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Iraq

    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.

    July 02, 2014
    By Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International from Mosul, Iraq

    Long lines of cars full of terrified families jammed the road as I left Mosul on 25 June. The mass exodus is testament to the impact on civilians since fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) took control of the city.

    As we headed east towards Erbil militants from ISIS were indiscriminately shelling Hamdanyah, home to some of Iraq’s religious and ethnic minorities.

    July 02, 2014

    Thousands of exhausted Iraqi civilians fleeing the conflict in north-west Iraq are stranded at checkpoints separating the autonomous Kurdish provinces controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the rest of Iraq, said Amnesty International today.  

    Almost all the families interviewed by Amnesty International’s research team in Iraq today and last night are Shi’a Turkmen who fled Tal ‘Afar when fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) captured the city two weeks ago. They have since been sheltering in the Sinjar area, further west towards the Iraq-Syria border, but do not feel safe there as ISIS recently took control of parts of the border area.

    “Thousands of frightened civilians have left their homes and their lives behind only to find themselves stranded on the streets. The Kurdish regional authorities have an obligation to allow Iraqi civilians seeking to flee the fighting to enter or transit through KRG areas,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's Senior Crisis Response Adviser.

    July 01, 2014

    Amnesty International has spoken to recently released detainees from the Yezidi community who were captured by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq, as well as to family members of those still held by the group.

    At least 24 Iraqi border guards and soldiers were captured by ISIS last month in north western Iraq. Some were later released; the rest are being held by ISIS across the border in north eastern Syria. The captives are among scores of minorities who have been targeted in a spree of sectarian detentions and abductions carried out by ISIS in recent weeks. In a video issued by the group on 29 June entitled “The End of Sykes-Picot” the men are referred to as “devil worshippers.”

    “A clear pattern is emerging whereby ISIS is deliberately targeting Iraq’s minorities as well as others suspected of opposing the group, singling them out for detention and abduction,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser currently in northern Iraq.  

    June 27, 2014

    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. 

    June 21, 2014

    Evidence has emerged which suggests that several hundred Indian nationals may be stranded in the Najaf province of Iraq, unable to return home because their employer refuses to return their passports.

    All the workers are reportedly employed by an infrastructure and construction company. Amnesty International India spoke with some of these workers, who said they have not been paid salaries for the past five months.

    Baljinder Singh (name changed), one of the migrant workers, told Amnesty International India over the phone: "The employer holds all our passports and refuses to return them. We have been restricting ourselves to the company premises since the conflict began because we are scared. Without our passports we can't leave this country, and every passing day makes us feel more and more unsafe. We just want to go home."

    Baljinder Singh said that the workers had raised this concern with the Indian Embassy in Baghdad, which asked them to provide their passport details via text message. The workers sent the details on the morning of 19 June and are now awaiting a response.

    June 11, 2014

    Civilians caught up in fighting in the Iraqi city of Mosul must be protected at all costs and allowed to safely leave the conflict zone, Amnesty International said after an estimated 500,000 people were forced to flee their homes in the area.

    "The takeover of Mosul by armed opposition groups is a deeply concerning development with grave consequences for human rights in Iraq,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Program Director.

    “Both sides in the conflict must ensure that civilians do not bear the brunt of the violence as they battle for control of the city.”

    The Iraqi authorities announced yesterday that its security forces had lost control of Mosul, the country’s second largest city, to armed opposition groups belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) following armed clashes over the weekend.

    The recent violence has already forced about half a million people to flee Mosul and its surroundings to neighbouring areas, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) figures issued on 10 June.

    April 29, 2014

    Failure of the Iraqi authorities to tackle an alarming spike in violence is exposing voters who wish to cast their ballots in the country’s parliamentary elections on 30 April to high risk of attack, said Amnesty International.

    In the latest attack on Friday, at least 31 people were killed and several more injured after a series of blasts targeted a political party’s election rally in Baghdad. These are the third parliamentary elections to be held since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but will be the first since the withdrawal of US troops in 2011.

    “Iraq has been plagued by spiraling violence over the past year resulting in the highest numbers of casualties in years,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “People should be able vote without fear of being deliberately targeted. It is the Iraqi authorities’ duty to ensure that people are able to participate in elections free from attacks by armed groups, intimidation by the security forces and any actions which will interfere with exercising their constitutional right to vote.”

    January 22, 2014

    Reports have emerged today of 12 secret executions carried out by the Iraqi authorities, bringing the number of prisoners put to death since Sunday to 38, Amnesty International said.

    “The increasing use of the death penalty in Iraq will only fuel more violence as many of those executed are often convicted after grossly unfair trials,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The only way to deal effectively with the security threats faced by the country is for the Iraqi authorities to address their deeply flawed justice system, in which ‘confessions’ extracted under torture are used as evidence in court and the execution of prisoners is routine.”

    On 21 January the Iraqi Ministry of Justice issued a statement confirming that the authorities had executed 26 men on Sunday, two days earlier. One of these was Adel al-Mashehadani, known to have carried out a number of sectarian attacks, according to the Justice Ministry.  

    Amnesty International has confirmed through independent sources that at least 12 further men were also executed.

    November 08, 2013

    A sharp increase in the use of the death penalty in Iraq has brought the number of known executions to the highest in the decade since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, with at least seven prisoners sent to the gallows yesterday, sparking fears that many more death row prisoners are at risk, Amnesty International said.

    “Iraq’s increased use of the death penalty, often after unfair trials in which many prisoners report having been tortured into confessing crimes, is a futile attempt to resolve the country’s serious security and justice problems,” said Phillip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “In order to actually protect civilians better from violent attacks by armed groups, authorities in Iraq must effectively investigate abuses and bring those responsible to justice in a system that is fair, without recourse to the death penalty.”

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