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Iraq: Organised ‘crackdown’ on homosexuals

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Iraq, Human Rights, Law, LGBTQ+, Politics, Religion, Women & Gender

In the past few weeks there has been an increase in the persecution of homosexuals in Iraq, due to an organised ‘crackdown’ based on a religious decree for their death, reports UAE- based media network alarabiya.net [1].

There has been a spate of deaths resulting from a previously unheard of and particularly gruesome torture method being employed against homosexual men. Iraqi human rights activist Yina Mohammad told alarabiya.net that:

ميليشيات عراقية أقدمت على شكل جديد من التعذيب لا سابق له ضد المثليين وهو استخدام مادة لاصقة قوية جداً توضع داخل مؤخراتهم لإغلاقها كلياً

Iraqi militias are deploying an unprecedented new form of torture against homosexuals, which involves inserting a particularly strong adhesive into the anus (of the victim) and sealing it completely.

She adds:

المادة اسمها الصمغ الأميري، وهو صمغ إيراني يؤدي للصق الجلد ببعضه بحيث لا يمكن فتحه إلا بعملية جراحية، وبعد الإغلاق يتم إعطاؤهم مادة مسهلة لشربها ويحصل إسهال بلا وجود منفذ، وهذا يؤدي للموت، وتم توزيع هذه الأمور في كليبات قصيرة على أجهزة الموبايل في بغداد

The adhesive is known as Amiri gum; it is an Iranian glue that seals the skin together in such a way that it can only be removed through surgery. After sealing the victims’ anus, they are then given a drink which induces diarrhoea. As there is no outlet for this diarrhea, it may lead to death. Incidents of this happening have been circulating in short clips on mobile phones in Baghdad.

This news comes after reports of an increase in the killing of homosexuals by militia groups and death squads, as a form of القصاص, or ‘retribution’.

One militia group, calling itself أهل الحق or “The Righteous Ones”  is reported to have been posting lists of names of alleged homosexuals in Sadr City, and threatening to persecute them. At least three murders last month are presumed to have been caused by the publishing of such lists, according to Iraqi Streets [2].

Iraqi Streets asks the militia:

بأي حق نصبتم أنفسكم أهلا لهذا الحق وأنتم لا تملكون أي ذرة حق-حيث علقت قوائم بأسماء مثلي الجنس في مدينة الصدر وعثر على ثلاث جثث لهم ملقاة في الطريق بعد قتلهم رميهم بالرصاص وعليهم أثار تعذيب حيث كسرت أيديهم وأرجلهم

What righteousness is this you deem yourselves holders of? You do not possess a single grain of what is right posting a list of homosexuals’ names in Sadr city; causing three corpses to be dumped in the street after being shot, the bodies showing traces of torture, with their hands and legs broken.

In response to a comment asking why he is defending homosexuals, Iraqi Streets states:

السؤال الاهم لماذا الأن هاجموا المثيلين في العراق ؟المثيلين موجودسن منذ مده لماذا اليوم بدأت حرب ضدهم؟

The important question is why is it now that homosexuals are being attacked in Iraq? Homosexuals have been here for a long time, so what is is that has provoked the war against them today?

Indeed, the recent murders add to the growing list of men targeted for their actual or perceived homosexuality, a phenomenon that has been increasing over the past few years.

According to IraqiLGBT [3], over 400 homosexual men have been killed since 2003. The incidents against homosexuals appear to be increasing in frequency, with over 25 men killed in the last month, due to an increase in the proliferation of death squads and militia groups, some of which, according to IraqiLGBT, appear to have the backing not only of religious figures but also the Iraqi authorities.

Ahmed al Sa'dawi on Iraqi media network Niqash [4] reports that:

Homosexuality is largely frowned upon across Iraqi society and it seems that sympathy for their deteriorating plight is non-existent. Gay people are perceived as violating social norms and threatening the society with “moral decay.” An eyewitness who saw an attack against a young man said: “The dog got what he deserved.” This perception has legitimatized attacks on them.
According to Iraqi law all breaches of social or religious custom can only be dealt with by the judiciary. There is no room for religious law and yet since 2006 militias have been attacking gay people with the religious backing of a number of Islamic clerics.

In light of the current situation, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) sent a letter last month to the Iraqi Minister of Human Rights, Wijdan Salim, requesting specific measures be taken to protect LGBT Iraqis against hate crimes and persecution. The letter can be seen here [5].

According to the IGLHRC many of the attacks against homosexuals do not receive proper investigation, and the perpetrators too often go without punishment. There have also been reports coming from alarabiya.net and the blogs that some homosexuals are denied treatment when seeking help at hospitals.

It is clear that some kind of change needs to take place to counter the rise in such atrocities. While foreign support groups and outside pressure have positive impact, for the gay Iraqi living in fear, these groups have little effect on their daily struggle.
In Shams Al-Ma7aba [6], a couple writing from Bahrain, sum up the frustration experienced by homosexuals deprived of their basic rights:

مايحصل للعراق اليوم … و يصل لأي أحد فينا ..
العربية تعد تقريرا عن المثليين بالعراق وهناك منظمة بالخارج تدافع عنهم ولكن المعروف بأن التغيير يأتي من الداخل وبالثورة والنضال لان الحق ينتزع ولا يعطى أو يهدى !!

What is happening in Iraq today could happen… to any one of us.
Alarabiya has written a report on homosexuals in Iraq, and there is an organisation abroad defending (gay Iraqis). However, it is well-known that change can only come from within, through revolution and struggle, as our right will not be given or handed to us, but must be seized!