On 13 November 2019, activist and medic Saba Mahdawi was released and was able to return to her home, after having spent 11 days in captivity. She had been abducted by armed masked men on 2 November 2019, as she was driving home from Tahrir Square, in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, where massive anti-government protests have been taking place since October 1, 2019. Saba is a volunteer and was providing medical aid to protesters in Baghdad at the time of her abduction.
Her family confirmed to Amnesty that during her captivity, Saba was kept in a private house and was not ill-treated. According to the information, her captors interrogated her repeatedly about her activities in Tahrir Square. Upon her release, Saba drove herself home and is now in safety with her family. She is unable to verify the identity of her captors, according to her family.
Since early October, Amnesty has documented a rising crackdown against activists, medics, lawyers and protesters by the Iraqi security forces and non-state armed groups. In many cases, activists were threatened, beaten and forced to sign pledges.
To this date, the Iraqi authorities have failed to launch an impartial and transparent investigation into the violations and crimes committed by its security forces and non-state armed actors. We renew our call to the Iraqi authorities to immediately rein in its security forces and investigate and hold accountable those responsible for crimes, including crimes committed by armed groups.