The U.S. State Department must not stand idly by if the Iraqi government fails to protect basic human rights, even if the persecution stems from traditional cultural or religious beliefs.
We applaud Colorado Congressman Jared Polis for his efforts last week to shine the spotlight on the killings of homosexuals in Iraq, and to press the State Department to demand accountability from the Iraqi government.
The first openly gay man to be elected to the House, Polis has been investigating the treatment of gays in Iraq for several months, according to The Post's Michael Riley. His research led to the discovery of a transgender Iraqi man who told the congressman he had been arrested, beaten and raped by security forces with Iraq's Ministry of Interior.
Human-rights groups have passed information to Polis that claims another man was beaten into confessing he belonged to a gay-rights group and that the man had been sentenced to execution by an Iraqi court.
Dear Ms. Butenis:Over the past week, I have become aware of egregious human rights violations against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqis being carried out by Iraqi government officials from the Ministry of the Interior called "Magaweer al-Dakhilya."
The information I received was derived from two separate testimonials of gay and transgender Iraqi men that were detained, tortured and sentenced to death for being members of an allegedly forbidden organization in Iraq called Iraqi LGBT. One of these invidividuals was able to escape, while the other was subsequently executed by Iraqi Ministry of Interior Security Forces.While I do not know if these executions are being sanctioned at the highest levels of the Iraqi government, it is nonetheless distrubing that government officials and state-funded security forces are involved in the torturing and execution of LGBT Iraqis.Even more disturbing was that the United States government appears to be largely unaware that the executions of gay and transgender Iraqis have been able to occur in Iraq given the enormous American presence. After reaching out to State Department officials in Washington, I was disappointed by their unwillingness to seriously consider these allegations and examine the evidence given to our office by international human rights watchdog organizations.I urge you to use every channel at your disposal to properly and promptly invetigate these grave human rights violations. Please know that I will continue to monitor this situation and hope to be of assistance in this investigation."
"The United States should not tolerate human rights violations of nay kind, especially by a government that Americans spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year supporting. Hopefully my trip and letters to US and Iraqi officials will help bring international attention and investigation to this terrible situation and bring an end to any such offenses."