Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Several international students were discussing this issue today.
Some of them mentioned their concerns of the Iraqi gay community after a police raid at a Karbala safe house last week.
Here's the story:
Last week, twelve police officers are reported to have burst into the safe house, and then violently beat up, and blindfolded the six occupants sheltering there before bundling them off in three vans.
According to a source who witnessed the raid, the police also confiscated computer equipment before burning down the house, the London group said in a statement.
According to reports reaching London, one of the arrested people has turned up in hospital. However, nothing is known about the whereabouts of the other five individuals, which include two gay men, one lesbian and two transgender people.
It is feared they may have been taken to the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, where, it is reported, many gay people have been tortured and executed in the last two years.
Government forces have previously sized people particularly at roadblocks and handed them to militias who have then tortured them and their bodies have later been found.
None of the previous occupying powers have taken any action or delivered any criticism for these atrocities.
Iraqi LGBT feels that the reason that both the British and United States governments in particular have not criticised the Iraqi government is “because of the legacy of the occupation”.
He US and UK have both criticised Malawi and Uganda over LGBT human rights. There is strong religious opposition to homosexuality in both African countries — as there is in Iraq, Iraqi LGBT pointed out.
“Since the fall of Saddam, militias loyal to Shi’a clerics Grand Ayatollah al Sistani and Muqtada al Sadr, both of whom have called for homosexuals to be put to death, have been only too keen to carry out their leaders’ wishes,” the group says.
“Over 720 LGBT people have disappeared or been murdered, many of whom have been tortured to death.
“There is strong evidence that the government is colluding with these militia groups, by rounding up known homosexual and transgender people.”
A small number of safe houses, set up for LGBT people to live in relative safety, have been funded by Iraqi LGBT. In the current climate, these homes have been life-savers for those taking refuge in them.
The house which was raided on last week had been established in January this year.
With the arrests and the seizure of computers last week, activists fear that the government will step up efforts to round up more of the country’s LGBT population.
“The UK media and politicians have been too quiet for too long about the violence LGBT people in Iraq,” said Ali Hili, leader of Iraqi LGBT.
I was told it matters like this that push many LGBT people to stay quiet or figure out a way to get to the US. Very sad really.
For info on the LGBT Iraqi community, please go to their website