Friday, June 12, 2009

Gay City News: Bush State Dept

Ignored Iraqi Gay Murders

(At least three men suspected of being gay were gunned down March 20, 2006, in the Iraqi city of Ramadi. Photo by Bilal Hussein/AP)

Please, stop right now and make a promise to read all of Duncan Osborn's revelatory article in the new issue of Gay City News, along with the actual meager documents he pried loose from our State Department.

What he reports, ain't a pretty picture, but it provides us with a window, looking where we've come from, in terms of USA gay NGOs and the torture and murder of gay Iraqis.

Let use the lessons of this story, that non-engagement is unacceptable, to work now on behalf of Iraqi gay refugees.

Thank you, Duncan, for doing the global gay community a big favor in filing your FOIA request. I salute you.

From Gay City News:
As concern over the killings of gay Iraqis grew in 2006 and 2007, the US Department of State appears to have done little more than develop media talking points and squabble over who at that agency should handle press interviews. ...

Writing in Gay City News, Doug Ireland first broke the story in March of 2006 that Iraqi gays were being killed by death squads. Ireland and other gay press outlets continued covering the story in 2006 and into 2007, with the mainstream press offering occasional stories. The killings and the gay press reports on them have continued into 2009.

In September 2007 –– nearly two years ago –– Gay City News sent a Freedom of Information request to the State Department that sought all records “that relate to or identify homicides, assaults, or other violent acts committed against homosexual persons in Iraq.”

On May 26 of this year, the department responded, releasing two documents, totaling nine pages, that represent all the records that agency compiled from March 1, 2003, roughly the start of the Iraq War, through the date of the records request. No documents were withheld and only a small portion of the released documents was blacked out.

Two pages consist of a letter, dated March of 2007, from Senator Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, to the department that forwarded an email from a constituent who was concerned about the killings.

The other seven pages are mostly internal emails –– three pages are a 2006 Washington Blade story on the killings –– with one from September 2006 and the rest from 2007.

The earliest State Department email was from a Larilyn Reffet, a staffer based in Baghdad, to other staff. Reffet noted that she had reached out to gay groups and received one initial response, but nothing more. It was not clear from her email if just Iraqi gay groups did not respond, or gay groups outside of Iraq also ignored her.

Contained in her email is the text of a 2006 letter that was sent to Paula Ettelbrick, then IGLHRC’s executive director, in response to a letter about the killings that Ettelbrick sent to the department. The department appeared to rebuff Ettelbrick in that letter. ...
Click here and read the entire story.

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