Death penalty for murder; endangering national security; distributing drugs; rape; attacks on transport convoys; financing and execution of terrorism.] Suspended in June 2003 after 2003 invasion; reinstated August 2004

Islamic State has killed at least 30 people for “being gay”, UN told

US ambassador tells security council meeting it is “about time” the issue of violence and discrimination towards LGBT people is highlighted
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for killing at least 30 people for sodomy, the head of an international gay rights organisation has told the 1st UN security council meeting in New York to focus on violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“It’s about time, 70 years after the creation of the UN, that the fate of LGBT persons who fear for their lives around the world is taking centre stage,” said the US ambassador, Samantha Power, who organised the meeting with Chile’s UN envoy. “This represents a small but historic step.”
Diplomats said 2 of the 15 council members, Chad and Angola, had not attended the informal closed meeting.
Jessica Stern, the executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, told the council that courts established by Isis in Iraq and Syria claimed to have punished sodomy with stoning, firing squads and beheadings and by pushing men from tall buildings.
Fear of the extremist group, which controls about a third of Syria and Iraq, was fuelling violence by others against LGBT individuals, she said.
Subhi Nahas, a gay refugee from the Syrian city of Idlib, told the council that President Bashar al-Assad’s government “launched a campaign accusing all dissidents of being homosexuals” when the country’s uprising started in 2011. Soon afterwards gay hangouts were raided and many people were arrested and tortured. “Some were never heard from again,” he said.
When the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front took Idlib in 2012, he said, its militants announced “they would cleanse the town of those involved in sodomy”. Arrests and killings of accused homosexual people followed. In 2014 when Isis took the city, the violence worsened, he said.
“At the executions hundreds of townspeople, including children, cheered jubilantly as at a wedding,” Nahas said. “If a victim did not die after being hurled off a building, the townspeople stoned him to death. This was to be my fate, too.”
He was able to escape to Lebanon, then to Turkey, where he was threatened by a former schoolfriend from Idlib who had joined Isis. Finally he reached the US.
Stern stressed that persecution of LGBT people in Iraq and Syria began long before the emergence of Isis, and called for UN action to relocate LGBT persons most in need and to bring the gay community into broader human rights and humanitarian initiatives.
Source: The Guardian, August 25, 2015



New killings: ISIS answers the UN Security Council

Iraqi News wrote yesterday that one of its sources, in the occupied northern province of Ninawah (Nineveh), told them:

“[G]unmen belonging to ISIS threw on Sunday nine civilians from the top of a high building in the city of Mosul after being accused of homosexuality.”

The source, who asked anonymity, added: “ISIS militants rounded up a number of citizens in the city to see the implementation of the judgment of the so-called Shariah judge.”

I can’t call this report “confirmed,” though “confirming” Da’ish horrors mainly means finding the self-advertisements on social media. However, Tweets like these, showing at least one person’s execution, started spreading from Da’ish-affiliated accounts on Saturday night:

Those photos were originally posted on August 22 on Justpaste, a site the Islamic State uses for atrocity advertising. The page says it belongs to Da’ish’s “Information office for the Province of Ninawah.” Here they are, full-size

My guess is that either Iraqi News got the date wrong and the executions happened Saturday, or there were running executions (perhaps of more than nine people all told) from Saturday through Sunday.

If it’s true, nine people are a lot to kill. I believe it’s the the largest number that Da’ish has murdered at one time for “sodomy.” I don’t wish to read too much into furtive words, butIraqi News‘ source seems to suggest the men were rounded up quickly upon some urgent mandate.  It’s hard not to suspect this wave of killing was a pre-emptive answer to Monday’s UN Security Council meeting on gays and ISIS — which was making headlines in both Western and Arab media fully nine days earlier.

My fear (I wrote two days ago) was that “the Security Council will only give more impetus to murder”: that ISIS, provoked by the ill-considered publicity around this move, would slaughter more people. I hope I’ll be disproven; I’d dearly love not to be right. But I’m afraid I am.

In any case, these killings show (as I suspect Da’ish meant them to show) that the Security Council can’t do anything to save lives. Which again raises the question: why bring this to the Security Council? Why take the risk, if there’s no benefit for those in danger? Before the meeting, the US promised it would “examine what kinds of protections are needed for LGBT individuals, what the international community needs to do to stop the scourge of prejudice and violence, and – related to this – how to advance equality and dignity, even in conflict zones”: as well as “the multiple political, military, and social lines of effort needed to degrade and destroy” ISIS. So far as I can see, none of this came up. “Change begins by working to stop attacks against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity,” US ambassador Samantha Power told the meeting, without any hints for how to jumpstart this in Mosul. Most states made the usual vague promises, bland and undemanding. People are still dying.

It’s dangerous to pretend we know what to do when we don’t.

The most substantive proposals to come out of Monday’s meeting were by Jessica Stern, the head of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). Jessica is an old colleague, of course, and she was at her analytical best here, but notice something about her five points:

  1. All UN agencies in Iraq and Syria must have tailored LGBTI programming.
  2. UNHCR and governments must continue to act with urgency for those most in need of relocation.
  3. The Government of Iraq should remove barriers to access to direct services and justice.
  4. The Government of Iraq must respect freedom of expression and allow independent radio stations to operate.
  5. Donors must fund initiatives by LGBTI Iraqis and Syrians and by their allies. Resources should support immediate needs, like safe houses and psychosocial support, and long-term rights-based initiatives and norm building.

These are important proposals, but not one is about people living under the control of the Islamic State. They’re addressed to the UN and the Iraqi government, which don’t and can’t operate in ISIS-controlled territory. These proposals (especially the recommendation to the High Commission on Refugees to resettle victims, something that needs to be said over and over and over) will help people who escape — but not those trying to survive in the territory Da’ish rules.

So we’re left with excellent ideas for the rest of Iraq, but no solution for the ISIS killings. Nobody has a strategy for ISIS, though some governments serve up feel-good stories that give the illusion progress is being made. And promising “security” when you can’t provide it — provoking Da’ish with publicity when we have no way to deal with the consequences — may be an inadvertent invitation to murder.

Da'ish fighter in Mosul after the group seized control of the Iraqi city in 2014. Photo by Reuters

Iraq: Huge crowd gathers to watch ISIS throw gay man off building

New photographs have emerged showing Islamic State militants throwing yet another man off a building accused of being gay.
In the images, which have not been verified, hundreds of other militants carrying weapons gathered on the main street in the Iraqi town of Mosul to watch the execution.
In one photo, several children can be seen at the front of the crowd in khaki robes.
In another, four jihadis in white robes and black tactical vests stand in a line behind the accused who is blindfolded and keeling on the ground, while a judge reads out a statement condemning the man to his death over a microphone system.
It is unclear how the man was discovered to be gay.
The terrorist group did not release images of the moment they threw him off the building, as they have done previously. Instead, the last image shows his dead body crumpled on the ground.
And to ‘celebrate’ the legalization of gay marriage nationwide in the US last month, ISIS posted photos of militants throwing four gay men off a building in Raqqa, Syria with the hashtag #LoveWins.
ISIS have killed dozens of gay men, whom they have branded the ‘worst of creatures,’ since the beginning of the year.
Source: Gay Star New

New video shows ISIS militants throwing gay men off building

Yet another video has been released by ISIS showing the brutal execution of two men accused of being gay.

The latest video from ISIS, shot in Palmyra, shows two Syrian men be thrown off a building before being stoned to death.
According to local journalist Zaid Benjamin, the men were accused of “having a homosexual affair”.
Images shared on social media showed the two men being led to the top of the three-storey building as their judgement was read out by an ISIS member.
As with other videos released by the terrorist group, a large crowd of local residents gathered around to see the incident.
The terrorist group, which operates predominantly across Syria and Iraq, is notorious for filming videos in which captives – usually Westerners or opposing fighters – are brutally slaughtered.
It has also taken to executing men it claims are gay, by throwing them off of tall buildings and pelting them with rocks in IS-produced videos.
Members of the terrorist group, which has published a number of graphic videos featuring the murder of supposed gay men, holds power across parts of Iraq, Syria and Libya.
ISIS militants recently threatened to throw homosexuals off the Leaning Tower of “Pizza”.
Members of ISIS took to Twitter to warn that they were coming to “Rome” to “use your leaning tower of pizza to throw off homosexuals”.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa – which is not spelled Pizza – is actually located in the town of Pisa, nearly 200 miles from Rome.

Source: Pink News, Joseph Patrick McCormick, July 24, 2015

Islamic State throws four gay men off building in Iraq

This is the eighth gay murder by Islamic extremists this week
Photos of four gay men killed by Islamic extremists have been exposed to the public.
The four victims were taken to the top of a high building barefoot, blindfolded, hands tied and terrified in the ISIS stronghold of Fallujah, Iraq.
Held by their ankles, they were dropped head-first.
While many murders conducted by ISIS are in front of a huge crowd, intended to force the public into being controlled by fear and coercion, this time they are absent.


Posted online by Islamic State media, this is the eighth known murder of a gay man by ISIS in the past seven days.
To ‘celebrate’ the US passing marriage equality, terrorists threw four gay men off a building in Raqqa, Syria on Friday (26 June)
Mocking the message of victory, they posted: ‘Executed 4 GAY people by throwing him from High building in front of the people #LoveWins #IS.’



July 26, 2013: Of the 40 countries worldwide that retain the death penalty, 33 are dictatorial, authoritarian or illiberal States.

Seventeen of these countries were responsible for approximately 3,909 executions, 98.5% of the world total in 2012.

China alone carried out about 3,000, about 76%, of the world total of executions; Iran put at least 580 people to death and Iraq, at least 129; Saudi Arabia, at least 84; Yemen, at least 28; North Korea, at least 20; Sudan, at least 19; Afghanistan, 14; Gambia, 9; Somalia, at least 8; Palestine (Gaza Strip), 6; South Sudan, at least 5; Belarus, at least 3; Syria, at least 1; Bangladesh, 1; Pakistan, 1; and United Arab Emirates, 1.

Many of these countries do not issue official statistics on the practice of the death penalty, therefore the number of executions may, in fact, be much higher.

This is the prevalent situation worldwide concerning the practice of the death penalty. It points to the fact that the fight against the death penalty entails, beyond the stopping of executions, a battle for transparency of information concerning capital punishment, for democracy, for respect of the rule of law and for political rights and civil liberties.

The terrible podium of the world’s top executioners is occupied by three authoritarian States in 2012: China, Iran and Iraq.

Although the death penalty remains a State secret in China, some news in recent years, including declarations from official sources, suggest that the use of the death penalty may have diminished compared to preceding years.

A major turnabout came after the introduction of a legal reform on 1 January 2007, which required that every capital sentence handed down in China by an inferior court be reviewed by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC). Since then, the top court has overturned “on average” 10 per cent of death sentences handed down each year in the country.

According to William A. Schabas, Professor of international law at Middlesex University in London, in 2012 “China has probably executed about 3,000 people.” “This represents a decline of more than 50% from the number only five years ago,” he wrote on his blog on 18 December 2012, after more than a decade of his participation in various conferences on capital punishment in China and many encounters with experts in the Chinese criminal justice system.

According to the Dui Hua Foundation’s estimate, “the number of executions has been sharply reduced, although in 2012 it remained high at around 3,000 per year.” The Dui Hua Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that works on behalf of political prisoners and monitors Chinese prisons, estimated that China had carried out “about” 4,000 executions in 2011, while there were “about” 5,000 in 2010, as in 2009, still a slight decrease as compared to 2008, when the number of executions “exceeded 5,000 and may have been as high as 7,000.” According to the Foundation, run by business executive-turned-human-rights advocate John Kamm – who still maintains good relations with government officials – about 6,000 people were executed in 2007, a 25 to 30 per cent drop from 2006, in which estimates reported at least 7,500 executions.

Given that the great majority – at least 90 per cent – of these cases are death penalty review cases, as the SPC doesn’t have jurisdiction over many other cases, an approximate but realistic estimate would put the number of death sentences in 2012 – between definitive sentences and those suspended for two years – at around 8,300, a sharp decrease from about 9,400 estimated in 2011.

Considering further that, since February 2010, the Supreme People’s Court has recommended to use a policy of “justice tempered with mercy,” suggesting to the courts to “suspend the death sentence for two years for all cases that don’t require immediate execution,” it is realistic to conclude that the executions in 2012, as estimated by Professor William Schabas and the Dui Hua Foundation, were about 3,000, a significant decrease compared to the 4,000 of 2011.

On 14 March 2012, China amended again the 1979 Criminal Procedure Law, highlighting the human rights protection. A phrase calling for “respecting and protecting human rights” was added to the revised law’s first chapter on aim and basic principles. The amendment further specifies the procedures for the Supreme People’s Court to review death penalty cases in order that such cases will be handled “with sufficient care”, and “legal oversight” will be strengthened.

According to the fifth annual report of Iran Human Rights (IHR) on the death penalty in Iran, in 2012 the Islamic Republic carried out at least 580 executions, a number among the highest in more than 15 years. According to Human Rights Activists in Iran, at least 587 people were executed in 2012.

Iran Human Rights emphasizes that the actual number of executions is probably much higher than the figures included in its annual report. At least 240 additional executions were not included in the report, due to difficulties in confirming some of the details. In fact, only 85 out of the 325 estimated secret executions in Vakilabad Prison were included in the 2012 report. In 2011, on the basis of these same sources, Iran Human Rights had estimated at least 676 executions.

Since the 2009 post-election protests in Iran, the number of executions, particularly public executions, has risen dramatically. According to Iran Human Rights, in 2012 there were at least 60 public executions, a number six times higher than numbers from 2009, when at least 12 people were hanged in public places. In 2010, at least 19 people were hanged publicly. In 2011, public executions have more than tripled, with at least 65 people being executed in public. The trend has continued in 2013. Just in January and February 2013 alone, at least 20 people were hanged in public. As of 30 June, at least 37 public executions were held.
The execution of child offenders continued into 2012 and 2013, in open violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which it is a co-signatory. A juvenile offender was executed in public in March 2012, according to Amnesty International. Another two possible minor offenders were executed 2013 (in January and February).

The use of the death penalty for purely political motives continued in 2012 and 2013. But it is probable that many of the people put to death for ordinary crimes or for “terrorism,” may well be in fact political opponents, in particular members of Iran’s ethnic minorities, including Iranian Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Baluchis, and Arabs. Accused of being Mohareb – enemies of Allah – those arrested are often subject to rapid and severe trials that often end with a sentence of death. The punishment for Moharebeh is death or amputation of the right hand and left foot, according to the Iranian penal code. According to Iran Human Rights, at least 23 (3%) of 294 people who were executed in 2012 according to the official Iranian sources were convicted of Moharebeh (war against God).

However, the death penalty is not the only punishment dictated by the Iranian implementation of Sharia. There is also torture, amputation, flogging and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments. These are not isolated incidents and they occur in flagrant violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Iran signed and which expressly prohibits such practices.

In 2012, Iraq executed at least 129 people, the highest number since 2005. They were a significant and worrying increase compared to the previous year when at least 68 people were executed.

Iraq has already executed at least 50 people in 2013 (as of 16 April).

Executions began in August 2005. Since then, as of 16 April 2013, at least 497 executions were carried out, most of them related to acts of terrorism.

In April 2013, there were about 1,400 people held on death row, according to Iraqi Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari. (Hands Off Cain 2013 Report)