New Internationalist

Sexual cleansing

June 2006

Terrorized Iraqi gays ignored by West

Ammar, a young gay man of 27, was abducted and shot in the back of the head in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad. In the same city, Haydar Faiek, aged 40 – a transsexual – was beaten and burned to death by militias on a main street in September 2005. Sarmad and Khalid were same-sex partners who lived in Baghdad and were abducted by the Badr Corps in April 2005. Their bodies were found two months later, in June, bound, blindfolded, and shot in the back of the head – execution-style. The list goes on.

Following a ‘death-to-gays’ fatwa issued last October by Iraq’s most influential Shi’a leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, death squads of the Shi’a-linked Badr Corps have stepped up a campaign to target gay Iraqis. The fatwa says that ‘people involved’ in homosexuality ‘should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.’ US occupying authorities continue to turn a deaf ear to the plight of the Iraqi gays that have been targeted as a result.

The well-armed Badr Corps is the military arm of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) – the most powerful Shi’a political grouping in the country. It is trained and commanded by former Iraqi army officers.

‘The Badr Corps is committed to the sexual cleansing of Iraq,’ said Ali Hili, a 33-year-old gay Iraqi exiled in London. He and some 30 other gay Iraqis have fled to Britain where, five months ago, they founded the Abu Nawas Group to support persecuted gay Iraqis. ‘Badr Corps agents have a network of informers who, among other things, target alleged immoral behaviour,’ Hili continued. ‘They kill gays, unveiled women, prostitutes, people who sell or drink alcohol, and those who listen to Western music and wear Western fashions.’

‘We believe that the Badr Corps is receiving advice from Iran on how to target gay people,’ says Hili. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been carrying out a lethal anti-gay pogrom, notably through entrapment schemes carried out on the internet – a tactic that the Badr Corps has recently begun to use to identify and hunt down Iraqi gays.

A report from the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which was released on 10 April 2006, confirms that gay Iraqis have been targeted for kidnapping and murder because of their sexual orientation. It quotes one local NGO as saying that ‘members of Iraq’s small gay community have received more than 70 threats from kidnappers in the past two months, while 12 have been killed.’ The UN report also describes the widespread increase in kidnappings for ransom and the subsequent killings of university professors and teachers in Iraq – 350 in the past five months alone – and quotes Iraqi Interior Ministry official Ra’ad Hassan as saying that ‘roughly 50 kidnappings take place countrywide every day’.

Doug Ireland Gay City News

This column was published in the June 2006 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 390

New Internationalist Magazine issue 390
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