Iraq: ‘Series of assassinations’ feared after professor killed

Ahmed al-Sharifi, a university professor, was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen in Iraq’s Maysan province.

Map of Iraq showing Amara

Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR) has condemned the assassination of a professor who was killed on Wednesday by unidentified gunmen in the Iraqi city of Amara.

Security sources said that Ahmed al-Sharifi, a university professor, was shot and killed in Amara, the capital of Maysan province that lies some 400 kilometres (248.5 miles) southeast of Baghdad.

The gunman fled the scene immediately after shooting al-Sharifi at Al-Manara University College, sources said.

In a statement, IHCHR warned of the return of a “series of assassinations” targeting Iraqi academics and university professors, and called on the government to create legislation to protect them.

The commission warned that if the state continues to fail to protect them, many revered academics would have no option but to leave the country at a time when Iraq needs to rebuild.

Iraq has witnessed a series of assassinations and forced disappearances of journalists and political activists, as well as the killing of hundreds of protesters since October 2019, the start of demonstrations against rampant corruption, political and security deterioration, and the economic crisis.

Many are targeted by masked, unknown assailants, in what Iraqis say is part of a continuing intimidation campaign.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has pledged to investigate the recent killings, but no one has been held accountable to date.

Last week, eight local and international rights groups said they were worried about “the lack of accountability for the extrajudicial executions that have taken place this year, targeting individuals for their peaceful expression”.

The authorities’ “failure” to bring the perpetrators to justice was “perpetuating and further entrenching decades of impunity that have left brave individuals without the most basic protection”, the groups said, which included Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies