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ILGA Yahia Zaidi, ILGA

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720 brutally murdered as 'gay cleansing' continues unchecked in Iraq

in IRAQ, 16/11/2009

An organization dedicated to securing asylum for LGBT refugees from Iraq estimates that over 720 LGBT men and women have been murdered by extremist militias in the last six years.

An organization dedicated to securing asylum for LGBT refugees from Iraq estimates that over 720 LGBT men and women have been murdered by extremist militias in the last six years.

London-based Iraqi LGBT reports the Iraqi government has largely been absent in pursuing the roaming "death squads" in Iraq who seek out LGBT victims, likely due to the influence of extremist Shia religious parties that are calling for a moral cleansing of Iraq.

The organization says the rise of fundamentalist groups in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion has proven deadly to LGBT Iraqis, who are now being forced to either hide or face the consequences. On its website, Iraqi LGBT says, "there is little hope for Iraqis suffering under the new socio-political climate. Once the most liberal and secular of the Arab nations, nowadays religious extremism has taken hold of the country to the detriment of its people."

The extremist groups and police were using the Internet to track down LGBT Iraqis this past summer, but at least two gay Iraqis were able to be saved by Iraqi LGBT. In August, police raided the houses of Asad Galib and Faeq Ismail, both 24 years old, and took them into custody. They were held and questioned for about four hours and accused of viewing gay websites in an internet café. Both men denied the accusations and explained that the websites had already been open when they began using the computers. They were later released and put in a safe house sponsored by Iraqi LGBT.

But the big question continues to be, why hasn't the U.S. government done anything to help? It is hearbreaking that Iraqi LGBT has to beg for donations on its website, instead of getting any form of help whatsoever from us to help stop the gay genocide in Iraq.

President Obama has remained completely silent on the issue, even after receiving a letter from Rep. Jared Polis urging his administration to take action, and a 67-page report by Human Rights Watch in August outlining in explicit detail the torture and murder of LGBT Iraqis, which was featured prominently in nearly every U.S. media outlet, including the New York Times and CNN. Since the HRW report was released, there hasn't been a single change in military strategy to protect LGBT Iraqis from the roaming death squads or the Iraqi police.

Better question - why haven't American LGBT people and their supporters expressed more outrage about the horrendous situation facing LGBT Iraqis? Are we so caught up in our own myopic obsession with equal rights here that we forget about the plight of our brothers and sisters in the (still) U.S.-occupied territory? Why aren't we doing more to try and help them? Why aren't we doing more to speak out on their behalf?

Iraqi LGBT is doing all it can, but being the only organization dedicated to helping gay Iraqis, it's difficult for them to make much of an impact. So far, Iraqi LGBT says nearly 100 individuals in Iraq have directly benefited from their work, and they have been involved in securing asylum for Iraqi refugees who have been forced to flee the country.

But so much more is needed.

For more information:

* Iraqi LGBT
* Human Rights Watch report on Iraqi LGBT genocide
* HRW condemns gay social cleansing in Iraq

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