Taken From UK Gay News
UK media, politicians have been too quiet for too long about the violence LGBT people in Iraq” – Hili
LONDON, June 22, 2010 – There is growing concern that the Iraqi government is stepping up a witch-hunt against gays and lesbians in the country after a police raid on a Karbala safe house, the London-based Iraqi LGBT said at the weekend.
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.
“The militia and the powers that be know they can get away with it while that silence continues.
“It really is time for the Iraqi government to act on this and stop playing the role of guilty bystanders, while our brothers and sisters are murdered in silence.”
Currently the UK Border Agency is deporting many Iraqis, some who left the country in fear of their lives after death threats from gangsters and religious militia.
“The government is grossly underestimating the danger faced by Iraqi refugees.” Mr. Ali pointed out. “The raid [last week] proves, for LGBT people especially, [that] Iraq is a no-go zone”.
■ The UK coalition government pledged last week that it would stop the deportation of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution.
The pledge was contained in the Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality document launched by Home Secretary Teresa May, who is also Minister for Women and Equalities.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Posted by Gideon at 11:40 PM