Eight organizations call on Baghdad and Erbil to release peaceful activists

Iraqi demonstrators take part in an ongoing anti-government protest, in Baghdad, Iraq November 1, 2019. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Eight local and international organizations called on the Iraqi and Kurdish governments to release journalists and activists detained over protests in the country.

Amnesty International released a joint statement signed by eight organizations urging the federal government to investigate the detention of activists and others since October when anti-government protests began in Baghdad and southern cities.

They also called on Baghdad to end impunity for murders and release kidnapped and detained peaceful activists.

The undersigned organizations include Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights, Gulf Center for human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Iraqi Network for Social Media, Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights, Metro Center for Journalists’ Rights Advocacy and World Organization Against Torture.

The organizations called on Baghdad to “fairly, thoroughly and effectively” conduct investigations into the cases of detention and forcible disappearance and unlawful killings of dozens of Iraqi activists, journalists, lawyers, and other civil society members.

They said they were concerned about the “lack of accountability for the extrajudicial executions that have taken place this year, targeting individuals for their peaceful expression”.

The organizations also said the Kurdish authorities had been targeting civil society activists by detaining them for their work and curtailing public freedoms.

They added that Kurdish security forces had detained dozens of activists, teachers, and peaceful protesters and that many remain in detention.

“The Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government are failing in their obligations under international and Iraqi law to bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes against journalists, activists, human rights defenders and protesters,” the organizations said.

“Despite repeated pledges by the authorities including Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to carry out investigations and hold perpetrators accountable, the authorities have failed to do so to date, in effect perpetuating and further entrenching decades of impunity that have left brave individuals without the most basic protection.”

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