Newspaper logo

HOMOPHOBIC CLEANSING:

Annals of Liberation: Sex is Death in a Darkened Land

by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 25 September 2008
Hundreds of people have been murdered – and are being murdered – by factions of the American-backed, American-installed, American-armed Iraqi government, in a frenzy of "sexual cleansing" aimed at "perverts and sodomites" across the conquered land.
While the world is mesmerized by the bait-and-switch going in Washington – where the ramshackle, post-Republic triumvirate of Bush, McCain and Obama held an "historic" meeting on Thursday to demonstrate their bipartisan concern for the welfare of the filthy rich-atrocity and repression still stalk the American satrapy of Iraq.

The sectarian extremists empowered by the American rape of Iraq are now carrying out a relentless, systematic killing spree against human beings who are attracted to other human beings of the same gender-or are even suspected of such an attraction.

Hundreds of people have been murdered – and are being murdered – by factions of the American-backed, American-installed, American-armed Iraqi government, in a frenzy of "sexual cleansing" aimed at "perverts and sodomites" across the conquered land, as Peter Tatchell reports this week in gruesome detail (see original for the often disturbing links):

The "improved" security situation in Iraq is not benefiting all Iraqis, especially not those who are gay. Islamist death squads are engaged in a homophobic killing spree with the active encouragement of leading Muslim clerics, such as Moqtada al-Sadr, as Newsweek recently revealed.

One of these clerics, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa urging the killing of lesbians and gays in the "most severe way possible". . . .

The death squads of the Badr organisation and the Mahdi army are targeting gays and lesbians, according to UN reports, in a systematic campaign of sexual cleansing. They proudly boast of their success, claiming that they have already exterminated all "perverts and sodomites" in many of the major cities . . .

Two militias are doing most of the killing. They are the armed wings of major parties in the Bush and Brown-backed Iraqi government. The Mahdi army is the militia of Moqtada al-Sadr, and the Badr organisation is the militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which is the leading political force in Baghdad's governing coalition. . . .

Saddam Hussein was a bloody tyrant. I campaigned against his blood-stained misrule for nearly 30 years. But while Saddam was president, there was certainly no danger of gay people being assassinated in their homes and in the street by religious fanatics.

Since his overthrow, the violent persecution of lesbians and gays is much worse. Even children suspected of being gay are abducted and later found shot in the head.

Lesbian and gay Iraqis cannot seek the protection of the police, since the police are heavily infiltrated by fundamentalists, especially the Badr militia. The death squads can kill with impunity. Pro-fundamentalist ministers in the Iraqi government are turning a blind eye to the killings, and helping to protect the killers. Some "liberation".

Tatchell also relates personal stories of murder and violence in his piece in the Guardian. But one of the most eloquent expressions of the situation comes in the broken English of a commenter on the Guardian website, an Iraqi exile now living in the UK:

Im so shocked to see this is happening in the country where i was born and lived most of my life, under saddam we know few gay people and they lived among us just like any other Iraqi, yes they may laugh or make jokes about them, but never heard anything about killing or slaughtering human that way, please my friends , stop blaming Islam here, there are so many bad people in every culture and religion, yes Sistani is a devil, Moqtada al sadr is another devil, but remember who brought them to power, it is the UK and US governments and thanks to the west democracy that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and left over 2 million orphans and widows angry and with nothing to live for, now ask your self where the hate for the western government in the middle east coming from. gay people from Iraq still struggle even here in the UK, I know two gay men been here in Britain for the last six years and have been refused asylum, not allowed to work with no benefit and no support, how on hell they expect humans to live, explain it to me is this a western freedom and human right tolerance UK?

Sadly, there is nothing new in Tatchell's findings. The fundamentalists' war against sexual heterodoxyh has been going on for a long time, as we reported here back in 2006:

Defenders of George W. Bush's war crime in Iraq-particularly those super-tough "liberal hawks" who have cast their lot with the crony conquistadors-trot out the term at every opportunity. What else can they do? All the other excuses for their pet war have been exploded as bare-faced, deliberately concocted lies. So they've been reduced to the ludicrous claim that Bush's murderous plunder of the broken land is actually a noble defense of civilization against black hordes of "Islamofascists." In this way, these desk-bound warriors seek to identify themselves with the sainted figures of old, like George Orwell, who actually put their bodies on the line against real fascists.

Yet it is painfully obvious that the forces which come closest to matching this intellectually empty and historically ignorant propaganda term have in fact been empowered by Bush's war. Obscurantist clerics and deadly sectarian groups backed by Bush now rule in Iraq, while his war of aggression there-and his global gulag of torture and unlawful detention-are swelling the ranks of violent extremists around the world, as his own State Department acknowledges in its latest report on international terrorism.

For example, last month, 14-year-old Ahmed Khalil was shot dead by the Bush-backed Iraqi police on the doorstep of his home, the Independent reports. His crime? Homosexuality. HeMahdi Army was just one of scores of homosexuals-or suspected homosexuals-systematically slaughtered by the sectarian militias that Bush is arming and training to serve as Iraq's official "security" forces. Ironically, Ahmed might not even have been gay; he was having sex with men in the neighborhood for money, to help his poverty-stricken family, which has been completely wiped out in the economic meltdown wrought by Bush's "liberation."

The "sexual cleansing" campaign by the death squads Bush has unleashed is just part of the ongoing organized slaughter in Iraq, where-by conservative, "tip-of-the-iceberg" estimates-almost 4,000 civilians have been murdered in Baghdad alone so far this year, many of them "hogtied and shot execution-style," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Others were strangled, electrocuted, stabbed, garroted or hanged . . . many bore signs of torture such as bruises, drill holes, burn marks, gouged eyes or severed limbs." The majority of such killings are now being carried out by the government-backed militias and their infiltrated agents in the Bushist police brigades, as Bush's latest satrap, Zalmay Khalilzad, openly admits.

So that's why Ahmad Khalil had to die, along with untold thousands of others, gay and straight, Sunni and Shiite, religious and secular, Iraqi and American. It has nothing to do with any of the grand abstractions employed by the apologists for empire to mask their complicity with the immoral dictates of raw power: national security, humanitarian intervention, the war on terror, the clash of civilizations, Islamofascism, etc. No, it's just a crude, brutal-and no doubt temporary-marriage of convenience between old-fashioned religious extremism and old-fashioned elitist greed. Both are committed to the destruction of Iraqi society in order to impose their own form of bondage in place of Saddam's tyranny.

And yes, Virginia, there was a ruthless and largely successful "ethnic cleansing" campaign carried out in Iraq, by the American-backed Baghdad government, and with the direct involvement of the American forces that sustain the sectarian extremists in power. Juan Cole provides the evidence here, strongly refuting the arguments by the literally atrocious "surge" architect, Fred "Way Way Back Behind the Lines" Kagan, that the slaughter and exile of hundreds of thousands of innocent people was not a key element in the relative decrease of still-horrific violence in Iraq.

Cole points to a ThinkProgress report with detailed links to sources-including the U.S. military-that thoroughly debunk the revisionists' claim that there was no ethnic cleansing. From  ThinkProgress (see original for links):

Kagan's claim is contested by major news organizations and the U.S. military's own data. . . . The [Washington] Post's [maps showing] distribution of sectarian enclaves corresponds closely with these graphs, provided by Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), that chart sectarian violence in Baghdad between July 2006 and July 2007, which is the period in which the U.S. military escalation, also known as the Baghdad Security Plan, took place.

The August 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq also rebuts Kagan's mythmaking. One of the NIE's judgements was that where some “conflict levels have diminished,” it was due to sectarian “separation.”

Kagan's view is also challenged by Joe Christoff of the Government Accountability Office, who stated in congressional testimony in October 2007 that sectarian cleansing was “an important consideration in even assessing the overall security situation in Iraq”:

We look at the attack data going down, but it's not taking into consideration that there might be fewer attacks because you have ethnically cleansed neighborhoods, particularly in the Baghdad area. [ . . . ]

 It's produced 2.2. million refugees that have left, it's produced two million internally displaced persons within the country as well.

In August 2007, the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization indicated that “the total number of internally displaced Iraqis [had] more than doubled, to 1.1 million from 499,000_ since the surge started in February. Center for American Progress Iraq analyst Brian Katulis estimated that Baghdad, which once used to be a 65 percent Sunni majority city, “is now 75 percent Shia.”

Kagan's claim that Baghdad “remains a mixed city,” severely understates both the drastic transformation of the city's sectarian make-up and the suffering that attended that transformation. It also casually ignores the fact that one of the most intense and violent periods of sectarian cleansing took place under the aegis of the military escalation Kagan now claims credit for.

And as Cole notes:

I visited some of these displaced Iraqis in one of the 'some place elses,' i.e. Amman, in August; 50,000 of them are considered 'vulnerable' by the aid agencies and their situation is desperate. Some Iraqis in exile told me that they could never return. They were Sunni and their own neighborhoods were now 100% Shiite. Or their spouse was a Shiite and they were Sunni, and there was no mixed neighborhood left where they would feel comfortable. Some 25% had had a child kidnapped. Many had received personal threats from militias that they are convinced are still in their old neighborhood.(E.g. 'If Ahmad Adib shows his face in this neighborhood again he will be shot on sight . . . ') Indeed, sometimes the militias track them down in Amman and threaten them there again. A lot of Iraqis in Jordan move from apartment to apartment frequently so as to avoid the long arm of the militias.

As noted, Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute has denied the ethnic cleansing even took place. US military propagandists sometimes point to continued small Sunni enclaves such as Adhamiya in Baghdad as proof that there was no ethnic cleansing. But neighborhoods near Adhamiya that used to be mixed are almost all Shiite now. I'd guess that 700,000 or 800,000 Sunnis were ethnically cleansed from the capital from June 2006-September 2007. Imagine, to lose everything, to huddle dispossessed in a foreign land worrying where your next meal is coming from, and then to have the powerful and wealthy Kagans deny your very existence.

But then, the entire war crime in Iraq has been one long exercise in denying the existence of the human suffering that the United States is directly responsible for. As Arthur Silber noted the other day:

You would think the fact that our government has murdered well in excess of one million innocent people would be front page news every day. Of course, you would be wrong. . . . And you might like to think that many Americans would be outraged that our military continues to occupy a nation that we have entirely destroyed, and that Americans would demand that the destruction and death cease immediately.

About all of that, you are terribly, grievously wrong. Most Americans can't be bothered about any of that. Most Americans simply do not care.

So there will certainly be no outcry in America about the "sexual cleansing" campaign of the death squads. It will probably not even be reported in the American press.


photo of Chris FloydChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.



Copyright © 2008 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on September 26, 2008.