Human Rights Watch says crimes against humanity on the increase in Iraq
Islamic State of Iraq, linked to Al-Qaeda, claims responsibility for crimes recognized as “crimes against humanity” in Iraq
Human Rights Watch has announced that the extremists who deliberately carried out a wave of blasts in Iraq killed 60 people on July 29, 2013. It described the act crime against humanity, the most severe crimes under international law.
The Al-Qaeda organization in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility and publically announced that it organized the 29th July attacks and bombings as well as several others in recent months.
The organization has issued an announcement confirming that it carried out the car bombs and deadly suicide attacks in the country which targeted civilians in the main and left hundreds dead and injured.
A string of explosions in Baghdad on August 6 through August 10 targeted busy places, cafes and shopping streets where many families were celebrating the end of Ramadan. At least 130 people were killed in those blasts, and no party had claimed responsibility until now.
“The July 29 attacks, coming on top of other horrific attacks in recent months, provide clear evidence that Al-Qaeda in Iraq is guilty of crimes against humanity,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “No political goal or grievance can possibly justify this widespread and organized murder campaign, which is wreaking terrible suffering on Iraqis.”
The 29th July attacks were very deadly and targeted both Sunni and Shia neighborhoods. The harsh attacks also targeted governmental apparatus and military institutions.
According to the official United Nations statistics, the horrific attacks made July the bloodiest month in the past five years. The acts of terrorism and violence in July claimed the lives of 1 057 Iraqi people and wounded 2 326 others, including 204 policemen and 129 members of the Iraqi security forces (UNAMI).
Gyorgy Busztin, the acting special representative for Iraq of the United Nations Secretary-General, warned of the past month’s violence in Iraq and said that the violence might bear the sign of a return to an era “when the blind rage of sectarian strife… inflicted… deep wounds upon this country.”
Consistent with a report from the Institute for the Study of War, Al-Qaeda has repeatedly carried out attacks with handmade-bombs over the last 12month period.
One day later, on July 30, the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the 29th July attacks. On July 21, the group carried out two deadly and horrific attacks on two Baghdad-area prisons: Abu Ghraib and al-Tajji, which led to inmates escaped en masse. Two days later, the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the two attacks. Iraq’s Ministry of Justice issued a statement claiming at least 68 members of the security forces were killed in the attack on Abu Ghraib, and between 500 and 1, 000 detainees escaped from the two prisons.
The Islamic State of Iraq later said that the attacks were revenge for the attack carried out by the Iraqi security forces on a Sunni protest camp in the city of Hawija on April 23, killing 51 people.
Those responsible for and though complicit in crimes against humanity can be prosecuted anywhere in the world, since they are considered to be under universal jurisdiction. As a matter of customary international law, the term “crimes against humanity” includes a range of serious human rights abuses including murder committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack by a government or organized non-state group against a civilian population.
“In the current climate, attacks are committed by all sides – Sunni insurgent groups, Shia militias, and government security forces – and each invokes the others’ violence as a justification for their own,” Stork said. “Rather than responding with increased brutality and resorting to torture, forced confessions, mass arrests, and unfair trials, the government needs to take the lead to end this brutal cycle.”
Iraqis inspect the aftermath of a car bomb attack at Baghdad’s mostly Shiite neighborhood of Husseiniyah, Iraq, on June 25, 2013.