U.N. AGENCY CONFIRMS GAY IRAQIS TARGETED FOR KIDNAPPING AND MURDER
I wrote the following article for this week's issue of Gay City News -- New York's largest gay weekly -- which hit the newsstands today:
A report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has confirmed that gay Iraqis have been targeted for kidnapping and murder because of their sexual orientation, as I earlier reported for Gay City News.
This U.N. report, released April 10 by the UNOCHA‘s IRIN news and information service, described the widespread increase in kidnappings for ransom and the subsequent killings of university professors and teachers—350 in the past five months alone—and quoted Iraqi Interior Ministry official Ra’ad Hassan as saying that “roughly 50 kidnappings take place countrywide every day.”
Hassan also told the U.N. office, “Since January, the number of kidnappings has increased unabated, along with attacks and threats against certain communities.”
The U.N. report said that Iraq’s gay community is one of those targeted “for reasons other than ransom money,” and said that one local non-governmental organization reported that “members of Iraq’s small gay community had received more than 70 threats from kidnappers in the past two months, while 12 have been killed.”
The U.N. report quoted Mustafa Salim, spokesman for a local Iraqi gay organization called Rainbow for Life, as saying, “We’re trying to help these people, but it’s getting very difficult, and our organisation has been targeted twice since last month. We know for certain that those killed were targeted because of their sexual preferences.”
This U.N. report reinforces this reporter’s earlier exposé of the systematic campaign of kidnapping and murder targeting Iraqi gays following the death-to-gays fatwa issued last October by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani , spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslims (“Shia Death Squads Target Iraqi Gays,” GCN, March 23-29). That article attributed the sequestrations and killings of Iraqi gays to death squads of the Badr Corps, the Iranian-financed military arm of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country’s most powerful Shi’ite political group.
While the U.N. report does not mention the Badr Corps—no doubt for political reasons having to do with a desire not to offend Shi’a religious and political authorities—it does confirm that Iraqi gays are under serious and organized attack, as I had previously written in Gay City News.
P.S. In this week's issue of the famous French investigative-satirical weekly Le Canard Enchainé, an article by David Fontaine reprises and credits my original GCN report on the anti-gay Iraqi death squads (unfortunately, the article is not available on Le Canard's very limited website.).....And, in an important February 17 interview with Le Monde that was ignored by the English-language press, the fact that the salaries of the soldiers of the Badr Corps -- whose death squads are carrying out the "sexual cleansing" campaign of murder of gay Iraqis -- are paid by Iran, was confirmed by Ali Debbagh, a counselor to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a member of the Iraqi parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, and a university professor specializing in religious political parties.