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Iraq: attempts of assassination and kidnapping against activists

January 30, 2020 at 4:18 am

Protesters go on a hunger strike for their demands as they continue their anti-government demonstrations at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq on 23 December 2019. [Murtadha Sudani – Anadolu Agency]

Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights revealed, on Wednesday, 121 cases and attempts of assassinations and kidnapping against the activists from the popular movement, since the start of the anti-government and political elite protests in early October 2019.

Fadel Al-Gharawi, a member of the commission (which is official and affiliated to parliament), said in a statement that “the commission has documented 49 cases and attempts of assassination, and 72 cases and attempts of kidnapping against demonstrators, activists, and bloggers, since the first day of the demonstrations.”

Al-Gharawi added that the commission also documented “50 cases of beatings, threats, and inhalation of tear gas, attacking several satellite channels, breaking their equipment, and preventing media workers from covering the demonstrations.”

He said that “the attempts of assassination, kidnapping and assaulting of the demonstrators are flagrant violations of the right to life and safety, and constitute a restrictive force against freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful protest.”

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Al-Gharawi called on the Iraqi government and security forces to “take effective measures to protect demonstrators and journalists and preserve their lives, and to pursue the unknown parties trying to silence the protesters, and bring them to justice.”

Activists, who participated in the protests, were been exposed to coordinated attacks; including assassinations, kidnappings and torture in secret locations since the outbreak of the unrest.

The Iraqi government has repeatedly pledged to prosecute those responsible for these violations, but with no results so far, at a time when activists accuse the militants of pro-Iran Shiite factions of being accountable for the attacks, which the factions categorically denied.

Iraq has been witnessing unprecedented protests since the beginning of last October, interspersed with violence, leading to the death of more than 600 people, according to Amnesty International and statements by Iraqi President Barham Salih.

The popular movement forced the government of Adil Abdul Mahdi to resign, on 1 December 2019 and insists on holding all the political figures, accused of corruption and wasting state funds, accountable, and isolating the political class, which ruled the country, since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.

Iraq is living in a constitutional vacuum since the deadline given to the President of the Republic to assign a candidate to form the next government came to an end on 16 December, due to deep conflicts over the candidate.