The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has called on the Iraqi government to form a neutral committee to investigate a female Iraqi writer’s allegations of being subjected to rape, torture, and verbal abuse during the years she spent in Iraqi prisons for writing articles critical of the government of Prime Minister Nuri Al-Malki.
In a post published to the Internet, the writer known as Heba El-Shamiri revealed that the reason she had been missing for several years was because she was imprisoned. She stated that the name she is known by is a pseudonym she uses and that her real name is Hanan El-Meshadani. She added that she is a doctor and not a journalist.
“If her allegations are true, then we are facing a serious violation of human rights and a crime that must not be tolerated,” stated ANHRI, “the writer said she was imprisoned for exercising her right to freely express her opinions and criticize the government of her country. It is not clear whether her imprisonment followed legal procedures or whether she was illegaly jailed, which would add enforced disappearance to the list of crimes allegedly committed against her.”
ANHRI added, “Although the Iraqi government’s record with regards to press freedom and attacks on journalists places Iraq among the most dangerous countries for the press, we will not rush to condemn the government based on allegations that have not been investigated yet. However, we do emphasize that these allegations are serious and require urgent attention and a neutral and transparent investigation in order to reveal the truth.”
ANHRI calls on the Iraqi government to quickly investigate the circumstances of imprisoning El-Meshadani and to publish the details of her trial and allow observers from inside and outside Iraq to participate in the fact-finding committee digging into allegations of rape and torture. The organisation repeats its previous demands of the Iraqi authorities, asking it to respect the Iraqi Constitution and the international treaties of which Iraq is a signatory.