Iraq: GCHR’s eleventh periodic report on human rights violations during popular demonstrations - Part I


This is the eleventh periodic report of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) on human rights violations, including during popular demonstrations, in Iraq. The report sheds light on the killings, arrests and persecution of civil society activists and protesters in Iraq.

Civil society activists in Iraq have suffered in recent months from numerous violations at the hands of the security forces and armed groups, who have attempted to prevent them from continuing to voice their opinions about the demonstrations in the country.

Despite the violations to which human rights activists were subjected in Iraq, the Iraqi government did not support them, nor did it hold accountable any of the perpetrators of violations, in a clear indication of the impunity of the perpetrators, who persist in committing new violations against civil society activists.

Human rights groups expected that violations against civil society activists in Iraq would decrease when the protests ended and the tents were removed from Al-Tahrir and Al-Haboubi squares, two of the most important centres of protests in Iraq, but this did not happen, and the violations continued.

Civil society and political activists consider that their continued persecution by the security forces and armed groups are messages to warn them against participating in the early elections scheduled for 06 June 2021.

In Part I of its eleventh report, GCHR reports on the assassinations and murders of civil society activists, political activists, lawyers and journalists, and the recent increase in explosive devices that targeted their homes, as well as other attacks against civil society activists, including women activists.

Assassinations and murders

On 18 December 2020, a lawyer who is a candidate for the upcoming elections, Abdulmoneim Rashid Al-Salmani (Photo 1), was assassinated in Baghdad, when two gunmen attacked him and shot him in the garden of his home in the Jamia neighborhood, west of Baghdad. As shown in the video that documented his assassination, the gunmen chased him inside his house and killed him.

Al-Salmani is considered one of the most prominent lawyers and defenders of the protests in the country. Iraqi forces managed to arrest his killers 72 hours after his assassination.

Assassinations of activists continued despite the end of the protests, and paramedics and prominent protesters have been killed or kidnapped recently.

On 06 January 2021, the corpse of paramedic Haider Yasser (Photo 2) was found in the river in Al-Shuyoukh market district in Dhi Qar Governorate, days after he was kidnapped from Al-Haboubi Square. Yasser, a medical assistant, is considered one of the prominent volunteers who helped protesters and provided treatment for their injuries during times of violence.

On 08 January 2021, unidentified gunmen killed lawyer Ali Al-Hamami (Photo 3) inside his home in Al-Shatrah district, north of Dhi Qar Governorate. Al-Hamami, the head of the Advocates Chamber, was shot dead when unidentified gunmen stormed his house. He was one of the lawyers who supported the protests. Government reports claimed that the attack was carried out by criminals, and was not political in nature.

However, GCHR calls for a comprehensive and independent investigation into the circumstances of the murder of Al-Hamami.

On 11 January 2021, lawyer Haider Jaber Al-Aboudi (Photo 4) survived a failed assassination attempt in Al-Shatrah district in Dhi Qar Governorate. Local sources said, "Unidentified gunmen attacked Al-Aboudi near his home in Al-Shatra and shot him before they fled, which resulted in his injuries, and he was taken to hospital."

Al-Aboudi is one of the most prominent lawyers who defended detained protesters and organised campaigns to release the detainees. He is also a friend of the lawyer who was assassinated on 08 January, Ali Al-Hamami.