August 17, 2009

II. "They Are Massacring Us": Survivors' Voices

A Spreading Campaign

A campaign of systematic killings gathered gradually in strength through the early months of 2009.  

Militia attacks on men who look "effeminate," or who are shadowed by suspicion of engaging in same-sex relations, have been an intermittent aspect of the murderous climate in Iraq for at least five years. Yet the people we interviewed testified to a radically new intensity to these attacks this year-an expanded scope and reach of killings, and a monitory public purpose: to enforce "morality," or a brutal perversion of it, through murder.

Idris is 35 and a friend of Hamid. He has relationships with other men but also has a wife and children. He told us in April:

We've been hearing about this, about gay men being killed, for more than a month. It's like background noise now, every day. The stories started spreading in February about this campaign against gay people by the Mahdi Army: everyone was talking about it, I was hearing about it from my straight friends. In a coffee shop in Karada they were talking about it; on the streets in Harithiya they were talking about it. I didn't worry at first. My friends and I, we look extremely masculine, there is nothing visibly "feminine" about us. None of us ever, ever believed this would happen to us. But then at the end of March we heard on the street that 30men had been killed already.[24]

Bilal, 27 years old, a street salesman in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad, says that he first sensed an atmosphere of mounting danger when "A friend of mine was killed three months ago."

He was very public, everybody knew he was gay. His family said his killers made a CD of how he was killed-they filmed it. They slaughtered him; they cut his throat. His family did not want to talk about it. And now they are killing people right and left in Shaab and al-Thawra. We heard 11 men were burned alive in al-Thawra. Everyone is talking about the numbers of people killed. And they just keep rising. [25]

Hussein, 27 and from the Mansour district of Baghdad, told us that, through the first months of the year, the violence metastasized from target to target, running through a roster of supposed signs of nonconformity. First "they went after people with long hair, so people got short haircuts right and left. A friend of mine was threatened: he had long hair: he lived in a Shi'a neighborhood, Abu Chir, next to Dora. Someone told him on the street that he had to cut his hair or they would cut off his head."

Then people started gossiping, saying, there are guys who wear sanitary pads to make their asses look bubblier-so anybody with tight jeans was a target. And then you heard that tight T-shirts meant you were a member of the third sex.
Everyone killed in the first period was in Shi'a neighborhoods-Hurriya, al-Bada', Sadr City. But not anymore. For instance, three days ago in my neighborhood, Hayy al-Jami'a, they found the body of a gay man who was decapitated. The common talk about him in the neighborhood had always been that he was gay. And this story spread like wildfire. It's a Sunni district. But the way they operate now is, it seems, they go into a neighborhood, kidnap someone, take him to Sadr City, and torture and kill him. And then they dump the body in Sadr City, or back where he lived.[26]

Tariq, 18, who lived in Baghdad al-Jadida, a development in the southeast part of the city, told Human Rights Watch,

At the end of March, I started to hear from friends that the Mahdi Army was killing gays. The newspapers also reported there was an increase in the "third sex" in Iraq, also known as "puppies" [jarawi]. Then on April 4, I found out that two of my gay friends, Mohammed and Mazen, had been killed. I think those were their names; within a gay group, gays rarely give out their real names. We were friends, we met in cafes or chatted on the Internet, and one day they just disappeared.  
A few days later, I met the brother of one of them and he told me they were killed. They were kidnapped on the street and then their bodies were found near a mosque, with signs of torture. One was 18, one was 19.
   A couple of days after that, on April 6 or 7, I was in my parents' house, and someone threw a letter at the door. I didn't see who. Inside the envelope was a bullet. It had brown blood on it, and the letter said, "What are you still here for?  Are you ready to die?"
I think those two were tortured into giving my name, because two days after I learned they were killed I got this threat. ... I spoke by phone to a friend of mine yesterday night: he is also gay but he's very masculine and no one knows about him. He said, "Get out if you can and save yourself. They are killing gays left and right."
I said, "Who is doing it?" He said, "Everyone knows. Who do you think? The Mahdi Army."[27]

Talal, 26, lives in an area bordering Sadr City. "I hear people in the neighborhood talking about the issue," he told us, "and saying these people need to be killed. Then I heard from friends in March that the Mahdi Army had already killed 25 gay people in Sadr City. And in Mashtel [another area in East Baghdad], 13 people. And in Palestine Street, 10."[28]

Atif, 27, from the Zayouna area of Baghdad, fled for northern Iraq at the beginning of April. "I call people in Bagdhad and they tell me, don't come back, they are massacring us: they are massacring gays here." [29]

Death Lists

 Hamid, who told us how armed militiamen kidnapped and murdered his boyfriend, said:

In the same days around my partner's murder, they [militia members] killed three other men within a few streets of each other, in Hurriya, next to Kadhimiya, a very religious neighborhood. They took two from their homes, including my boyfriend; they killed two more on the street.
The next day, after my boyfriend was murdered, they came for me. They came into my house and they saw my mother, and one of them said: "Where's your faggot son?" There were five men. Their faces were covered. Fortunately I wasn't there but my mother called me after they left, in tears.  From then on, I hid in a cheap hotel for two weeks. I can't face my family-they would reject me. I can't go home.[30]

"The same day, a week after they came to Hamid's house," his friend Idris says, "they came to mine."

They were in the same black outfits with masked faces. They came in early evening. At the time, my wife and children and I were all at my brother's house, because the electricity was cut. The next day, we came back and found the house had been trashed, the windows smashed, and a lot of things stolen. The neighbors said four or five men fitting the same description [as those who came for Hamid] had come. The neighbors didn't know why: but I did. [31]

Majid, 25, another friend of Hamid, says,

They came to my parents' house a day later. I was out of the house when it happened. The neighbor's son has the same given name and so they kidnapped the wrong guy. When they found out they let the boy go, but they beat him severely-they wanted to kill him. They tortured him with electricity, they beat him with cables. He looked like a roast chicken when he came home. 
When I came back everyone was yelling and screaming that Majid, this boy Majid, had been taken. When he was released, he staggered home and said, "They didn't want me, they wanted the other Majid. They said he was gay." I had to leave. My parents threw me out. I cannot face them anymore.[32]

Cafes and gathering spots where gays discreetly met, especially in Baghdad, have been a target of the crackdown. One journalist told us in late April how "A week ago at a café in Karada, known to be frequented by gay men, the militias threw a piece of paper in, for the owner, saying: 'If you allow them to congregate here, we will blow up the café.'"[33] These watering holes also furnish trails for the attackers to follow. Majid, attacked at his home, says: "We think they got our names from the places where we used to go-from the owners."

But anyway, in that neighborhood, if you ask around, people will tell you their suspicions. And they kidnap people and torture them for names-or for cell numbers. If they got my number off the phone of somebody they tortured or killed, in Iraq it's very easy to trace the sim card.[34]

Several people told us that attackers had read them lists of men suspected of sexual relations with other men.  Haytham, 28, is a young professional who has been in a relationship with his partner Adel, a 27-year-old student, for almost a year. "Starting sometime in February we heard about gays being murdered across Baghdad, especially in Sadr City. There was more and more talk about it, among straight people as well as gays." 

On April 1 these stories hit home: "I had been with Adel in a café in Karada," Haytham recounted. "It was nighttime and we were on our way back, driving through Shari'a Qanat"-an east Baghdad neighborhood near Sadr City.

A car pulled us over. About six men carrying weapons stepped out and asked for our IDs. They were dressed in black, which is usually the sign of the Mahdi Army. I demanded, "Who are you to ask for our cards?" So they opened the door and pulled us out, humiliating us, calling us "puppies," saying, "We see you in pervert places all the time." 
I tried to argue we were just friends, tried to convince them there was nothing between us. Then they pulled out a list and they started asking us about these names.
Most were women's names, the nicknames of gay men. They weren't names that either of us knew. At that point, a US [army] patrol car came by. The men hissed at us: "Your turn is coming next." They threw us against a wall, jumped in the car, and drove off.[35]

"After that I didn't leave the house for days," Haytham remembers. He only went to his job after almost two weeks, to fill out paperwork.  

It was April 13 and I was driving on Qanat Street again, on the way back from my workplace. Suddenly I saw another car was following me. It was a car chase: I sped up and they sped up too.  ... There were two men in the car, and they kept staring at me. I couldn't see if they were armed or not, but they were wearing black. They had pushed me over to the left side: if I continued there I would crash into these concrete barriers that were part of checkpoints. So I hit the brakes really hard before we reached the concrete barriers. I swerved and was able to take a side street
The point is, they knew where I worked as well. The men before had rifled through my wallet, so they'd seen my ID from my job: and these men were following me from my workplace.[36]

Mashal is 41, and until recently owned a small store in the Hayy Ur neighborhood. On March 6, militiamen kidnapped him for four days-and tortured him to extract more names for their lists.

It was about 4 p.m. and four men came inside the shop. They lingered and when I tried to get them to leave, they pulled out guns. They had three cars-one a black Daewoo-and they put me in one and covered my eyes. 
It was the Mahdi Army-they are the ones who operate in the area. The place they took me to wasn't far away: it was very close to a mosque or actually in the courtyard, because I could hear the call to prayer very clearly. When they hauled me out of the car they beat me until I fell unconscious.
Late the next day, they came to me and said, "We know you are gay, we know you're farakhji" [a derogatory term used in Iraq for men who have sex with men]. They pulled out a list of names and started reading them: you know these perverts, you know X and Y and Z. They gave the first name and the neighborhood where he lived. I knew four who were still alive. One they had already killed.
They had killed my friend Waleed in February, before I was kidnapped. He was walking down a big street between Hayy Ur and al Shaab [in northeast Baghdad near Sadr City] at dusk. I asked Waleed's brother about it later, and he told me, "Waleed was slaughtered in the street. Don't ask more." I am sure he was killed because he was gay. He was walking with a bunch of straight friends, and he was killed, not them: he was the one they targeted.   He was the first name on the list they read me.
There were many more names I didn't know. I admitted knowing those four, but I said it was only because they were customers in my shop.
They interrogated me for three hours that night. They kept me blindfolded and gagged, and when they wanted me to speak, they took out the gag. They demanded I give them names of other gays. At night they got a broomstick, and they used it to rape me. 
After that, they negotiated a ransom. They asked my family for $50,000 USD.   My brothers sold my shop, my car, everything I had to put together half that.
When they let me go they said, "We have our sources, and we know exactly what you do. If you step outside your house, you are dead." I never left the house for more than a month, until I fled Baghdad. One of the people whose names they read to me ran away from Baghdad, with his parents. Two others I know are just hiding in their houses.  A few don't answer their phones and I don't know what has happened to them.[37]

Hussein told us that "These people-the Mahdi Army-go to certain parties, to hunt down gay men." In mid-March, he says,

I went to a party in the Adhamiyah neighborhood. It's an area full of Sunnis, but near a Shi'a neighborhood. The party was all men, but mostly straight people; there was drinking and dancing. I am a good oriental dancer, and I danced all evening. All through the night, I kept seeing people in the crowd watching me, following with their eyes. 
I left around 9 p.m. As I walked down the street, a black Daewoo Prince was following me-three men in it, with short beards. 
They had been at the party. I was the only one dancing oriental style and it was very obvious I was gay. Oh, and they'd been drinking, too! These people find it OK to kill. It's not like they won't find it OK to sip a glass of wine. 
One of them got out, and said, "Let us drop you off." From the accent, I could tell they were Shi'a.[38] I started to back off and they said more roughly, "Come with us." They insisted.
He grabbed me by the arm. I know these people, they look for someone soft, like me. I pushed him away: then a second man came, grabbed me, called me a son of a bitch, and pulled me into the car. I didn't know: were they going to beat me, to rape me, to kill me? I said, "Let me out or I'll start shouting"-the checkpoint was nearby. They were carrying guns and they took them out, and one of them hit me in the head with the butt of his gun.

When we spoke to him, Hussein still carried a suppurating wound on his forehead from the beating.

I started crying and they said, "We're going to fuck you." They were driving really fast and I was sitting by the door; I started struggling. They elbowed me, and I managed to get the door open and I rolled out onto the street, by the concrete barriers. And they left me there, and I woke up the next day; someone had dragged me to a hospital.

Hussein says: "The scar on my head is the sign: I'll be killed. They hate me. I want to live."[39]

Torture and Threats: "A Slaughterhouse on the Streets"

"Three were killed two days ago," the doctor, who identifies as gay, told us in mid-April-"I heard it from a friend. I heard their bodies were hung over a wall." He lives near Sadr City, and is almost but not quite inured to the regular reports of gay men murdered in the area.  

The same thing that used to happen to Sunnis and Shi'ites is now happening to gays. Till now, my friends and I know of 10 or 15 who have been killed, mostly around Sadr City. They sometimes get people in other places, and bring them there to be killed. About two months ago it started. Day after day they are more prominent. Now it is massive. At first they did it secretly; but now they stop you-they stopped me this way-and search you on the street, in front of others.

He fled Baghdad in mid-April, for his own safety. The stories pursued him relentlessly, though: not just in his personal but in his professional capacity. On April 18, he related to us:

A fellow doctor-a colleague, a classmate of mine, who works at al-Kindi hospital-told me over the phone that more were killed yesterday. Four were brought in with their genitals cut off. And some were brought in, not dead, with glue in their anuses.[40]

A few days later, he said colleagues in Baghdad had warned him "that bodies keep coming into the hospital. One day there were two bodies; the next, four. Two or three of the dead bodies have glue up the anus. And there are living people, a lot, who have been tortured badly, with bones broken."[41]

Tayyib, 24, lived for several years with other men in a "safe house" in Baghdad, funded by the London-based diasporic group Iraqi LGBT. He says that of sixteen men he shared those quarters with, only nine are left: the rest have been murdered or have disappeared. Friends and family told him that "the Mahdi Army threw my friend Mustafa off the top of a building: then they shot and killed him."Also in early 2009,

The Mahdi Army killed Khaldoun in Baghdad al-Jadida. I heard that Khaldoun was tortured, beaten and disfigured, and finally hung on the street. One of the tortures they used on him was a very strong glue to close his anus, after which he was given a laxative causing diarrhea that killed him.[42]         

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the campaign is its publicity and impunity. The death squads treat murder as a message, aimed at other presumed "deviants" and at the population at large. The brutality of the killings, the proliferation of mutilated corpses discarded in the trash, not only conveys the power of the killers and the dispensability of the victims, but makes the dead a savage example. Bodies-castrated, broken, tortured-become billboards, on which punishment is less imposed than inscribed. As one man told us, "It is a slaughterhouse on the streets."[43]

The excruciating killing of victims by injecting glue in their anuses reached the press on April 19, in an al-Arabiya article that quoted the Iraqi women's rights activist Yanar Mohammad condemning "an unprecedented form of torture against homosexuals."[44] Other doctors in Baghdad confirmed the practice to Human Rights Watch. One, at Chawader Hospital in Sadr City, told us that he had seen four men's dead bodies brought to the hospital:

I knew one of them. One of the bodies was found in the garbage in the Kasra wa Atash area and the others were found in several other streets.  .... Two of the bodies I saw were glued. I heard that happened in one of the car workshops in Sadr City but I don't think there have been any investigations.[45]

That is only one method, though, for staging a theater of humiliation. Mashal said: "Friends told me that last week in separate incidents they killed two guys, one from Sadr City, one from Ur-my area. They stripped them naked and put diapers and bras on them. Then the Mahdi Army beat them to death. They filmed at least one of the killings; I saw a video circulating via Bluetooth."[46]

These stories reinforce an atmosphere of terror, and are themselves reinforced by the videos of atrocity and insult that fly virally, from mobile phone to mobile phone, throughout Iraq.  Tariq told us, "Just recently a new insult started, a new name for gays: jeru [puppy]. My friend showed me a video on his mobile with a very effeminate man speaking and it was dubbed with a puppy's barks. There are a lot of videos like this going around."[47]

Fadi told us that, in his neighborhood near Sadr City, "I've seen a poster on the wall: 'Stop the immoral and anti-Islamic acts of the pervert homosexuals [mithliyeen], and mete out the appropriate divine punishment.'"[48] Similar signs have appeared in Najaf, the city that is home to the al-Sadr family. A doctor said that names of men suspected of homosexual conduct had been written on walls "in three different locations in Sadr city: Kasra wa Atash, al-Fallah Street and the end of al-Dakhel Street."[49]Al-Arabiya also alleged that public threats against named individuals had appeared in the district:

A previously unknown group, Ahl al-Haq (the People of Truth) has stepped up the persecution of Iraqi homosexuals [mithliyeen] after several were murdered in recent days. Sources say that "Three lists, each with the names of ten gay men, were circulated in Sadr City for a few hours." The lists included a message: "Lecherous ones [fajireen], we will punish you!"[50]

Fadi added that private threats are also part of the repertory: "If they [the Mahdi Army] are not quite sure about you, they say, 'You have to stop it or you will be killed.' If they are confident, they just kill you." He relates,  

A friend of mine, an engineer, was threatened directly. He told me that they told him his family would be killed with him if he didn't stop this. I haven't heard from him in ten days. ... 
I have been threatened directly too. I became acquainted with a person who is well known to be gay. I think then some people in the neighborhood began to suspect that I might be gay too. Around April 12, I was on the street and I saw some Mahdi Army thugs beating up a guy they were accusing of being gay. They spotted me and they shouted: "We know you and we will kill you next."[51]

Several people told us they had received death threats by phone or in notes. Talal said, "Starting in December [2008] I began getting text messages that had obscenities in them." Reluctant to say the words aloud, he writes them instead: tanta ["queen" or effeminate man], firakh [boy].

And the messages would say, "We know you if we see you," "We know where your house is and we're going to come there," "If we see you, we will kill you." And I got calls from random numbers saying the same thing.[52] 

Bilal, a salesman in Karada, told us that "Three weeks ago I was walking on the street, and a car pulled up to me. There were three young men in the car, teenagers. They started making obscenities and following me-'shame, shame, shazz [pervert], duda [worm].'"

When I go to my work, I am afraid. It is a gamble each time I go. Two months ago, some guy came and was stalking me. He kept hanging around the area where I work, giving me dirty looks-I was afraid I would be kidnapped or killed.[53] 

Bilal left Baghdad for another part of Iraq. In May, he informed Human Rights Watch that someone sent his family a note saying that "they" were waiting for him, and that he would be killed if he returned to his Karada neighborhood.[54]

The threats extend beyond Baghdad. We spoke to two men who had been in a relationship for five years; they lived in Najaf, the site of the tomb of Imam Ali, one of the holiest places of Shi'ite Islam. It is also a home of Moqtada al-Sadr, and a city dominated by the Mahdi Army. Ja'far, 41, had owned a shop near the mosque of Ali. When we met him, he was so traumatized by months of harassment and abuse that he could not leave his room and could barely talk. His partner Mohammed, 34, told most of his story.

"They did many things to us, the Mahdi Army," Mohammed said:

It started in October 2008. Men came into Ja'far's shop and offered him a drugged drink or candy. When he started to drive home with his earnings, one of them got in the car with him, and he was too drugged to stop them; they kidnapped him, beat him, and stole all he was carrying-tens of thousands of dollars. He disappeared for days; he won't say what happened to him. I didn't see him until two weeks after and there was still a bloody scar on his head from the beatings.
Another time they kidnapped him for six days. He will not talk about what they did to him. There were bruises on his side as if he was dragged on the street. They did things to him he can't describe, even to me.
They wrote in the dust on the windshield of his car: "Death to the people of Lot and to collaborators." They sent us veiled threats in text messages: "You are on the list." They sent Ja'far a piece of paper in an envelope, to his home: there were three bullets wrapped in plastic, of different size. The note said, "Which one do you want in your heart?"
I know who they are. The envelope came from the Mahdi Army's technical expert in Najaf-he does their websites. One day he met me on the street and asked me, "Did you receive my gift?"
I want to be a regular person, lead a normal life, walk around the city, drink coffee on the street. But because of who I am, I can't. There is no way out.[55]

Mustafa, 37, told us that in early 2009 in his home city of Basra, a militia member entrapped him in a bathhouse:

There is a hamam [bath] in Basra that gays frequent. I entered, but I was very careful how I looked and acted. I took a shower, and then this man approached me. He started talking about the situation in Iraq: how people should be more open, accept changes and change with them. He was very clever in his questions!
He asked if I watched satellite TV. I said yes. He asked if I watched the European channels. I denied that I did.[56] He said, "The Internet is a good thing; it is good that it came to our country." He asked what websites I visited. I just said, various ones. He asked if I went to porn sites. I denied it.  Then he asked if I used Manjam [a personals site popular among gay men].  He was very smart: that website is only known among the gays, I thought.   When he said that, I trusted him; I admitted it.
He smiled for a couple of minutes, a very neutral, slick smile, just looking at me. Then he grabbed me by the hair and started beating me, shouting, "You are gays." That was how he said it: gays.  He dragged me out of the shower; I begged him to let me put my clothes on, and he let me dress, but then he dragged me onto the street, shouting "You sodomite!" [Enta luti ].
People gathered around us while he was hitting me, and tried to interfere.  They said, "How do you know he is a sodomite? Did you see him practicing liwat?" The man said, "I have my own ways of finding out!" I was begging them to help, and while they were trying to reason with him, I took advantage of the confusion and ran away. We were on a narrow, winding street; I must have run 300 meters before I reached a shop where they sell rope. I shouted dakhilak [a cry for asylum]. The owner let me hide in his shop.
He put me in the cellar, but even there I could hear the man shouting, "Where is he?" and other voices joining him. Two hours later, the owner told me he had to close the shop. He said the man was from the Mahdi Army and the militia was searching for me up and down the street. I pleaded with him to let me stay overnight, and so he shuttered the shop up and let me hide there.  In the morning, after dawn prayer, he came and said it was safe and I ran away.[57]

Hanif, 25, fled Basra in April because of an atmosphere of vigilante menace. Two weeks later, his mother got a note addressed to him, reading:

Message to one of Basra's puppies
Know that the shari'a law will be executed on you and it is our duty to carry it out quickly
No matter when you disappear, the compensation [thawab] we will get from killing you will be ours

It was signed Ahl al-Haq-the "People of Truth."[58]

Another man, from Kirkuk, told us that Sunni militias had threatened him there in April 2009. 

They had some suspicion about my behavior and my clothes, and they were always watching me till one night when they stoppedme in the street when I came back from work to my home at night. They called me bad things and names (tanta and firakh)and threatened me with guns. They told me to change my way of dressing and my voice and never meet any one, and they told me that they know what I am, and one of them hit me on my face. Because of that I left my work and the city.[59]

[24] Human Rights Watch interview with Idris (not his real name), Iraq, April 24, 2009.

[25]Human Rights Watch interview with Bilal (not his real name), Iraq, April 20, 2009.

[26]Human Rights Watch interview with Hussein (not his real name), Iraq, April 23, 2009.

[27]Human Rights Watch interview with Tariq (not his real name), Iraq, April 18, 2009.

[28]  Human Rights Watch interview with Talal (not his real name), Iraq, April 21, 2009.

[29]Human Rights Watch interview with Atif (not his real name), Iraq, April 20, 2009.

[30] Human Rights Watch interview with Hamid (not his real name), Iraq, April 24, 2009.

[31] Human Rights Watch interview with Idris (not his real name), Iraq, April 24, 2009.

[32]Human Rights Watch interview with Majid (not his real name), Iraq, April 24, 2009.

[33]Human Rights Watch interview with Samir (not his real name), Iraq, April 24, 2009.

[34]Human Rights Watch interview with Majid (not his real name), Iraq, April 24, 2009.

[35] Human Rights Watch interview with Haytham (not his real name), Iraq, April 18, 2009.


[37]Human Rights Watch interview with Mashal (not his real name), Iraq, April 20, 2009.

[38] Accents from the south of Iraq, where the vast majority of the population are Shi'ite, suggest but do not confirm a sectarian affiliation.

[39]Human Rights Watch interview with Hussein (not his real name), Iraq, April 23, 2009.

[40]Human Rights Watch interview with Fadi (not his real name), Iraq, April 18, 2009.

[41]Human Rights Watch interview with Fadi (not his real name), Iraq, April 23, 2009.

[42]Human Rights Watch interview with Tayyib (not his real name), Iraq, April 25, 2009.

[43]Human Rights Watch interview with Atif (not his real name), Iraq, April 20, 2009.

[44] Hayyan Neyouf and Ali Al-Iraqi, "Seven Gays' Bodies in Baghdad Morgue," Al-Arabiya, April 20, 2009,, accessed April 21, 2009.

[45]Human Rights Watch interview with a doctor who asked not to be named, Iraq, May 15, 2009.

[46] Human Rights Watch interview with Mashal (not his real name), Iraq, April 20, 2009.

[47] Human Rights Watch interview with Tariq (not his real name), Iraq, April 18, 2009.

[48] Human Rights Watch interview with Fadi (not his real name), Iraq, April 18, 2009.

[49]Human Rights Watch interview with a medical doctor who asked not to be named, Iraq, April 25, 2009.

[50]Hayyan Neyouf and Ali Al-Iraqi, "Seven Gays' Bodies in Baghdad Morgue," Al-Arabiya,  April 20, 2009, , accessed April 21, 2009.

[51]Human Rights Watch interview with Fadi (not his real name), Iraq, April 18, 2009.

[52] Human Rights Watch interview with Talal (not his real name), Iraq, April 21, 2009.

[53] Human Rights Watch interview with Bilal (not his real name), Iraq, April 20, 2009.

[54] E-mail to Human Rights Watch from Bilal, May 12, 2009.

[55]Human Rights Watch interview with Mohammad and Ja'far (not their real names), Iraq, April 21, 2009.

[56] "European channels" have a reputation for pornography among some Iraqis.

[57] Human Rights Watch interview with Mustafa (not his real name), Beirut, Lebanon, July 10, 2009.

[58]E-mail to Human Rights Watch from Hanif (not his real name), April 29, 2009.

[59]E-mail to Human Rights Watch from Youssef (not his real name), Iraq, May 5, 2009.