Iraq: Ninth periodic report on violations during popular demonstrations - Part 2


This is part two of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)’s Ninth Periodic Report on Violations During Popular Demonstrations in Iraq. The focus is on the killing, kidnapping and attacks on civil society activists.

Killing of civil society activists

On 06 November 2020, civil society activist Omar Fadel (photo 1) was killed after an armed force attacked a number of demonstrators who wanted to return to the main sit-in square in Basra. He had nothing in his pocket but his mobile phone, a tissue, and 11,000 dinars (eight dollars) (photo 2). Before his murder, he appeared in a video calling on fellow protesters to be honest in their slogans. Hundreds of people participated in his funeral, which took place in Al-Zubair district, in west Basra Governorate (photo 3). The picture above shows a little Basri girl who, on 07 November 2020, lights a candle in the place where he was killed (phot 4). The sit-in squares celebrated him, including in Al-Haboubi Square, where protesters held a symbolic funeral for him (photo 5). When he posted a photo on his Instagram page of himself in Al-Tahrir Square on 01 January 2020, he wrote, "In the first moments of the new year, I renew my love for Iraq and nothing but Iraq."

In a statement on 07 November 2020, the Ministry of the Interior announced that: “The security forces, in their efforts to uncover the circumstances of the killing of a demonstrator in Basra Governorate during the demonstrations in the Bahriya Square on Friday, arrested the killer who openly confessed to his crime. Initial investigations have been made with him in preparation for referring him to the judiciary to obtain his fair penalty.” The Director of the Department of Relations and Information at the Ministry of the Interior, Major General Saad Maan, announced that the killer of the demonstrator, Omar Fadel, was an officer with the rank of captain affiliated with the Basra Governorate Police Command.

On 06 November 2020, civil society activist Ghazi Abu Mohammed (photo on the left), in charge of the retirement tent in Al-Tahrir Square in Baghdad, was subjected to an assassination attempt that resulted in severe injuries. He was transferred to hospital for treatment. Eyewitnesses stated that unidentified gunmen driving in a car shot him with a silencer weapon while he was traveling in his private car on Muhammad Al-Qasim Road after leaving Al-Tahrir Square.

On 01 November 2020, unknown gunmen on a motorbike assassinated civil society activist Sheikh Abdel Nasser Al-Tarfi Al-Tai (photo in the middle) in Abu Rummaneh in the city of Al-Amara, who was shot when he left his home in the morning. Al-Tarfi is known for his support for the popular movement and participated in demonstrations in the city of Amara. He has published several videos on his Facebook page and YouTube page in which he explained his views and full support for the demonstrators and his strong opposition to the armed militias.

On 26 October 2020, Anti-Riot Forces tried to storm Al-Tahrir Square from Al-Rasheed Street, using live bullets and smoke bombs. When they entered Al-Khiam Street adjacent to Al-Tahrir Square, they shot paramedic and peaceful demonstrator Mortada Al-Gharib (picture on the right), a 20-year-old from Babil Governorate, with a fatal bullet in his chest. Upon reaching his body, which was lying on the ground, they punched him several times, even though he was motionless. Al-Gharib, who was unemployed, was one of the permanent members of the Al-Tahrir Square sit-in group. His colleagues were dismantling their tent under the Al-Tahrir Square monument and he was about to leave, but he went to explore the situation of his colleagues, who were attacked by the Anti-Riot Forces when he was killed.

Targeting of woman human rights defender