Son of Iraqi human rights activist found shot dead after going missing

Son of Iraqi human rights activist found shot dead after going missing
The son of a prominent Iraqi human rights activist was found shot dead in southern Iraq, in the latest murder to shock the country.
3 min read
26 July, 2021
Dozens of activists have been either killed, tortured or gone missing in Iraq over the years [AFP/Getty]

Iraqi authorities Monday found the son of a prominent human rights activist dead after going missing 24 hours ago in mysterious circumstances.

Activist Fatima Al-Bahadly's son, Ali Karim, 26, was found dead with two bullet wounds to his head and a third to his chest, according to a medical source in Iraq.

Member of the Iraq High Commission for Human Rights, Ali Al-Bayati, told AFP that Karim "was kidnapped yesterday by an unknown armed group, and was later found (dead) in Al-Zubair area", about 50 km from the southern city of Basra.

"Al-Bahadly was targeted a year ago on accusations by political parties of having associations with foreign sides, a charge that often precedes any assassination of human rights activists in Iraq," said Al-Bayati.

Fatima, who founded the Al-Ferdaws Association, which helps women and girls affected by war, has been subject to threats due to her work, according to the human rights organisation Front Line Defenders.

Her other son, Ahmed, was found hanging in a suspected murder a few years ago, according to social media users who shared news on the latest incident.

The European Union commented on the killing of Ali Karim, calling for a "serious and complete investigation" and describing the killing as an "assassination".

"Iraq's militias stop at nothing to intimidate civil society activists. They threatened to kill activist Fatima Al-Bahadly or a family member - and did just that, kidnapping & killing her son Ali," tweeted Senior Crisis Adviser at Amnesty International, Donatella Rovera.

"Impunity reigns in Iraq, as Iran-backed militias act with absolute impunity."

Although nobody has claimed responsibility for the murder, it is widely believed that pro-Iranian groups could be behind the latest killing.

Since the October 2019 uprising in Iraq, more than 80 activists have been the target of assassination or attempted assassination, while dozens have been kidnapped.

Many have sought refuge in the relatively safer northern Kurdistan region.

It is believed that an additional 700 protesters have been killed by security forces and Iran-linked militias which still hold significant power in the country.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi earlier this month announced the arrest of four suspects after the murder of academic and government adviser Hisham Al-Hashemi, a year ago.

Iraq, still battered and impoverished after the 2003 US-led invasion and the turmoil that followed, has been a battleground for influence between rival foes, including Iran-backed groups.