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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

URGENT - Iraq: Letter From a Member of Iraqi LGBT who Pleads for Help “Before It’s Too Late”

Is there anyone to help me before it’s too late? That is the question asked by a member of Iraqi-LGBT in Baghdad, who says he is to be executed, in a letter released at the weekend by Iraqi-LGBT in London.

The handwritten letter in Arabic was received by the group in London last week, the writer claiming that he has received the death sentence for belonging to Iraqi-LGBT – a banned organisation in the country.

Releasing the letter to UK Gay News, Iraqi-LGBT requested independent translation – and this was done by two separate translators in the USA.

“We are confident that the letter is genuine,” Ali Hili said, adding that the name on the letter is known to him.

“I have known this person for the past 18 months,” he said.

“At the moment, we think that there are five gays among the 128 people who are reported to be awaiting execution,” Mr. Hili said.

And he added that while the Ministry of Interior is officially denying that there are five people sentenced to death for having contact with Iraqi-LGBT, he has spoken to someone in the Ministry who has confirmed the five death sentences.

In the letter released by Iraqi-LGBT in London, the writer claims that at his court case he was not permitted to defend himself, or even get legal representation.

It is virtually impossible to check on the authenticity of the letter, which translated into English, with names and an address removed, says:

Call for help.

“My name is [name and address removed], Baghdad, Iraq.

I was detained at my residence December 15, 2008 after midnight, by the Ministry of Interior.

During the detention process, they hit me on the head and my rear end to make me confess that I am a member of the Iraqi-LGBT.

Later on the Ministry of Interior transferred me to the criminal justice court in al Karkh, and after a short trial I was sentenced to death.

I was sentenced without given the chance to defend myself or to hire an attorney. Two days later I was returned to the same place and was told that the execution will take place in two weeks.

Please pass this message to [my friend] in London. I just wish to tell him not to forget about my mother and siblings, I was their only supporter.

I am all hopeful that Allah will show Iraqis a life with no death sentences.
And lastly, I ask you for help.

Is there anyone to help me before it is too late?”