Iraqi Shia Militias abduct and murder Sunni civilians
Baghdad-Amnesty International says sectarian groups have abducted and killed hundreds of Sunnis during war against ISIL. Shia militias have abducted and murdered scores of Sunni civilians in Iraq in crimes committed in retribution against the actions of ISIL, according to a new report by Amnesty International, Tuesday
The London-based rights group published what it said was evidence that Shia militias abducted civilians in Baghdad, Samarra and Kirkuk, and killed them even if families paid tens of thousands of dollars in ransom.The Amnesty report, Absolute Impunity: Militia Rule in Iraq, said tonnes of unidentified bodies had been discovered handcuffed and with gunshot wounds, indicating a pattern of deliberate killings.
Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi government, to hold Shia militias including the Badr brigades and the Mehdi army , to account. “These Militias operate outside any legal framework and without official oversight, and have contributed to a deterioration in security and to the increasing lawlessness in Iraq“, Amnesty said.
The Amnesty document included evidence from relatives of those who had gone missing or were killed.According to the document, the fate of many of those abducted by Shi’a militias weeks and months ago remains unknown. Some captives were killed even after their families had paid ransoms of $80,000 and more to secure their release. For example, Salem, a 40-year-old businessman and father of nine from Baghdad was abducted in July. Two weeks after his family had paid the kidnappers a $60,000 ransom, his body was found in Baghdad’s morgue; with his head crushed and his hands still cuffed together.
A relative of a victim from Kirkuk told Amnesty International: “I have lost one son and don’t want to lose any more. Nothing can bring him back and I can’t put my other children at risk. Who knows who will be next? There is no rule of law, no protection.” Among the Shi’a militias believed to be behind the string of abductions and killings are: ‘Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, the Badr Brigades, the Mahdi Army, and Kata’ib Hizbullah.
“By granting its blessing to militias who routinely commit such abhorrent abuses, the Iraqi government is sanctioning war crimes and fuelling a dangerous cycle of sectarian violence that is tearing the country apart. Iraqi government support for militia rule must end now,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser.
According to her, Shia militias are ruthlessly targeting Sunni civilians on a sectarian basis under the guise of fighting terrorism, in an apparent bid to punish Sunnis for the rise of ISIL and for its heinous crimes.
She further added, that by failing to hold militias accountable for war crimes and other gross human rights abuses the Iraqi authorities have effectively granted them free rein to go on the rampage against Sunnis. “The new Iraqi government of prime minister Haider al-Abbadi must act now to rein in the militias and establish the rule of law,” she said.
The rights group has also accused Iraqi government forces of serious human rights violations, presenting what it said was evidence of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, and deaths in custody of Sunni men held under the 2005 anti-terrorism law.
The Oslo Times