Iraq filed lawsuit against slain activist, says brother

Iraq filed lawsuit against activist killed by security forces, says brother
2 min read
24 June, 2021
Safaa al-Saray, killed by the Iraqi security forces while taking part in pro-democracy protests, is accused of "throwing stones at the security forces", his brother said
Iraqi activist Safaa al-Saray was killed in October 2019 [Getty]

Iraqi authorities have filed a lawsuit against a prominent activist killed while taking part in pro-democracy protests, his brother has said.

Safaa al-Saray, 26, was in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of protests in the Iraqi capital when he was hit on the head by a tear gas bomb in October 2019.

The lawsuit is from the intelligence service, Safaa’s brother Bahaa Al-Saray said in a Facebook post on Tuesday, on charges of "throwing stones at the security forces".

Safaa's family had filed a lawsuit against then-Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, said Bahaa, himself a prominent activist in a subsequent Facebook post. He claimed that if his family drops their lawsuit, the intelligence service will drop theirs.

The Al-Saray family currently receives compensation from the Martyrs’ Foundation, which will likely be cut off if the lawsuit is successful.

Al-Saray was an engineering graduate, activist, and poet with a huge social media following. Like other young graduates in Iraq, he was a victim of mass unemployment – initially one of the main drivers of the protests.

More than 600 people have been killed since the protests began in October 2019, mostly by live fire.

However, Amnesty International estimated that at least a few dozen protesters were mortally wounded when the heavy, military-grade tear gas grenades fired by the Iraqi security forces pierced their skulls.

"All the evidence points to Iraqi security forces deploying these military-grade grenades against protesters in Baghdad, apparently aiming for their heads or bodies at point-blank range," Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty's Middle East Research Director, said in October 2019.

Bahaa Al-Saray’s post was met with solidarity from other Iraqi activists.

"The Iraqi judiciary no longer knows what to do to silence the voice of Iraqi youth so it went to silence them in their graves, because the voice of free Iraqis, even if they were in their graves, is louder than their crime and corruption,” Yazidi activist Saman Dawod said