Riyad Al Karawi
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Labourer and human rights defender
At the beginning of November 2018, Al Karawi participated in a sit-in in Baghdad in solidarity with demonstrators protesting against corruption and the lack of basic services in southern Iraq. He held a poster depicting Al Wissam Humanitarian Assembly’s logo as a means of advocating for the eradication of the practice of enforced disappearance in Iraq.
Following the sit-in, Al Karawi was approached by unidentified individuals, who threatened to beat him up if he did not stop his work documenting cases of enforced disappearances. Al Karawi suspects that they were members of a militia from the Popular Mobilisation Front (PMF), because they were wearing civilian clothes and did not arrest him immediately as is typical of the security forces.
On December 7, 2018, Al Karawi participated in another demonstration, this time in Diwanya, in solidarity with anti-corruption protestors. Again, he carried a poster depicting Al Wissam Humanitarian Assembly’s logo.
On December 12, 2018, as Al Karawi was leaving his house at around 8:00 a.m., he found a piece of paper near his garage that read “stop or we will end you” with a Kalashnikov bullet wrapped inside.
The reprisals against Al Karawi follow a similar pattern of reprisals against other members of Al Wissam Humanitarian Assembly, including the organisation’s founder Salam Al Hashimi, who had to flee Iraq due to threats from security forces. Other members of the NGO have been arrested, disappeared, tortured and interrogated about their work documenting cases of enforced disappearances.