Iraq: Urgent action required – detained and missing protesters at risk of torture

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Firas Ali, an Iraqi political activist, was detained at the office of the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq, Baghdad, at about 2pm on 13 April. A protester, Haidar Shihab Ahmad Abdel Latif, is believed to have been detained on 1 April on Tahrir Square, Baghdad. Alaa Nabil, another youth leader of the February 25 Group, was also arrested on April 8, and remains in custody. It is feared that they and other detained activists are at high risk of torture.

Political activist Firas ‘Ali, 30 years old, is reported to have been detained by members of the armed forces early in the afternoon of 13 April, at the Baghdad office of the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq. An eyewitness told Amnesty International: “Two men in plain clothes and three soldiers asked about Firas ‘Ali. They did not show an arrest warrant. Later I could see Firas ‘Ali blindfolded and handcuffed being forced by soldiers into a vehicle and taken away.” Friends of Firas Ali have not been able to contact him via his mobile phone since his detention and his whereabouts remain unknown. Amnesty International fears that Firas ‘Ali is at high risk of torture.

Haidar Shihab Ahmad Abdel Latif, a 24 year old casual worker, attended protests at Tahrir Square on 1 April for the first time. He was with two friends who briefly left him at about 11.30, but when they returned about 10 minutes later he was no longer there. There were no witnesses to his detention. However, Iraqi activists have told Amnesty International that on previous occasions protesters have been “discretely” led away from the protests and detained. A member of his family who is a political activist told Amnesty International he fears that Haidar Shihab Ahmad Abdel Latif was taken instead of him. His family has searched at hospitals and made inquiries with the authorities but has still no information of his whereabouts.

Alaa Nabil, another youth leader of the February 25 Group, was also arrested on April 8, and he remains in custody. It is believed he is being kept j in one of the prisons close to the Baghdad International Airport, together with 17 other demonstrators from Tahrir, but it is impossible to be sure.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English or Arabic. We provide a Model Letter below to be sent to the following email addresses:

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Add also the address of your nearest Iraqi embassy that can be found at the following link:
http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/Iraq (Please send appeals before 26 May 2011 to the Iraqi embassy in your country)

Please send copies also to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it so that we can keep those campaigning for their release informed.

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MODEL LETTER:

Prime Minister and Acting Minister of Defence and Interior,
His Excellency Nuri Kamil al-Maliki Prime Minister,
Convention Centre (Qasr al-Ma’aridh) Baghdad, Iraq

Copy to:

Minister of Human Rights,
His Excellency, Mohammad Shayaa al-Sudani

 

Your Excellency,

It has been brought to our attention that Firas ‘Ali, was arrested by members of the armed forces early in the afternoon of 13 April, at the Baghdad office of the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq. Also Haidar Shihab Ahmad Abdel Latif was abducted on April 1 while attending a protest rally in Tahrir Square, Baghdad. Alaa Nabil, another youth leader of the February 25 Group, was also arrested on April 8, and remains in custody

We are very concerned for their safety. We call on you to investigate this matter and do your utmost to guarantee the release of Firas ‘Ali, Haidar Shihab Ahmad Abdel Latif and Alaa Nabil.

We call on you to reveal the whereabouts of Firas ‘Ali; to investigate the whereabouts of Haidar Shihab Ahmad Abdel Latif or to immediately reveal his whereabouts if you are holding him.

We call for the immediate release of Firas ‘Ali and other protesters, unless they are to be promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offence and brought to trial in full conformity with international fair trial standards;

We urge the authorities to ensure that Firas ‘Ali and other protesters and detainees are not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment and that all allegations of torture and other abuses are thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice;

We call on the Iraqi government to respect the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in Iraq.

We are raising this question inside trade unions, youth organisations and among the wider public in our country. Iraq is supposed to be a democratic country and we expect you to act accordingly.

Yours,

……………………….

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