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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stop the deportation of Anwar Basim Saleh

Protests to support Ayatollah al-SistaniImage via Wikipedia

Source: EveryOne Group

Anwar Basim Saleh, the 21-year old Iraqi gay activist from Baghdad, is at present in Holland, where he has applied for asylum.

Anwar, before leaving his country of origin, was the coordinator of a “safe house” for homosexuals working alongside the Iraqi LGBT organization. He was arrested in February 2009 by members of the Iraqi Interior Ministry (Badr Corps) for his role in the association. He was badly beaten up, tortured and he suffered a serious trauma after the long period of detention and the abuse he was subjected to.

He was put under investigation and interrogated over and over again about his role as an LGBT activist and his involvement in the running of a “safe house” in Iraq, where persecuted homosexuals are secretly taken in and offered assistance.

During his detention he met five other members of this organization who have been sentenced to death for the same reason. During a visit to the jail of an Iraqi LGBT volunteer, Anwar handed over a letter with a desperate appeal: “save me from the death penalty.

Iraqi LGBT immediately paid the authorities 5,000 dollars in bail to obtain the young man’s release. As soon as he was released from jail on April 14th, 2009, Anwar immediately got on a plane to Paris, thus fleeing his homeland where he would have undergone an unjust trial, and would most likely have been sentenced to death.

After a few months without any help from the French institutions, associations and authorities (while begging on the streets and living as a tramp), Anwar (who speaks no other languages but his own) left France, and on June 22nd entered Dutch territory. He approached the police authorities in Rotterdam of his own accord, and after telling them his story, they sent him to the local refugee office, which gave him shelter at Terabil asylum centre on June 24th.

On September 2nd, 2009, Anwar was sent for by the Justice Ministry to discuss his asylum application, and was informed that according to the Dublin Regulation, it is up to France to decide whether or not to grant him refugee status.

Anwar, who is still in Holland, begged them to reconsider his application in Holland (where other homosexual originating from Arab countries have taken refuge) to avoid having to make yet another traumatic move and long wait before he learns his fate.

In the Iraqi capital, in an interview given to the newspaper “The National a militiaman declared: “we see homosexuality as a serious disease that is spreading rapidly among the young men in the community, after it has been brought here by American soldiers. These are not Iraqi habits or habits of our community, and we have to wipe them out”.

Over the last few months it is believed that dozens and dozens of gay homosexuals have been brutally murdered because of their homosexuality in an effort to eliminate those who are considered “morally deviant”.

However, this kind of crime has been taking place since 2003. Officially, the Iraqi police state that the number of murders over the last two months is less than ten, though unofficially they acknowledge that the figure is at least double that. Some of the victims were murdered by their own families or tribes, who see homosexuality as a serious stain on their own honour.

The Iraqi militiaman, in the same interview states: “we have the approval of the most important Iraqi tribes to get rid of the men who imitate women”, explaining that he was once in the Mahdi Army, but now acts independently of the militia of the disbanded leader of the Moqtada-al-Sadr movement: “Our aim is to contribute to the stabilization of society”.

Homosexuality is illegal in Iraqi and, after instructions posted in 2005 on the website of the Shiite religious leader Ali al Sistani, it is to be considered a crime punishable with the death sentence - and homosexuals are to be killed in the “worst” way possible. Though this page was later removed, the sentiments it expressed appear to be shared by other Iraqi religious leaders.

“The Islamic punishment for gay people is to be burnt to death or subjected to any other form of capital punishment”, said imam Hussein from the mosque in the Karada district of Baghdad. “Those who break God’s laws must be purified by the Muslim community. There are clear rules for humanity: men must be men and women must be women”. The religious leader states that the Iraqi government should intervene with determination against homosexuals, but if it fails to, it is more than acceptable for families and tribes to kill them. “The truth is that homosexuality is a source of shame for them. By killing homosexuals, they are doing God’s will”.

Taher Mustafa, a member of the medical staff in Baghdad, has recently stated that over the last three months he himself has seen three men he believe were killed because of their homosexuality. He also added: “three men, between the ages of 17 – 25, who were either killed or burnt to death”.

In September 2009, an article in the British Sunday magazine ‘The Observer’, revealed that the Iraqi Islamic extremists who hunt out homosexuals have started monitoring chat rooms and websites, and since the beginning of the year they have murdered more than 130 gay men. The journalist from The Observer met the leader of one of these fundamentalist organizations in Baghdad. A 22-year-old computer expert, he spends at least six hours every day hunting out homosexuals over the Internet: “It is the most simple way to find these people who are destroying Islam and who aim to soil a reputation we have taken years to build”.

After the international alarm sounded months ago by Iraqi LGBT and EveryOne Group (and after an attempt by the EveryOne activists Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro, Dario Picciau and Glenys Robinson to seek a mediation with His Excellency Mazin Abdulwahab Thiab, the Iraqi Ambassador in Italy - as well as the institutions of the Multinational Coalition in Iraq), Human Rights Watch has also recently described the repression of homosexuals in Iraq as “an authentic ethnic cleansing programme, a systematic campaign against the gay community which is being subjected to torture and murder”.

EveryOne Group, which is in direct contact with the president of Iraqi LGBT, Ali Hilli, as well as with the young asylum-seeker, is appealing to the Dutch and French authorities, as well as the members of the European Parliament, Commission and Council (particularly the Committee Against Torture) to grant Anwar Basim Saleh refugee status and suitable protection as soon as possible. We ask that his rights be recognised according to the Geneva Convention, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the international laws that defend a person’s right to life, health and personal freedom. We ask that Anwar be spared further psychological and physical stress, because just the news of a risk of him being deported back to Iraq could kill him.

We are requesting the intervention of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, asking the organization to be the spokesman for this case in order to guarantee the most correct and urgent procedure to ensure the boy is granted international protection and the risk of deportation is eliminated for good.


[French translation by Everyone Group]

Rome, London et Rotterdam, 15 septembre 2009

Groupe EveryOne: nous démandons protection et asile pour le jeune activiste gay irakien Anwar Basim Saleh

Il faut que les autorités lui confèrent immédiatement le statut de réfugié

du Groupe EveryOne

Anwar Basim Saleh, 21enne activiste gay irakien qui vient de Baghdad, se trouve actuellement en Hollande, où il a demandé asile politique. Anwar, avant de fuir de son Pays, était le coordonnateur d'une organisation d'aide pour homosexuels, initiative de l'association Iraqi LGBT. Pour cette raison les autoritées gouvernementales (Badr Corps) l'ont arrêté au mois de février 2009. Le jeune a été frappé, torturé et a souffert une tres grave traumatisme pour les interminables jours de détention et pour les abus subis.

Il a été enquêté et répétéement interrogé pour son engagement comme activiste pour l'association'Iraqi LGBT et pour son activités humanitaires et de droits de l'homme. En Iraq Anwar prêtait secrètement aide et assistance aux homosexuels persécutés. Pendant la détention il a rencontré autres cinq membres de son organisation qui ont été condamnés à mort pour la même raison. En profitant de la visite en prison d'un des volontaires d'Iraqi LGBT, Anwar a délivré une lettre avec son appel désespéré: “Sauvez-moi de la peine de mort”. Iraqi LGBT a payé immédiatement aux autorités une caution de 5000 dollars pour obtenir le relâchement du jeune. Quand il a été libre, le 14 avril 2009, Anwar a embarqué à bord d'un avion de lign pour Paris, en fuyant le Pays qui l'aurait trés probablement condamné à mort.

Après quelque mois, passé sans aucune aide de la part des services sociaux ni des associations ou des autorités françaises, en mendiant au bord de la route et en vivant comme un clochard, sans connaître autre langue que l'arabe, Anwar a laissé la France le 22 juin 2009. Le jeune est allé en Hollande chercher protection humanitaire. Il est allé spontanéement chez la Police de Rotterdam, en résumant son histoire. Les autoritées l'ont adressé à l'Office locale pour les Réfugiés, qui l'ont accueilli dans le Centre pour l'asile de Terabil. Le 2 settembre 2009, Anwar a été convoqué au ministère de la Justice pour sa demande d'asile. Le fonctionnaire lui a communiqué que, sur la base de la Convention de Dublin, la France aurait dû décider si lui conférer le statut de réfugié. Anwar, qui est toujours en territoire hollandais, a prié les autorités de reconsidérer sa demande en Hollande, où il y a autres réfugiés homosexuels originaires des pays arabes, pour éviter des ultérieurs traumatiques déplacements et une longue attente de connaître son sort.

Les autoritées et le peuple de Baghdad considerent l'homosexualité comme une grave maladie ou un crime contre Dieu (http://www.thenational.ae/). Un soldat de Baghdad a declaré au quotidien local: “L'homosexualité est dangereuse pour les jeunes de la comunnauté islamique. Celles-ci ne sont pas des habitudes de notre Pays, mais viennent de l'Ocident et nous devons les éliminer”.

En Iraq, dans les derniers mois, on a tué dizaines et dizaines de gays. Mais la persecutions des gays a commencé en 2003. La police irakenne affirme qu'il y a eté au moins dix homicides de gays. Mais le nombre réel est plus gros et il y a été des personnes LGBT qui ont été massacrées par les mêmes membres de leur famille, qui considerait l'homosexualité comme une grave tache sur leur honneur. Le soldat a dit que “les principales tribus irakennes voudraient liquider les hommes qui imitent les femmes, parce que notre objectif est celui de contribuer à stabiliser la societé “.

L’homosexualité est illégal en Iraq et selon les idées du leader chiite Ale al Sistani, doit être considérée un délit à punir avec peine capital et les homosexuels doivent être tués sans aucune pitié. L'imam de la mosquée du quartier Karada de Baghdad, monsieur Hussein a demandé la torture et autres peines ou traitements cruels pour les gays en Irak, parce que “Ils violent les règles de Dieu et doivent être purifié”. Taher Mustafa, un medecin de Baghdad, a récemment affirmé d'avoir vu trois hommes brûlés à mor parce que gays.

Comme la campagne de meurtres ciblant les gays irakiens s’intensifie, une chaîne de télévision arabe a révélé l’utilisation une horrible nouvelle forme detorture mortelle contre les gays. Des escadrons de la mort anti-gays chiites scellent l’anus deshomosexuels avec une colle très puissante avant d’induire une diarrhée qui conduit à une mort lente et douloureuse. L’utilisation de cette torture terrifiante a été signalée pour la première fois par la chaîne de télévision Al Arabiya, dont le siège se trouve dans les Émirats Arabes Unis, qui a été averti par nombreux activistes pour les droits de l’homme.

Yanar Mohammed, présidente de l’OWFI, a déclaré à Al Arabiya que la substance utilisée pour cette torture “est une colle forte fabriquée en Iran et lorsque la peau est collée avec, elle ne peut être décollée que par une intervention chirurgicale. Après avoir collé l’anus deshomosexuels, ils leur donnent une boisson qui cause la diarrhée. Et comme l’anus est fermé, la diarrhée, cause la mort. Des vidéos de cette forme de torture circulent sur les téléphones mobiles en Irak”.

À Bagdad un journaliste de l'Observer a rencontré un jeune informatique qui travaille pour une organisation fondamentaliste. Chaque jour il passe au moins six heures sur Internet à chasse de homosexuels : “C'est le moyen plus simple pour trouver les homosexuels qui détruisent l’Islam”. Après la campagne internationale initiée au mois de mars 2009 par Iraqi LGBT et le Groupe EveryOne et après la tentative de médiation effectuée par les activistes du Groupe EveryOne Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro, Dario Picciau et Glenys Robinson avec Ambassadeur irakien en Italie, Mazin Abdulwahab Thiab, recemment Human Rights Watch a défini la répression des gays en Iraq comme “une véritable purge ethnique, avec tortures et homicides”.

Le Groupe EveryOne, en contacte avec le président d'Iraqi LGBT Ali Hili et le jeune Anwar Basim Saleh, demande aux autorités et aux institutions françaises (Anwar se trouve en Hollande, mais peut etre que, pour la Convention de Dublin, ce sera la France a lui donner protection et asile) ainsi que aux membres du Parlement européen, de la Commission EU et du Conseil de l'Europe (en particulier du Comité contre la torture), de s'activer afin que soit garantie la protection et soit reconnu le statut de réfugié à Anwar Basim Saleh, comme prevue la Convention de Genêve et les accords internationaux qui défendent les Droits Humains. Nous sollicitons l'attention et l'intervention d'urgence du Haut Commissaire des Nations Unies pour les Réfugiés, Monsieur António Guterres, afin que le jeune reçoit la protection internationale et le statut de Refugé, en évitant chaque risque de déportation.

Nous demandons ainsi à tous les organismes et associations des droits de l'homme, y compris les responsables des organes du gouvernement français, du gouvernement hollandais et de l'Union européenne, ainsi qu'aux syndicats et associations de journalistes, de défendre le droit à la sécurité et à la vie de Muntather Al-Zaidi et de travailler pour assurer sa libération immédiate.

Gruppo EveryOne

Tel: (+ 39) 334-8429527 (+ 39) 331-3585406

www.everyonegroup.com :: info@everyonegroup.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Observer - How Islamist gangs use internet to track, torture and kill Iraqi gays

Iraqi militias infiltrate internet gay chatrooms to hunt their quarry – and hundreds are feared to be victims.


Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims.

"It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up," he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed.

Hamizi, a computer science graduate, is at the cutting edge of a new wave of violence against gay men in Iraq. Made up of hardline extremists, Hamizi's group and others like it are believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year alone.
The deputy leader of the group, which is based in Baghdad, explained its campaign using a stream of homophobic invective. "Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practise such sexual depraved acts," he told the Observer. "We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God's forgiveness before they are killed."
The violence against Iraqi gays is a key test of the government's ability to protect vulnerable minority groups after the Americans have gone.

Dr Toby Dodge, of London University's Queen Mary College, believes that the violence may be a consequence of the success of the government of Nouri al-Maliki. "Militia groups whose raison d'être was security in their communities are seeing that function now fulfilled by the police. So their focus has shifted to the moral and cultural sphere, reverting to classic Islamist tactics of policing moral boundaries," Dodge said.

Homosexuality was not criminalised under Saddam Hussein – indeed Iraq in the 1960s and 1970s was known for its relatively liberated gay scene. Violence against gays started in the aftermath of the invasion in 2003. Since 2004, according to Ali Hali, chairman of the Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) group, a London-based human-rights group, a total of 680 have died in Iraq, with at least 70 of those in the past five months. The group believes the figures may be higher, as most cases involving married men are not reported. Seven victims were women. According to Hali, Iraq has become "the worst place for homosexuals on Earth".
The killings are brutal, with victims ritually tortured. Azhar al-Saeed's son was one. "He didn't follow what Islamic doctrine tells but he was a good son," she said. "Three days after his kidnapping, I found a note on my door with blood spread over it and a message saying it was my son's purified blood and telling me where to find his body."

She went with police to find her son's remains. "We found his body with signs of torture, his anus filled with glue and without his genitals," she said. "I will carry this image with me until my dying day."

Police officers interviewed by the Observer said the killings were not aimed at gays but were isolated remnants of the sectarian violence that racked the country between 2005 and 2006. Hamizi's group, however, boasts that two people a day are chosen to be "investigated" in Baghdad. The group claims that local tribes are involved in homophobic attacks, choosing members to hunt down the victims. In some areas, a list of names is posted at restaurants and food shops.

The roommate of Haydar, 26, was kidnapped and killed three months ago in Baghdad. After Haydar contacted the last person his friend had been chatting with on the net, he found a letter on his front door alerting him "about the dangers of behaving against Islamic rules". Haydar plans to flee to Amman, the Jordanian capital. "I have… to run away before I suffer the same fate," he said.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Shia militia known as the Mahdi army may be among the militants implicated in the violence, particularly in the northern part of Baghdad known as Sadr City. There are reports that Mahdi army militias are harassing young men simply for wearing "western fashions".

A Ministry of Interior spokesperson, Abdul-Karim Khalaf, denied allegations of police collaboration. "The Iraqi police exists to protect all Iraqis, whatever their sexual persuasion," he said.

Hashim, another victim of violence by extremists, was attacked on Abu Nawas Street. Famous for its restaurants and bars, the street has become a symbol of the relative progress made in Baghdad. But it was where Hashim was set on by four men, had a finger cut off and was badly beaten. His assailants left a note warning that he had one month to marry and have "a traditional life" or die.

"Since that day I have not left my home. I'm too scared and don't have money to run away," Hashim said.