Amnesty calls on Iraq to reveal whereabouts of 650 missing boys, men

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Amnesty International has called on Iraq to reveal the whereabouts of 643 Sunni men and young boys who were kidnapped by the pro-Iran Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) during operations to retake Fallujah city from Daesh in 2016.

The rights watchdog quoted witnesses as saying that on 3 June, while thousands of men, women and children were fleeing the Anbar region, they were met by a group of armed men wearing PMF uniforms. They “took an estimated 1,300 men and boys considered to be of fighting age away from their families.”

“At sunset, at least 643 men and boys were boarded onto buses and a large truck. Their fate remains unknown” while the rest alleged they were tortured, the human rights watchdog said in a statement.

Then Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi established a committee to investigate the disappearances and abuses two days later but “the committee’s findings have never been made public”, according to Amnesty.

“For five years, the families of these men and boys have been living in anguish, not knowing the fate of their loved ones, or whether they are even alive. Young boys were ripped away from their parents and entire families torn apart. The families deserve to know what happened to their loved ones. They deserve an end to their suffering,” the statement quoted Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, as saying.

“The Iraqi authorities must end this anguish and reveal the fate and whereabouts of those forcibly disappeared by the PMU [PMF]. We also urge the authorities to publicly disclose the findings of their official investigation and hold those responsible to account,” she added.

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