Ali Hili is an Iraqi attempting to help other LGBT Iraqis and fighting for his own right of asylum in England. He shares his story with the New Internationalist:
I used to work as a DJ at the 1001 nightclub in Baghdad at the al-Rashid hotel. I started working there when I won a DJ contest in 1987. It was a great scene -- lots of dance parties -- and a hang-out for the gay community.
When I was 18, I had a partner who was a foreign diplomat. Iraqi intelligence forced me to become a spy and report back to them, threatening that they would kill my family if I didn't.
This went on for almost 10 years. I wanted to leave. I tried to escape once via Kurdistan but was arrested and handed over to Iraqi police. I used my connections to escape a jail sentence. The police asked me, why do you want to leave? I said life was hard under sanctions and I couldn't make a living. So they sent me to Dubai to work for them. There I met my current partner -- a Texan. I explained the situation to him and he understood. I started to get harassed by the mukhabarat [secret police] -- they wanted information from me. We tried to escape to Dubai via the US embassy and were able to get to Europe. Eventually after many difficulties -- constant threats from Iraqi secret police, several failed attempts and many traumatic incidents (including being nearly deported back to Iraq) -- I made it to England in 2002. My partner had a job there. For the last seven years I’ve been fighting for the right to stay and seeking political asylum. I’ve been refused a couple of times already. I was granted permission to stay until 2008 but that's expired. I’ve received a death fatwa against me from the Ayatollah Sistani in response to my activist work for gays in Iraq. The group that kidnapped British hostages, Assab Alsar Al-Haq (The League of the Righteous), has also threatened me. Now I'm under police protection, moving from house to house. But even the police said to me: 'You have created this situation. You scream and shout against fundamentalists and they will threaten you. What do you expect?'
The irony is that the situation for gays has been caused by the Anglo-American invasion. The fatwas were issued by people empowered by the invasion. Now Britain should take responsibility for protecting their victims. Some people in Iraq are targeted because they are doctors, or Sunnis or Shi'as or women or Christians. But no-one is talking about the killing of gays by the fundamentalist militias. One of my best friends -- a transsexual -- was murdered by a militia from the Ministry of the Interior. They beat her and then set her on fire.
That's an excerpt. Iraq's LGBT community is among the many who have been targeted. The Jewish community and Christian community have been targeted as well. On the topic of Iraqi Christians, Cristina Odone's "While we wouldn't dare say 'boo' to a Muslim here, Christians are persecuted in a Muslim Country" (Telegraph of London) addresses the silence that is the response to so many assaults on Iraqi Christians:
A bus carrying 80 Christian students to their university in northern Iraq was bombed on 2 May. According to the Washington Post, the most startling thing about the report was that young Christians could attend university at all. Since 2003, Iraq's Christian community has been subjected to assassinations, kidnappings, extortions and rapes. Over half of the estimated 1.5 million Christians in Iraq (less than 4 per cent of the population) have fled to Syria, Jordan and elsewhere. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has branded Iraq's religious persecution “of particular concern”, and called on the Obama administration to intervene before the ancient religious communities (some still praying in Aramaic) are exterminated.
Last year the Iraq Inquiry began conducting hearings in London. The hearings continued this year and have included testimony from former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (Brown was then-Prime Minister when he offered testimony). The hope/plan on the part of the Brown government was that such testimony, if taken, would be taken in private. Instead, public demand and John Chilcot (who chairs the committee) ensured that testimony from Brown and Blair took place in public. While the UK gets an Inquiry, the US gets nothing but no one is ever supposed to notice that. The Committee released the following statement today:
Members of the Iraq Inquiry committee have arrived in the United States to speak to officials and military officers from the current and former administrations. The committee is in the US for five days visiting Washington DC and Boston. They will have private discussions with a number of people who have insights into the UK’s involvement in Iraq over the period being examined by the Inquiry.
As the talks are being held on a private basis, the identities of the people the Inquiry committee are seeing and the location of meetings will not be revealed in advance. Subject to the agreement of participants, the Inquiry may provide more details about the trip after it has been completed. Similarly, if the committee wishes to use any of the information it receives from individuals in America in its report, it will seek their permission first.
The trip to the United States follows a one-day visit to Paris on Tuesday 4 May, where the Iraq Inquiry committee met a number of French citizens who provided perspectives on international issues in the lead-up to and during the conflict in Iraq. They included Dominique de Villepin (French Minister of Foreign Affairs 2002-2004), Jean David Levitte (French Permanent Representative to the UN 2000- 2002 and then Ambassador to the US from 2002 to 2007), Gerard Errera (French Ambassador to London 2002- 2007), General Henri Bentegeat (Chief of the Military Staff to the President 1999- 2002 and then Chief of the Defence Staff 2002-2006) and Jean-Luc Florent (French UN legal advisor). The committee also saw Maurice Gourdault-Montagne (Senior Diplomatic Counsellor to the President 2002-2007, and currently the French Ambassador to the UK) in London.
Since finishing the first round of public hearings in March, the Iraq Inquiry has been analysing the witness testimonies obtained during the hearings, as well as continuing to examine many thousands of highly classified government documents. The next round of public hearings is due to start in the summer. Hearing dates and details of witnesses will be released soon.
March 7th, Iraq held elections (early voting started a few days before that). Ayad Allawi's political slate Iraqiya won the most seats in Parliament (91), followed by Nouri al-Maliki's State Of Law (89). Nouri then worked overtime to discredit Allawi's win while he went to work circumventing the Constitution by forming his own coalition. This morning the New York Times editorial board notes:
Even though his Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition won the most votes, Mr. Allawi is considered a long shot to become the next prime minister. That's because Mr. Maliki's coalition has aligned with the other major Shiite coalition, which is friendly to Iran. Four seats short of a majority, it is the biggest bloc in the new Parliament. (Mr. Maliki seemed to lose enthusiasm for election challenges after he forged this alliance.)
Iraq's leaders should look beyond their sectarian and ethnic bases and show the skill and vision to govern all of their people. Iraqis unhelpfully voted mainly along sectarian and ethnic lines. But they also gave Mr. Allawi significant representation that needs to be reflected in the government. Sunnis need a reason to stay in the political process and not turn to violence as many did after the last parliamentary election in 2005.
In Iraq, violence continues. Reuters notes yesterday's violence included a woman shot dead in Mosul, another Mosul shooting in which one person was wounded and a Mosul roadside bombing in which two women were injured. Meanwhile Alsumaria TV reports, "Iraq Ministry of Oil said that it signed a contract with state-run China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) and its partner, the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation, known as TPAO in order to develop three oil fields in Missan Province. The deal comes in the framework of the efforts exerted in order to lift Iraq oil production." Wan Zhihong (China Daily) adds, "The two companies have bagged a 20-year technical services contract to increase the output of the Missan oilfields, located 350 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, to 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) over the next six years, Cnooc said in a statement. Earlier media reports said the current production of the fields is 100,000 barrels per day." Kadhim Ajrash and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) remind, "The agreement was part of the first of two licensing rounds in 2009 which brought international oil producers into Iraq for the first time since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein."
Human rights and international law professor Francis A. Boyle was a guest on Law & Disorder yesterday. Or "a guest this week" if it hasn't aired in your area. I'll try to pull it in to today's snapshot. If not today, we'll grab it later in the week. (Wednesday will probably be out due to Congressional hearings that may be included in that day's snapshot. For Janet Napolitano's ridiculous testimony yesterday, see my column in today's Hilda's Mix.)
Between now and July, I hope we'll be able to note this from Peace of the Action again in full:
Sizzlin’ Summer Protest
Peace of the Action
Start Summer off with a Bang!
4th of July
Peace of the Action will be meeting in Lafayette Park (North Side of White House) at 1pm to pass out Peace Literature to the people who flock to DC for the Nation’s Birthday.
The Wars Drone On and On
Monday, July 5th to Friday, July 9th
We will meet in Lafayette Park everyday at 9:30am to begin our days’ protests.
For this week, Peace of the Action will be targeting the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle display (and educating the public about the horrific toll UAVs take) and drone manufacturers and lobbyists.
Also, on each day, we will be reconvening at Lafayette Park at 3pm to do a little protest in front of the White House—the main focus is to inform tourists, etc, that while the face of the resident of the White House may have changed, the policies have not!
Saturday, July 10th is Cindy Sheehan’s birthday and we are going to use this as an excuse to PARTAY! Everything is usually so serious and somber, because we are dealing with serious and somber issues—but it’s good to let our hair down every once in awhile.
Place and Time for the bash TBA
Hands off our Kids!
Monday, July 12 to Friday, July 16
For this week, we will be targeting recruiting centers and defense contractors and lobbyists—and we will do some special “lobbying” of our own on Capitol Hill.
Again, we will meet in Lafayette Park everyday at 9:30am, go to our protest site from there, and return to the park at 3pm to spread some Peace literature to our fellow Americans.
Saturday, July 17th
1pm to 6pm POTA RETREAT
This will be an intense five-hour think tank session on the future of Peace of the Action and the future of anti-war protests in the U.S.
With small numbers, where should our limited resources be focused?
We have to dream up an entire movement based on very low numbers and very limited funds—bring your creative solutions and a positive attitude that a better world is possible!
7pm to ? Concert and Party (Details to follow).
IMPORTANT INFO FOR SUMMER POTA
HOUSING WILL ONCE AGAIN BE PROVIDED AT ST. STEPHEN’S
1525 NEWTON ST, NW
(CORNER OF 16TH AND NEWTON)
BREAKFAST AND LUNCH ARE UP TO THE PARTICIPANT AND POTA WILL PROVIDE DINNER EACH NIGHT. DINNER WILL BE AT 6PM (SHARP) EACH NIGHT
TRANSPORTATION TO THE PARK AND TO EVENTS IS UP TO EACH PARTICIPANT. WE WILL BE TRAVELING TO EVENTS AS A GROUP AND THE EVENTS SHOULD NOT BE TOO FAR FROM LAFAYETTE PARK
POTA BELIEVES THAT CIVIL RESISTANCE IS THE CORE OF TRUE CHANGE, BUT ONLY IF THE NUMBERS ARE SUFFICIENT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. SO, SINCE OUR NUMBERS ARE SMALL, CIVIL RESISTANCE WILL MORE THAN LIKELY NOT BE A PART OF SUMMER POTA—EDUCATION AND MOVEMENT BUILDING WILL BE OUR MAIN FOCUS
LAFAYETTE PARK WILL BE OUR MAIN CONVERGENCE SPACE FOR THE TWO WEEKS
EVENINGS WILL BE RESERVED FOR THE POTA CORE TEAM TO BLOG AND POST VIDEO AND DO OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE TASKS—IF YOU ARE A VIDEOGRAPHER OR BLOGGER, WE COULD USE YOUR HELP—USING ONLINE TOOLS WILL BE THE KEY TO MOVEMENT BUILDING
DRINK LOTS OF WATER—JULY IN DC IS HOT, HOT, HOT!
FOR MORE INFORMATION, OR TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT FOR SIZZLIN’ SUMMER FUN, EMAIL:
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
the new internationalist
the telegraph of london
the new york times
law and disorder
francis a. boyle
peace of the action