Friday, June 5, 2009

Obama and Clinton Accused of Inaction As Iraqi LGBT Torture and Murder Continue

The Iraqi LGBT population have been suffering from severe persecution ever since the US invaded Iraq, exposing them to torture and murder.

Back in April, Colorado Rep. Jared Polis sent a letter to the chargĂ© d’affaires at the US embassy in Iraq about the situation and as a result, recently had the opportunity to meet with them.

It didn't go so well. LGBT Asylum News and Iraqi LGBT issued the following press release:
Iraqi gays condemn Obama/Clinton inaction on pogrom
Embassy statement 'offensive and insulting'

Iraqi lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT) has spoken of their deep anger and offence at a statement by the Baghdad US Embassy concerning the violence and murder campaign against gays.

In a response to US Rep. Jared Polis, following a meeting with Iraqi government officials, chargĂ© d’affaires Patricia Butenis said "We have no evidence that [the Iraq government's] security forces are in any way involved with these militias."

Iraqi LGBT has been reporting for four years on police involvement with the terror campaign.

Group members speaking from Iraq said that they are "fed up with such 'political' words" and that the Americans are doing nothing to stop the terror campaign against them. They believe that the priority for Hillary Clinton's State Department and Obama's administration is to not upset the Iraqi government as they have no other allies within the country.

They believe that no-one is trying to help them and feel that the current timid diplomacy "will not do much good".

"These words from the American embassy officials are insulting to us, and to those many friends of ours who have murdered. This statement is evidence that the Iraqi government is doing nothing to protect its citizens."

"They are responsible for these crimes through bringing no one to justice, refusing to acknowledge their police's involvement and providing no rights for Iraqi LGBT in law."

"People should not forget that what's happening in Iraq right now is a direct result of the unlawful US invasion."

Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch’s LGBT Rights Program, has also criticism the State Department. In an interview with EdgeBoston, responding to State spokesperson John T. Fleming's pointed statement that 'homosexuality is not a crime in Iraq', Long responded that the fact that homosexuality is not a crime punishable by death "would be an interesting fact if the law, or the rule of law, mattered in Iraq."

Long has just returned from a fact-finding mission to Iraq where he spoke to 25 survivors from Baghdad and other cities, including Najaf, Basra and Samarra.

As a consequence of what they found, Human Rights Watch has been organizing ways for as many LGBT Iraqis as possible to get out of the country.

Colorado U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who has spoken about Iraqi government involvement with the violence, has written with Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank to U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill.

"As LGBT Americans and co-chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, we are disturbed and shocked at allegations that Ministry of the Interior Security Forces may be involved in the mass persecution and execution of LGBT Iraqis ... The persecution of Iraqis based on sexual orientation or gender identity is escalating and is unacceptable regardless of whether these policies are extrajudicial or state-sanctioned."

The letter called on the U.S. embassy in Iraq to "prioritize the investigation" of the allegations and work with the Iraqi government to end the executions of LGBT Iraqis. Polis is drafting another letter that would be signed by more members of Congress and sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
So let me get this right. This is the same embassy who decided to throw a "first-ever U.S. Embassy Gay Pride Theme Party" blocks away from persecuted LGBT a couple weeks ago?

Unfortunately, by this point, their insensitivity is not shocking but something to be expected.

I was honored to have the chance to speak in front of the Los Angeles City Council about this issue and witnessed as they passed a resolution condemning the persecution last month, but it doesn't seem to have made a dent in our government's reaction to the crisis.

The day after the resolution passed, my friend Mike Bonin, Chief of Staff to LA City Councilmember Rosendahl, directly asked Vice President Biden what was being done about the persecution, but the answer wasn't all that encouraging. Came down to, "Not much."


I implore you to:
  1. Contact the Embassy and tell them to launch a formal investigation into the Iraqi's government involvement and to demand the Obama administration to act.
  2. Contact Secretary of State Clinton and demand action to put an end to this!
  3. Sign this petition going to the President and US Congress demanding an investigation to the torture and murder.
  4. Join this Facebook group to stay involved, to be informed and to show support for Iraqi LGBT.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your support. It really means something for the people in Iraq to know that others are aware of their plight and trying to do something about it.