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Iraq

    October 13, 2014

    Released  00:01 GMT Tuesday 14 October

    Shi’a militias, supported and armed by the government of Iraq, have abducted and killed scores of Sunni civilians in recent months and enjoy total impunity for these war crimes, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.

     
    “By granting its blessing to militias, the Iraqi government is sanctioning war crimes and fuelling a dangerous cycle of sectarian violence that is tearing the country apart."

    - Amnesty International's Donatella Rovera

    September 15, 2014

    by Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's Senior Crisis Response Adviser in Iraq

    These days there are no visitors heading to the ancient Iraqi city of Samarra, 120km north of Baghdad, to admire its archaeological treasures.

    The city, once the capital of the powerful Abbasid Empire, which spread from Tunisia to Central Asia, is also home to the iconic golden-domed al-Askari shrine, a Shi’a holy site that was bombed by Sunni militants in 2006, unleashing a vicious cycle of sectarian attacks and counter-attacks across Iraq.

    September 11, 2014

    Media Contact: 
Amanda Simon, 212.633.4162, asimon@aiusa.org

    (NEW YORK, NY) – President Obama addressed the nation tonight on his plans to combat the armed group Islamic State. Amnesty International USA executive director, Steven W. Hawkins released the following statement:

    Canada: Iraqi families need your help now! 

    Hundreds of thousands of people from minority communities in northern Iraq have been forced to flee their homes, since fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) issued the ultimatum: "Convert, leave or die."

    September 08, 2014

    by By James Lynch, Refugee and Migrants’ Rights researcher, in northern Iraq.

    Everywhere in northern Iraq thousands of people driven from their homes by the conflict are now struggling to survive in grim conditions. As winter approaches it can only get worse.

    Near Derabon, close to the Turkish and Syrian borders, a group of displaced families have simply found a patch of open ground beside roads and built the most basic shelters out of wood and straw. They get water – which they say is barely drinkable – from a spring about half a mile away and they are without any kind of power.

    September 03, 2014

    The beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff by Islamic State militants is the latest in a series of war crimes being committed by the armed group across Syria and Iraq, Amnesty International said today.

    A video published online yesterday by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) showed Steven Sotloff, who was abducted in northern Syria in August 2013, being killed in the same manner as fellow US freelance reporter James Foley last month.

    “The execution of Steven Sotloff is a war crime, and it follows a pattern of other shocking atrocities carried out by the Islamic State in recent months,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The world has rightly condemned the brutal deaths of Steven Sotloff and James Foley. These unjustifiable killings are, though, merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to abuses by the IS in Syria and Iraq.”

    The killing of Sotloff, which US authorities today said they had “authenticated”, follows summary killings by the IS of hundreds, if not thousands, of others in the region this year.

    September 01, 2014

    Released 00:01 GMT Tuesday 2 September

    Fresh evidence uncovered by Amnesty International indicates that members of the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) have launched a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq, carrying out war crimes, including mass summary killings and abductions, against ethnic and religious minorities.

    A new briefing, Ethnic cleansing on historic scale: the Islamic State’s systematic targeting of minorities in northern Iraq, published today presents a series of hair-raising accounts from survivors of massacres who describe how dozens of men and boys in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq were rounded up by Islamic State fighters, bundled into pick-up trucks and taken to village outskirts to be massacred in groups or shot individually. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of women and children, along with scores of men, from the Yezidi minority have also been abducted since the Islamic State took control of the area.

    August 22, 2014

    The Iraqi authorities must properly investigate the unlawful killing of dozens of worshippers at a Sunni mosque north-east of the capital Baghdad today, Amnesty International said.

    About 70 people are believed to have been killed and dozens injured by a suicide bomb at a mosque in Diyala province during Friday prayers, amid conflicting reports about who was responsible for the attack.

    “The Iraqi authorities must launch an urgent and independent investigation into this massacre and bring those responsible to justice. Any resulting prosecutions must be conducted fairly and without resort to the death penalty,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    “Once again, civilians in Iraq are bearing the brunt of the conflict. All warring parties must do more to ensure they are protected.”
    Some reports have said Shia militias carried out the attack, while the Iraqi military said the Sunni jihadist group Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) is responsible.

     

    August 20, 2014
    By Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Advisor at Amnesty International, in northern Iraq

    After a harrowing escape, first from their hometown of Qahtanya and then from Sinjar Mountain – where they were stuck for eight days with very little food or water – Suleiman Shaibo Sido, his wife and their eight children, all members of the Yezidi minority, are now sheltering under a bridge in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, along with more than 20 other families.

    The place is dusty, noisy and dangerous. Vehicles race by day and night on the main road under the bridge. “We have to be on alert every minute, to stop the children running to the road”, he tells me. “The cars and lorries drive by very fast”, he says. There is no electricity, water or sanitation. “We go get water from the nearby mosque and people bring us food. We are very grateful to the people of Dohuk, they are real brothers”, says Suleiman. “We arrived with nothing other than the clothes we were wearing. People, and also an organization, brought us some blankets and other things. This is enough for now. The most important thing is that we are safe.”

    August 18, 2014
      By Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Advisor at Amnesty International, in northern Iraq

    Just as the dire humanitarian situation on north-western Iraq’s Sinjar Mountain was beginning to improve, news broke on Friday about one of the worst reported attacks in the weeks since fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or IS) had started their assault on the towns and villages in the surrounding areas. Scores of people were killed and hundreds abducted by ISIS fighters in Kocho, a small village about 15 km south of the town of Sinjar.

    This fresh atrocity was a bitter reminder of the ferocity of ISIS’s advance. Since 3 August, when the armed group began its march to take control of the territory surrounding Sinjar, they have forced tens of thousands of Yezidis from their homes, killed hundreds and abducted thousands.

    August 12, 2014
    Displaced Iraqis from the Yezidi community cross the Iraqi-Syrian border along the Fishkhabur bridge in northern Iraq.© AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

    The international community must urgently mount a concerted humanitarian response to assist hundreds of thousands of people across northern Iraq fleeing ethnic cleansing by the forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or IS), Amnesty International said today.

    “Those trapped on Sinjar Mountain make up a tiny percentage of the hundreds of thousands from minority communities displaced by the conflict, now stranded in dire conditions,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, speaking from northern Iraq.

    “These people cannot go home as long as ISIS controls their towns and villages. They need help now.”

    August 07, 2014

    Panic has taken hold in north-western Iraq as tens of thousands of people flee areas where Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants are continuing their advance, Amnesty International said.

    “The situation for Iraqis in the north-west of the country, especially those from the Yezidi and Christian minority communities, is becoming increasingly dire as both residents and many of those already displaced are now fleeing their homes and places of shelter,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who is currently in northern Iraq.

    Thousands of residents of the Christian city of Qaraqosh fled after ISIS arrived overnight, while others told Amnesty International that they were trapped in the town and unable to leave.

    Donatella Rovera said: “I met a man yesterday in al-Qosh, a Christian town, who for weeks has been working hard to provide shelter and assistance to displaced people – Christians, Yezidis and other minorities who had fled their homes in the recent days and weeks amid ISIS assaults. 

    August 05, 2014

    Iraqis displaced by fighting in the north-west of the country must be given urgent humanitarian assistance, Amnesty International said after tens of thousands of civilians fled the town of Sinjar and surrounding areas following an attack by Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham(ISIS) militants.

    Hundreds of civilians from Sinjar and its environs are missing, feared dead or abducted, while tens of thousands are trapped without basic necessities or vital supplies in the Sinjar Mountain area south of the city. Most of those affected are members of the Yezidi minority.

    “The civilians trapped in the mountain area are not only at risk of being killed or abducted by ISIS; they are also suffering from a lack of water, food and medical care. They are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who is currently in northern Iraq.

    July 29, 2014
    By Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

    Marvin is a 27-year-old accountant. His life and that of his family were turned upside down last week, when members of the Islamic State (ISIS) turned up at their home in Mosul, northern Iraq.

    The ISIS militants who now control the city gave Marvin, his elderly parents and his brother and sister four stark choices: convert to Islam, pay jizya (a tax for non-Muslims), leave the city … or have their heads cut off. The militants then painted the Arabic letter “N” (for nasrani or Christian) on the house.

    For Marvin’s family, like many other Christian residents of Mosul, there was no choice. They took a few belongings and left the city early the following morning. “On our way out of Mosul, ISIS took our money and jewellery. Now we have no means to get out of Iraq and nothing to go back to in Mosul because our lives there have been destroyed,” Marvin told Amnesty International.

    In recent weeks, Marvin’s story has become tragically common among Christians and other civilians in Mosul.

    July 13, 2014

    Released 00:01 GMT Monday 14 July 2014
     

       
    Report: Northern Iraq - Civilians in the line of fire
     

    A new briefing by Amnesty International sheds light on a growing pattern of sectarian killings and abductions by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) since the group seized Mosul, Iraq’s second-biggest city, and other parts of north-western Iraq last month.

    July 07, 2014
    Thousands of IDPs fleeing conflict stranded at the Kalak checkpoint ©Amnesty International.

    By Donatella Rovera
    Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser

    Thousands of Iraqi civilians displaced by the current conflict are stranded at checkpoints separating the areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the rest of Iraq. At first civilians, who fled after the Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – ISIL) captured large areas of northwestern Iraq, were being allowed to enter Iraqi Kurdistan, but in recent weeks and days, access has been severely restricted by the KRG.

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