LONDON, March 30, 2009 � Ground Zero for the so-called 'war on terror' is a nation where gays and lesbians live in real terror every day. Among the suffering of gay Iraqis is the regular threat (and carrying out) of rape and murder. In July, CNN reported on the case of a young gay man abducted for ransom and raped daily for more than two weeks.
More than 100 prisoners in Iraq are facing execution. Many of them, says an underground gay rights organization in the country, are believed to have been convicted of the 'crime' of being gay, the UK-based Iraqi-LGBT group revealed this afternoon.
According to Ali Hili of Iraqi-LGBT, the Iraqi authorities plan to start executing them in batches of 20 from this week. There is, said Hili, at least one member of Iraqi-LGBT who are among those to be put to death.
And the London-based group, which believes that a total of 128 executions are imminent, is calling on the UK Government, international human rights groups and the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva to intervene "with due speed" to prevent "this tragic miscarriage of justice" from going ahead.
"We have information and reports on members of our community whom been arrested and waiting for execution for the crimes of homosexuality," Mr Hili told UK Gay News.
"Iraqi-LGBT has been banned from running activities on Iraqi soil," he revealed.
"Raids by the Iraqi police and Ministry of Interior forces cost our group [to the extent of] disappearing and killing of 17 members working for Iraqi-LGBT since 2005.
"[Use of] The death penalty has been increasing at an alarming rate in Iraq since the new Iraqi regime reintroduced it in August 2004.
"In 2008, at least 285 people were sentenced to death, and at least 34 executed. In 2007 at least 199 people were sentenced to death and 33 were executed, while in 2006 at least 65 people were put to death.
"The actual figures," Mr. Hili suggested, "could be much higher as there are no official statistics for the number of prisoners facing execution."
Iraqi-LGBT is concerned that the Iraqi authorities have not disclosed the identities of those facing imminent execution, stoking fears that many of them may have been sentenced to death after trials that failed to satisfy international standards for fair trial.
Most are likely to have been sentenced to death by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), whose proceedings consistently fall short of international standards for fair trial, Mr. Hili said.
"Allegations of torture are not being investigated adequately or at all by the CCCI. Torture of detainees held by Iraqi security forces remains rife.
"Iraq's creaking judicial system is simply unable to guarantee fair trials in ordinary criminal cases, and even less so in capital cases, with the result, we fear, that numerous people have gone to their death after unfair trials.
"The Iraqi government must order an immediate halt to these executions and establish a moratorium on all further executions in Iraq, particularly since due process cannot be guaranteed.
"The state executing people for 'morals' crimes is also obviously unacceptable and deplorable, "he said.
Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi authorities to make public all information pertaining to the 128 people, including their full names, details of the charges against them, the dates of their arrest, trial and appeal and their current places of detention.
Originally published on Monday March 30, 2009.