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Iraq: Ominous Disappearance of Retired Air Force Pilot

Iraq: Ominous Disappearance of Retired Air Force Pilot

On 15 September 2014, Alkarama and Al Wissam Humanitarian Assembly sent a joint urgent appeal to the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances concerning the abduction of Riad Abdel Majeed Al Obeidi, a former Air Force Brigade pilot, in Al A'amiriya on 1 June 2014. Having not been seen since, his family fears that he be tortured or ill-treated, particularly after he managed to contact them, from his detention place, in mid-June.

Al Obeidi was arrested at home in front of his entire family and for reasons that remain unknown to date. On 1 June 2014, a patrol of the Regiment of protection zone, a branch of the 56th Brigade of Iraq's army active in Al A'amiriya, approached Al Obeidi's home inquiring about his neighbour. Al Obeidi informed them that his neighbour had left town 45 days ago but offered his help as a former Air Force Pilot.

Intrigued, the patrol called their headquarters before forcing Al Obeidi into a car and searching his house without providing any explanation. They came out with Al Obeidi's and his sons' computers, his military clothes, and several other personal items, put them all in a car, and left for an unknown location. Since then, his family asked several officers that they know at the 56th Brigade for information on Al Obeidi's fate, but none of them even recognised that he was being detained.

Al Obeidi's family stopped looking for him after they received a call from him on 14 June saying that he was secretly detained inside the old Al Muthanna Airport, now used as a secret detention centre run jointly by the 54th and 56th Brigades, in central Baghdad. Al Obeidi also told his family that he should be released soon and asked them not to try to locate him or to take any other step in this sense. His family hasn't heard from him since and fear that he may be subject to torture and other ill-treatment as numerous reports made by former detainees stress this systematic practice of cruel treatments in this secret prison.

It is extremely unclear why Al Obeidi, a retired Air Force pilot, would been abducted, as he wasn't the person that the soldiers were looking for when they abducted him on 1 June, and as he was not involved in any particular activities which could explain his arrest. To shed light on his abduction and consequent disappearance, Alkarama and Al Wissam Humanitarian Assembly sent an urgent appeal to the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances to ask the Iraqi authorities to immediately release Al Obeidi. As a party to the 2006 Convention on Enforced Disappearances, Iraq has to set an example for other countries to put an end to this grave practice.

For more information or an interview, please contact the media team at media@alkarama.org (Dir: +41 22 734 1007 Ext: 810)

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