A recent wave of violence in Iraq has resulted in the kidnapping, torture, and killing of about 40 people perceived to be gay or lesbian, with the murder weapon sometimes being a concrete block to the head.
The killings began in early February after an unidentified group put up posters with death threats against “adulterous individuals” in largely Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and Basra, reports the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. The threats listed the targets’ names and ages, and gave them four days to change their behavior or face divine retribution.
Some of the murders have been carried out by smashing the victims’ skulls with concrete blocks or pushing them off roofs of tall buildings, says a report from two other groups, the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and Iraqi LGBT.
IGLHRC officials further report, “The Iraqi authorities have neither responded to this targeted violence nor have they publicly denounced it. It is widely believed that these atrocities are being committed by a group of the Shiite militia.”
There was a wave of targeted killings of people believed to be gay or lesbian in 2009 as well, the organization notes. Such crimes “must not be tolerated in a new Iraq,” says IGLHRC executive director Cary Alan Johnson in a statement on the group’s website. As “a fully sovereign and democratic country,” Iraq “must protect all of its citizens including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from hate-filled violence and death at the hands of armed militias,” he says.
An online statement from the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and Iraqi LGBT calls on “all freedom-lovers of the world, the women’s and human rights organization and governments in the advanced world” to pressure the Iraqi government to protect its LGBT citizens. It also demands a full investigation into the campaign of violence and “full punishment” for the perpetrators.