ayatollahs Are Murderers of Homosexuals: Massive Crimes Against Humanity Are Committed by the Pro-Iranian Iraqi Government Installed by the Amerikan Occupation and Its Sectarian Militias
- Three Iraq Safe Houses Forced to Close
- IRAQI LGBT: SAFE HOUSE CAMPAIGN
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.
We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred based violence, especially since the events of September 11th. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. This trend shows no sign of abating.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
Note: This page was taken from
The Remembering our Dead Web Project and The Transgender Day of Remembrance are owned by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, All Rights Reserved
Action Alert: Uganda: Condemn the Arrest and Torture of LGBT Human Rights Defender
On July 25, 2008, at 3:00 p.m., Ugandan police arrested and tortured a key Ugandan human rights activist–one of three who had been detained slightly more than a month ago while peacefully demonstrating for access to HIV services. Usaam Mukwaaya was on his way back from Friday prayers when he was stopped by a police patrol car and taken off a motorbike taxi that he had hired to transport him. Three men in police uniform and a fourth in civilian attire put Mukwaaya in the patrol car. He was driven to a building where he was led through a dark hall to an interrogation room, and aggressively questioned about the Ugandan LGBT movement. Mukwaaya was cut around the hands and tortured with a machine that applies extreme pressure to the body, preventing breathing and causing severe pain.
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)–a coalition of 3 LGBTI organizations in Uganda–and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) searched unsuccessfully for Mukwaaya from 3:00 p.m. on July 25 to the morning of July 26, 2008, inquiring as to his whereabouts at five police stations in Kampala. On July 26, 2008, at about 11:40 a.m., Mukwaaya was driven from the building where he’d been held for about 30 to 45 minutes and dumped. Shaken and bruised, he boarded a motorbike taxi to the city center and telephoned colleagues from SMUG who found him weak, filthy and without shoes and some of his clothing..
IGLHRC calls upon its partners and friends to join us in condemning the arrest and torture of Mukwaaya and the violation of LGBT human rights in Uganda by the government and its agents. Please send politely worded faxes and e-mails to the following Ugandan officials:
President Kaguta Yoweri Museveni,
President of the Republic of Uganda,
Office of the President of Uganda,
State House Nakasero,
P.O. Box 24594, Kampala, Uganda.
Fax: +256 (0) 414 436 102 / + 256 41 4235459
/ +256 41 4344012
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org /
Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda,
Minister of Internal Affairs,
Jinja Rd, PO Box 7191,
Fax: + 256 414343088
Mr. Kale Kaihura,
Inspector General of Police,
Telephone: +256 (0) 712 755 999
Please copy your appeals to the following individuals responsible for monitoring human rights in Uganda:
Director, Monitoring and Inspections,
Uganda Human Rights Commission,
Plot 20/22/24 Buganda Road,
P.O Box 4929,
Fax: + 256 41 255 261
Email: email@example.com or or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Livingstone Sewanyana,
Human Rights House,
Plot 1853, Block 15, Lulume Road, Nsambya,
P.O Box 11027,
Fax: 256 – 41 – 510498,
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send a copy of all e-mails and faxes to IGLHRC Africa Regional Office at
E-mail: email@example.com (attn: July 08 Uganda Action)
I am writing to you today to strongly condemn the illegal detention and torture of Usaam Mukwaaya on July 25-26, 2008 by the Ugandan police. These actions by the police are a violation of numerous human rights promised to the people of Uganda under the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights and other international treaties to which your country is a signatory. These treaties, as well as your constitution, guarantee the right to physical integrity, freedom from torture, and freedom from discrimination based on sex or other status.
I am requesting that the Government of Uganda fulfills its international responsibilities by undertaking a thorough and transparent investigation into the illegal detention and torture of Usaam Mukwaaya and that those responsible be brought to justice.
Furthermore, I would like your assurance that human rights violations targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans be halted immediately.
(Please add here a sentence about your organization and its mission, if relevant.)
IGLHRC and SMUG have documented a pattern of abuse against LGBT people in Uganda. In the past five years, the government has arrested LGBT people on sodomy charges, harassed LGBT human rights defenders, and fined a private radio station that broadcast programming on HIV prevention and men who have sex with men. In July 2005, Uganda’s Parliament passed an amendment to the constitution making Uganda only the second country in the world to use its constitution to outlaw marriage between people of the same sex. A coalition of religious leaders has marched through the streets of Kampala demanding the arrests of LGBT people with one cleric even calling for the “starving to death” of homosexuals. Inspired by the official homophobia of the state, the Ugandan media has published lists of gay men and lesbians, leading to physical violence, loss of employment and educational opportunities by LGBT people.
On June 4, 2008, Mukwaaya and two other human rights defenders, Pepe Julian Onziema and Valentine Kalende, were arrested while peacefully attending the 2008 HIV/AIDS Implementers Meeting in Kampala. They were charged with criminal trespass, a case that is ongoing in the courts. The arrest of the activists has been condemned by local and international organizations, including UNAIDS and the U.S. government, both of which were organizers of the conference. Media attention related to the trial and the strong international condemnation of the arrests may be the cause of the arrest of Usaam Mukwaaya and continued harassment of LGBT activists.
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!
A teenager from Syria who tried to claim asylum in the UK on the grounds of his sexual orientation has pleaded with the Home Office to reverse a deportation order.
Jojo Jako Yakob claims he faces certain death if he is returned to his homeland.
A deportation order was enacted against him after he was arrested for possession of a fake Belgian passport and placed in Polmont Young Offenders Institution in Scotland.
Yakob fled Syria when he was faced with persecution and arrest because of his sexual orientation.
The 19-year-old is to launch a legal challenge in order to reverse the deportation order so he can spend the rest of his life in Scotland.
He escaped Syria two years ago after surviving severe abuse at the hands of the Syrian police and prison guards, when he was arrested for distributing anti-government leaflets.
Following his transfer from police interrogation, prison guards soon discovered that Yakob was homosexual.
He then suffered horrific beatings and was assaulted so badly that he fell into a coma.
After being transferred to hospital, he managed to flee to Lebanon making for London hidden in a lorry.
He applied for asylum and was granted extended leave by the Home Office, but was then arrested in Aberdeen last April after being found in possession of a fake Belgian passport.
He was handed a 12-month sentence and sent to Polmont Young
Offenders Unit in Falkirk.
His lawyers say his asylum application was then mistakenly withdrawn and, as a result, he has been served with a deportation order, pending a final hearing this May.
If Yakob is deported to Syria, it is likely that he will be rearrested and could potentially face the same kind of abuse that caused him to flee to the UK.
Talking about the ordeal that he faced, Yakob told the Scotland on Sunday:
“I was tortured. I was beaten. At one point I was put up against a wall and a handgun pointed at me.
“I was told that if I did not tell the authorities what they wanted to know they would shoot me dead.
“I did not tell them anything, I did not think they would shoot me.
“The police officer then shot me in my upper left arm. At that point, I told them what they wanted to know as I believed that they would shoot me dead.”
Yakob says he was held in police cells for 20 days without charge and subjected to daily electric shock torture and beatings before being transferred to Ahdas Prison, near the Turkish border.
In prison, he formed a relationship with a gay prisoner named Hassain.
Yakob explained: “Hassain was serving a sentence, he told me, for 25 years.
“He told me that the sentence was only because he was gay.”
After the pair were seen sleeping together in jail, Yakob said he was subjected to systematic beatings, which “went on for days into weeks.”
“I was also subjected to cold-water torture, where I was put in a room and buckets of cold water were constantly thrown over me,” he told Scotland on Sunday.
“I could not remember what day it was or how long I had been in prison.
“One day I woke up in hospital in a nearby town of Kamishli. The doctor who was treating me told me that I had been in a coma for 20 days.
“He said to the authorities that I could not return to prison as I was not fit and I could not stand trial until I had had a rest. He suggested that I be sent home for recuperation.”
A spokesman for the Syrian Embassy in London denied that torture of gay people took place.
“Homosexuality is illegal in Syria, but there are no special units to deal with this problem,” he told Scotland on Sunday.
“People are not prosecuted – society looks at this as a disease for which they can be treated – it is a similar position to that taken by the Vatican.
“I cannot give a clearer answer.”
Yakob will appear before a full immigration hearing in Glasgow on May 7th to determine his fate.
His case is similar to that of Mehdi Kazemi, 19, who was studying in the UK and applied for asylum after his boyfriend was arrested and reportedly executed in Tehran.
The boyfriend named Mehdi as a homosexual, and police turned up at his father’s house with a warrant to arrest him.
His asylum application was unsuccessful in the UK, so Mehdi fled to Holland.
The Dutch authorities ruled he should be returned to the UK but after a campaign led by members of the House of Lords and MEPs the Home Office has decided to review his case.
IRANIAN GAY REFUGEE RISKS DEPORTATION FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM, URGENT APPEAL TO EUROPE
EVERYONE GROUP: “SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR HIS HOMOSEXUALITY, WE MUST STOP THE UMPTEENTH VIOLATION OF A REFUGEE’S RIGHTS BY THE BROWN GOVERNMENT”
THE FLIGHT THAT WILL TAKE YOUNG MEHDI KAZEMI FROM AMSTERDAM TO LONDON, FROM WHERE HE WILL BE DEPORTED TO IRAN, IS BOOKED FOR TUESDAY FEBRUARY 26TH. EVERYONE GROUP IS APPEALING TO THE EUROPEAN UNION TO OVERRULE THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT’S DECISION, AND GRANT THE 19-YEAR-OLD POLITICAL ASYLUM. MEHDI HAS RECENTLY BECOME A REGULAR MEMBER OF EVERYONE. MEHDI IS WANTED IN IRAN AFTER HIS PARTNER – EXECUTED FOR HIS HOMOSEXUALITY IN APRIL 2006 – ADMITTED THEY WERE IN A RELATIONSHIP.
His full name is Seyed Mehdi Kazemi, he is not yet twenty, and he is one of the members of EveryOne. Mehdi is an Iranian homosexual who in November 2005 left Teheran to go and study in London. He was forced to apply for asylum to the British Home Office after the discovery, by the Iranian authorities of his homosexual relationship with another boy, who had already been sentenced to death and executed in April 2006.
Parham, his partner since the age of 15, was arrested by the Teheran police and accused of “lavat” (sodomy) after being caught by the Iranian authorities in the company of another boy while Mehdi was attending college in England. During the interrogation in jail, Parham was forced by his accusers to reveal the names of all the men he had had relationships with, among them Mehdi himself. The Iranian Police had already turned up at Mehdi’s father’s home in Teheran with an arrest warrant for his son, with the intention of sending him to trial.
A few months ago his application for asylum was turned down by the British Home Office: Mehdi will have to be repatriated to his country of origin because according to the British Government, he does not run any risk there. Mehdi therefore fled in secret from England, intending to take refuge in Canada, but he was blocked by the German border police. After hearing his story, he was sent to Holland (a country known for granting refugee status to Iranian homosexuals) and again handed over to the police. However, the United Kingdom has now sent a formal request to Holland asking for Mehdi’s return to Britain – according to the Treaty of Dublin, and according to regulation CE 343/2003, in order to proceed with his deportation to Iran.
Omar Kuddus, from the Gay Asylum UK association, tells EveryOne Group that he received a phone call from Mehdi, on February 18th, informing him that the flight that is to take him back to Britain has been arranged for Tuesday February 26th: it will leave at 8 a.m. (Dutch time) from the Amsterdam Airport of Schiphol, and arrive at Heathrow, London at about 8.30 a.m. (British time)
“We are asking the European Union to adopt a tough stance and overrule the decision taken by Gordon Brown’s Government, say the leaders of EveryOne, Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, who have taken up the case. “The United Kingdom is continuing undaunted to violate the international conventions on human rights and the rights of refugees, as well as the European directives and laws which determine the requests for political asylum: they did it with the Iranian lesbian Pegah Emambakhsh, when they refused her refugee status, claiming she was unable to prove her homosexuality; they did it a month ago when they deported Ama Sumani back to Ghana. Ama is terminally ill with cancer, she had desperately asked to be treated in England seeing it would be impossible back in her country of origin.”
Everyone Group is making an official appeal to the European Union and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, to put an immediate stop to the boy’s deportation and ensure he is immediately recognised refugee status. Only last January 31st the European Commission took a stance stating “Member States cannot expel or refuse refugee status to homosexual persons without taking into account their sexual preferences, the information relevant to the situation in their country of origin, including the laws and ways in which they are applied”.
“It is time the European Commission’s ruling became reality”, say the representatives of EveryOne. “We invite civil society to express its indignation towards the actions of the British Government, aimed at undermining the values of freedom and dignity of the individual”.
The young man’s full story, as well as his testimony, sent to the Iranian Queer Organization, is available from Monday the 25th in Italian and English on the EveryOne website http://www.everyonegroup.com.
For further information:
Tel: (+ 39) 334-8429527
www.everyonegroup.com :: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Peter Tatchell
This weekend President Robert Mugabe will stride the stage at the EU-African Union Summit in Lisbon. He will be welcomed and feted, alongside all the other leaders of Africa and Europe.
For the people of Zimbabwe it will be a sickening spectacle to see their blood-soaked oppressor wined and dined by the Portuguese President, Aníbal António Cavaco Silva.
Mugabe is not the world’s only tyrant and not even the worst. Nevertheless, he has killed more black Africans than even the murderous apartheid regime in South Africa. His slaughter of 20,000 civilians in Matabeleland in the 1980s was the equivalent of a Sharpeville massacre every day for over nine months.
According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Mugabe’s despotic regime is guilty of detention without trial, torture, rape, extra-judicial killings, media censorship, financial corruption, election fraud, mass starvation and the violent suppression of strikes and protests.
Instead of embracing President Mugabe as an honoured guest, the Portuguese government should instruct its police to arrest him on charges of torture.
It is time to end the culture of impunity, which allows tyrannical leaders to get away with human rights abuses. Torture is a crime under international law. Mugabe, and other torture-condoning despots, should be prosecuted. Giving them state immunity is collusion with their crimes.
There is evidence from Amnesty International and from Zimbabwean human rights groups
that President Mugabe and his government have sanctioned and colluded with acts of torture. He should be arrested and put on trial, in the same way that President Milosevic of Yugoslavia was tried in The Hague.
Portugal is legally obliged to enforce the UN Convention Against Torture 1984, which it has ratified and pledged to uphold.
The Convention Against Torture has universal jurisdiction. It allows any signatory state to arrest and put on trial any person who authorises, commits or acquiesces in the infliction of torture anywhere in the world. In other words, Mugabe can be lawfully arrested and tried in Portugal for crimes that he has aided and abetted in Zimbabwe.
Despite past legal rulings granting government leaders exemption from prosecution, the trend in international law is towards rejecting the right of Heads of State to enjoy absolute immunity for crimes against humanity, such as torture.
This legal evolution began with the Versailles Treaty of 1919. The signatory nations accepted that high state officials who stand accused of “offences against international morality” cannot plead that they are above the law. Article 227 of the Treaty set the precedent in international law that Heads of State are not immune from prosecution, when it arraigned the German Emperor, William II.
The 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal reiterated this precedent by ruling that the top Nazi leaders, including Karl Doenitz, Hitler’s successor as German leader, did not enjoy immunity for crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal stipulated that: “The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.” Doenitz was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years jail.
Principle Three of the Nuremberg Principles, agreed by the nations of Europe as international law, declared: “The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law”.
For Portugal and the EU to now renege on the Nuremberg Principles is a monstrous betrayal of the millions who perished in the Holocaust and the millions more who sacrificed their lives to end the tyranny of the Third Reich.
Saudi protest over torture of gays – 7,000 lashes for ‘sodomy’ could kill
Demo at Saudi Embassy in London
London – 19 October 2007
Fifty people picketed the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London today, 19
October, in protest at the flogging and execution of gay people.
To download free use photos of the protest, click here:
On the 2 October, two young men in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Bahah were convicted of ‘sodomy’ and sentenced to 7,000 lashes. In Saudi Arabia same-sex relations are illegal and the maximum penalty is death.
“7,000 lashes is a form of torture, calculated to cause maximum, prolonged suffering,” said protester Peter Tatchell of the gay human rights group OutRage!
“So many lashes can be fatal, depending on how many are delivered at any one time,” he said.
The London protest was organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) LGBT campaign, with the support of OutRage!
The protest came just over a week ahead of the State Visit to the UK of the Saudi tyrant, King Abdullah bin Abdul Azaz al Saud.
“As well as flogging and executing gay people, the Saudi leaders are guilty of detention without trial, torture and the public beheading women who have sex outside of marriage,” said Peter Tatchell.
“The Saudis import migrant workers to do menial tasks. They are treated like de facto slaves, frequently abused and with few rights. The media is heavily censored. Trade unions, political parties and non-Muslim religions are banned. The country is a theocratic police state.
“The British and US governments support the despotic, corrupt Saudi regime. Labour sells the Saudi leaders arms and honours them with state visits. It refuses asylum to gay Saudis who flee persecution and seek refuge in the UK,” he said.
“The Saudi leaders should be shunned until they stop their homophobic persecution and their many other human rights abuses,” said fellow OutRage! protester, Brett Lock.
“Next week’s State Visit by King Abdullah should be cancelled. Gordon Brown and The Queen should not be welcoming to Britain the head of a corrupt, tyrannical regime.
“We urge international solidarity to support the Saudi people’s struggle for democracy and human rights, in the same way that the world mobilised to support the struggle against apartheid in South Africa,” said Mr Lock.
This view was echoed by NUS protest organiser, Scott Cuthbertson:
“We call on individuals and groups, LGBT or otherwise, to protest against the continued criminalisation, imprisonment, torture and murder of LGBT people in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“We handed in a letter of protest to the Saudi Ambassador, HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, calling on his Government to respect the human rights of its own LGBT citizens. Please join us in the struggle for Love without Borders – LGBT rights around the world – and make your views known to the Saudi Ambassador,” he added.
“This year NUS LGBT Campaign is campaigning for ‘Love without Borders'”, said Claire Anderson, the NUS LGBT Officer and co-organiser of the protest.
“Around the world, LGBT people are persecuted, imprisoned and even murdered in state-sponsored homophobia. We live in a global community and no longer can we stand by while LGBT people are persecuted. Now is the time to use our freedom to fight for the rights of others across the globe. When abuses of human rights take place we must not be silent,” she said.
Contact phone number:
Claire Anderson NUS 07845 605152
Peter Tatchell OutRage! 020 7403 1790
Read also: Saudi Arabia: 7,000 Lashes for Sodomy