اعربت منظمة العفو الدولية عن خشيتها من امكانية تعرض الموظفتين لدى مكتب نائب رئيس الجمهورية طارق الهاشمي المعتقلتين من قبل الامن العراقية إلى التعذيب وسوء المعاملة، منتقدة القبض عليهما من دون مذكرة توقيف رسمية.
وقالت المنظمة الدولية في بيان نشرته على موقعها الرسمي ان احدى الموظفتين وهي رشا نمير جعفر الحسين اعتقلت في منزل والديها في منطقة الزيونة ببغداد في الاول من كانون الثاني من دون اذن بالقبض عليها.
واوضحت المنظمة ان الموظفة الاخرى وهي بسيمة سليم كرياكوس اعتقلت في اليوم نفسه بعد ان داهم 15 من رجال الامن المسلحين والذين يرتدون الزي العسكري منزلها في المنطقة الخضراء ببغداد من دون امر بالقبض عليها كذلك.
واضافت المنظمة ان بسيمة كرياكوس سبق ان اعتقلت وتعرضت للضرب قبل ان يطلق سراحها بعد ثلاثة ايام وذلك قبل ايام قليلة من اعتقالها مجددا، معربة عن قلقها على سلامة السيدتين وقالت انها تخشى تعرضهما للتعذيب او اشكال اخرى من سوء المعاملة، لافتة الى ان اعتقالهما له صلة على ما يبدو بأمر بالقبض على الهاشمي.
اعربت منظمة العفو الدولية عن خشيتها من امكانية تعرض الموظفتين لدى مكتب نائب رئيس الجمهورية طارق الهاشمي المعتقلتين من قبل الامن العراقية إلى التعذيب وسوء المعاملة، منتقدة القبض عليهما من دون مذكرة توقيف رسمية.
طالبت منظمة العفو الدولية الحكومة البحرينية بوضع حد لحملة الاعتقالات ضد معارضيها، والتوقف عن اعتقال اي معارض والافراج عن المحتجين المعتقلين بسبب مطالبتهم السلمية بالاصلاحات.
Suspected Sunni Islamist insurgents and Shi’ite militiamen are routinely tortured or abused by Iraqi security forces to extract confessions early in their detention and interrogation, Iraqi military officials say.
Six Iraqi security officials, including two high-ranking officers, as well as former detainees and lawyers, told Reuters that prisoners are beaten, stomped on or strung up by their hands during arrest and preliminary interrogations.
Suspects are beaten and trampled when they resist arrest and are sometimes tortured when they provoke interrogators by showing "enjoyment" or "pride," a senior military official familiar with military jails in Baghdad told Reuters.
"Some suspects delight in the narrative details of how they murdered their victims. In response, some investigators slap them or kick them or order them hung up (by the arms)," he said, asking for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Iraq’s Supreme Judiciary Council received more than 400 complaints last year from detainees or their families, accusing Iraqi military interrogators of torture or abuse. In only 90 cases did a court take up the allegations and launch a probe.
Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry, responding to the information obtained by Reuters, said inspection teams still record abuse cases during prison visits but the number is falling.
"Cases of violations and irregularities … are not a phenomenon … not systemic, but a very limited number of individual cases," ministry spokesman Kamil Amine said.
Torture was widespread under the late dictator Saddam Hussein, ousted in the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Disclosures in 2004 that U.S. jailers had abused and sexually humiliated Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison outraged many Iraqis and may have fueled the insurgency.
Iraq’s elected authorities last year promised to crack down on continuing abuse of prisoners in Iraq, where human rights groups have warned torture of detainees by security forces has been systematic as they fight a waning insurgency.
Terrorism suspects often are held at the Camp Cropper prison near Baghdad airport, or Camp Honor, inside the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone.
U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said in a February 1 report that security forces torture inmates at Camp Honor, citing interviews with former detainees.
In a new report on prisoner abuse in Iraq issued Tuesday, Amnesty International said urgent action was needed to end a "pattern of abuse" in Iraqi detention centers.
THE FOURTH AREA
Many preliminary terrorism interrogations take place at Camp Cropper, a former U.S. detention center turned over to the Iraqis last year and renamed Camp al-Karkh, in a little-known place called the "Fourth Area," Iraqi security officials said.
"It is a place for the detention of prisoners in accordance with article 4 of the terrorism (law), so it is named after that," a senior officer from Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Squad said. "The interrogations in this area are brutal, more brutal than the interrogations in Camp Honor."
Cropper was the last U.S. prison in Iraq and its handover ended a difficult chapter of the U.S. invasion in which thousands of people were held without charge.
In the most common methods of abuse, suspects are kicked, beaten with pieces of electric cable, hung by the arms, or burned with cigarettes, and hot metal or given electrical shocks, security officials and lawyers said.
"Some detainees have died as a result of torture. The last death occurred four or five months ago in this place (Cropper) as a result of severe beatings that led to kidney malfunction," the officer from the Counter-Terrorism Squad said.
Lawyers say proving torture in court can be difficult.
"Some of those conducting the interrogations are artists in the field of torture, and hide the evidence and facts from the judges," said a lawyer who declined to be named.
MADRID, 13 January 2011 (IRIN) – Asma Al-Haidari, an Amman-based Iraqi human rights analyst and advocate, says the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in Iraq touches the whole population, irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity or religious belief.
The number of missing persons in Iraq ranges from 250,000 to over one million, according to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).
The length of time over which enforced disappearances have occurred in Iraq, starting with the Iraq-Iran war (1980-88), render this issue particularly complex, according to International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson for Iraq Layal Houraniyeh. The issue of enforced disappearances in Iraq represents, according to IMCP, “a major long-term challenge”.
Article 2 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance defines enforced disappearance as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.”
The Convention entered into force on 23 December 2010, 30 days after Iraq became the 20th state to ratify it on 23 November. It provides that “no one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance” and that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance.” According to the UN Human Rights Council, “secret detention amounts to an enforced disappearance.”
“No safe place”
Focusing on enforced disappearance in Iraq since 2003, Dirk Adriansens, an expert on Iraq and member of international anti-war group the Brussels Tribunal, gave a presentation at a 9-12 December conference in London organized by the International Committee Against Disappearance (ICAD). Citing 2009 surveys by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), he said 20 percent of internally displaced and 5 percent of returnee families reported cases of missing children.
Further, UNHCR published findings in 2009 showing that “many communities reported missing family members – 30 percent of IDPs, 30 percent of IDP returnees, 27 percent of refugee returnees – indicating that they were missing because of kidnappings, abductions and detentions and that they do not know what happened to their missing family members,” he said.
Adriansens added in his presentation: “A rough estimate would therefore bring the number of missing persons among the refugee population and the internally displaced after ‘Shock and Awe’ [2003 US-led military operation to invade Iraq] to 260,000, most of them enforced disappearances.”
Adriansens went on to say that by extrapolating UNHCR figures to cover the Iraqi population which had not suffered displacement, the total number of missing persons since 2003 “could be more than half a million”.
Jordan-based analyst Al-Haidari believes this number is higher, placing it in the range of 800,000 to one million. “There is no safe place in Iraq. People can be disappeared and sent to secret, illegal detention centres anywhere in the country, without the knowledge of the family or the person’s lawyer,” Al-Haidari said. “Many are assassinated and buried in secret. Many others are charged with trumped-up terrorism charges.”
Amnesty International report
A recent Amnesty International report said “an estimated 30,000 untried detainees are currently being held by the Iraqi authorities, although the exact number is not known as the authorities do not disclose such information.” In addition, there are detainees held at secret facilities, at which torture is common, it said.
A further 23,000 previously held without charge or trial by US forces are currently being transferred to the Iraqi authorities or released, though Amnesty International believes “[a state cannot] claim to be treating detainees humanely while knowingly handing them over to torturers, any more than it can knowingly `release’ detainees in a minefield and claim that their safety is no longer its responsibility.”
BAGHDAD / Aswat al-Iraq: A total 257 death sentences by hanging, including six women, were carried out in Iraq since 2005, according to an Iraqi justice ministry official on Thursday.
“The death sentences started in August 2005 and there will be 37 others pending until approval by the Iraqi Presidential Board,” Undersecretary of Justice Busho Ibrahim was quoted by the Agence France Presse (AFP) as saying.
He said 251 men and six women had been executed since Iraq lifted the moratorium on the death penalty it adopted after the 2003 US-led invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein.
This year, Iraq has executed just 17 people, sharply down on 2009 when it put 124 people to death, four of them women.
Ibrahim gave no explanation for the fall but Iraq has been without a government for much of this year and under the constitution all executions have to approved by a member of the three-man presidency.
Ibrahim said the death penalty can be applied in crimes that fall under five categories: murder, terrorism, kidnapping, drug trafficking and crimes against humanity. Those executed are usually hanged.
He did not immediately have figures on the total number of prisoners who have been sentenced to death, but Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said on Monday that Iraq has 835 people on death row.
UN envoy Ad Melkert called on the Iraqi government to abolish the death penalty in a speech marking International Human Rights Day on Friday.
“On this day we would like to reiterate our universal call to refrain from carrying out the death penalty and would encourage Iraq to consider banning this instrument as a fundamental feature of applying justice in a new Iraq,” he said, according to a transcript of his speech.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is an ardent supporter of capital punishment, but President Jalal Talabani is a staunch opponent.
Amnesty International, a human rights watchdog, noted in a September 2009 that Iraq was one of only 46 countries that voted against a December 2008 UN resolution in favor of a moratorium on the use of capital punishment. The resolution was approved by 106 states.
Ibrahim also said that Iraq was embarking on a massive prison revamping program, due to be completed in 2015.
“There are some plans to build new prisons because most of our current prisons are very old,” he said. “Only the prisons that were built by the Americans are of good quality. All of the Saddam-era prisons, except for Badoush in Mosul (northern Iraq), need to be rebuilt, renovated or modernized.
“By 2014 or 2015, all prisons in Iraq should be fully updated or rebuilt,” Ibrahim said, putting the current capacity of the 33 prisons operated by the justice ministry, two of which are not being used, at 28,530.
Iraq’s fractured penal system means that while all convicted prisoners are sent to justice ministry jails, the ministries of interior and defense operate their own pre-trial detention facilities.
Ibrahim said that as of December 9, a total of 24,783 people were being held in justice ministry prisons, including both convicts and remand prisoners.
Among them are 130 minors convicted of offences and 45 awaiting trial. A total of 341 adult women are serving sentences, while 241 are on remand.
Ibrahim said Iraq was holding some foreign prisoners but did not specify how many. He said most of the foreigners were Arabs or of Arab origin.
Overall, he put prison operating costs at between 180 and 190 dollars per prisoner per month — 150 dollars a month for food, with the remainder being spent on clothing, healthcare and other basic services.
Amnesty International today strongly condemned a call by the Iraqi Interior Minister for the swift execution of 39 alleged al-Qai’da members as they were paraded before journalists, handcuffed and clad in orange jumpsuits.
"For Jawad al-Bolani to abuse his position as Interior minister by parading these men publicly and calling for their execution before they have even gone to trial, flagrantly flaunting the requirement for defendants to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court, is absolutely outrageous," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"It makes a complete mockery of any suggestion that these suspects will receive a fair trial, and sets a most ominous precedent for others."
Jawad al-Bolani said at a press conference in Baghdad on Thursday:
"Today, we will send those criminals and the investigation results to the courts that will sentence them to death. Our demand is not to delay the carrying out of the executions against these criminals so that to deter terrorist and criminal elements."
According to media reports he also said that most of the 39 suspects had rejoined al-Qai’da linked groups after being released from Iraqi prisons administered by the USA. One of them was identified as Hazim al-Zawi, al-Qai’da in Iraq’s third-highest leader.
Amnesty International highlighted serious concerns about human rights abuses suffered by the many thousands of detainees in Iraq, many of whom were transferred from US to Iraqi custody in the months up to mid-July 2010, in its report New Order, Same Abuses: Unlawful detentions and torture in Iraq, published in September.
The report detailed how many detainees were arbitrarily held, sometimes for several years without charge or trial, and often tortured to obtain forced confessions.
"We have been saying for a long time that ‘confessions’ in Iraq are regularly extracted under torture, so any ‘confessions’ these 39 suspects have made, which may be used in their trial, must be thoroughly investigated to ensure that they have not been made under duress, torture or other ill-treatment," said Malcolm Smart.
"What chance can there be for any defendant to receive a fair trial if so senior a government minister shows such contempt for the rule of law?"
Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi government to ensure that these and other detainees awaiting trial must receive fair trials that conform to recognized international standards.
The organization said it recognizes that the security situation in Iraq remains precarious and that it is the government’s duty to protect its population, including members of religious and ethnic minorities. However this must be done with full respect of human rights and the rule of law.
Amnesty International has on numerous occasions strongly condemned human rights abuses committed by armed groups in Iraq.
Amnesty International said it opposes the death penalty unconditionally as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
The organization has called on Iraq to end executions as a step toward complete abolition of the death penalty.
ناشد مسؤولو اللجوء وجماعات حقوق الإنسان عدداً من الدول الأوروبية بعدم إجبار طالبي اللجوء العراقيين، خصوصاً المنتمين منهم إلى أقليات، على العودة إلى بلادهم وذلك بسبب انعدام الأمن فيها.
وقد جاءت هذه المناشدة رداً على الخطط التي أعلنتها المملكة المتحدة والسويد وهولندا والنرويج مؤخراً لإعادة اللاجئين العراقيين إلى بلدهم. وقد بدأت المملكة المتحدة بالفعل بترحيل بعض العراقيين وهو ما يشرح عودة حوالي 40 طالب لجوء إلى بغداد في 17 يونيو ضمن ثالث عملية ترحيل تقوم بها المملكة المتحدة هذا الأسبوع.
وفي هذا السياق، قالت ميليسا فليمينغ، المتحدثة باسم المفوضية السامية للأمم المتحدة لشؤون اللاجئين، خلال مؤتمر صحفي عقد يوم 8 يونيو: "إن موقفنا والنصيحة التي نقدمها للحكومات تتمثل في ضرورة استمرار استفادة طالبي اللجوء العراقيين القادمين من محافظات بغداد وديالى ونينوى وصلاح الدين وكركوك من الحماية الدولية. يعكس موقفنا الأوضاع الأمنية غير المستقرة واستمرار ارتفاع مستوى العنف بالبلاد والحوادث الأمنية وانتهاكات حقوق الإنسان التي تجري في هذه المناطق من العراق".
وفي الوقت الذي تم فيه توجيه انتقادات كبيرة للحكومة البريطانية بسبب سرية عمليات ترحيلها، تصر هذه الأخيرة على أن أولئك الذي رحلتهم ينتمون لمناطق أكثر أمناً في العراق. وأعربت المفوضية عن قلقها من أن العودة القسرية تبعث برسالة خاطئة إلى البلدان المضيفة المجاورة للعراق، خصوصاً سوريا والأردن.
الهجمات على الأقليات
وتخشى الأقليات العراقية، بما فيها المسيحيون من مختلف الطوائف واليزيديون والشبك، الذين يعيشون في بلدان ثالثة من تعرضهم للعودة القسرية. وأخبر لاجئ عراقي مسيحي كلداني، طلب عدم الكشف عن اسمه، يعيش في هولندا منذ عام 2006 شبكة الأنباء الإنسانية (إيرين) أنه يخشى أن العودة بسبب الهجمات العديدة التي تستهدف طائفته في العراق. وأشار إلى أن "عمليات الخطف والقتل لدوافع سياسية لا تزال تحدث فيما يبدو أنه محاولة لإخراج سكان العراق الأصليين من البلاد أو القضاء عليهم".
وهذا اللاجئ هو واحد من أكثر من نصف مليون مسيحي عراقي فروا من البلاد منذ الغزو الذي قادته الولايات المتحدة على العراق عام 2003. ووفقاً لمعهد بروكينغز في الولايات المتحدة، يوجد الآن حوالي 500,000 مسيحي في العراق مقارنة بما بين مليون و 1.4 مليون قبل عام 2003. وعلق على ذلك الدكتور غازي رحو، وهو عراقي مسيحي فر من البلاد منذ عدة سنوات ويعمل حالياً كأستاذ في الأردن، قائلاً: "يستمر المسيحيون في التعرض للاستهداف دون وجود أية حماية من السلطات العراقية".
وكان ابن عم رحو، رئيس الأساقفة بولص فرج رحو، وهو مسيحي بارز في العراق، قد تعرض للقتل في فبراير 2008 في حادث أدى إلى فرار 12,000 مسيحي من محافظة الموصل التي تقع على بعد حوالي 400 كلم شمال غرب بغداد. وأشار رحو إلى أنه "حتى هذا التاريخ لا تزال عمليات الخطف والاغتيالات تحدث، ويتم استخدام تكتيكات أخرى لترهيب المسيحيين كقصف الكنائس مثلاً".
ووفقاً لتقرير صادر عن منظمة العفو الدولية في أبريل 2010، لقي أكثر من 100 شخص حتفهم خلال الفترة بين منتصف شهر يوليو ومنتصف شهر سبتمبر 2009 في هجمات استهدفت المسيحيين والصابئة المندائيين واليزيديين والتركمان الشيعة والشبك وغيرهم.
ودعت منظمة العفو الدولية المجتمع الدولي إلى "وضع حد لجميع عمليات الإعادة القسرية إلى أي جزء من العراق"، مشيرة إلى أنه "لا ينبغي أن تتم أية عودة لطالبي اللجوء المرفوضين إلا بعد استقرار الوضع الأمني في عموم البلاد".
من جهتها، قدمت منظمة حقوق الأقليات الدولية، وهي منظمة غير حكومية بأدلة مفصلة على العنف ضد الأقليات في العراق في تقرير أصدرته في 10 يونيو وأعربت فيه عن الحاجة الملحة لوضع تشريعات لحقوق الأقليات في البلاد بهدف التصدي لجو "الإفلات من العقاب السائد فيما يتعلق بالهجمات على الأقليات".
في غضون ذلك، أعلنت المفوضية في 18 يونيو أن 100,000 عراقي أحيلوا لإعادة التوطين من الشرق الأوسط إلى بلد ثالث منذ عام 2007. ويعيش حوالي 45 بالمائة من هذا العدد في سوريا، حسب المفوضية. وأضافت المنظمة أن نسبة قبول البلدان المضيفة وصلت إلى 80 بالمائة، من بينهم 76 بالمائة قبلوا من طرف الولايات المتحدة.
ويشكل العراقيون ثاني أكبر مجموعة لاجئين في العالم، وفقاً للتقرير الصادر عن المفوضية تحت عنوان "الاتجاهات العالمية لعام 2009"، حيث يعيش 1.8 مليون طالب لجوء عراقي في سوريا والأردن ولبنان ومصر وتركيا. كما أفاد التقرير الصادر على هامش اليوم العالمي للاجئين في 20 يونيو أن العودة الطوعية في جميع أنحاء العالم في عام 2009 كانت الأدنى على مدى 20 عاماً، حيث لم تشمل سوى حوالي 251,500 عائد منهم 38,000 عراقي.
MADRID, 20 June 2010 (IRIN) – Refugee officials and rights groups have urged a number of European countries not to forcibly repatriate Iraqi asylum seekers, particularly members of minority communities, because of prevailing insecurity in the country.
These demands were made in response to recent announced repatriation plans by the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway. The UK has already begun deporting some Iraqis, with some 40 asylum-seekers arriving in Baghdad on 17 June – the UK’s third deportation in that week.
“Our position and advice to governments is that Iraqi asylum applicants originating from Iraq’s governorates of Baghdad, Diyala, Ninewa and Salah-al-Din, as well as from Kirkuk province, should continue to benefit from international protection,” Melissa Fleming, a spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said at a press briefing on 8 June.
“Our position reflects the volatile security situation and the still high level of prevailing violence, security incidents, and human rights violations taking place in these parts of Iraq,” she said.
While its deportations have been criticized for being highly secretive, the British government has insisted the people it was repatriating were from safer parts of Iraq. UNHCR has expressed concern that the forced returns send the wrong message to host countries neighbouring Iraq, namely Syria and Jordan.
Iraqi minorities – including Christians of various denominations, Yazidis and the Shabak – living in third countries are particularly fearful of any forced returns.
A Chaldean Christian Iraqi refugee who has lived in the Netherlands since 2006 told IRIN on condition of anonymity that he feared being singled out for deportation because of the many attacks against his community in Iraq.
"Kidnappings and politically motivated killings continue to take place in what seems to be an attempt to resettle or eradicate Iraq’s indigenous population," he said.
He is one of more than half a million Iraqi Christians who have fled since the US-led invasion of the country in 2003. According to the US-based Brookings Institution, an estimated 500,000 Christians remain in Iraq since numbering between 1 million and 1.4 million before 2003.
“Christians continue to be targeted and there is no protection from the Iraqi authorities,” said Dr Ghazi Rahho, a Christian Iraqi who fled the country several years ago and now works as a professor in Jordan.
Rahho’s cousin, Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, a leading Christian authority in Iraq, was kidnapped and killed in February 2008, an incident that led to some 12,000 Christians fleeing Mosul, about 400km northwest of Baghdad. “To date, kidnappings and assassinations are taking place. And other tactics are used to terrorize Christians. Our churches, for instance, are being bombed," said Rahho.
According to an April 2010 Amnesty International (AI) report, more than 100 people were killed between mid-July and mid-September 2009 in attacks targeting Christians, Sabean-Mandaeans, Yazidis, Turkoman Shias, Shabaks and Kaka’is.
AI has called on the international community to “end all forcible returns to any part of Iraq; any return of rejected asylum-seekers should only take place when the security situation in the whole country has stabilized.”
NGO Minority Rights Group International has detailed evidence of violence against Iraq’s minority communities in a June 10 report and expressed an urgent need for legislation implementing minority rights in the country to address an “ongoing climate of impunity that exists in relation to attacks on minorities”.
Iraqi refugee landmark
Meanwhile, UNHCR announced on 18 June that a landmark 100,000 Iraqis had been referred for resettlement from the Middle East to third countries since 2007. About 45 percent of that number lives in Syria, UNHCR said, adding that the referrals acceptance rate by host countries was 80 percent, of which 76 percent were accepted by the US.
Iraqis are the second largest refugee group in the world, according to UNHCR’s 2009 Global Trends report, with an estimated 1.8 million seeking refuge primarily in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey.
The report, released in advance of World Refugee Day on 20 June, said voluntary repatriation worldwide in 2009 was the lowest for 20 years, with around 251,500 returns, of which only 38,000 were Iraqi.
قالت حسيبة حاج صحراوي نائبة مدير برنامج الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا في منظمة العفو الدولية ان الإعادة القسرية للاجئين عراقيين في أوربا تنتهك معايير حقوق الإنسان الدولية.
واضافت صحراوي، الثلاثاء، ان العراقين مازالوا وبعد مرور سبع سنوات على الاحتلال يعيشون في مناخ من الخوف، الأمر الذي لا يعطي الحق للسويد وهولندا وانكلترا والنرويج وبلجيكا باعادة اللاجئين العراقيين لديها قسراً إلى بغداد، خاصة وانها جميعاً صادقت على مبادئ المفوضية العليا للاجئين والتي تمنع ذلك. صحراوي قالت ان مايزيد الوضع سوءً هو عدم قدرة الحكومة العراقية وكما هو واضح على حماية مواطنيها، ومن ضمنهم العائدون من الخارج
Seven years after the US invasion of Iraq, violence is still taking the lives of countless Iraqis. Amnesty International’s new report Iraq, Civilians Under Fire exposes the ongoing violence inflicted on minority groups including women, gay men, religious minorities, and human rights activists, journalists and refugees.
Kidnapping, torture and murder are used by militias, terrorist organizations and occasionally the government itself, often with impunity.
Women who are abused are not safe even in the few shelters that exist. Honor killings are rampant and those who perform them are not punished. Forced marriages, forced veiling and rape are common across the country.
Gay men have been living in fear since political and religious leaders started issuing fatwas against them. In Sadr City and Baghdad gay men and men perceived to be gay were kidnapped, tortured and killed in large numbers.
Christian, Yazidi, Sabean-Mandean and other religious communities have been harrassed and brutalized since 2003, their places of worship bombed, their religious leaders systematically killed. Individuals are stopped on the streets by groups of armed men and asked for their identification cards, which indicate their religion. If they belong to the “wrong” religious group, they are shot.
Human rights activists in Iraq who try to protect abused women, gay men or religious minorities are threatened and killed by the same militias, many of which are affiliated with members of the Iraqi parliament. Journalists who speak out against the corruption in the government which has allowed the continued arming of these militias have also been threatened and killed.
With around 2.7 million internally displaced Iraqis, 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries that threaten to send them back, 12,000 Palestinian refugees in Iraq and 4,300 Iranian refugees in Camp Ashraf, the situation in Iraq is dire.
In the coming weeks Amnesty International will launch actions addressing each of these issues. As a new Iraqi government takes shape in the next months, it’s vital that we let them know that the world is watching and expecting them to take responsibility for the safety and security of all of Iraq’s civilians, regardless of religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation or belief.