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UN Report Accuses Armed Groups of Killing, Abducting Protesters in Iraq

UN Report Accuses Armed Groups of Killing, Abducting Protesters in Iraq

Sunday, 24 May, 2020 - 05:30
Iraqi protesters run for cover as they clash with security forces on Al-Jumhuriyah bridge in the capital Baghdad, during an anti-government demonstration (AFP)

A total of 123 people has been kidnapped since the anti-government protests first broke out in Iraq until March 21, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a report. It estimated that 7,783 people were wounded and 490 were killed during the protests.

"The continued absence of accountability for these acts continues to contribute to the spread of impunity with regard to reports of violations and abuses," it said.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, welcomed promises made by the new cabinet of Mustafa al-Kadhimi to investigate the incidents that took place during the demonstrations. She also pledged compensation to the victims and their families and offered medical treatment to those who were injured.

The new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi was to appoint a fact-finding committee to investigate the violence and to hold accountable the guilty and compensate the families of those killed and wounded.

“I have not and will not issue any order to shoot any peaceful demonstrator and whoever does so will be brought to justice,” Kadhimi said.

UNAMI, however, talked about the possible "involvement of armed actors with high levels of organization, resources, and capabilities".

It pointed out that the testimony of the victims and the data do not indicate that Iraqi security forces were behind the kidnaps.

UNAMI urged the new Iraqi government to make efforts to find protesters who have been missing since October. Iraq must comply with international law by “making all efforts to locate those demonstrators and activists who remain missing.”

Baghdad should also “take immediate action to investigate all alleged cases of abduction, disappearance and torture/ill-treatment in the context of ongoing demonstrations and prosecute those responsible,” it added.

Ali al-Bayati, a member of the Iraqi Commission for Human Rights, told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that previous UN reports talked about 15,000 wounded activists, noting that the recent report disregarded injuries by tear gas. The issue isn’t in the total of casualties, what matters is holding accountable the individuals involved, he stressed.

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