Iraq: A training workshop organised by Al-Firdaws Society for Peace Building was stormed by National Security Service
On 25 June 2022, at 10:30 a.m., a civilian force affiliated with the National Security Service stormed a workshop organised by the Al-Firdaws Society for Peace Building in Basra Governorate. The workshop, “Advocacy Campaigns Against Gender-Based Violence” was attended by women and men human rights defenders.
When the supervisors of the course asked the commander of the force about any judicial orders authorising the raid, they were told that orders were issued by the local government of Basra, which included a prohibition on organising such workshops on this topic. These orders are not compatible with the Iraqi constitution and international human rights obligations. The force also took a list of all those present.
The Al-Firdaws Society for Peace Building is a non-governmental organisation operating in Basra Governorate, southern Iraq. It was established in June 2003, and officially registered with the NGOs Directorate in Iraq. One of its main goals is to end violence against women in areas where women are most marginalised, including rural areas.
The organisation has been systematically targeted in recent years due to its peaceful and legitimate work in the field of human rights. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) had previously documented the killing of Ali Karim, son of prominent human rights defender Fatima Al-Bahadli, who was found dead at dawn on 25 July 2021. Local sources confirmed at the time that his killing had taken place at the hands of an unknown armed gang. She lost her first son, Ahmed Karim, in May 2019, in a murder that the authorities considered a suicide. Al-Bahadli is the founder and executive director of the Al-Firdaws Society for Peace Building.
The GCHR once again declares its full solidarity with the Al-Firdaws Society for Peace Building, and condemns in the strongest terms these illegal and unconstitutional practices carried out by the local government in Basra Governorate.
The GCHR calls on the governor of Basra and all local government officials, in addition to the security forces, to stop these serious violations that target the peaceful and legitimate work of civil society organizations in the province. The real duty of the local authorities, including the security forces, is to protect the work of human rights defenders and their organizations, to provide them with all forms of support, and to provide a safe environment free from any harassment in order to carry out their activities.