As the murder campaign targeting Iraqi gays intensifies, a leading Arabic television network last week revealed the use of a horrifying new form of lethal torture against Iraqi gay men — anti-gay Shiite death squads are sealing their anuses with a powerful glue, then inducing diarrhea, which leads to a painful and agonizing death. The use of this stomach-turning new torture was first reported by the Al Arabiya network, which is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates and was alerted to the story by a leading Iraqi feminist and human rights activist.
Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), told Al Arabiya that the torture substance "is an Iranian-manufactured glue that, if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile telephones in Iraq."
Al Arabiya said its reporter confirmed the use of this anal torture by "visiting the Baghdad morgue in Bab-al-Moazaam in central Baghdad, where Neman Mohsen, the medical examiner, confirmed they have the bodies of seven homosexuals in the morgue. He said, ‘We were not able to identify the culprits, who dumped the bodies in front of the morgue and fled without being seen.’" A two-person team from Human Rights Watch (HRW) currently in Iraq to investigate persecution of LGBT people has also confirmed the use of this form of torture. In a widely-circulated email from Iraq, the head of HRW’s LGBT desk, Scott Long, said he and his colleague had gathered evidence which confirms the Al Arabiya report and that HRW would make its own detailed report after the organization’s two staffers return to the United States next week.
OWFI’s Mohammed, the woman responsible for gathering information about the use of this sadistic anal torture and passing it on to Al Arabiya, told Gay City News that "the story was so horrific that when I first heard it from gay friends I didn’t believe it. But then I investigated and found it was really true that the anuses of gay men were being glued shut." Speaking by telephone from Toronto, where she was on a brief visit to relatives before a scheduled return to Iraq next week, Mohammed told this reporter that, "Fortunately, Al Arabiya has a very good human rights reporter, to whom I told what I had found, and he was able to confirm it by visiting the morgue."
She said that "many older women in my organization were quite opposed to taking up the question of the persecution of homosexuals and didn’t understand why it was important. But I firmly believe that misogyny and homophobia are two sides of the same coin, and that we had a duty to speak out against the persecution of gays in Iraq, which is so little known that I was surprised by the extent of it when I began to look into it."
Mohammed, 49, is well known for her courageous human rights work. She co-founded OWFI in Baghdad in June 2003 in the wake of the U.S. invasion and occupation, and the organization has led campaigns against so-called honor killings, the abduction of women, and trafficking in women and children. She also co-founded Iraq’s first feminist newspaper, Al Mousawat (Equality), which has been published quarterly for the last three years. Trained as an architect, Mohammed told Gay City News she has abandoned that profession to work full time for OWFI. She has received numerous awards for her work for women’s rights and human rights, including the Eleanor Roosevelt Global Rights Award given by the US Feminist Majority Foundation.
Ali Hili, the 33-year-old gay Iraqi exile who coordinates the association Iraqi LGBT, which is headquartered in London but has members and informants throughout Iraq, told Gay City News that he has also been able to confirm the use of lethal anal torture. "We have had reports, increasingly over the last four or five days, about the use of this technique not just in Baghdad but in smaller town and cities all over Iraq," Hili said by telephone. "We have reports on seven young men who have been through this horrible experience in which they were arrested in the south of Iraq and had their anuses sealed, or ‘locked’ as the torturers say. Our sources told us that hospitals all over Iraq’s southern region have received so many cases of similar incidents where men have had their anuses glued, but that what makes the situation even worse and more lethal is that they have been refused treatment in hospitals when they sought it because of homophobia."
As of this week, Hili and Iraqi LGBT have documented 617 cases of assassinations of LGBT people since a death-to-all-gays fatwa was issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of all Shiite muslims in Iraq, in 2005. The murder campaign of "sexual cleansing" of homosexuals has intensified in recent months, with 70 new killings since December alone (see this reporter’s April 16-29 article, "Iraqi Gay Murders Surge; World Finally Takes Note").
Now, Hili says, "I have just received word of seven new murders of gays in one week, last week." He provided Gay City News with the names and towns of origin of the most recent victims of the anti-gay-death squads. They are Abbas Mosa, 33, from Al Hay; Saeed Majeed, 27, from Al Samawa; Jabar Khothayer, 19, from Al Dewaniya; Majed Alawi, 41, from Al Hindiya; Hazim Hussein, age unknown, from Al Najaf; Mohammed Qasim, 25, from Al Dewaniya; and Rama Sabri, 19, from Al Mohanawiya.
At the same time, the Iraqi news website niqash.org reported last week that "Al-Baghdadiya, a satellite television channel based in Cairo… broadcast a report on April 7 saying that 20 young men accused of homosexuality were taken to Ibn al-Nafis hospital in Baghdad with mutilated genitals."
Hili told Gay City News that much of the most recent wave of assassinations appears to be the work of the Mahdi Army, the militia led by fundamentalist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He said that one of Iraqi LGBT’s informants "is connected to high-ranking religious within the Mahdi Army, and he has been told of a campaign to target anyone who is suspected of being gay." Increasingly, Hili said, leaflets and "Wanted" posters are appearing with lists of men targeted to be killed for what are called "crimes against morality," meaning homosexuality. A list of Iraqi LGBT members to be eliminated is also circulating, Hili said, and he’s been told his own name is at the top of this list.
Hili also said that pharmacists have been reporting to the police about male customers who were regularly buying female hormones and cosmetic creams. In one such recent instance, two of these supposed transgendered men were arrested and taken to an unknown location, and have not been heard from since.
Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at http://direland.typepad.com/direland/.