Iraqi LGBT welcome Human Rights Watch report on pogrom, urges practical aid
The Iraqi LGBT group today welcomed the release by Human Rights Watch of its report 'They want us exterminated' which documents the killing of LGBT people in Iraq, in particular the extensive media coverage it has generated. Much of the information in the report is sourced from Iraqi LGBT members.
"This report underlines what we have been saying since our group's formation in 2006," said Iraqi LGBT spokesperson, Ali Hili. "We have information on over 700 killings including honour killings."
However Hili says that the group, which has 100 members inside Iraq (as well as refugees in neighboring countries) and supports LGBT people through safe houses, offers practical support (food etc.), psychological and educational support, is chronically underfunded.
"We are the only people offering support to our fellow Iraqi LGBT inside Iraq but because we do not have the funds we have had to turn people away," he said.
The group recently published its annual report, available on its website, which showed how the money it receives is spent.
The report explains how it has developed methods of operating clandestinely which are essential for such an operation in the Middle East. Hili is the only visible member of the group and as a result has attracted death threats in his exile in London. He is under police protection.
Recently it received a second substantial donation from a Dutch group. However due to low funding it has had to close safe houses and slow its development plans.
At the same time it has seen very large amounts of money raised in the United States go to a Lebanese group which is supposed to be supporting Iraqi LGBT refugees. Ali says that the refugees, delivered to Lebanon by Human Rights Watch, have in fact been abandoned and some have returned to Iraq because they had no practical support.
"We have been trying to support one refugee who returned to Iraq from Lebanon because his medical needs were not being supported and who is now in danger. Through the United Nations, he has actually been accepted as a refugee by Sweden however it costs $2000 just for him to get back to Lebanon and then there are his travel costs to Sweden on top of that plus organising support in Sweden."
"This is an example of a case where we have great difficulty helping. It also shows something of the real costs involved in actually supporting people. Another example of that would be the bribes we have had to pay to save peoples lives."
"Our group represents Iraqi LGBT - they are our members - and, despite immense difficulties, our group has gained a lot of experience since we were established. Please support us if you want to help save LGBT people in Iraq."
Donations to Iraqi LGBT can be made to the PayPal Account email@example.com .
Or make cheques payable to (IRAQI LGBT) and send them to:
22 Notting Hill Gate
For further information please call ++44 (0) 79-819 59453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.
Ali said that the group also welcomed those who could donate their skills.