Thursday, April 02, 2009

Iraq's LGBT community targeted with execution

The country Iraq, liberated by U.S. forces and purportedly on the road to democracy, is set to execute more than 100 prisoners accused of the crime of homosexuality, says a GLBT group headed by an exiled Iraqi gay man.
The charge comes from Iraqi LGBT, which is run from London by exiled gay Iraqi Ali Hili, according to a March 31 article posted at UK Gay News.
Hili claims that the prisoners face execution from the Iraqi government in groups of 20 starting this week.
A total of 128 Iraqis accused of being gay face death.
The group has posted a petition at its Web site to protest the reportedly imminent executions, and has issued an appeal to the United Kingdom and to the UN’s Human Rights Commission to exert political pressure on the Iraqi government to stop the executions from taking place.

The above is from Kilian Melloy's "U.S.-Backed Iraqi Government Set to Execute Gays" (Edge) and let's note it didn't have to be that way. No one forced the US to install fundamentalists. It was done because it was thought the thugs would be 'tough' with the people and allow the US to quickly focus on the Baghdad Year Zero tag sale they wanted. Kelvin Lynch (San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Examiner) notes:

According to the group, the men will be executed in batches of 20 starting this week. At least one of them is a member of Iraq LGBT. In fact, since the group was started, 17 of its members have been executed. The men were all convicted and sentenced to death by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), which the group says ignores international standards against torture, and consistently falls short of giving those arrested a fair trial. Iraqi LGBT says executions have been increasing at "an alarming rate since being reintroduced in 2004" and that men alleged to be gay have been unreasonably targeted by Iraqi police and the Badr and Sadr militia.

Lez Get Real posts a video on the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community. Doug Ireland has covered the targeting and attacks on the LGBT community in Iraq regularly over the last years. (His most recent report, however, focused on Iran, click here to read that.) He is one of the few name reporters who have followed the story. That's been moved to the top because it is urgent and it is a story that will get far less attention than what we were originally opening with.

The latest chapter in Marine Sgt. Ryan Weemer's unusual case started yesterday in a Camp Pendleton courtroom.
Weemer is charged with shooting to death an unarmed detainee while his unit battled through the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, Iraq, in late 2004. Two other members of his squad also have been accused of killing captives in the same incident.
During his opening statement, civilian defense attorney Paul Hackett told an all-male jury of Marine Corps officers that prosecutors can't prove Weemer murdered anyone. He said the shooting that took place stemmed from his client's self-defense after a senior Marine gave orders to do away with the detainees.
"This is not a case of revenge," Hackett said. "This is a tragic story that represents the reality of combat, the reality of war."
Marine Capt. Nicholas Gannon, the lead prosecutor, described the court-martial as focusing on the need to follow rules.
"This is a case about doing the right thing at the most critical time," he said.

The above is the opening to Rick Roger's "Marine's trial begins in '04 slaying in Iraq" (San Diego Union-Tribune). Paul Hackett was in Faulluja, of course, and he is the pro-War Hawk who is famous for two embarrassing incidents. He was supposed to be running for office in 2006 but then he withdrew and claimed/whined others went back on their promises to him (specifically Sherrod Brown) and dropped out of the race. He is also infamous for running after a group of young kids in a car, in the middle of the night, with a gun and frightening them to death as he played vigilante. It's the sort of disrespect for the law that can get an attorney's license pulled. Now he's defending Weemer but he's always defended all the war crimes in Falluja.

Weemer's accused of actions that took place November 9, 2004. Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) explains he's "charged with unpremeidated murder and dereliction of duty" and that he "told an investigator that he is tormented by the shooting and has tried to forget what happened that day in Fallouja in 2004, according to a tape-recording played Wednesday at his court-martial." On tape Weemer states he stormed a house, was ordered to kill an Iraqi, "I grabbed a gun and took him to the back of the house. I shot him twice in the chest."

Meanwhile AP notes (Chicago Tribune carries it) that 40 Indiana National Guard soldiers will be deploying for Iraq and that a ceremony will be held on Saturday. Justin Williams (Longmont Times-Call) notes Colorodao's Alexander Dawson High School teacher and baseball coach Jerrod Dailey will leave this month to serve in Iraq: "Jerrod Dailey was mindful that this day could arrive -- the day he'd have to leave everything behind. His newlywed wife. His three children. His friends. His close-knit baseball team that he'd helped build from the ground up."

The Kurdistan Regional Government issues the following press release:

The Kurdistan Region in brief

The Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region in federal Iraq. It borders Syria to the west, Iran to the east, and Turkey to the north, where fertile plains meet the Zagros mountains, and is traversed by the Tigris, Big Zab, and Little Zab rivers.

Area: 40,643 square kilometres [1]

Population: 3,757,058 [2]

Capital city: Erbil (also known as Hewler)

Languages: mainly Kurdish; Turkmani, Arabic, Armenian, and Assyrian in some areas.

Currency: Iraqi Dinar (IQD).

A few facts about the Kurdistan Region in Iraq

This is also available as a downloadable fact sheet

  • With a population of currently around 4 million and rapidly increasing, the three governorates of Duhok, Erbil and Suleimaniah cover approximately 40,000 square kilometres - four times the area of Lebanon and larger than that of the Netherlands.

  • The Region is geographically diverse, from hot plains to cooler mountainous areas blessed with natural springs where snow falls in the winter.

  • Since March 2003 not a single coalition soldier has died nor a single foreigner been kidnapped in the areas administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

  • The capital and seat of the Kurdistan Regional Government is Erbil, a city known locally as Hawler.

  • The Citadel in Erbil is said to be the longest continually inhabited place in the world.

  • The Kurdistan Regional Government exercises executive power according to the Kurdistan Region’s laws as enacted by the democratically elected Kurdistan National Assembly. The current government, led by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, assumed office on 7 May 2006.

  • Iraq’s Constitution recognises the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Kurdistan National Assembly and the Peshmerga guard as the legitimate regional forces.

  • The current coalition government consists of several political parties that reflect the diversity of the Region’s people, who are Chaldeans, Assyrians, Turkmen, Yazidis and Kurds living together in harmony and tolerance.

  • Since the Anfal genocide campaign by Saddam Hussein’s Regime in the 1980s, more than 65% of the razed villages have been rebuilt by the Regional Administration.

  • The Kurdish language is distinct and is in the family of Iranian languages, such as Persian and Pashto. There are two main dialects, Sorani and Kurmanji.

  • The Kurdistan Region has seven universities, including the English language University of Kurdistan-Hawler in Erbil which opened in September 2006, and the American University of Iraq in Suleimaniah which started its first programme in autumn 2007.


    [1] KRG-administered territory only. Compiled by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) from various national and regional sources: International Boundaries from National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) Digital Chart of the World (DCW). The primary source for the DCW database is the Operational Navigation Chart series co-produced by the military mapping authorities of Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States.

    [2] According to Oil-for-Food Distribution Plan, approved by the UN, December 2002.

  • And Iraq's Foreign Ministry notes another of their all male ambassadors (they only have male ambassadors and no one's ever thought to press Nouri al-Maliki on that, have they?):

    Iraqi Charge D'affaires in Serbia Meets Serbian Minister of Trade

    Mr. Yahya Salih Mahdi , Interim Iraqi charge d'affaires in Belgrade met with, Mr. Slobodan Milosa, Serbian Minister of Trade on 25/3/2009 to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

    The Iraqi Charge d'affaires stressed the need for serious and fruitful cooperation between the two countries, mentioning the great opportunities for Serbian companies for investment and reconstruction in Iraq, referring to the willingness of the Government of Iraq to cooperate with friendly countries, including Serbia to promote trade in various forms, explaining that it is time to activate the relations in all areas and the need for exchange of visits between officials of the two countries.

    On his part, the Serbian Trade Minister welcomed Mr. Mahdi and stressed the importance of bilateral cooperation between the two countries and expressed the readiness of his ministry to activate trade at all levels and also expressed the readiness of Serbia for the exchange of visits at the ministerial level stating that he is ready to visit Baghdad at the beginning of next summer on a head of a large delegation to develop relations between the two countries.

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