Term Paper: Gay and Lesbian Torture in Iraq and the International Human Rights Violations

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Torture and Abuse of Gays and Lesbians in U.S. Occupied Iraq

The United States has always presented itself as a model of fairness and equality. A champion of human rights around the world, the American government is a signatory to wide range of treaties that guarantee equal protection and treatment for persons of diverse races, religions, creeds, and ethnic groups. The American government condemns gender bias, age discrimination, and prejudice against the physically and mentally disabled. So, when George W. Bush's original justification for the invasion of Iraq i.e. "anticipatory self-defense" collapsed, the President quickly substituted the idea of human rights. Yet, the new Iraq that is emerging after five years of often bloody U.S. occupation can hardly be described as a humanitarian paradise. Numerous sections of Baghdad, and the surrounding countryside, have been "ethnically cleansed." Islamic mullahs spout hate as the Shia majority seeks to outmaneuver the formerly ruling Sunni minority. Iraq's new parliament frames an "American-style" democracy with the help of Muslim fundamentalist Shariah law. Women are pushed from the place in public life that they occupied while the secularist Saddam Hussein was in power. and, in a telling orgy of abuse, torture, and death, gay and lesbian Iraqis are sent the message that they have no claim on the title of "human being." The United States military, diplomatic corps, and government, have done little to nothing to protect Iraq's gay men and women. The American claim to be creating a new Iraq - one that is a place of freedom and justice for all - is being sacrificed on an altar of political expediency as American officials permit an increasingly fundamentalist presence to overtake the budding democracy.

In short, the United States government, its military personnel, diplomatic officials, and other representatives have failed to prevent or speak out against attacks on gay and lesbian Iraqis. Monitoring and implementation of international human rights agreements to which the Iraqi nation is a party has been lax or non-existent. Gays and lesbians in danger of torture and death have only infrequently been permitted to obtain asylum in the United States or in those areas of Iraq under its close protection. The United States has also failed to intervene when Iraqi electoral and governmental processes have put in place in elements of Islamic Shariah law that are discriminatory to gays and lesbians, and have permitted the promulgation of an Iraqi constitution that makes these anti-egalitarian ideas a part of the nation's fundamental law.

As his backing is considered essential to the success and stability of the Iraqi state, Americans have not condemned fundamentalist leader Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. Worst of all, the United States of America has set a terrible example for the Iraqis to follow by failing to pursue full gay and lesbian rights within the United States itself. Anti-gay campaigns such as those against gay marriage and civil unions, against the inclusion of gay people under employment anti-discrimination laws, resistance to gay hate crimes legislation, and the military "don't ask don't tell" policy contribute to Iraqi and international impressions that the world's great champion of liberty and equal rights does not care about its own gay and lesbian citizens, let alone those of other nations. This study will examine each of these issues and propose possible solutions. The United States must maintain its commitment to human rights. It must set a good example, and stand by its principles. Gay and lesbian Iraqis must be rescued from a fate that is worse than anything that befell them in the days of the dictator Saddam Hussein.

Part II.

Background: The United States Invasion of Iraq and Humanitarian Claims and Responsibilities

A. The Invasion

In 2003, George W. Bush invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq based on claims that the country's ruler, the dictator Saddam Hussein, was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and so presented a clear and present danger to the United States of America, its allies, and the wider international community. In the months previous to the American invasion, Hussein had permitted United Nations weapons inspectors to look for such weapons. As of March 2003, none had been found. The United Nations Security Council did not endorse American requests to pass a new resolution permitting the Americans to invade. Failing to obtain this new resolution, President Bush declared that the resolution authorizing the weapons inspections, Resolution 1441, had in fact authorized the use of military force as a means of enforcement.

Though, three of the five Security Council members - France, Russia, and China - were adamantly opposed to military action unsupported by evidence of weapons of mass destruction and denied the applicability of 1441, the Bush Administration had already been preparing other justifications with the American public. The Bush Administration played the propaganda card, using the full force of the federal bureaucracy to continually insinuate a connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11, 2001. Mentioned again and again in the same sentence or paragraph, the two became conflated in the public mind. A lack of real evidence to prove that Hussein's regime was, in fact, harboring or developing chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, was transmuted into a threat to terrible to contemplate. Governmental officials worked the Iraq threat into virtually every speech. Saddam and 9/11 were pounded into the public consciousness. President Bush was now beginning to present his new doctrine of "Preventive War" - a new paradigm of international relations in which a state would take its defense into its own hands before a threat had actually presented itself. It was, in effect, an original interpretation of hard power doctrines in which even a superpower such as the United States could be seen as constantly at the mercy of all-powerful, all-pervasive, and ever-threatening dark forces; terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda. Saddam Hussein's Iraq would be deserving of attack under the doctrine of preventive war by being a "rogue state," one whose rulers,

Brutalize their own people and squander their national resources for the personal gain of the rulers; display no regard for international law, threaten their neighbors, and callously violate international treaties to which they are party; are determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction, along with other advanced military technology, to be used as threats or offensively to achieve the aggressive designs of these regimes; sponsor terrorism around the globe; and reject human values and hate the United States and everything it stands for.

The Bush Administration's definition of a rouge state, therefore; permitted the American government to justify undertaking potentially unilateral action to protect itself. The norms of the civilized world - humanitarian precepts that are spelled out under international laws and treaties - are directly conflated with American values, needs, and expectations. In this view, what conflicts with America's goals can be seen as violating the interests of humanity as a whole. This would prove an essential point in understanding the tragedy that afterwards befell Iraq's gay and lesbian citizens.

B. Occupation: America's Duties and Responsibilities under International Law

Having quickly defeated the Iraqi army and driven Saddam Hussein from power and into hiding, the United States faced new duties and responsibilities as an occupying power. According to Nicholas Wheeler,

Preoccupation with the motives of the interveners "takes the intervening state as the referent object for analysis rather than the victims who are rescued as a consequence of the use of force." According to this thinking, placing the victims at the center of the analysis, as opposed to the interveners, "leads to a different emphasis on the importance of motives in judging the humanitarian credentials of the interveners."

The United States occupation of Iraq was legitimated by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483, an act that established the Coalition Provisional Authority, or CPA, as the state's government. Oddly for an invasion that was now being justified almost completely in humanitarian terms, Resolution 1483 gave the CPA an almost free hand in the administration of the conquered territory, abolishing the Oil for Food Program, and with it, virtually all other forms of international oversight to which Iraq had previously been subject.

While granting the United States and its allies an apparent mandate to re-structure Iraqi society in accordance with forward-looking humanitarian principles, the CPA quickly displayed a thorough lack of preparation, or seeming understanding of its mission. There was no coherent plan for the maintenance of law and order, the administration of justice, or for anything approaching a democratic alternative to Iraq's prior highly autocratic system of governance. Indeed, the CPA's Regulation # 1 stated the following:

The CPA is vested with all executive, legislative and judicial authority necessary to achieve its objectives, to be exercised under relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 1483 (2003), and the laws and usages of war. This authority shall be exercised by the CPA Administrator.

The "laws and usages of war" to which this highly authoritarian decree referred no doubt included such international obligations as the Geneva Convention, the Convention against Torture, the Universal Declaration of Human… [END OF PREVIEW]

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