The detention, torture, and murder of lesbian, gay, and transgendered people in Iraq is the subject of a Human Rights Watch report released this week. We've reported on the slow response of the human rights community to sexual cleansing in Iraq, and we've reported on the brutal torture techniques captured on video and distributed via cell phone as a warning to members of what some iraqis call the "third sex." The Human Rights Watch Report, They Want Us Exterminated: Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq, contains several terrible survivor stories and implicates the militias, political, cultural, and religious leaders, and the Iraqi government in no uncertain terms.
The horrors detailed in the report are numbing. Here is an excerpt from the testimony of a man we only know as "Nuri":
I was in a taxi in the middle of Karada when special police stopped the car, asked me for my ID, and searched me. They took my phone and my wallet, and handcuffed me. They put a bag over my head, hit me and put me in a car. They took me to the Ministry of Interior.
They put me in a room, a regular room, took the bag off my head, and there I was with five other gay men.
…They separated us and put each in a room … a police officer came and said. "Do you know where you are? You are in the interrogation wing of the Ministry of Interior." He told me, "If you have ten thousand US dollars, we will let you go."
I said I didn't have that kind of money.
The next day at 10 a.m., they cuffed my hands behind my back. Then they tied a rope around my legs, and they hung me upside down from a hook in the ceiling, from morning till sunset. I passed out. I was stripped down to my underwear while I hung upside down. They cut me down that night, but they gave me no water or food.
Next day, they told me to put my clothes back on and they took me to the investigating officer. He said, "You like that? We're going to do that to you more and more, until you confess." Confess to what? I asked. "To the work you do, to the organization you belong to, and that you are a tanta" [queen].
"They knew the name 'Iraqi LGBT'-and they knew it helped mithliyeen [homosexuals] financially. They knew about the safe houses. All they wanted to know was, 'Who's paying? And why are they helping you?'"
When I was questioned, they said, "You have to confess." And I said, I have nothing to confess. Then they showed me a police report. I read it and it showed everything about me from 2005 until the day I was arrested. ... They knew personal details, through gay informants. And then they took me into another room, and began torturing me again.
One day, they took me up to the top floor, where there was a little window, straight onto the courtyard. They gave me binoculars to look. I could see: there were the five men from the cell when I was first arrested. They were lying dead. They'd been executed.
Source: Human Rights Watch
Image by Stephanie Glaros.