Iraq's parliament speaker, Mohammed Al-Halbousi, has called for the fate to be revealed of thousands of Iraqis who were abducted and killed by pro-government militias between 2014 and 2016.
In an interview with the Iraqi Al-Rasheed television station, Hablousi stated that Iraqis who had disappeared after being abducted by militias should be called "the betrayed", saying he believed they had been killed.
"We must tell people the truth about them and start by changing their name from 'the disappeared' to 'the betrayed'. They were betrayed and lost their lives. The state must compensate their relatives and include their families in the law regarding victims of terrorism," Halbousi said.
"Continuing to mislead their families [as has happened] between 2014 and now is not right… they were disappeared and killed in this time," he added, saying that families should not be given false hope that their relatives were still alive.
Between 2014 and 2016, thousands of mostly Sunni Iraqi families fled fighting between the Islamic State group and government forces backed by the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation (PMF) forces militia coalition.
Thousands of people were separated from their families and later killed by the Iran-backed militias. An estimated 22,000 Iraqis were killed in total.
A number of Shia militias - which are part of the PMF have been accused of the killings, notably Kataeb Hezbollah, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, Al-Nujabaa, and the Imam Ali militia. Sectarian motives are believed to be behind the killings.
The Iraqi parliament speaker’s admission that those abducted had been killed is believed to be the first of its kind by a senior Iraqi official.
Following the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, senior posts in the Iraqi government have been assigned on an ethnic and sectarian basis, with an Arab Sunni holding the office of parliament speaker, an Arab Shia taking the post of prime minister, and a Kurd serving as Iraq’s president.
Mohammed Al-Halbousi has been Iraq's parliament speaker since 2018.