Iraqi Death Squads: Targeting Emos, Gays, Or Both?
Last night I recapped a Reuters story about the murder of "emo" teens by fundamentalists in Shi'ite neighborhoods around Baghdad. Human rights activist and literary scholar Scott Long has more: At his blog, he reports that two of his Iraqi friends have sent him pictures of an alleged victim of the emo purge, pre- and post-mortem, along with descriptions of the situation on the ground:
The correspondent who sent the following pictures says, “as you can see from the way they are dressed in their pictures, they are not Emo per se. I have been reading reports which indicate anyone who wears a stylish jeans with gel in their hair that represents the west has been identified as an Emo.” (Militias and the Iraqi media used similar markers to identify men who had sex with men back in 2009.) But he adds, ”I have also seen many pictures of young men who have shaved their head and grew their beards just that so they would not be targeted.”
I'm not going to reproduce the more gruesome images from Long's website, but they do seem to depict the body of the boy pictured at right. (Another of Long's friends sent along pictures of the same corpse, but paired with images of what might be a different living boy. All images, it seems, come from Iraqi media.)
But -- a wrinkle. This week, the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission released a report on a "wave of targeted killings" of LGBTs around Baghdad:
... in early February 2012, an unidentified group posted death threats against "the adulterous individuals" in the predominantly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and Basra. The threats gave the individuals, whose names and ages were listed, four days to stop their behavior or else face the wrath of God, and were to be carried out by the Mujahedin. According to sources inside Iraq, as the result of this new surge of anti-gay violence close to 40 people have been kidnapped, brutally tortured and murdered. The Iraqi authorities have neither responded to this targeted violence nor have they publicly denounced it. It is widely believed that these atrocities are being committed by a group of the Shiite militia.
This sounds very much like the notices posted in Sadr City and Baya, which listed the names of local "emo" kids and gave them four days to adopt hairstyles less offensive to God.
Vice Magazine has reported on the anti-LGBT crackdown in Iraq, and posted a picture of an alleged victim of the gay purge. It depicts the same dead "emo" boy pictured above.
So -- which is it? Are Shi'ia thugs killing emos, gays, or both? Do they know the difference?