BAGHDAD, Iraq — Extreme Islamic militia groups operating in Baghdad, Basra, Al-Sadr City and in the Al-Habibea region of Iraq have killed as many as 56, and possibly as high as one hundred, young gay and lesbian Iraqis, according to officials in the Iraqi Interior Ministry and international LGBT activists.
Iraqi Human Equality Rights activist Yanar Mohammed told LGBTQ Nation the first wave of killings took place on Feb. 6 in Basra, and have continued with the Shia militias using building concrete blocks — hitting their victims over the head and bashing body parts repeatedly causing death — or in some cases in the city of Basra, pushing the victims off the roofs of high buildings.
LGBT activist and freelance journalist Dan Littauer, editor of the website GayMiddleEast news, reported Friday that “Emos” have been targeted in particular. Emo is short for “emotional hardcore” or “emocore,” and is a U.S.-originated punk-rock music that appeared in the 1980s attracting mostly teenagers.
Bissam, a blogger with GayMiddleEast said that in Iraq, “it is commonly assumed that most emos are ‘fags,’ feminine (in the case of boys) or masculine (in the case of girls), and Satan worshipers. Girls wearing short skirts, tight trousers (called ‘stretch’) are also singled out as morally corrupt and therefore legitimate targets.”
According to The New York Times, an Interior Ministry security officer confirmed that the past two weeks, officials had found the bodies of six young men whose skulls had been crushed. Reuters reported the toll to be 14 or more, citing hospital and security officials, while rights groups say that more than 40 young men have been killed, but have provided no evidence for this figure.
In Baghdad, however, local media reported massacres of Emo youth and LGBT people occurring in the districts of Sadr, Chaala, Albaladiat, Baghdad Al-Jadedah, Karadah and Kadhymia, and that the number of victims claimed ranged from 56 to 100.
The Associated Press reported Sunday that a recent list distributed by militants in Baghdad’s Shiite Sadr City neighborhood gives the names or nicknames of 33 people and their home addresses. At the top of the list is a drawing of two handguns flanking a Quranic greeting that extolls God as merciful and compassionate.
According to Littauer, a note at the top of the list warns: “In the name of Allah. We strongly warn you, every licentious man or woman: if you didn’t stop this dirty behavior in four days then the punishment of Allah will be accomplished by the hands of Almojahdeen.”
Littauer reported that the list was released by the AAH (Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq), a Shia militia group.
Littauer told LGBTQ Nation that sources said the Iraqi Interior Ministry allegedly knew about this note but failed to protect the people named. He reports that an officer in the interior ministry told an Iraqi source of GayMiddleEast that a week ago a man was reported to the police having made death threats using his mobile phone to 12 emo youths. A youth’s family entrapped him and found out he had a list of the 12 youths stored in his mobile phone.
The man was identified as a member of JAH (Jaish al-Mahdi, an Iraqi paramilitary force created by the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr), working in the militia’s headquarters in Al-Sadr city.
According to the officer, the family reported this to the police who declined to take any action against the man and telling the family that ‘the matter should be resolved between tribal elders’.
The officer in the interior ministry is also reported to have said that the ministry had independently compiled a list of emo youths.
“There is a strong wave of campaigns by clerics against homosexuals now,” said Ali al-Hilli, chairman of Iraqi LGBT, a human rights group based in London that provides two safe houses in Iraq for gays. “The police do not provide protection for them.”
The Iraqi Islamic extremists believe that a “model” Muslim family must consist of a man and a woman, and “is the cornerstone of building a pious Islamic society.”
The family institution is entirely ruled and controlled by the men and under such a model, the Islamic extremists command a death sentence against all who do not fit under that religious description of a family particularly LGBTQ people.
Cary Alan Johnson, the Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said in a news release last week:
“The Government of Iraq represents a fully sovereign and democratic country. As such, it 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.
Vigilantes who perpetuate the targeted killing of those perceived to be gay or lesbian must not be tolerated in a new Iraq. We have seen these atrocities before.
In 2009 vigilantes murdered hundreds of Iraqi individuals for their perceived sexual orientation. There are no excuses for such heinous human rights violations. We demand that the Iraqi Government put a stop to the wanton persecution and killing of gay people, and that the perpetrators punished.”
When contacted by LGBTQ Nation, the press officer for the Iraqi Embassy in Washington D. C. said that the embassy would have no comment.