Main | Friday, September 26, 2008

More Tragedy For Iraq's Gays

The Baghdad coordinator of Iraqi LGBT, the group that organizes underground safe houses for gays in Iraq, was machine-gunned to death yesterday in a Baghdad barber shop. The announcement was made by UK-based activist Peter Tatchell.
This morning, I received news from Iraq that the coordinator of Iraqi LGBT in Baghdad, Bashar, aged 27, a university student, has been assassinated in a barber shop. Militias burst in and sprayed his body with bullets at point blank range. He was the organiser of the safe houses for gays and lesbians in Baghdad. His efforts saved the lives of dozens of people. Bashar was a kind, generous and extremely brave young man – a true hero who put his life on the line to save the lives of others. My thoughts go out to his loved ones and to the other members of Iraqi LGBT. Their courage is an inspiration to all people everywhere fighting against injustice.
A sad, horrifying, and chilling tragedy. I last mentioned Iraqi LGBT several weeks ago and again I ask you to consider donating to their PayPal account.

A separate story by Peter Tatchell, apparently written before the above news was received, was published in yesterday's Guardian UK. A short excerpt:
My friends in Iraq have relayed to me the tragic story of five gay activists, who belonged to the underground gay rights movement, Iraqi LGBT.

Eye-witnesses confirm that they saw the men being led out of a house at gunpoint by officers in police uniform. Yes, Iraqi police! Nothing has been heard of the five victims since then. In all probability, they have been executed by the police – or by Islamist death squads who have infiltrated the Iraqi police and who are using their uniforms to carry out so-called honour killings of gay people, unchaste women and many others.

The arrested and disappeared men were Amjad 27, Rafid 29, Hassan 24, Ayman 19 and Ali 21. As members of Iraq's covert gay rights movement, for the previous few months they had been documenting the killing of lesbians and gays, relaying details of the murders to the outside world, and providing safe houses and support to other gay people fleeing the death squads.

Their abduction is just one of many outrages by anti-gay death squads. lslamist killers burst into the home of two lesbian women in the city of Najaf. They shot them dead, slashed their throats, and also murdered a young child who the women had rescued from the sex trade. The two women, both in their mid-30s, were members of Iraqi LGBT. They were providing a safe house for gay men on the run from death squads. By sheer luck, none of the men who were being given shelter in the house were at home when the assassins struck. They have since fled to Baghdad, and are hiding in an Iraqi LGBT safe house there.
Below is a short film, Queer Fear - Gay Life, Gay Death in Iraq, featuring Peter Tatchell and the stories of murdered Iraqi queers. It's not easy to watch, but watch it.

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