Iraq: GCHR’s 13th periodic report on human rights violations during popular protests


This is the 13th periodic report of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) on violations against human rights in Iraq. The report sheds light on killings, arrests, prosecutions and the continuous targeting of human rights activists and critics of the current unstable situation in Iraq. It also documents the acts of violence that affected peaceful demonstrators who protested against corruption and poor public services in the country, which has caused the suffering of Iraqis for a long time.

Assassinations and assaults targeting civil society activists

On 05 March 2021, the family of peaceful protester Rymon Ryan Salem (Photo 1) broadcast a video clip in which they appealed to the Pope of the Vatican, who visited Iraq that day, to help them pressure the Iraqi government to find the perpetrators who killed their son.

It is noteworthy that Salem was killed on 25 February 2020, during widespread demonstrations in Al-Khilani Square in Baghdad. His funeral is shown in this video clip with the participation of his family and other protesters.

On 18 March 2012, civil society activist Ali Fayad Manan (Photo 2) was severely beaten by unknown masked men in the Al-Boubiyat area, west of Karbala Governorate. According to activists, "At exactly 11 o'clock at night, when he left his mother's house in the Al-Boubiyat area, Manan was severely beaten by masked men, who were waiting for him."

Manan, born in 2001, was on a visit to his mother's house, where he lives in the Al-Mujtaba neighborhood, west of Karbala, and was transferred to the hospital after he lost consciousness, but he recovered after several hours.

On 10 March 2021, popular poet Jaseb Hattab Al-Hiliji (Photo 3) was assassinated. He is the father of human rights lawyer Ali Al-Hiliji (Photo 4), who was kidnapped on 07 October 2019 in the city of Al-Amara, in Maysan Governorate, southern Iraq.

The Maysan Governorate Police Directorate announced the arrest of the alleged murderer, stating on its Facebook page that, "We announce the arrest of the accused in the assassination of Jaseb, the father of the lawyer Ali, on the evening of 10 March 2021, and the accused’s statements were recorded in the preliminary and judicial confessions." Likewise, the Director of Maysan Governorate Police, Brigadier Abdulkhader Al-Saadi, confirmed in a video that he recorded and published that the murderer of the lawyer’s father had been arrested an hour after the incident, and that the perpetrator was his cousin. It has been claimed that the motive is a disagreement between the two families.  

His family quickly denied the allegations of the Maysan Governorate Police Director, describing them as "slander," in a widely circulated video in which his brother spoke, stressing that the reason for his assassination was his demand for the authorities to reveal the fate of his son, who was kidnapped more than a year and a half ago, and to name the armed militia that kidnapped him which is known to the local authorities. He also denied there was any hostility towards them with any clan or people.

Jaseb Al-Hiliji had recorded a video before his assassination, in which he stated that his life was in danger and that he might be killed. He requested to meet the Prime Minister because he had private words that he would like to convey to him. He also mentioned in this video the name of the armed militia that kidnapped his son.

On 11 March 2021, GCHR monitored reports that more than 16 protesters were injured in the Al-Muthanna Governorate in southern Iraq, during the protests in which the security forces used violence against demonstrators and tear gas bombs, and tried to run over the demonstrators with their wheels, according to this video clip.

Hours after the demonstrations, Al-Muthanna protesters issued a press statement saying, "All the recent major demonstrations are calling for the dismissal of the governor and his two deputies, with [demonstrators using] a high degree of peaceful discipline despite the attempts to drag the demonstrations out of their peaceful framework by using riot police to protect the governor and his close associates, and sparking clashes between the security forces and the protesters, without any serious step by the police leadership to prevent them. We hold the provincial police leadership responsible for this security breach, noting that we will take all legal paths through filing lawsuits against them and we have evidence that will lead to their conviction."