Mary Mohammed who was disappeared by the security forces in Baghdad and released a week later (Twitter)
On November 19, Iraq’s Human Rights Commission called on Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi as commander and chief to order the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to stop the abduction and disappearance of activists and journalists. Since the start of November every week there is a story of someone involved in the protest movement disappearing. Of course, those are the ones lucky enough to get in the media. There are plenty more that don’t get any press and whose fate is unknown. This is part of Baghdad’s attempt to intimidate the demonstrators in the hopes that they will eventually stop.
There have been constant reports of activists disappearing throughout November. On November 2, Saba al-Mahdawi was kidnapped while leaving Baghdad’s Tahrir Square to go home. She was released eleven days later. Mary Mohammed disappeared in Baghdad on November 7, and held for over a week. She posted on Instagram that she’d been taken by the ISF for questioning and put into solitary confinement. Ali Hashim was taken on November 7, and let go on November 13. Three lawyers, Abdul Karim Hussein al-Amiri and Ali Bassem al-Saadi were kidnapped in Baghdad, and Ali Gasp Hattab was taken in Maysan in the middle of the month. University student Mohammed Hassan al-Tarifi went missing, and was then found lying in the street with bruises on November 14. Journalist Mohammed al-Shammari was heading for the protests in Diwaniya when he disappeared on November 18. He was released a few hours later. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq reported that other demonstrators were abducted in Baghdad as well. It’s suspected that the Iraqi forces were behind all of these events and follows a series of scare tactics employed against the protests. People have been arrested and tortured. There are constant threats. People, likely undercover cops or intelligence agents are walking through the sit-in sites taking pictures of people and collecting information. The authorities’ goal is to scare people. To let them know they can be snatched at any moment and not be seen nor heard from in days. Some people have left Iraq already because they are afraid they might be targeted. With the government offering no real changes and protesters still determined this has become a test of wills. The administration believes they can outlast the demonstrations, and is using these methods to try to break their strength.
Agence France Presse, “Threats, killings: Iraqi protesters face ‘psychological’ war,” 11/9/19
Baghdad Post, “The abduction of three active lawyers in Baghdad and Maysan,” 11/17/19
Al Ghad Press, “Human Rights Commission calls on the government to end the abduction of citizens and activists,” 11/19/19
Human Rights Office, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), “Demonstrations in Iraq: update,” 10/25-11/4/19
Al Hurra, “Al Hurra Sources: Iraqi journalist disappeared in Diwaniya,” 11/18/19
- “Iraqi activist Mary Mohammed explains the fact that she disappeared,” 11/19/19
- “Mary Mohammed .. kidnapping weapon again targets Iraqi women activists,” 11/11/19
Iraq Newspaper, “Activist Ali Hashem abducted by forces in civilian clothes from central Baghdad,” 11/8/19
Magid, Pesha, “Iraq: threats, violence and kidnap taking a psychological toll on protesters,” The National, 11/19/19
NINA, “Activist Saba al-Mahdawi and Activist Ali Hashim were released,” 11/13/19
- “University Activist Mohammed Hassan Al-Tarifi Found In Najaf,” 11/14/19
Shafaaq News, “A journalist was released hours after he was kidnapped in southern Iraq,” 11/18/19