Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New Wave Of Displaced From Iraq’s Anbar Faced Extrajudicial Killings In Baghdad

Extrajudicial killings are part of life in Baghdad. Nearly every day a body is found shot and dumped in the capital. While some of these murders appear to be the work of insurgents, most look like the work of Shiite militias and vigilantes. The number of bodies dumped in the city goes up and down depending upon how much people feel threatened. During the summer of 2014 for example, after Mosul and Tikrit fell to insurgents there was a huge jump in killings, which then went down after the Islamic State was stopped in Salahaddin. Recently however, there was another sizeable increase in bodies being dumped in the capital. This time the motivation appeared to be an influx of displaced from Anbar after Ramadi fell to IS. Many in Baghdad blamed the Anbaris for bombings and violence, which would provide the motivation for certain groups to target them.

May 2015 saw a large number of bodies turn up in the streets and empty lots of the Iraqi capital. In April there were 38 extrajudicial killings, which then went up to 65 in May, before dropping down to 45 in June. Many of this appeared to be the handy work of Shiite groups based upon where the bodies were found. On May 28 for example, two bodies were dumped in east Baghdad’s Kasra shot in the head. Back at the beginning of the month three men were discovered killed by a firing squad in Sadr City, along with seven other bodies in other neighborhoods that same day. What could have accounted for this large jump in extrajudicial killings? It seemed like insecurity in Anbar that forced thousands to flee to the capital was the cause.

Violence picked up in Anbar during the spring topped off by the fall of Ramadi the following month, which led to a huge wave of people coming to Baghdad. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that 54,000 people had fled Anbar for Baghdad by the end of April. Even more came the next month when the Islamic State took Ramadi. Baghdadis accused the displaced of being IS supporters and blamed them for violence and bombings. That led to some wild reporting in the press such as a story that the Anbaris were going to try to take over the city. The Interior Ministry reported in the middle of May that 14 Anbaris had been killed in Baghdad. Many more were probably murdered as well, which added to the normal amount of bodies dumped in the capital accounted for the increase that month.


Arango, Tim, “Sunnis Fleeing ISIS Find Few Doors Opened Elsewhere in Iraq,” New York Times, 5/27/15

Al-Kadhimi, Mustafa, “Ramadi’s displaced find restrictions, not refuge, in Baghdad,” Al Monitor 5/28/15

Al Mada, "Found the bodies of three unidentified men who were killed by firing squad in eastern Baghdad," 5/3/15

Morris, Loveday, “Iraqi Sunni flee Anbar only to find new dangers in Baghdad,” Washington Post, 5/17/15

NINA, "Two Unidentified Bodies Found East Of Baghdad," 5/28/15

Paraszczuk, Joanna, “Ramadi Civilians Fleeing IS ‘Charged Hundreds Of Dollars To Enter Baghdad,’” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 4/24/15

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