Monday, September 8, 2008

Returning Refugees

The Economist recently published a story on the politics involved in returning refugees to their respective homelands. They ask, "is the right of return a principle on which no negotiation is possible, or is it simply one of several considerations, on which there can be political trade-offs?"

Afghanistan has apparently been a "relative success story," with over 5 million refugees returning from Pakistan and Iran since 2002. Unfortunately, the voluntary return of displaced Afghans has come to a halt amid worsening security, as well as social and economic, conditions.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Gay Iraqis Attacked

Newsweek had an article detailing the plight of gay Iraqi men who were being attacked by militiamen of the Mahdi Army and Shia extremists of the Badr Corps. According to the London-based NGO Iraqi LGBT, more than 430 gay men have been murdered in Iraq since 2003. The NGO has helped establish several safehouses in Baghdad where approximately 40 men remain under protection. Newsweek's queries about gay rights were ignored or evaded by the Human Rights and Labor and Social Affairs ministries, as well as the UN's human rights office. Advocating for human rights can be a difficult, and sometimes dangerous, business, but we encourage social scientists and governments to work with NGOs to protect vulnerable populations.

What steps would you take to help combat discrimination and violence against gays in countries that criminalize homosexuality? Specifically, what can anthropologists do to improve the situation of gays living in Iraq?