Iraq: Investigate Killing of School Principal, Cameraman

(HRW) – At least six masked men in military dress broke into the home of an active member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Daquq on October 30, 2017, and stabbed him to death, Human Rights Watch said today.

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) authorities asserted that the killing of Arkan Sharifi as hostilities broke out with Iraqi government forces in Iraq’s so-called “disputed territories,” was committed by members of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). No Kurdistan Regional Government forces have been in Daquq since October 16. Iraqi government authorities should establish an independent investigation into Sharifi’s death and make its results public.

“The Iraqi government should provide the public with real evidence and answers on who was responsible for the killing of this Kurdish activist given the apparent presence of only Iraqi forces in the city,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Establishing the truth of what happened and accountability for his killing will be an important step for Iraqi and Kurdish reconciliation.”

Sharifi was the principal of Eftakhar high school and a part-time cameraman for Kurdistan TV, a KDP-linked outlet. The armed men stormed into his home in Daquq, 30 kilometers south of Kirkuk, at about 1 a.m., said a person close to the incident.

The person said that the men first cut the electricity to his home, then stormed in and attacked and stabbed Sharifi at least 10 times, killing him. They searched the home and stole about US$25,000 and some family gold, the person said. Human Rights Watch viewed photos of his body after the attack. The person said that the men spoke to each other in Turkmen.

Since October 16, PMF have controlled Daquq and the surrounding area, with the presence of local police and a few other military units. A large number of Turkmen PMF are in the area.

By Tanya Kurdistani – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

A relative of Sharifi’s said he had no idea why the armed men targeted Sharifi, but that perhaps his active involvement in the KDP was the reason, noting the ongoing political dispute between political parties in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

This report prepared by Human Rights Watch.