Monday, April 13, 2009

HRW Going to Iraq Over Gay Murders;

Polis Writes State Department

The staffer at Human Rights Watch responsible for gay issues, Scott Long, recently emailed me in response to my concerns regarding the killings of gay men in Iraq, and the silence of his organization, HRC, NGLTF and IGLHRC. This was our brief exchange:

Sent: Sun, 12 Apr 2009 12:36 pm
Subject: Re: Denver Post: Gay Iraqi killings shouldn't be ignored

We are going to Iraq next week. See you afterward.



Will HRW be putting out a release this week about any actions your group is taking about the murders? I have not received any alerts from HRW about the killing of gays in Baghdad. Lemme know if you've got a statement out there about the attacks on gay Iraqis.


Why, Michael, would we put out a release while we are doing a mission to Iraq? That would be not be a wise thing to do. There are urgent security issues for the people we are working with. And getting people to safety overrides a US-felt need for statements. There are statements out there already; there will be time for one when we are back; we are doing a different kind of work.


Scott Long is quite fond of putting out statements on public listservs invoking security concerns as the reason why he can't give any more information or his organization is basically silent on a given global gay matter. It's all part of his gatekeeping role he's created for himself, and which keeps him from being visible, more effective and open to accountability. He is quite the diva in such things, but we will all overlook his arrogance once HRW releases its findings on the gay Iraqi murders.

And bravo to HRW for sending investigators over to Iraq about the murder of homosexuals. To me, that is worth heralding.

In a related and welcomed development gay Congressman Jared Polis is showing fine visibility and leadership on gay Iraqis. He's not only sent a letter to the US embassy in Baghdad demanding an investigation, posted here, he's also put this release up on his site:

Washington, Apr 13 - In response to recent reports of the death and persecution of gays in Iraq, Congressman Jared Polis (CO-2) called for an investigation into “egregious human rights violations” carried out against gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender (GLBT) Iraqis while meeting with US and Iraqi officials on a Congressional Delegation visit to Baghdad, Iraq this week.

“The United States should not tolerate human rights violations of any kind, especially by a government that Americans spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year supporting,” said Polis. “Hopefully my trip and letters to US and Iraqi officials will help bring international attention and investigation to this terrible situation and bring an end to any such offenses.”

CNN and the New York Times have recently reported the increased violence against GLBT Iraqis and that Iraqi police have begun a crackdown on homosexuals — whose status is illegal in Iraq — and that influential clerics have urged that they be sought out and killed. ...

"We will now wait and see whether the Iraqi government is serious about protecting the human rights of all Iraqis and what role our own State Department can play in helping to protect this minority in Iraq," said Polis. “I am most disturbed by allegations that Iraqi government itself may be involved in the persecutions. This warrants an immediate investigation from both American and Iraqi governments.”

It's good to have HRW and a congressman looking at the deaths of gays in the slums of Baghdad.

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