Freed Iraqi activist hospitalised after torture by captors
A prominent Iraqi journalist and activist was released by his abductors on Saturday and hospitalised after showing signs of torture, Iraqi security sources have told The New Arab’s Arabic-language site.
Ali Al-Makdam, associated with Iraq's burgeoning civil political movement that emerged amid anti-government protests in late 2019, was reported missing late Friday.
His phone was switched off and his social media accounts deactivated. Makdam's family informed Iraqi authorities of his disappearance after he was last seen leaving a café in Baghdad's upmarket Karrada district.
Security forces discovered the 21-year-old the next day in a derelict courtyard behind a private university in the district of Dora, eight kilometres southwest of his last sighting, Iraqi security sources told The New Arab.
He appeared to have bruising to his body after allegedly being beaten by his captors and was taken to a government hospital for treatment.
It is unclear who was behind his abduction, but the sources suspected that it was "those who have been involved in kidnapping activists" and was aimed at "silencing " him.
#Iraq : Security forces find & free activist & journalist Ali al-Makdam after he went missing in apparent abduction - raising grave concerns over his safety - he’s been taken to hospital with reports that he was beaten #علي_المكدام pic.twitter.com/z1zxnyYxyX— sebastian usher (@sebusher) July 10, 2021
Makdam is a well-known activist, journalist, and member of the anti-establishment party "Iraqi National Home". Like other Tishreen parties, it seeks the prosecution of officials and armed groups for the killings of protesters, and an end to endemic corruption.
Vocal on social media about those causes, Makdam received death threats after posting an article about Hadi Al-Amiri, a top militia commander the head of Iraq's pro-Iran Fatah alliance, his mother told Saudi media outlet Alarabiya.
His disappearance featured prominently in the post of Iraqis sympathetic to the political reform movement, with social media users calling on the authorities to take action to find him.
Members of the Tishreen movement have been subject to various forms of repression, including assassinations and forced disappearances, allegedly at the hands of hard-line paramilitaries loyal to pro-Iranian parties whose dominance of the country’s political system.
Over 700 protesters are believed to have been killed when security forces and the Iran-linked militias cracked down on the original October 2019 protests. No one has been prosecuted for those killings.