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UA 170/19
Abgeschlossen am 20. Januar 2020

Photographer abducted outside his home

AI-Index: MDE 14/1539/2019

On 6 December 2019, 22-year-old Iraqi photographer Zaid Mohammed Abid al-Khafaji was abducted from the doorsteps of his house in Baghdad, Iraq, by four men in civilian clothes who dragged him into a car and drove off. His family raised his case with the local authorities, who told them that they will investigate.


Since the beginning of October 2019, mass protests have broken out across Iraq, fuelled by high rates of unemployment and perceptions of widespread corruption. From the very beginning, protesters demanding basic services and an end to corruption have been met with unlawful and excessive force, including tear gas, live ammunition and sniper fire. In addition to excessive use of force, Iraqi security forces have beaten, arrested and forcibly disappeared activists, lawyers and journalists. There have been 400 documented deaths and more than 18,000 injured since October. Amnesty International has been documenting cases of abduction and enforced disappearances of activists and journalists since the beginning of the protests.

In one case, the relatives of Ali Jaseb al-Hattab, a 29-year-old lawyer representing arrested protesters, told Amnesty International that he was bundled away by who they suspected to be members of a faction of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) on the evening of 8 October 2019. The ambush took place two days after two armed men from the PMU came to his home to warn him to stop being vocal about the killing of protesters. To this date, the fate and whereabouts of al-Hattab remain unknown.

Outside of Baghdad, in the city of Basra, Amnesty International has also documented cases where the security forces have chased protesters down and arrested them. Protesters were beaten and held for several hours without being given a reason. They were then forced to sign pledges, under threat of imprisonment, that they would not take part in the protests again.

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