Ali must travel!
Iraqi LGBT is being blocked from advocating for the group by the UK government — find out how you can help.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
30 gay people left to fend for themselves
London and Baghdad – 6 November 2007
Three out of five gay safe houses in Iraq are closing down, due to a lack of funds to pay their rent and utility bills.
The refuges were set up two years ago, to provide a place of safety for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (lgbt) Iraqis who have fled homophobic threats and attempts to kill them by religious fundamentalists and death squads.
“Iraqi lgbt has made a huge effort to keep all of its five safe houses running, to provide refuge for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Iraqis who have fled homophobic violence and threats to kill them,” said Ali Hili, founder and coordinator of the human rights group, Iraqi lgbt.
“Many of the people we helped have been targeted by the Iraqi police and by Shia militia and other fundamentalist factions.
“Because of a lack of funds, three safe houses have had to close their doors. This decision will break a lot of hearts, but we have no other choice. We don’t have the financial support to sustain these refuges.
“Over 30 gay residents who we cared for in these three safe houses now have to take their chances in a country where religious militia regularly seek out gays and execute them.
“Several months ago, two lesbians working with Iraqi lgbt were assassinated in the safe house they were running in Najaf, along with a young boy the women had rescued from the sex industry.
“We feel deserted by the international gay community. Few people seem to care about our fate.
“Many brave lgbt Iraqis assisted our efforts. We would like to acknowledge their exceptional commitment.
“Sabah, Gada, Sana and Mona are four lesbians who dedicated their time and energy to provide food, cleaning and support to people in the safe houses in their area. We’d also like to thank Hasan , Safa , Jawad, Laith , Gasaq and Rami,” said Mr Hilli.
“The world has let us down so badly,” said Sabah, a 29 year old lesbian, who worked as a carer and ran a safe house in the south of Iraq.
“Nowadays, we don’t dare be seen in the neighbourhoods where we used to live. It is too dangerous for anyone known to be gay or to have had a homosexual past,” said Safa, a gay man in the city of Ammara, where he has been hiding for the last eight months from the police and Shia death squads. Safa fled his hometown of Najaf because he was known to be gay and feared assassination.
“Iraqi lgbt is doing amazing, heroic work,” said Peter Tatchell of the UK-based lgbt organisation, OutRage!
“It’s members inside Iraq are taking huge personal risks to protect the victims of homophobic persecution. Their efforts are truly inspirational. I urge the international lgbt community to rally round and raise the funds needed to sustain the remaining two safe houses. Please give generously,” he urged.
Meanwhile, Iraqi lgbt blames the western invasion and occupation of their country for unleashing religious fanaticism and causing the current homophobic killing spree:
“Much of the world failed to oppose the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and to prevent what has turned out to be the worst western intervention catastrophe in modern history,” added Mr Hili.
“The Iraqi gay community feels badly let down in our moment of need.
“Are gay people in the United States, Britain and Australia aware of what their governments have done to our country? Their armies invaded and occupied our land, destroyed the infrastructure of government, and created the chaos and lawlessness that has allowed religious fundamentalism to flourish and to terrorise woman and gay people.”
“Violence against gays has intensified sharply since late 2005, when Iraq's leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, which declared that gays and lesbians should be ‘killed in the worst, most severe way possible.’
“Since then, lgbt people have been specifically targeted by the Madhi Army, the militia of fundamentalist Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, as well as by the Badr organisation and other Shia death squads. Badr is the military arm of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is one of the leading political forces in Baghdad’s western-backed ruling coalition,” said Mr Hili
Can you make a donation to help Iraqi lgbt sustain its magnificent efforts?
The UK-based gay human rights group OutRage! is working with Iraqi LGBT to support its work. Iraqi LGBT is coordinated by Ali Hili from the safety of London UK. The group does not have its own bank account. Operating an Iraqi LGBT bank account in Baghdad would be suicide. For this reason, it has to operate its finances from London. All the group’s members in London are Iraqi refugees seeking asylum. Their lack of proper legal status makes it difficult for them to open a bank account in the UK. This is why Iraqi LGBT is asking that cheques be made payable to “OutRage!”, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, and sent to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT, England, UK. OutRage! then forwards the donations received to Ali Hili and Iraqi LGBT for wire transfer to activists in Baghdad.
Ali Hili 079 819 594 53 (from abroad +44 79 819 594 53)
Photos of some of the LGBT victims are available here:
NB: Sorry, we do not have high resolution versions.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
LONDON -- Up to 25 gay men will next month have to ‘take their chances’ in Iraq where religious militia regularly seek out gays and execute them. Two ‘safe houses’ for gays will be forced to close at the end month – due to lack of cash, it was learned last night.
And appeal for funds was made last month by the London-based IraqiLGBT group, which runs the five safe houses. The appeal was promoted on a number of LGBT online sires and blogs in several countries.
But just under £1,000 ($US2,000, €1,400) is all has been raised as a result of the appeal. The amount barely covers the cost of running one safe house for a month.
"I have come to a decision on closing down two safe houses because I can not keep promising people things we can not deliver," Ali Hili, who heads IraqiLGBT, told UK Gay News.
The cost of running one safe house for a month is about £900 ($1,800). This includes £400 for rent £200 for the salaries of two guards – an essential part of the security arrangements, and £300 per month for gas, fuel for electricity generators, food, clean drinking water, hygienic supplies etc.
Each house accommodates between 10 to 12 gay men in a relative secure environment.
Since the US-led coalition invasion of Iraq, gay people in Iraq have suffered particularly intense persecution.
Violence against all the gay community has intensified sharply since late 2005, when Iraq’s leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, issued a fatwa (religious decree) which declared that gays and lesbians should be “killed in the worst, most severe way”.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Since the U.S.-led invasion, homosexuals have been increasingly targeted by militias and police, human rights groups say.
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Times Staff Writer
August , 2007
BAGHDAD — Samir Shaba sits in a restaurant, nervously describing gay life in Iraq. He speaks in a low voice, occasionally glancing over his shoulder.
The heavyset, clean-shaven Christian says that before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, he frequented the city's gay blogs, online chat rooms and dance clubs, where he wore flashy tight clothes, his hair long and loose to his shoulders.
After the invasion, he and other gays and lesbians were driven underground by sectarian violence and religious extremists. Shaba, 25, packed his flashy clothes away, started wearing baseball caps and baggy T-shirts and stopped visiting clubs and chat rooms. But he couldn't bear to cut his hair.
"I cannot change everything immediately," he said, fingering his black ponytail. "I suffered because I didn't cut it."
Recently, Shaba said, police commandos spotted his hair as he was riding in a taxi through a checkpoint in central Baghdad. Suspecting that he was gay, the four commandos dragged him out of the taxi by his hair, and forced him into an armored car. They demanded his cellphone, cash and sex.
When he refused, they beat him with a baton and gang-raped him. He rubbed the back of his shirt, feeling for the scars.
"They got what they wanted because I thought otherwise I would lose my life," Shaba said, and he began to weep. "They threatened me that if I told anyone, they would kill me."
Human rights groups say that Iraqi gays are increasingly targeted by militias and police. The United Nations and State Department have issued reports documenting some of the more recent killings.
A U.N. report in January cited attacks on gays by militants, as well as the existence of "religious courts, supervised by clerics, where homosexuals allegedly would be 'tried,' 'sentenced' to death and then executed."
Iraqi leaders dismiss those allegations, and Middle East experts say it's difficult to tell whether the attacks are state-sanctioned.
"Nobody's paying attention to this issue," said Ali Dabbagh, spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. "It is not the custom of the people of Iraq. Not only Iraq, but the whole region."
In October 2005, Iraq's leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, on his website forbidding homosexuality and declaring that gays and lesbians should be "punished, in fact, killed."
"The people involved should be killed in the worst, most severe way," the decree said.
The fatwa against gay men was removed from Sistani's website last year, but it was not revoked, said Ali Hili, an Iraqi gay-rights activist living in London who petitioned Sistani's office to remove it.
Hili compiles details of the killings of homosexuals, including photographs of victims, and posts them online. Included in his list of victims are:
• Anwar, 34, a taxi driver who ran a safe house for gays in the southern city of Najaf. Hili said Anwar was shot execution-style after he was stopped at a police checkpoint in March.
• Nouri, 29, a tailor in the southern city of Karbala who had received death threats for being gay and was beheaded in February, Hili said.
• Hazim, 21, of Baghdad also received threats, Hili said, and after police seized him at home in February, his body was found with several gunshots to the head.
Shaba said his cousin Alan, 26, who also was gay, was shot in the head one day when he went to answer the door while the two were having lunch. Although Alan might have been targeted because he was working as an interpreter with U.S. forces in the Green Zone, Shaba said he thought his cousin was killed because he was openly gay.
"There are other translators in our neighborhood, and nobody killed them," he said.
Difficult to discern
Given the pervasiveness of sectarian violence in Iraq, it's hard to tell whether such men are targeted for being gay, said filmmaker Parvez Sharma, a gay Muslim based in New York. Sharma just finished filming a documentary called "A Jihad for Love," set in Iraq and a dozen other Middle Eastern countries. It is to be released this fall.
Sharma's film concentrates on the prosecution of 52 gay men arrested in 2001 aboard a floating nightclub on the Nile; they became known as the "Cairo 52." No similar incident has been documented in Iraq, Sharma said.
"It's very difficult to tell whether there is a pogrom of any sort to kill gay men," he said, but the environment for gays in Iraq has clearly soured.
In the 1980s, Baghdad and Cairo were gay social centers, Sharma said. Many Iraqi gays settled into straight marriages and had families, but many continued to have homosexual relationships on the side.
Although President Saddam Hussein shut down many of Baghdad's gay bars in the 1990s and passed a law against sodomy in 2001, Iraqi gays and lesbians still socialized.
After the 2003 invasion, a man who gave his name as Ahmed still cruised Rubaie Street, a once popular gay thoroughfare in the eastern Baghdad neighborhood of Zayuna, but he was not openly gay, he said.
A year and a half ago, one of the men he'd met there showed up at his apartment wearing an Iraqi army uniform. He threatened to tell fellow soldiers that Ahmed was gay unless he paid a bribe of 160,000 dinars, about $135.
That was a probable death sentence, he said.
Ahmed paid, fled the country for Amman, Jordan, and considers himself among the lucky ones.
A 31-year-old gay pharmacist in the mostly Sunni west Baghdad neighborhood of Amiriya, said several of his friends were killed for being gay. He is often followed and stopped at checkpoints, he said. He spoke on condition of anonymity, for fear that he might be attacked.
He dreams of getting a visa to Sweden, Germany or the Netherlands, which have accepted the bulk of Iraqi refugees, and then applying for asylum because of political persecution.
The United States has recognized asylum claims by gays and lesbians since 1994, but the applications of only about 14% of lesbians and 16% of gay men have been approved, according to the San Francisco-based Asylum Documentation Program of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
In Iraq, the wait for visas is long. Fake travel documents cost at least $15,000 on the black market, out of the pharmacist's price range.
"I'm just looking for salvation," he said. "Maybe next month you will call and my family will say, 'Oh, he is killed.' "
'A cultural issue'
A U.N. spokesman said it was difficult to determine how many gays have been targeted and whether the Iraqi government is trying to help them.
"They have said they are trying to improve human rights for all Iraqis, but they are not even willing to say there are gays in Iraq. This is a cultural issue," U.N. spokesman Said Arikat said.
Wijdan Mikaeil, Iraq's minister of human rights, said her office had not received reports of attacks on gays. She said that gays may be afraid to come forward but that the United Nations is over-emphasizing the problem.
"The Iraqi people have been attacked all across Iraq — not because they are gay, but because of the sectarian issue," she said.
The State Department has urged Iraq to prevent attacks on gays, spokeswoman Janelle Hironimus said, but the insurgency and sectarian violence have made it difficult for the government to protect human rights.
Gabor Rona, international legal director at New York-based Human Rights First, said the chaos shouldn't stop the U.S. government from pressuring Iraqi authorities to hold security forces accountable for abusing gays.
"We may not have any ability to do anything about suicide bombings and insurgent attacks, but we may have the ability to influence the Iraqi government if they have a hand in this," Rona said.
Some U.S. legislators are demanding that the State Department act.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), both openly gay lawmakers, sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in June demanding that she investigate attacks on Iraqi gays and pressure Maliki to respond.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has sponsored legislation that would prioritize gay Iraqi refugees in an expanded Iraqi refugee program.
Ahmed, now living in Amman, said U.S. forces in Iraq should investigate reports of assaults on gays and ensure that those responsible are punished.
"At least if they catch one of them, they may be afraid to do it again."
Sunday, July 15, 2007
BY Claudia Cahalane
Two gay Iraqi students were kidnapped, stripped, beaten and blindfolded at gunpoint, before being handcuffed with wire and forced into a car boot by two members of the Mahdi Army.
The students, known as 23-year-old Ahmed and 24-year-old Zaid, met their kidnappers, who were posing as gay men, in an internet chatroom in May. Upon meeting up in real life for a “date”, the captors drove their victims to a deserted area and attacked them.
The “army” men demanded to know the names and phone numbers of other gay men and went through the details of everyone listed in their mobile phones.
The students were expecting to be executed, but were left in the secluded area by their attackers and later rescued by a passing motorist.
Ahmed and Zaid have been helped by gay rights group Iraqi LGBT and local lesbian Dina H, who runs a safe house for gays and lesbians. They have now vowed to hide their sexuality to protect themselves.
The kidnappers were part of the violently homophobic Mahdi Army – a militia of firebrand fundamentalist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is fighting to establish an Islamist dictatorship in Iraq, said Peter Tatchell of UK-based gay rights group Outrage.
The Mahdi Army has been involved in the torture and execution of gays, women and anyone else who does not conform to, its “harsh, perverse interpretation of Islam,” added Tatchell.
Ali Hili, a gay Iraqi refugee, who coordinates Iraqi LGBT from London, said that police in Iraq had been infiltrated by Shia extremists using the cover of the police to kill gays and lesbians.
He added: “Iraqi LGBT needs donations to help gay people who are fleeing the death squads off the Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigades.”
Friday, June 15, 2007
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Congressman Barney Frank (D- MA) have written to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging the State Department to investigate reports of violent persecution of homosexual Iraqis by Islamic groups and militias.
The two lawmakers cited a United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq's (UNAMI) Human Rights Report issued for the period of November 1 to December 31, 2006, which stated that an environment of “impunity and lawlessness” currently permeating Iraq has invited open and violent campaigns against LGBT Iraqis.
“In 2005, the Iraqi people adopted a Constitution guaranteeing that ‘every individual has the right to enjoy life, security and liberty’.
“Unfortunately, such promises have been particularly eroded for LGBT Iraqis, who must live in constant fear of being targeted for execution.
“We therefore urge you to raise this serious issue with the Iraqi leadership and press them to take immediate action to halt the killings of Iraqi homosexuals,” Baldwin and Frank wrote.
Representatives Baldwin and Frank asked Secretary Rice to raise the issue and express her concerns to Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani, while urging the Iraqi government to step up its protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqis and stop these senseless attacks by the militias.
Full text of the letter:
Dear Secretary Rice:
We are writing to express our strong concerns regarding recent reports that Iraqi homosexuals have been systematically persecuted in Iraq under a violent campaign led by Islamic groups and militias. We urge the State Department to investigate such allegations and report its findings as part of the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. We also urge you to raise the issue and express your concerns to Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani, while urging the Iraqi government to step up its protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqis and stop these senseless attacks by the militias.
According to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq's (UNAMI) Human Rights Report issued for the period of November 1 to December 31, 2006, an environment of "impunity and lawlessness" currently permeating Iraq has invited open and violent campaigns against LGBT Iraqis. According to news reports, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the chief spiritual leader of Iraqi Shia Muslims, issued a "'fatwa,' or religiously-inspired legal pronouncement, in October 2005 calling for death for all gays and lesbians in "the most severe way possible." While the fatwa was eventually removed from Sistani's website last May, it was never revoked, and the decree has led to the deployment of anti-gay death squads by the military arm of the Supreme Council for the Islamic revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the Badr Corps. As a result, violence against gay Iraqis surged in 2006.
According to Iraqi LGBT, a London-based human rights group working to support the human rights of gay Iraqis, twenty-six of its members have been killed since 2003, including the murder of two minors - eleven-year-old Ameer and fourteen-year-old Ahmed who were forced into child prostitution--in 2006. In addition, a mass kidnapping of five gay men from the Shaab area of Iraq took place during the first week of December 2006. All are now presumed dead.
In April of this year, Iraqi LGBT documented that eight additional murders took place in 2007, while several other gay activists were arrested and tortured. A report by the Institute for War and Peace (IWPR) also documented that religious courts now exists in Iraq allegedly to try homosexuals, sentencing them to death, and subsequently executing them under the supervision of clerics.
The aforementioned news accounts, coupled with UNAMI and IWPR's reports, present a substantial body of evidence that LGBT Iraqis have been systematically targeted for violence by Islamic clerics and militias. Yet the 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released by the State Department this March, made no reference to any human rights violations in Iraq based on sexual orientation. We thus urge the State Department to investigate such allegations and incorporate the findings in the annual human rights report.
Furthermore, we urge you to utilize every diplomatic tool available to engage Prime Minister Al-Maliki and President Talabani and call on the Iraqi government to crack down on the systematic prosecution of Iraqi homosexuals. In 2005, the Iraqi people adopted a Constitution guaranteeing that "every individual has the right to enjoy life, security and liberty," (emphasis added). Unfortunately, such promises have been particularly eroded for LGBT Iraqis, who must live in constant fear of being targeted for execution. We therefore urge you to raise this serious issue with the Iraqi leadership and press them to take immediate action to halt the killings of Iraqi homosexuals.
Tammy BaldwinMember of Congress
Barney FrankMember of Congress
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Murdered and set ablaze April 2006, Karar Oda is just one of the many Iraqis dragged from their homes by hooded militia and shot, set on fire or beheaded because they were believed to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The grisly image is all that was left of Oda, a farmer who was seized and killed by Badr brigades – militia of the The Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) (Arabic: المجلس الأعلى الإسلامي العراقي) (previously known as Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)) – because they suspected him of having an affair with another man.
These men, also believed to be gay, were gunned down a few weeks before Oda’s death in the Iraqi city of Ramadi by Shi’a fundamentalist death squads. The victims appear to be under 18. One looks as young as 14 or 15.
This week’s cover story, “Democracy’s Deaf Ear,” by Patrick Sherman, reports how Iraqi death squads and militias control large portions of Iraq and target people for what they view as “crimes against Islam.” Punishable offenses have included wearing shorts or jeans, consuming alcohol, agreeing to shave a man’s beard, dancing, listening to Western pop music, eating or serving a “sexually immoral salad,” and for women, going out in public unveiled.
Practicing homosexuality is also viewed as a crime against Islam, and potentially hundreds either caught or suspected of same-sex relations have paid with their lives.
What’s surprising is that these killings began after the U.S. and British-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, not under the Saddam regime. According to Ali Hili, founder of the London-based human rights organization Iraq LGBT, whom the Gay & Lesbian Times interviewed at length, homosexuality during Saddam’s rule didn’t garner the sort of violence being witnessed today.
“At that time, there were the sanctions and the economic crisis in Iraq. There was so much more to worry about [than] homosexuals,” he said.
Ibrahim Ebeid, co-editor of the blog al-maharer.net, who lived in Iraq for four years during the 1970s, said, “I never heard of any gay arrested or of any who was killed. The killing started after the invasion of Iraq. It’s really very sad now. If you hate someone, you just have to say, ‘He is gay,’ [whether] he is or not. They go in front of his family and they shoot them there right on the spot.”
The U.S. government is ignoring these atrocities. Perhaps they are drowned out by the volume of killings that occur almost every day in war-torn Iraq.
Openly gay Congressmember Barney Frank, D-Mass., said he was unaware of the sexual cleansing taking place before Sherman contacted him. Of all those Sherman contacted for the story, however, Frank was the only congressmember to take action, committing to write a letter to the secretaries of state and defense requesting government pressure be put on Iraq regarding the situation. He also said he would contact others in Congress to sign the letter.
How many other elected officials, with a majority voting in favor of this war, are unaware of its many consequences, we wonder?
What was sold to the American public as a mission to bring democracy to the Middle East has instead bred Islamic extremism. This gay genocide happening right under the nose of the U.S. military only adds to the long list of complete and utter failures by the Bush administration in a war billed to make the world safe from terror.
Contact your Mp’s & congressmember and help make this a international issue. to find out how you can assist Hili in saving the lives of GLBT people in Iraq.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
London – 3 April 2007
“Iraqi lesbians and gays continue to be subjected a systematic reign
of terror by Shia death squads. The government of Iraq refuses to
crack down on the killers or to take any action to protect its gay
citizens. It is a regime that is dominated by Shia fanatics and
homophobes,” according to Ali Hili, the coordinator of the human
rights group Iraqi LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender).
Mr Hili lists below a few examples of the many death squad killings of
“Supporters of the fundamentalist Sadr and Badr militias boast that
they are cleansing Iraq of what they call ‘sexual perverts’. They are
open about terrorising gay Iraqis to make them flee the country and
murdering those who fail to leave. Their goal is a queer-free,
pro-homophobic Iraq. They are dragging our country back to the dark
ages,” said the London-based Mr Hili, who is also Middle East
spokesperson for the gay human rights group, OutRage!
“Some members of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government are
linked to the anti-gay death squads. They are the political
representatives of the Muqtada al-Sadr movement and the Supreme
Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Both these parties
have militias, respectively the Mahdi army and the Badr brigades, who
are responsible for the execution-style killing of lesbian and gay
Iraqis – and the murder of many other Iraqis, including Sunni Muslims,
trade unionists, unveiled women, journalists and men wearing shorts,
jeans or western-style haircuts.
“The murder of gay Iraqis has the support of highly influential
religious leaders, such as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. He issued a
fatwa in late 2005, calling for the execution of gay people in the
‘most severe way possible’. After international protests, he removed
the fatwa from his website, but the fatwa itself has not been
rescinded. It remains in force and is the spiritual sanction for the
death squads to murder gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,”
said Mr Hili.
The United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) has corroborated
Iraqi LGBT’s claims of “sexual cleansing” by the death squads and
"Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly
hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent
campaigns against them," January’s UNAMI report said.
"There have been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq…At
least five homosexual males were reported to have been kidnapped from
Shaab area in the first week of November (2006) by one of the main
militias. The mutilated body of Amjad, one of the kidnapped, appeared
in the same area after a few days. [We were] also alerted to the
existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where
would be 'tried,' 'sentenced' to death and then executed," UNAMI
This UNAMI report provoked a hostile reaction from the government of
Iraq, which suggested that gay people are unIraqi and unIslamic:
“There was information in the report that we cannot accept here in
Iraq. The report, for example, spoke about the phenomenon of
homosexuality and giving them their rights," said Mr al-Dabbagh, a
spokesperson for the Iraqi government. "Such statements are not
suitable to the Iraqi society. This is rejected. They (the UN) should
respect the values and traditions here in Iraq.”
Iraq’s many LGBT victims of the death squads
Here are details of a few of the LGBTs who have been murdered in Iraq
in recent months:
“Anwar, aged 34, a taxi driver, was a member of Iraqi LGBT and helped
run one of the group’s safe houses in the city of Najaf. He
disappeared in January 2007. He was arrested in his taxi after being
stopped at a police and militia checkpoint. His body was found in
March 2007. He had been subjected to an execution-style killing.
“Nouri, aged 29, a tailor, was kidnapped in the city of Karbala in
February 2007. He had received many death threats by letter and phone
in the past, accusing him of leading a gay life. He was found dead a
few days later, with his body mutilated and his head severed.
“Hazim, a 21-year-old man, was taken by police officers from his house
in Baghdad in February 2007. He was well-known to be gay. After
threats because of his homosexuality, his family was forced to leave
their home. Hazim’s body was subsequently found with several shots to
“Sayf, a gay 25-year-old, worked for the Iraqi police as a translator.
He was kidnapped in the Al-Adhamya suburb by black masked men in
Ministry of Interior security force uniforms who drove a marked police
car. Almost certainly they were members of the Badr militia which has
infiltrated the Interior Ministry and police. Sayf’s body was found
several days later, with his head cut off.
“Khaldon, a 45 year old gay man lived in al-Hurriya, a mainly Shia
neighborhood of Baghdad. He worked as a chef. The Sadr militia, the
Mahdi army, kidnapped him in November 2006. His decaying corpse was
found in February 2007.
“Khalid, a 19 year old gay man, a college student who lived in
al-Kadomya, was kidnapped in December 2006. Three months later, his
family was handed his tortured and burned remains.
“Hasan Sabeh, a 34 year old transvestite - also known as Tamara -
worked in the fashion industry designing women’s clothes. He lived in
the al-Mansor district of Baghdad. Hasan was seized in the street by
an Islamist death squad and hanged in public on the holy Shia
religious day, 11 January 2007. His body was mutilated and cut to
pieces. When his brother-in-law tried to defend him, he was also
“Four gay friends had been receiving threatening letters at their
Baghdad houses. All four were arrested on 26 December 2006 by militia
at a roadside checkpoint. They were interrogated about whether they
were Sunnis. Their identity cards showed that three of the men were
Shia. These three men were released after several hours of
interrogation. The fourth man, Samer, a 26 year old a Sunni who lived
in Zayona, was later found with gunshot wounds to his head, his eyes
blindfolded and his hands tied behind his back. His body showed marks
of torture and many burns. It is not clear whether Samer was executed
because he was Sunni or gay or both.
“Alan Thomas, was a 23 year old, Christian gay Iraqi who lived in
al-Gadeer, a Shia majority district of Baghdad. He received many
threats for being gay and was eventually kidnapped and executed by
Shia death squads in late 2006. His older sister spoke to me over the
phone from Baghdad; explaining how the murder of her only brother
caused the death of their sick elderly mother. She told me: ‘The new
Iraqi evil regime does not provide effective protection to the
population of Iraq. Shia militias act in collusion with security
force gangs to take revenge on the Sunni’s and other minorities.’
“Occasionally, some victims of the fundamentalists have been able to
buy their survival. Hamid A, a 44 year old bisexual man, from the
Al-Talibya district. He was kidnapped twice by the Sadr militia. The
first instance was in April 2006 when he, his nephew and his brother
were kidnapped and tortured. He was released in May 2006 after his
tribe members paid a huge ransom to save his life and the lives of his
relatives. Hamid was kidnapped for a second time in November 2006 by
the same Sadr militia, when an informant reported that he was drinking
alcohol and that he was suspected of being gay. He was held in a big
office in Sadr city, along with other detainees - most of them Sunnis
and Christians. Again, he was ransomed and is now in hiding; a rare
survivor of the Sadr militia interrogation centres.
“Heterosexual friends of gays are also executed. This happened to
Majid Sahi, aged 28, a civil engineer. He had been helping Iraqi LGBT
members in Baghdad. Abducted by the Badr militia from his home, they
objected to his association with gay Iraqis. His family was advised by
the Badr forces that their son’s “immoral behavior” was the reason for
his kidnapping. His body was found in Baghdad, with bullet wounds in
the back of his head, on 23 February 2007.
Photos of some of these victims are available here:
NB: Sorry, we do not have high resolution versions.
“Despite the great danger involved, Iraqi LGBT has established a
clandestine network of lesbian and gay activists inside Iraq’s major
cities, including Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Hilla and Basra,” reports
Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, who is working closely with Ali Hili and
“These heroic activists are helping gay people on the run from
fundamentalist death squads; hiding them in safe houses in Baghdad,
and helping them escape to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon,” said Mr
Ali Hili is making an appeal for donations to fund the work of Iraqi
“Iraqi LGBT needs donations to help gay people in Iraq who are fleeing
the death squads. We need money for safe houses, food, electricity,
security protection and clothing - and to help pay the phone bills of
members of the Iraqi LGBT group. They are sending us information about
the homophobic killings, at great risk to their own lives.
“Many of the people we are helping had nothing but the clothes on
their backs, when they fled the attacks by fundamentalist militias.
“We are also paying for medication for members who are HIV positive.
Otherwise, they will not get treatment. If it is discovered that they
have HIV, they will surely be killed,” said Mr Hili.
The UK-based gay rights group OutRage! is working with Iraqi LGBT to
support its work. Iraqi LGBT is coordinated by Ali Hili from the
safety of London UK. The group does not yet have a bank account.
Operating an Iraqi LGBT bank account in Baghdad would be suicide. For
this reason, it has to operate its finances from London. All the
group’s members in London are Iraqi refugees seeking asylum. Their
lack of proper legal status makes it difficult for them to open a bank
account in the UK. This is why Iraqi LGBT is asking that cheques be
made payable to:
“OutRage!”, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, and sent to
OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT, England, UK. OutRage! then
forwards the donations received to Ali Hili and Iraqi LGBT for wire
transfer to Baghdad.
Ali Hili 079 819 594 53
Photos of some of the LGBT victims are available here:
NB: Sorry, we do not have high resolution versions.
For photos of other victims, see:
Peter Tatchell, OutRage! 020 7403 1790
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
28 March 2007
Iraqi Police and Shiite militias rampaged through a Sunni district on a revenge spree against Sunni resident in the north-western Iraqi town of Tal Afar overnight, killing more than 60 people in apparent reprisal for bombings in a Shi'ite area, Iraqi officials said on Wednesday.
The attack was on the Sunni district of al-Wahda in Tal Afar, where tensions have been rising between residents, who are a mixture of Shi'ites, Sunni Arabs and Turkmen.
The gunmen began roaming Sunni neighborhoods in the city, shooting at residents and homes, according to police and a local Sunni politician.
Ali al-Talafari, a Sunni member of the local Turkomen Front Party, said the Iraqi army had arrested 18 policemen accused of being involved after they were identified by the Sunni families targeted. But he said the attackers included Shiite militiamen.
He said more than 60 Sunnis had been killed, but a senior hospital official in Tal Afar put the death toll at 45, with four wounded.
The hospital official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to security concerns, said the victims were men between the ages of 15 and 60, and they were killed with a shot to the back of the head.
Police said earlier dozens of Sunnis were killed or wounded, but they had no precise figures, and communications problems made it difficult to reach them for an update. The shooting continued for more than two hours, the officials said.
Army troops later moved into the Sunni areas to stop the violence and a curfew was slapped on the entire town, according to Wathiq al-Hamdani, the provincial police chief and his head of operations, Brig. Abdul-Karim al-Jibouri.
Tal Afar, located 260 miles northwest of Baghdad, is in the province of Ninevah, of which Mosul is the capital. It is a mainly Turkomen city with some 60 percent of its residents adhering to Shiite Islam and the rest mostly Sunnis.
The violence came a day after two truck bombs shattered markets in the city, killing at least 63 people and wounding dozens in the second assault in four days. After Tuesday's bombings, suspected Sunni insurgents tried to ambush ambulances carrying the injured out of the northwestern city but were driven off by police gunfire, Iraqi authorities said.
The carnage was the worst bloodshed in a surge of violence across Iraq as militants on both sides of the sectarian divide apparently have fled to other parts of the country to avoid a U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown, raising tensions outside the capital.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Iraqis detained in the U.S.-led security crackdown in Baghdad are being held in two detention centers designed to hold at most a few dozen people, The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing an Iraqi monitoring group.
The report said 705 people were packed into an area built for 75 at one of the detention centers, in the town of Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad. The other center, on Muthana Air Base, held 272 people, including two women and four boys, in a space designed to hold about 50.
Officials from the monitoring group said they did not know the sectarian composition of the detainee populations.
Monday, February 19, 2007
While the USA has agreed to take refugees from Iraq's overburdened neighbouring countries and the EU is discussing the situation of Iraqi refugees and its response to the current crisis, theUK is returning people to northern Iraq despite the ongoing insecurity.
The letter also highlights the plight of Iraqis at the end of the UK asylum process whocannot be returned to areas like Baghdad, who are forced intodestitution when they are denied support from the UK authorities.The USA last week announced that it would take in 7,000 refugees fromIraq under a UN-sponsored 'resettlement scheme'.
The bulk of refugees are taken by neighbouring countries, however: Syria has received a millionIraqi refugees and Jordan over 800,000.By contrast, the latest available statistics show fewer than 600 asylumapplications to the UK from Iraqis in 2006, with the vast majority ofclaims refused.
Iraqi government ministers collude with the killers of gays
US and UK condemned for refusing asylum to gay Iraqis
London – 19 February 2007
The leader of the gay rights group Iraqi LGBT, Ali Hili, received a standing ovation from 250 delegates when he addressed the “Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights” conference in London on Saturday 17 February 2007.
Mr Hili, a gay refugee from Iraq, is also Middle East Affairs spokesperson for the UK-based LGBT human rights group, OutRage!. He told the conference that some ministers in the US and UK-backed Iraqi government were colluding with death squads responsible for the “sexual cleansing” of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) Iraqis:
“Iraqi LGBTs are at daily risk of execution by the Shia death squads of the Badr and Sadr militias.
“Members of these militias have infiltrated the Iraqi police and are abusing their police authority to pursue a plan to eliminate all homosexuals in Iraq.
“This is happening with the collusion of key ministers in the Iraqi government.
“The Badr and Sadr militias are the armed wings of the two main Shia parties that control the government of Iraq.
“These governing parties – particularly the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq - are complicit in the widespread execution of Iraqi LGBTs.
“What is happening today in Iraq is one of the most organised and systematic sexual cleansings in the history of the world,” Mr Hili told the conference.
Referring to the abduction by death squads, and presumed murder, of five members of Iraqi LGBT in Baghdad last November, Mr Hili said:
“For the previous few months these activists had been documenting the killing of lesbians and gays, and relaying details of homophobic executions to our office in London. I have no doubt that they were targeted – not just because they were gay – but also to stop them exposing to the outside world the anti-gay pogrom that is happening in Iraq today,” he said.
Condemning the refusal of the British and US governments to grant asylum to many refugees from the homophobic and sectarian violence in Iraq, Mr Hili added:
“The West, which caused much the current chaos in Iraq, should be giving refuge to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Iraqis. Right now, the US and Britain are turning down asylum claims by Iraqi LGBTs,” he said.
The full text of Mr Hili’s speech follows below.
The “Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights” conference had the support of 52 sponsors, including the Home Office, religious organisations (gay and straight), trade unions, LGBT groups, secular campaigners and ethnic minority agencies.
Speaking after the conference, Mr Hili said:
“The aim of the conference was to build a progressive alliance between people of faith and the queer community, and to oppose the rise of religious fundamentalism – in particular, the bid by some faith groups to seek exemption from equality laws protecting LGBTs.”
Further information: Ali Hili +44 (0)79819 594 53
More info on Iraqi LGBT: http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/
The text of Ali Hili’s speech to the “Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights” conference in London on 17 February 2007.
“I speak on behalf of Iraqi LGBT – an underground network of LGBT activists that we have established inside Iraq.
Our members – and all Iraqi LGBTs - are at daily risk of execution by the Shia death squads of the Badr and Sadr militias.
Members of these militias have infiltrated the Iraqi police and are abusing their police authority to pursue a plan to eliminate all homosexuals in Iraq.
This is happening with the collusion of key ministers in the Iraqi government.
The Badr and Sadr militias are the armed wings of the two main Shia parties that control the government of Iraq.
These governing parties – particularly the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq - are complicit in the widespread execution of Iraqi LGBTs.
What is happening today in Iraq is one of the most organized and systematic sexual cleansings in the history of the world.
Attacks have escalated into unprecedented levels of homophobic violence, including targeted assassinations.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) has recently, for the first time, confirmed that there are organised campaigns to kill gays in Iraq. These killings are taking place on the order of Iraq’s Shia leaders.
The UNAMI Human Rights Office recently reported that it was “alerted to the existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where alleged homosexuals would be 'tried,' 'sentenced' to death, and then executed.”
One of the self-appointed religious judges in Sadr City believes that homosexuality is on the wane in Iraq. “Most [gays] have been killed and others have fled,” he said, insisting that the religious courts have “a lot to be proud of. We now represent a society that asked us to protect it not only from thieves but also from these [bad] deeds [same-sex relationships]."
Iraq's government strongly criticized the UNAMI report on human rights abuses; condemning it for discussing issues that are considered taboo in Iraqi society, such as homosexuality, and the systematic murder of LGBTs.
“There was information in the report that we cannot accept here in Iraq. The report, for example, spoke about the phenomenon of homosexuality and giving them their rights," said Mr al-Dabbagh (a spokesperson for the Iraqi regime). "Such statements are not suitable to the Iraqi society. This is rejected. They (the UN) should respect the values and traditions here in Iraq.”
I will give you just one example of the homophobic terror Iraqi LGBTs are facing.
Five activists in Baghdad were discovered in a safe house and abducted at gunpoint on 9 November last year. Nothing has been heard of them since then. It is feared that death squads operating within the Iraqi police may have murdered them.
The kidnapped men all were members of our group Iraqi LGBT.
For the previous few months these activists had been documenting the killing of lesbians and gays, and relaying details of homophobic executions to our office in London. I have no doubt that they were targeted – not just because they were gay – but also to stop them exposing to the outside world the anti-gay pogrom that is happening in Iraq today.
The Iranian Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is the world leader of Shia Muslims, clearly states that gays and lesbians should be executed.
This gives direct religious sanction to the murder of LGBTs by the Badr and Sadr death squads. Sistani is giving the killers divine authority.
In spite of the world unity against the unlawful war on Iraq, the United States and its allies, including the government of the United Kingdom, chose to go ahead with the invasion of Iraq and cause the deaths of so many innocent lives.
The everyday loss of innocent lives in Iraq does not seem to matter to the western media today, especially when the victims are minorities like LGBTs.
The urgency now is to protect LGBT people in Iraq. We need action by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and by other international aid agencies and human right organisations.
The UNHCR is failing to support Iraqi LGBTs who have fled to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. It should be providing them with shelter and subsistence. It should be giving them travel documents, so they can seek refuge in safe western countries. So far, this is not happening.
The West, which caused much the current chaos in Iraq, should be giving refuge to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Iraqis. Right now, the US and Britain are turning down asylum claims by Iraqi LGBTs.
We need funding to enable our activists inside Iraq to continue to document the killings, acquire more safe houses, and to assist LGBTs to escape to neighbouring countries.
We are working closely with OutRage!. Please send a donation payable to OutRage!, with a cover note stating that it is “For Iraqi LGBT”.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Tatchell and OutRage! for all the help that they have provided Iraqi LGBT so far.
Finally, we Iraqi LGBTs will not allow ourselves to exterminated liked rats. We are determined to fight for our rights in the new Iraq. With your help, we can defy the religious fundamentalists and win our place in a free and democratic nation,” said Mr Hili.
Conference photos and podcasts of the main speeches:
Conference background information:
Iraqi LGBT is autonomous and independent. It is run by Iraqi refugees in the UK and Iraqi LGBTs based inside Iraq. OutRage! has assisted Iraqi LGBT with start-up funding, media contacts and banking facilities.
Iraqi LGBT is appealing for funds to help the work of their members in Iraq. They don’t yet have a bank account and have asked for donations to be forwarded via OutRage! Cheques should be made payable to “OutRage!”, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, and sent to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT, England UK.
More info on Iraqi LGBT: http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/
Friday, February 16, 2007
16th February 2007
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has promised to crack down on the persecution of gay people in Iraq.
The slaughter of gay Iraqis by Islamist death squads is yet another tragic consequence of the chaos and carnage in this beleaguered country.
It would seem that no-one is safe from fundamentalist militias, who target Iraqis for "crimes against Islam," which might include drinking alcohol, having a Sunni name, or not being veiled if you are a woman.
Sectarian blackmail, mutilation, and assassination of gays are rife.
In 2005, Iraq’s leading Muslim cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa ordering the execution of gay Iraqis.
The followers of rebel leader Muqtada al-Sadr, too, are proving they are all too eager to murder gays.
Now pressure from gay and human rights groups has forced the FCO to tackle these attacks on gay Iraqis.
As late as May last year, a letter drafted by FCO officials was reluctant to address this problem.
"We are of course aware of reports about the activities of so-called death squads in Iraq who are allegedly targeting people whose values are different from their own," the letter read.
"This problem has mainly been centred on differences in religious belief and ethnicity, but we are aware of reports that it has now spread to include sexual orientation.
"It is difficult, however, to assess clearly the extent of this problem and how much it reflects criminality and local feuding as opposed to widespread or organised movement against any particular group or groups."
April 2006 saw more wavering from the FCO over reports of persecution of gays. In a communication, an FCO official gave their opinion that: "The position of homosexuality in Iraqi law is not clear. There is no specific law that we know of against homosexuality but there are others that could be seen to see it as illegal."
By August 2006, however, the targeting of gays in Iraq was a hot topic. The Observer ran an article: "Gays flee Iraq as Shia death squads find a new target."
People started writing to the FCO, who prepared the following statement in response:
"We are aware of reports of increasing violence and intimidation against homosexual men in Iraq.
This is in the context of a wider rise in violence against Iraqi civilians including violence against women, sectarian violence and violence against minorities.
"We condemn all violence and intimidation and are working with the Iraqi government to tackle this, including by helping strengthen the capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces. More widely, we are working to promote respect for the rule of law and human rights by and for all Iraqis.
"We raise issues of concern, such as the reports of increasing levels of violence against minorities with the Iraqi government on a regular basis."
But gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell warns that these murders are an ominous sign of things to come.
Writing in the New Humanist, he accuses some Iraqi police and government ministers of colluding in the killings, and argues that: "the execution of lesbian and gay Iraqis by Islamist death squads and militia is symptomatic of the fate that will befall all Iraqis if the fundamentalists continue to gain influence. The summary killing of queers is the canary in the mine – a warning of the barbarism to come."
Please check the link:
Friday, February 02, 2007
Baghdad--The United Nations has for the first time confirmed that there are organized campaigns to kill gays in Iraq, directed by orders from Islamic leaders.
One such order says gays “should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.”
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq’s Human Rights Report for the last two months of 2006 has a section on sexual orientation, the first time it has been included in a report from the organization.
“Even though homosexuality is not condoned in Iraqi society, homosexuals are protected under Iraqi law,” the report reads. “Attacks on homosexuals and intolerance of homosexual practices have long existed, yet they have escalated in the past year.”
“The current environment of impunity and lawlessness invites a heightened level of insecurity for homosexuals in Iraq,” it continues. “Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them.”
Those campaigns are at the behest of Islamic leaders, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of Shiite Muslims in Iraq.
British gay civil rights advocate Peter Tatchell issued a warning last March that such attacks were being carried out with increasing regularity. It had a link to Sistani’s website and its proscriptions against same-sex activity.
“What is the judgment for sodomy and lesbianism?” Sistani’s site asks.
“Forbidden,” comes the answer. “Punished, in fact, killed. The people involved should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.”
Currently, Sistani’s site says, “Question: What is the view on a man embracing another man with lust, and go about kissing one another with sexual desire? What if they go even further and enter the domain of deviant sexual behaviour? Answer: All of this is haram even if there might be difference in the degree of prohibition.”
“Haram” is that which is forbidden in Islam.
“Allegedly, three fatwas [Islamic legal pronouncements] would have been issued by Islamic clerics authorizing ‘good Muslims’ to hunt and kill homosexuals,” the U.N. report states. “[The Human Rights Office] was also alerted to the existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where homosexuals allegedly would be ‘tried,’ ‘sentenced’ to death and then executed.”
Both Tatchell and the UNAMI report expound on some of the attacks on LGBT Iraqis. UNAMI’s report says, “At least five homosexual males were reported to have been kidnapped from Shaab area in the first week of December by one of the main militias. Their personal documents and information contained in computers were also confiscated.”
“The mutilated body of Amjad, one of the kidnapped, appeared in the same area after a few days,” it continues.
Tatchell, meanwhile, spoke to Ali Hili, head of the Iraqi LGBT UK Abu Nawas organization, made up of expatriate queer Iraqis living in Britain. Hili is also a member of Tatchell’s group, OutRage.
“Sistani is not even Iraqi,” Hili noted. “He is an Iranian national who has set himself up as a religious leader in Iraq. He wants to impose an Iranian-style theocracy on the Iraqi people.”
In Tatchell’s report, Hili details eight people who were killed, and one who was forced into hiding, because of the militias’ crusades against LGBT people.
Activists like Hili, who said that discreet homosexuality was tolerated under Saddam Hussein’s rule, noted that the power vacuum in the country is contributing to the violence. He is doubtful that President Bush’s plan to increase the number of troops will help the gay community.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
By BASSEM MROUEASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq's government on Thursday strongly criticized a U.N. report on human rights that put its civilian death toll in 2006 at 34,452, saying it is "superficial" and discussed subjects that are taboo in Iraqi society such as homosexuality.
The government did not reject the casualty figure but said the U.N. Assistance Mission report was "not professional or neutral as we would expect from the missions of the international organization. The report was superficial in dealing with several points," spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.
A compilation of Iraqi government figures from three agencies put the number of civilians killed last year at some 12,357.
But a Health Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the information, said 16,000 bodies of victims of violence had been brought to the Baghdad morgue alone last year and it appeared that the U.N. figure was "about correct."
When asked what the government didn't accept about the report, al-Dabbagh said "I am not talking about figures. I am talking about details in the report."
The U.N. report, which was released Tuesday in Baghdad, also was critical about the government's performance on human rights violations, raising concerns about homosexuals and other vulnerable groups.
"The current environment of impunity and lawlessness invites a heightened level of insecurity for homosexuals in Iraq. Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile toward homosexuals frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them," the U.N. report read. "There has been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq."
Such a topic is widely frowned at in this predominantly Muslim country and gays usually keep their sexual orientation a secret.
"There was information in the report that we cannot accept here in Iraq. The report, for example, spoke about the phenomenon of homosexuality and giving them their rights," al-Dabbagh said. "Such statements are not suitable to the Iraqi society. This is rejected."
"They should respect the values and traditions here in Iraq," he said.
He said that the government is doing its best to guarantee the respect of human rights in the country "despite the difficult situation Iraqi is going though."
Thursday, January 11, 2007
New Humanist – January/February 2007
Confronted as we are by a daily catalogue of horror stories from Iraq, it is easy to overlook the specific nature of some of the terror campaigns being conducted against its inhabitants.
Perhaps none has been so overlooked as the systematic ‘sexual cleansing’ operations currently being mounted by Islamist death squads, many of whom have infiltrated the Iraqi police. They relentlessly targets gays and lesbians for extra-judicial execution as part of an explicit crusade of moral purification.
Consider the fate of five gay men: Amjad (27), Rafid (29), Hassan (24), Ayman (19) and Ali (21). They were members of Iraq’s clandestine gay rights movement, Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender). For many months they had been documenting the killing of lesbians and gays, relaying details of the barbaric homophobic murders to the outside world, and providing safe houses and support to queers fleeing the death squads.
Last November they held a secret meeting in a safe house in the al-Shaab district of Baghdad. During the course of the meeting they were in communication with the founder and head of Iraqi LGBT, Ali Hili, who operates from London, UK. “Suddenly there was a lot of noise, then the connection ended,” recalls Mr Hili.
We now know that the meeting was interrupted by the arrival of Iraqi police who seized all five men at gunpoint. Nothing has been heard of them since.
Moral purification is not confined to gay men. In June last year, lslamist death squads burst into the home of two lesbians in city of Najaf. They shot them dead, slashed their throats, and also murdered a young child the lesbians had rescued from the sex trade. The two women, both in their mid-30s, were members of Iraqi LGBT. They were providing a safe house for gay men on the run from death squads. By sheer luck, none of the men who were being given shelter in the house were at home when the assassins struck. They have now fled to Baghdad and are hiding in an Iraqi LGBT safe house in the suburbs.
These latest horrific homophobic kidnappings and murders are a snapshot of the rapidly growing power and menace of Iraq’s death squads, many of which belong to militias that are hell-bent on turning the country into a fundamentalist Islamic state. Some operate within the police and others independently. All owe their allegiance to firebrand, militant Shia clerics.
Large parts of Iraq, including many Baghdad neighbourhoods, are now under the de facto control of these fundamentalist militias and their death squad units. They enforce a harsh interpretation of Sharia law, summarily executing people for what they denounce as “crimes against Islam.” These “crimes” include listening to western pop music, wearing shorts or jeans, drinking alcohol, selling videos, working in a barber’s shop, homosexuality, dancing, having a Sunni name, adultery and, in the case of women, not being veiled or walking in the street unaccompanied by a male relative.
Two Shia militias are doing most of the killing. They are the armed wings of major parties in the Bush and Blair-backed Iraqi government. Madhi is the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, and Badr is the militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which is the leading political force in Baghdad’s government coalition. Both militias want to establish an Iranian-style religious dictatorship – or worse.
Some of the anti-war left in Britain and the US support Muqtada al-Sadr, despite his goal of clerical fascism and his militia’s involvement in death squad killings. They hail him as a national resistance hero for fighting the US and UK occupation of Iraq; totally ignoring his militia’s sectarian murder of innocent Sunni Muslims, women and gay people. The allied occupation of Iraq is bad enough. But victory for the Madhi or Badr militias would result in a reign of religious terror many times worse.
The execution of lesbian and gay Iraqis by Islamist death squads and militias is symptomatic of the fate that will befall all Iraqis if the fundamentalists continue to gain influence. The summary killing of queers is the canary in the mine – a warning of the barbarism to come.
Lesbian and gay Iraqis cannot seek the protection of the police. Iraq’s security forces have been infiltrated by fundamentalists, especially the Badr militia. They have huge influence in the Interior Ministry and the police, and can kill at will and with impunity. Pro-fundamentalist government ministers are turning a blind eye to the killings, and helping to protect the killers.
Likewise, the Iraqi government and police are doing nothing to rescue the hundreds of young boys who have been blackmailed into the sex industry. The sex-ring operators lure the boys into having gay sex, photograph them and then threaten to publish their photos unless they work as male prostitutes. If their gayness were publicly revealed, the boys would be executed by the Islamist militias. They are trapped.
Saddam was a bloody tyrant. But while he was in power discrete homosexuality was usually tolerated. There was certainly no danger of gay people being assassinated in the street by religious fanatics. Since his overthrow, the violent persecution of lesbians and gays is commonplace. It is actively encouraged by Iraq’s leading Muslim cleric, the British and US-backed Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In late 2005, he issued a fatwa ordering the execution of gay Iraqis. His followers in the Islamist militias are now systematically assassinating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The UK-based LGBT human rights group OutRage! is working to support our counterpart organisation in Baghdad, Iraqi LGBT. Despite the great danger involved, Iraqi LGBT has established a clandestine network of gay activists inside Iraq’s major cities, including Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Hilla and Basra. These courageous activists are helping gay people on the run from fundamentalist death squads; hiding them in safe houses in Baghdad; and helping them escape to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The world ignores the fate of LGBT Iraqis at its peril. Their fate today is the fate of all Iraqis tomorrow.
* Iraqi LGBT is appealing for funds to help the work of their members in Iraq. They don’t yet have a bank account. The UK gay rights group OutRage! is helping them. Cheques should be made payable to “OutRage!”, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, and sent to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT.
More info on Iraqi LGBT: http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/
The victims of Islamist terror
Fourteen-year-old Ahmed Khalil was accused of corrupting the community because he had sex with men. According to his Baghdad neighbour, in April 2006 four men in police uniforms arrived at Ahmed’s house in a four-wheel-drive police pick-up truck. They wore the distinctive facemasks of the Badr militia. The neighbour saw the police drag Ahmed out of the house and shoot him at point-blank range, pumping two bullets into his head and several more bullets into the rest of his body.
Wathiq, aged 29, a gay architect, was kidnapped in Baghdad last March. Soon afterwards, the Badr militia sent his parents death threats, accusing them of allowing their son to lead a gay life and demanding a £11,000 ransom. The parents paid the money, thinking it would save Wathiq’s life. But he was found dead a few days later, with his body mutilated and his head cut off.
Wissam Auda was a member of Iraq’s Olympic tennis team. His dream was to play in the Wimbledon championship in London this year. He had been receiving death threats from religious fanatics on account of his homosexuality. On 25 May 2006, his vehicle was ambushed by fundamentalist militias in the al-Saidiya district of Baghdad. Wissam, together with his coach Hussein Ahmed Rashid and teammate Nasser Ali Hatem, were all summarily executed in the street. Their crime? Wissam’s homosexuality was probably what drew him to the attention of the militia’s, but his official crime was: wearing shorts. An Iraqi National Guard checkpoint was about 100m from the site of the ambush, but the soldiers did nothing, according to eye-witnesses.
The father of 23-year-old Baghdad arts student, Karzan, has been told by militias that his son has been sentenced to death for being gay. If his father refuses to hand over Karzan for execution, the militia has threatened to kill the family one by one. This has already happened to Bashar, 34, an actor. Because his parents refuse to reveal his hiding place, the Badr militia murdered two of his family members in retribution.
Nyaz is a 28-year old dentist who lives in Baghdad. She is terrified that her lesbian relationship will be discovered, and that both she and her partner will be killed. They have stopped seeing each other. It is too dangerous. To make matters worse, Nyaz is being forced by the fundamentalist Mahdi militia to marry an older, senior Mullah with close ties the Mahdi leader, Muqtada al-Sadr. If she does not agree to the marriage, or tries to run away, Nyaz and her family will be targeted for ‘honour killing’ by Sadr’s men.