Shot from video of captives being released in Baghdad (Bas News)
Over a dozen protesters were rescued by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in Baghdad on December 8. They were blindfolded and handcuffed. They said they were taken hostage on December 6, the day that 25 demonstrators were gunned down in Khalani Square. One said that they had been kidnapped by Kataib Hezbollah, the same group accused of the December 6 massacre. Scores more have disappeared from protest sites across Iraq. This is being done by various elements of the ISF. Officers told Al Mada in November that they ignored orders to kidnap leaders of the Baghdad protests. Some taken by the police and army have been put in the prison at the Muthanna airport in the capital. Others taken by the Hashd have been placed in black sites. Human Rights Watch talked with people who were abducted and taken before judges and told they were not being charged with anything, but that that they would not be released. Forced disappearances is just one form of intimidation the government is using in an attempt to end the unrest. It is hoped that this will scare people from taking part. Similar tactics were used in previous years against demonstrators by the Maliki and Abadi governments. It should be no surprise then that they are being used again.