August 19, 2009
- BBC World Service ‘Newshour’ (audio). Includes interview with Iraqi LGBT’s Ali Hili
- BBC Radio Four ‘Today’ (audio): Gay killings ‘normal’ in Iraq
- CBC (Canada) interviews Tom Porteous, London director of Human Rights Watch: QuickTime Real Media
- Huffington Post: Iraqi Gays Targeted, Brutally Killed: Human Rights Watch
- New York Times: Human Rights Watch: Iraqi Gays Tortured and Killed
- CNN: Gay Men Atacked, Executed in Iraq, Rights Group Says
Iraqi Gays targetted
Gays Tortured and Murdered in Iraq
Cleansing of Sexual Minorities in Iraq : Part 1
Cleansing of Sexual Minorities in Iraq : Part 2
May 10, 2009
5 May 2009 – A drop off in levels of violence in some parts of Iraq has allowed the United Nations refugee agency to revise its guidelines on eligibility for those seeking asylum.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) previously advised that all Iraqis from the central and southern governorates be considered refugees.
In its latest recommendations, the agency believes that the international protection needs for those originating from Al-Anbar, encompassing much of the country’s western territory, and the south should be assessed on individual merit.
However, UNHCR advises favourable consideration for people belonging to specific groups from these areas which have been identified as at risk, including members of religious and ethnic minorities; Iraqis perceived as opposing armed groups or political factions; Iraqis affiliated with the multinational forces or foreign companies; media workers; UN and non-governmental organization (NGO) workers; human rights activists; and homosexuals.
The agency also stressed that ongoing violence, conflict and human rights violations in most of the central governorates of Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah Al-Din places asylum-seekers from these areas in continued need for international protection.
UNHCR estimates that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, mainly in Syria and Jordan but also in Lebanon, Egypt and others, with over 40,000 asylum applications made in industrialized countries last year alone.
The agency stressed that improvement in the situation in Iraq is not yet sufficient enough to promote or encourage massive returns and it recommended that refugees already benefiting from international protection should retain their status.
In a related development, an Iraqi ministry has pledged $30 million for projects aimed at improving the lives of children in rural marshland areas.
With a 34 per cent illiteracy rate among women living in marshlands, compared to 24 per cent nationally, and school enrolment at least 30 per cent lower than in urban areas, and around 80 per cent of households not connected to the general water network, the marshlands has some of the worst development indicators in Iraq.
BAGHDAD – Widespread violence is down across Baghdad, but not for one minority group.
Iraq’s gay population is being targeted by militia groups in a wave of killings that has claimed the lives of up to 25 young men and boys in the past month.
“They know I am gay. I don’t know if I am going to be killed, this is up to God,” said Moyad, a 38-year-old Baghdad resident who would not give his last name out of fear for his safety.
Visibly frightened, he said that he has many friends who have been sadistically tortured, some even murdered. “They are sticking glue up their anuses; some hospitals refuse to treat them. Is it a war waged against homosexuals?” he asked.
Most of the attacks have happened in Baghdad’s Shia neighborhoods, and many believe that religious leaders have used Friday sermons in Sadr City as a platform to incite hatred and violence toward homosexuals. The bodies of three gay men were reported to have been found in Sadr City in April with pieces of paper bearing the word for “pervert” attached to them.
Posters and leaflets have been distributed in the Baghdad neighborhoods of al-Shola, al-Hurya and Sadr City with orders to, “Cleanse Iraq from the crime of homosexuality.”
Baghdad police didn’t respond to inquiries from NBC News about the attacks, but the surge in violence has gained attention by the international media.
In a letter to Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki in April, Amnesty International called for “urgent and concerted action” to stop the killings of men because of their sexual orientation.
Amnesty International expressed concern at the government’s failure to “publicly condemn the killings.” It urged the government to make sure that the killings are “promptly and effectively investigated, and to see that the perpetrators are brought to justice.” The letter also condemned statements from one senior police officer that,”appear to condone or even encourage the targeting of members of the gay community in Baghdad.” An Amnesty spokeswoman said there had not yet been a reply from Iraqi authorities.
Campaign of fear
Moyad described a recent crusade by vigilantes in which young men were tortured with hoses and shot.”For some time I never went out of my house,” he said. “I also had the feeling that they would break in and get me.”
Noor, a 24-year-old lesbian who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it is easier for her to conceal her sexuality, but she is still frightened about the possibility of being exposed – especially knowing that some of her friends were killed by the militias. “They were burned in Kadhimiya, Hurriya Al-Olaa, Hurriya Al-Thaniya, Dolaai and Dabaash.”
Moyad believes that many have been killed by their own families in an effort to preserve their honor. “My friend Ahmed, from the neighborhood of Zafaraniya, was killed by his family for looking like a female. Those commandos tell the families to kill them or else they will kill them. I expect that my own brother might lead those guys to kill me.”
‘Sense of panic’
Ali Hili is a gay Iraqi who fled to London and founded the fledgling U.K.-based organization,”Iraqi LGBT,” a human rights organization that supports Iraqi lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
“There is a sense of panic among the youth for fear of retaliation against anyone who is suspected of having a history of being effeminate, anyone with a homosexual past, if you act or dress like one or even have a western hairstyle,” said Hili. He said that attacks by the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia, and its supporters have increased and that death warrants have been sent to individuals.
Hili’s organization tries to help gays in Iraq who have come under attack by providing food, electricity, protection, medication and clothing at a safe house in Baghdad. The group also provides phone cards for people to report incidents of harassment, in order to document the situation, often at great risk to their safety in Iraq.
“Many people have nothing but the clothes on their backs, and sometimes not even that, no exaggeration at all here,” Hili said of people seeking refuge at the safe house. His organization also tries to help people seeking asylum in other countries.
Moyad said that unfortunately things have actually gotten worse than it was during Saddam’s reign things. “I was imprisoned because I was gay, but there was a court, a trial, and the judge let me loose at the time; now they kill people like us.”
Report-Iraqi militia killing gay men with painful form of anal torture.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission writes: “The following is a translation of a story from Alarabiya, a UAE-based media network, which was published on its Arabic website a few hours ago. While IGLHRC has not verified all of the allegations, many are consistent with patterns of human rights violations being reported from within the country.”
“A prominent Iraqi human rights activist says that Iraqi militia have deployed a painful form of torture against homosexuals by closing their anuses using ‘Iranian gum.’ … Yina Mohammad told Alarabiya.net that, ‘Iraqi militias have deployed an unprecedented form of torture against homosexuals by using a very strong glue that will close their anus.’ According to her, the new substance ‘is known as the American hum, which 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 cellphones in Iraq.’ According to this human rights activist, for the past 3 weeks a crackdown on homosexuals has been going on based on a religious decree that demands their death; dozens have been targeted. She says that the persecution of homosexuals is not confined to the Shiite clerics. Some Sunni leaders have also declared the death penalty for sodomy on satellite channels.”
The BBC posted disturbing video of what they say is a young Iraqi gay man being forced to strip at a police post for wearing women’s clothes.
They report that these sorts of videos are circulated on mobile phones in the country: “The sobbing boy, who appears to be about 12, tries to explain that his family made him do it to earn money, as they have no other source of income. The scene, apparently filmed in a police post, reinforced reports of a campaign against gay men in Iraq which activists say has claimed the lives of more than 60 since December.”
The L.A. Times reports that fliers have been posted around Sadr City in eastern Baghdad threatening death to homosexuals:
“‘If you don’t cease your perverted acts, you will get your fair punishment,’ read the warnings, which were posted on walls on a variety of streets around the neighborhood. On some were scrawled the names of two or three local men suspected of being gay, says one resident, who estimates he saw about 15 names in all. The fliers were signed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Platoons of Righteousness. In addition, graffiti reading ‘we will get you, puppies’ – a derogatory Iraqi term for gays – was sprayed on walls in red paint. Residents said the fliers and graffiti were removed after a few hours, though it wasn’t clear by whom.”
I’ve reposted the BBC report, AFTER THE JUMP…