With utmost sorrow and grief, the Regional Coalition of WHRDs in MENA received the news of the assassination of woman human rights defender Anwar Jassem Mhawwas in Iraq.
On the dawn of April 5, WHRD field activist in Dhi Qar governorate, Anwar Jassim Mhawwas, was assassinated by unknown gunmen. Two of her sons were also injured. The authorities imposed a security cordon around the assassination site, and forensic experts attended and started an investigation that will also review the surveillance cameras in the area. Anwar Jassim Mhawwas, known as “Umm Abbas”, is one of the most prominent field activists and organizers of the Dhi Qar Governorate demonstrations and has been working to provide food for protestors since October 2019.
Women human rights defenders in Iraq continue to be targeted in various forms starting from defamation campaigns and fabricated cases to assassinations. Despite the ban imposed by authorities across due to the coronavirus outbreak, demonstrations in Iraq are still ongoing due to the living conditions. Despite all of this, women human rights defenders are working to maintain and sustain their vital work.
The Regional Coalition of WHRDs in MENA condemns the assassination of woman human rights defender Anwar Jassim Mhawwas. The motive for crimes against WHRDs that are happening on a daily basis in Iraq is to suspend and undermine their legitimate work. The Regional Coalition urges Iraq to:
- Carry out an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the killing of Anwar Jassem Mhawwas with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in line with local laws and international standards;
- Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of all women human rights defenders and activists in Iraq;
The Regional Coalition also reminds Iraq to pay special attention to the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Internationally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, in particular and Article 12, paragraph 2, which states that:
“The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure that every person protects the competent authorities of him, individually and in association with others, from any violence, threat, revenge, or discrimination that is harmful to law, law, pressure, or any other arbitrary measure as a result of his or her legitimate exercise or rights referred to in this announcement.”