OUTSIDE THE GREEN ZONE: A POETRY PROJECT(Cleo Creech is a good friend, great poet and creator of the beautiful Phoenix Feathers chapbook that I appeared in last year. Now he's turning his attention to the slaughter of gays and lesbians in Iraq. Please consider contributing to this book and helping raise awareness.)
As many of your may or may not know, the gay community in Iraq has come under direct attack by the religious community, militia groups, and even factions of the new U.S.-trained police force. As background; the Iraqi civil code up until 2004 actually allowed for protection of family members who murdered gay relatives as “honor” killings. The new Iraqi constitution that was distributed for votes by the Iraqi people, actually contained language where “deviants” (as defined by Islamic law) were to be excluded from any rights and protections under the constituent. This is the constitution that the U.S. government signed off on!
However recently; violence against gays and lesbians has reached new heights as the main religious leader in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistan, issued a Fatwa or religious edict that gays should be “killed in the worst manner possible.” This is the very leader that the Bush Administration is holding up as a “wise” man and great leader of his people.
Since the fatwa, horrible stories are coming out of Iraq. A transvestite was publicly burned alive in a public square. Militias have broken into peoples home to kidnap and murder members of the gay community. People have been shot in their gyms, their homes, in public often to the cheers of crowds. Gays are lured through internet chatrooms into meetings where they are killed. Most recently, this past weekend, a 14-year-old boy was shot in the head at his own doorstep,
by a death squad in police uniforms. His crime? Sleeping with men to bring in some extra money for his impoverished family.
In the face of this sort of attack on the gay community, It’s really hard to know just what action we can take, but we should be doing what we can. The Bush administration wants to paint a picture of an ever improving, more peaceful Iraq. Aid groups, occupied with more mainstream concerns seem not to want to muddy the water with the touchy gay issue. Even the gay press and gay groups in the U.S. have been shamefully silent. At a minimum we should be writing our elected leaders, and educating other members of our GLBT community.
Outside the Green Zone
I’m currently putting together a compilation of poets responses to this great injustice. At this point it seems that raising awareness and dialogue is the most pressing need. There’s an excellent article in the Advocate (www.advocate.com) and a quick google will give a whole list of articles (mostly from the U.K.) that are discussing these crimes.
Please do some reading and research on this topic. If you’d like to contribute a piece to the Poetry Project, please feel free. If you have any friends in the GLBT community who you feel may want to do a piece, please forward this on.
I will be taking submissions to the end of the month (05/31/06), and publishing a free chapbook. We hope to organize some readings and awareness raising around the works. See my email address below.
C. Cleo Creech