Militias in Iraq are rounding up gays, slitting and removing pieces of their throats, cutting off their genitals and gluing their anuses shut. Signs are then attached to their displayed, mutilated bodies reading ‘pervert’ in Arabic and their bodies then dumped into garbage cans. “Fears that Iraqi men’s masculinity is under threat” is the motivation for violent action taken against gays in Iraq. Victims families are also to blame for carrying out honour killings because ‘unmanly’ behaviour shames the family/tribe.
From The National Post.
Rights activists say Iraqi gays targeted for death by militias
Aseel Kami and Mohammed Abbas, Reuters Published: Monday, August 17, 2009
BAGHDAD – Iraqi militias are conducting a campaign of torture and murder against men suspected of homosexual activity, a leading rights group said on Monday, adding that government security forces may be involved.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the killings began earlier this year in the poor Sadr City district of Baghdad, once ruled by Shi’ite Muslim militias, and had since spread to many cities across Iraq.
“The killers invade homes and pick people up in the street, witnesses and survivors said, interrogating them before murdering them to extract the names of other potential victims,” the rights group said in a statement.
Homosexual conduct is prohibited almost everywhere in the Middle East, but conditions have become especially dangerous for gays and lesbians in Iraq since the rise of religious militias after U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein 6-1/2 years ago.
Shi’ite Muslim militias once held sway over many areas of Baghdad and Iraq’s Shi’ite south, but a series of government crackdowns in the past two years has weakened their presence.
Sunni Islamist militants such as al Qaeda have also spread religious intolerance.
HRW said it had been told that in some attacks Iraqi security forces had “colluded and joined in the killing”.
“Murder and torture are no way to enforce morality … These killings point to the continuing and lethal failure of Iraq’s post-occupation authorities to establish the rule of law and protect their citizens,” HRW researcher Rasha Moumneh said.
Iraq’s Interior Ministry said accusations of the involvement of its forces in gay slayings must be accompanied by evidence. It also said secrecy and stigma attached to homosexuality means that few come forward with complaints of abuse.
“Unfortunately we do not get clear complaints on this issue. They (victims’ relatives) consider talking about the subject worse than the crime itself, this is the nature of our society,” ministry spokesman Major General Abdul-Karim Khalaf said.
The silence means it is difficult to know how many people have been killed in homophobic attacks, but HRW said hundreds may have died.
There is no law against homosexuality in Iraq, but it can be punished under laws meant to protect public order and morality.
In March, the bodies of four gay men were found in Sadr City, each bearing a sign reading “pervert” in Arabic, police said.
Many gay Iraqi men have fled to other countries, such as Turkey, out of fear for their lives.
HRW released a report in Beirut on Monday on abuses related to sexual orientation and gender in Iraq.
Its statement carried testimony from victims, including one man who said his partner of 10 years was taken from his home at night in April by four men dressed in black and wearing masks.
“He was found in the neighbourhood the day after. They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out,” the man said.
Mahdi Army spokesmen have suggested that violent action was the remedy for the “feminisation” of Iraqi men, according to the report, in which survivors are quoted as saying militiamen invade homes and interrogate victims before killing them in order to identify other potential victims.
HRW said in the report that Iraqi doctors and morgue employees also have records of grotesque torture marks on the bodies of men, including mutilation and even anuses glued shut.
Motives for the murders include “fears that Iraqi men’s masculinity is under threat,” HRW reported.
It also said some of the murders were so-called honour killings, carried out by victims’ family members “because ‘unmanly’ behaviour threatens the reputation of the family or tribe.”
With files from AFP