UN Iraq chief visits protesting mother of slain activist

UN Iraq chief visits protesting mother of slain activist Ihab al-Wazni
2 min read
24 June, 2021
The United Nations’ top representative in Iraq met with Samira al-Wazni, who began a sit-down protest outside a court in Karbala on Sunday to demand justice for her murdered activist son.
United Nations in Iraq chief Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert visited the family of slain activist Ihab Al-Wazni on Thursday [Getty]

The United Nations' top representative in Iraq on Thursday visited the Karbala home of Samira Al-Wazni, who held a protest to demand answers on the murder of her activist son.

Samira al-Wazni began a sit-down protest outside a court in Karbala on Sunday, imploring the authorities to find out who shot her son Ihab al-Wazni dead outside his home early last month.

In her visit to the home, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert "explained the UN’s efforts to promote accountability for the attacks targeting civic and political activists", a UNAMI statement read. "She underlined that the perpetrators of these hideous crimes must be brought to justice."

While reporters were at the house, Al-Wazni’s relatives pressed Hennis-Plasschaert on the UN’s role in Iraq’s security.

"We just want to live in a safe country… do something," one man pleaded off camera.

"The mother, like any mother, and brothers deserve the truth and nothing but the truth. So the United Nations will always be with the people searching for the truth," Hennis-Plasschaert said.

The UNAMI chief also met with the Governor of Karbala, and the two discussed "the need to ensure accountability for crimes against civic and political activists".

No one has been charged with Al-Wazni’s murder. Qasem Muslih, a commander from the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), was arrested in connection with the murder in May but was released two weeks later.

Hennis-Plasschaert was condemned last year for meeting with PMF chief of staff Abu Fadak al-Mohammadawi. Factions of the PMF have been accused of murdering protesters.

More than 600 people have been killed since Iraq's pro-democracy protest movement began in October 2019. Despite government pledges to find the perpetrators and hold them to account, few have been arrested in connection with the murders.

During her protest, Samira Al-Wazni called on Iraqis who had lost protester loved ones to join her public call for justice. In protests and in video appeals shared on social media, mothers elsewhere in Iraq have demanded that the government find out what happened to their sons.