Saturday, August 01, 2009

Foreign Office Releases 51 Pages
on Iraqi Gay Violence

Dear Friends,

My recent Freedom of Information request to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London has produced some important files, that were released on paper. Unfortunately, I don't have them in electronic format, but will be able to post them as a PDF on Monday, when my partner goes to his office.

In any event, I made select friends and reporters aware of the files, and some of what's in them, in a few emails today. Because of physical pain, I had to take pain meds today, so my emails and this post were written while under the influence. Forgive any errors.

One reporter, Rex Wockner, asked if he could share excerpts of my notes, and I figured it best to also post the excerpts here, before he sent them around.

One thing that was in the 51 pages from the FCO that is on the web is a nine-page "Iraqi anti-LGBT porgrom" report from Ali Hili of Iraqi LGBT. He has not posted this to his blog, but a colleague shared the report on his site. They are alleging that there are reports out there about Iraqi lesbians in five towns are being burned to death.

If Hili and his colleague can produce those reports, I'll link to them, but until then, I take their claim with a large dose of skepticism.

Here is some of what I said in my emails today:

To: reporters & activists

hi all,

you know what they say: human see, human do. after duncan osborne of gay city news pried loose a few pages on gay iraqi torture and murder from the state department, i copied his example and sent off a freedom of info request to the foreign office in london, asking for similar files.

today's mail brought a packet from the foreign office, with 51 pages of records on this subject. (would have been nice of them to release it all in electronic format, but at least we have the records on dead tree.)



From Sat Aug 1 21:28:12 2009

having now read the 51 pages, i offer some highlights and questions.

1. on april 13, 2009, british officials in baghdad met with iraqi minister of human rights, wijdan michael, to discuss death penalty and gay issues. the files show conflicting assessment of the minister's concerns and approaches to gays. i don't recall it being reported anywhere that this meeting took place, or that a one-pager was prepared after the meeting took place, detailing what was discussed. googling turns up nothing about the meeting. has it been reported on?

2. a may 6, 2009, email that is four pages long, details an undated meeting FCO had with NGOs in london about the gay torture/kilings. present were reps of IRAQI LGBT, HRW, IGLHRC and amnesty, whose names are redacted. discussion focused the problems, potential solutions including using the BBC services to air messages of tolerance, compiling gay data from iraq that should be shared with UK border agency to help with the ayslum claims made by gay iraqis. mentions that cruising areas have existed since the 1960s in baghdad and basra.

3. in may 2009 UK was pushing EU to issue statement about the death penalty in general and torture of gays. did the EU issue the statement? the draft looks good and i believe it would have garnered some attention.

4. ali sent a nine page 'iraqi anti LGBT pogrom' report, dated may 24, 2009, to the FCO. [...] it's a bit confusing, but makes for an ok summary of recent violence and reactions to it. and it's not been posted to ali's web site:

however, it was posted in may at paul canning's blog, including this startling claim:

"Lesbians are reported as being burned to death in Kadhimiya, Hurriya Al-Olaa, Hurriya Al-Thaniya, Dolaai and Dabaash."

web source:

[...] ali and paul claim lesbians in five iraqi towns are reportedly being burned to death, and offer no proof [...] but also they bury the claim in the nine pages. i could also argue that if true, ali and paul should have made a stink about it to the FCO [...]

there are many emails about iraqi penal code on gays, whether a law exists applying death to members of banned groups as claimed by ali hili, FCO has spoken with state dept about these issues, whether to prioritize antigay crimes after NYT article appeared this year, ali hili claims 617 reports of murder but no proof is cited


anyway, my gut tells me there's enough new info and details in the 51 pages to generate a mainstream news story and certainly gay press attention. i'll worry about getting all pages in PDF and up to the web next week.


yes, i'm committed to sharing the files. so lemme know if i missed the stories about the FCO/iraqi human rights minister or FCO/NGO meetings. really think those two events are newsworthy.

best regards, michael

p.s. i sent off an email to FCO last week about my request, before knowing, obviously, that this packet was in the mail to me. i plan to be in touch on monday with my contact there about the other pages they found responsive to my request and are now being reviewed. i want a sense of how many more pages were found and under review, and hopefully released.


paulocanning said...

Regarding 'They are alleging that there are reports out there about Iraqi lesbians in five towns are being burned to death.'

Below the pogrom report there are links to sources. At the top it says 'The following report - sourced from all media reports, agency, organisation and representative statements concerning the pogrom ...'

Yet you say 'If Hili and his colleague can produce those reports, I'll link to them, but until then, I take their claim with a large dose of skepticism.'

Unknown said...

after i asked paul to simply source his claim, he sent this reply:

Try googling Lesbians Kadhimiya, Hurriya Al-Olaa, Hurriya Al-Thaniya, Dolaai and Dabaash.


instead of just properly sourcing and footnoting the report he wrote for IRAQI LGBT, paul wants me, and all readers of his blog, to take extra steps to find the source media for his claim.

that to me is the sign of a sloppy activist who can't be bothered to either directly link the text to the source, or do the usual sourcing of [1] = source link.

nope, paul will do little to make his sources easy to find.