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REPUBLIC OF IRAQ: Testimonies point to dozens of revenge killings of Sunni detainees

8 Jul 2014
[International Secretariat]
Region: REPUBLIC OF IRAQ
Topic: Regional conflict

The black flag of Jihad used by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in Mosul (C) Amnesty International
The black flag of Jihad used by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in Mosul (C) Amnesty International

Amnesty International has gathered evidence pointing to a pattern of extrajudicial executions of detainees by government forces and Shi’a militias in the Iraqi cities of Tal ‘Afar, Mosul and Ba’quba.

Surviving detainees and relatives of those killed gave graphic accounts that suggest Iraqi forces had carried out a series of vengeful attacks against Sunni detainees before withdrawing from Tal ‘Afar and Mosulf in northern Iraq. Both are now controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). In Ba’quba, central Iraq, government forces and Shi’a militias have been fending off attempts by ISIS to capture the city.

“Reports of multiple incidents where Sunni detainees have been killed in cold blood while in the custody of Iraqi forces are deeply alarming. The killings suggest a worrying pattern of reprisal attacks against Sunnis in retaliation for ISIS gains,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who is currently in northern Iraq.

Survivors and relatives of the victims told Amnesty International that around 50 Sunni detainees were extrajudicially executed in the building of the Anti-Terrorism Agency in al-Qala’a in Tal ‘Afar, on the night of 15 June.

A survivor who narrowly escaped the attack described how four soldiers opened the door of the room where he was being held and began shooting at random:

“It was about 1.45 at night when four soldiers opened the door and started to shoot continuous automatic fire, which went on for a long time… I was covered by the bodies of detainees who fell on top of me. I was saved by those who died. In the room where I was 46 were killed …”

One woman described the horrific state of the body of her cousin’s son:

“He had been shot several times in the head and chest; the body was covered in blood but you couldn’t tell whose blood it was as the bodies were one on top of the other.”

In a separate incident in Mosul, several Sunni detainees were killed in the Anti-Terrorism Agency in Hay al-Danadan district. A survivor said that at around 10pm on 9 June soldiers came into the cell and took away 13 of the 82 detainees being held there. Then they heard gunshots ringing out.

The Mayor of Ba’quba, Abdallah al-Hayali, told Amnesty International that his nephew, 21, was amongst up to 50 people extrajudicially executed in a similar incident in al-Wahda police station in the Mufaraq district central Baquba in the early hours of 16 June. He said that Yassir was arrested about a month earlier and tortured, including by having his nails removed and being given electric shocks in custody.

He was killed along with a number of others by members of a Shi’a militia in the presence of the head of al-Wahda police station in in Ba’quba.

Amnesty International is currently investigating reports that a large number of convicted prisoners have been killed by ISIS in Badoush Prison in Mosul.

The organisation is  calling on ISIS, as well as all armed groups and forces on all sides of the conflict to end the summary killings and torture of detainees, as well as the deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, all of which amount to war crimes and must be prosecuted under international law.

“Those among the warring parties in Iraq who are committing war crimes should know that the impunity they currently enjoy won’t last forever and that they may one day be held accountable for their crimes”, said Donatella Rovera.

27 June 2014
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

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