Activist Sabi al-Mahdawi was released after being kidnapped in Baghdad (Twitter)
There was good and bad news about kidnapped Iraqi protesters on November 13. First, Saba al-Mahdawi and Ali Hashim were both released. No details were given on what happened to them. On the other hand, another protester, Mohammed Hassan al-Tarifi, a university student from Najaf was taken by unknown forces. Mahdawi was going home from Tahrir Square in Baghdad when armed men picked her up and she was not heard from for over a week. There was one report that Hashim had been killed. This is the type of intimidation demonstrators are facing. Elements of the security forces are going after people to scare them in the hopes that they will stop protesting. This has included taking pictures of demonstrators, threatening text messages, and using the anti-terror law against people.
Some of the major protest activities continued in Basra and Dhi Qar. After the security forces broke up the sit-in site in Basra city, people returned on November 12. 800 teachers and students joined in on November 13 as part of the school strike. People also went to the Majnoon oil field. In Dhi Qar’s Gharaf another politician had his house burned, leading to the riot police to break up the crowd. Basra city was the first protest site shut down by the security forces, which appeared to be a major victory. They were not able to maintain their cordon around the government square however, and demonstrators were eventually able to take back the site. Dhi Qar has also had constant confrontations. Politicians have been singled out for the people’s anger leading to many of them having their residences being set ablaze.
Overall, the protests have hit a dead end. Initially they were so large and met with so much violence by the government that it sent a shock wave through the establishment. Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi said he was willing to resign. Since then, he has gotten the support of both domestic and foreign parties and is now intent on staying in office. That means if the demonstrations don’t find new tactics to increase the pressure upon the administration they will eventually lose.
Human Rights Office, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), “Demonstrations in Iraq: update,” 10/25-11/4/19
Loveluck, Louisa and Salim, Mustafa, “Fear spreads among Iraqi protesters as government cracks down, keeps death toll secret,” Washington Post, 11/11/19
Al Mada, “Judiciary after the pressure of demonstrations: We issued 377 decisions against senior officials and 83 arrest warrants” 11/13/19
Al Mirbad, “The burning of the house of the deputy head of the municipal council in Al-Gharaf district, Abbas Muhalhal,” 11/13/19
- “Sit in back in front of Majnoon oil field in Basra,” 11/13/19
- “Thousands in Basra continue peaceful sit-in,” 11/13/19
Nasiriya TV, “The house of the brother of MP Razak Muhaibes burned down in Al Gharaf,” 11/13/19
NINA, “Activist Saba al-Mahdawi and Activist Ali Hashim were released,” 11/13/19
- “The kidnapping of a young civilian activist in Najaf,” 11/13/19
Al Sumaria, “An attempt to disperse demonstrators gathered near the homes of officials in Al-Gharaf,” 11/13/19