Concerns over the safety and security of activists and human rights defenders in Iraq and the surrounding region have been expressed in the wake of the kidnapping of famous Iraqi human rights activist Ali Naseer Allawy in February 2021.
Ali Naseer Allawy, a well-known human rights advocate in Iraq, was kidnapped on February 12th, 2021, from his home in the center of Baghdad by unidentified gunmen. Allawy is the leader of the Organization “Al-Amal Association” in Baghdad and has long been a vocal supporter of human rights in Iraq. Although the circumstances of Allawy’s kidnapping are yet unknown, the tragedy has infuriated campaigners and human rights groups.
The Circumstances Surrounding the Kidnapping of Ali Naseer Allawy
A group of armed guys arrived in numerous vehicles and abducted Ali Naseer Allawy from his house. Allawy’s security guards were overwhelmed by the shooters, who then reportedly pushed him into a car before swerving off. The incident was reported by Allawy’s family to the police, but there is still no word on his location or the identities of the abductors.
Targeting of Activists in Iraq
Ali Naseer Allawy’s kidnapping is the most recent in a string of assaults against activists and human rights advocates in Iraq. Around 100 attacks, including assassinations, kidnappings, and threats, have been made against activists and journalists in Iraq since the year 2020, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). Militias and other armed organizations with connections to the government or political parties have been responsible for many of these incidents.
Allawy is renowned for his work in exposing government corruption and security force abuse of human rights. His kidnapping is perceived as an attempt to silence him and other activists who speak out against injustice because his activity has previously made him the target of threats and harassment.
The International Response to Allawy’s Kidnapping
Human rights organizations and campaigners are outraged at the kidnapping of Ali Naseer Allawy, which has occurred in both Iraq and other countries. Deeply troubled by the occurrence, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) stated that “the targeting of activists and human rights defenders is a severe breach of human rights and a threat to the democratic process in Iraq.” The UN has urged the government to intervene to protect activists and human rights defenders in the nation and has demanded Allawy’s immediate release.
The European Union has also denounced the kidnapping and demanded the release of Allawy. Asserting that “such acts are abhorrent and must be condemned in the harshest terms,” the EU urged the Iraqi government to “take all necessary measures to safeguard the safety and security of all Iraqis, particularly human rights advocates.”
Skepticism Regarding the Iraqi Government’s Response
Even though the Iraqi government denounced the kidnapping and pledged to look into the case, many activists and human rights organizations have doubts about the government’s competence and willingness to hold those guilty accountable. They emphasize the government’s history of human rights abuses going unpunished as well as the strong ties between security forces and militias.
Activists have also criticized the government for failing to offer enough safeguards for vulnerable individuals. Due to threats of death and other forms of intimidation, many activists and human rights advocates have been compelled to leave the country or go into hiding. Due to inadequate security from the government, many activists are now at risk of violence.
The Urgent Need for Greater Protection for Activists and Human Rights Defenders
The Ali Naseer Allawy case demonstrates the critical need for increased safety for activists and human rights advocates in Iraq and the surrounding area. To safeguard the safety and security of those who speak out against corruption and injustice, governments must take a specific action. This entails conducting investigations into and bringing legal action against those guilty of assaults on activists as well as offering individuals in danger with efficient protection.
The activity of activists and human rights defenders in the area needs the support of international actors. It also entails supporting civil society organizations financially and technically, arguing for the protection of activists at the highest levels of government, and using diplomatic pressure to get governments to uphold the rule of law and human rights.
The terrible incident involving Ali Naseer Allawy serves as a reminder of the dangers that activists confront when they speak out against injustice and corruption. Many activists nevertheless continue to work for a brighter future for their communities and their nations despite the risks. They are the fearless voices of change, and as such, they deserve our protection and assistance. Governments and other international actors must take decisive action to protect activists and human rights defenders and to bring those who harm them accountable.
-  https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2632
-  https://iraq.un.org/en/132447-united-nations-assistance-mission-iraq-unami
-  https://syriaaccountability.org/letter-from-the-families-of-those-kidnapped-by-isis-to-the-united-states-administration/