Iraq: Letter to Officials: Kidnapping and Torture of Youth Activist


MADRE's Executive Director Yifat Susskind and Yanar Mohammed, the Executive Director of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), have written this letter to Iraqi officials in response to the kidnapping and torture of youth activist, Alaa Nabil. To download a PDF of this letter, please click here

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
President Jalal Al Talabani
Lt. Gen. Ahmed Hashim Aouadi, Commanding General of the Baghdad Operations Command
President of the Parliament Osama Alngivi

MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization, and the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) are writing to call your attention to an urgent matter that concerns the human rights and safety of Iraqi citizens. We were recently alerted that a youth activist affiliated with OWFI has been targeted with violence and death threats due to his pro-democracy activism. We deplore the use of such tactics to silence democratic participation and call on the Iraqi government to ensure that all Iraqis are protected against such human rights violations.

On March 21, Alaa Nabil, a youth activist who has been involved in organizing pro-democracy protests, was detained for one hour. The next day, he was kidnapped from the area around his residence by men who transported him to an unknown location. They forced him to face a wall, and they beat, kicked and whipped him with hoses and cables on his back and his arms. Alaa Nabil and OWFI believe these men to be Iraqi security agents.

Before releasing him, the men issued direct death threats against him and against his activist colleagues, saying “We will cut your tongues, you and your organizing colleagues, Firas Ali, Suad Shwaili, and Falah Alwan, if you dare to reach Al Tahrir Square. And if you insist on continuing this work, we will shoot each one of you and throw you where your bodies cannot be found.”

We condemn the use of torture and violence to attack freedom of speech and peaceful demonstrations. In organizing these protests, Alaa exercises internationally recognized human rights that the Iraqi government is legally obligated to uphold, yet he has been detained, kidnapped, tortured and threatened with death. 

We call on you to demonstrate your commitment to democracy, the rule of law and human rights and to ensure the safety of Iraqi citizens.  

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.


   Yifat Susskind                                  Yanar Mohammed