RIGHTS GROUP SAYS MASS KILLINGS OF SUNNIS, IN RETALIATION TO ISIS, ENJOY IRAQI GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
VIVIAN SALAMA | AP
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Shiite militias have abducted and killed “scores” of Sunni civilians in retaliation for the onslaught by the Islamic State group, Amnesty International said Tuesday, claiming that the attacks are supported by the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
The Shiite militiamen number in the tens of thousands and wear military uniforms but operate outside any legal framework and without any official oversight, Amnesty said.
Moreover, they are not prosecuted for the crimes, the London-based watchdog warned in its new report, entitled “Absolute Impunity: Militia Rule in Iraq.”
The accusations were based on interviews with families and survivors who claimed that members of four prominent Iraqi Shiite militias — Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, the Badr Brigades, the Mahdi Army, and Ketaeb Hizbollah — were behind many abductions and killings of Sunnis in the country.
Amnesty says the government is not doing its job to prosecute Shiite militia crimes but is also condoning them.
“By granting its blessings to militias who routinely commit such abhorrent abuses, the Iraqi government is sanctioning war crimes and fueling a dangerous cycle of sectarian violence that is tearing the country apart,” said Donatella Rovera, a senior adviser with Amnesty.
“Shiite militias are ruthlessly targeting Sunni civilians on a sectarian basis under the guise of fighting terrorism, in an apparent bid to punish Sunnis for the rise of the (Islamic State group) and for its heinous crimes,” she added.
Amnesty says the fate of many of the Sunni abductees remains unknown and that some captives have been killed even after their families paid ransoms of $80,000 and more.