Daily World News Digest, 22 October 2015

Iraq: 365 bodies found in 19 different mass graves

Daily Pakistan reported today that Iraqi forces found 19 different mass graves containing the bodies of 365 fighters from the Islamic State group in the reconquered town of Baiji. An army officer confirmed a large number of bodies had been discovered in mass graves, but could not say how many and mentioned that some had also been found in another neighborhood. In a statement, the security forces said that the total number of discovered graves is 19. It said the mass graves were found in the Asri neighborhood of Baiji, 200 kilometers north of Baghdad, and contained a total of “365 bodies of Daesh terrorists”. It was not clear how long the bodies had been buried there, nor how all of them were identified as fighters. Baiji has been the scene of almost uninterrupted fighting in the past 16 months. Iraqi forces led by the Popular Mobilization, an umbrella group dominated by Tehran-backed Shiite militias, have fully retaken the area in recent days. http://bit.ly/1ZZuj8T

Mexico to relaunch probe into disappeared students

Vice News portal reported on 21 October that Mexico’s government has agreed to relaunch its investigation into the last year’s disappearance of 43 students in what amounts to a tacit admission that its existing probe has little credibility. The announcement was made during a special session on the case at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington on Tuesday. “It will be a new team that will relaunch the investigation,” Eber Betanzos, deputy attorney general for human rights, said during the session. The announcement was part of a wider agreement reached by government officials and members of a group of international experts that was assembled by the Inter-American Commission earlier this year to study the case. The experts will have an active role in choosing investigators. The expert’s report released last month pushed the government probe into crisis by exposing the lack of evidence behind its central conclusions that the students were attacked because they were confused with a rival drug gang, and that their bodies were incinerated in a garbage dump. http://bit.ly/1PIoE2x

Egypt: Head of the opposition remains in detention while practice of disappearances continues

Middle East Eye carried a story on 21 October saying that last month, leader of one of Egypt’s best known opposition movements, Amr Ali, disappeared. Amr Ali was taken from his home in Shebeen el-Kom in the Menoufia governorate on 22 September. Amr is the head of the April 6 Youth Movement, a group that was the central mobilizing force behind Egypt’s 2011 uprisings. For nearly three days, no one knew where Amr Ali was. On 25 September, rumors began to circulate in the activist community that Amr had appeared in Egypt’s most famous prison, al-Tora. A warrant for Ali’s arrest had been issued in June after an April 6 member was arrested in Cairo for distributing flyers in support of a general strike. But members of the April 6 movement told that Amr Ali had not been questioned nor formally arrested. His family and friends told them that Ali had simply been taken by the security forces. He has not been charged and his fate remains unclear, but for now Amr Ali will remain in the prison. Hundreds of civilians have been disappeared by Egypt’s security forces this year, and most of them aren’t located within a few days. Since March, there has been a startling growth in the use of disappearance as a security forces tactic to target Egypt’s dissidents. http://bit.ly/1GVGfwK

Project ‘’Faces of Srebrenica’’ helps in remembering Europe’s worst genocide

Catch News portal carried a story on 21 October saying that as the Syrian war enters its fifth year and Russia deploys its forces, thousands of refugees are fleeing persecution and war. But a similar genocide took place in July 1995 and neither the UN nor the world powers intervened and saved innocent lives. Around 8,372 Bosnian Muslim civilian men were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces in the UN-protected area, Srebrenica, and buried in mass graves. A Bosnian journalist, Dzenana Halimovic, has taken upon itself to identify the victims of genocide, trace down their roots and contact their families, in her project ‘’Faces of Srebrenica’’. Her project has helped numerous families who fled Srebrenica. She wanted to reveal the faces and the stories of the people who were buried in mass graves and of those who are not yet found. After she received the list of all the victims from the Missing Persons Institute, she started collecting photos with NGOs. Dzenana says that Srebrenica should serve as a reminder, but that we can see the pattern repeating around the world, especially in Syria. http://bit.ly/1RpOhUi

HRW warns about disappearances and repression in Turkmenistan

Human Rights Watch issued a ‘’Briefing Memorandum on Human Rights Concerns’’ in Central Asia on 21 October in which it expressed special concern about disappearances in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan is one of the most repressive and closed countries in the world which remains utterly cut off from any independent human rights scrutiny. Human Rights Watch is worried about authorities’ practice to use imprisonment as a tool for political retaliation. It is impossible to determine the actual number of political prisoners because the justice system lacks transparency. One well-known case is that of Gulgeldy Annaniazov, a political dissident arrested in 2008, who is serving an 11-year sentence on charges not known even to his family. Dozens of other individuals, most of whom were arrested in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s have simply disappeared in the Turkmen prison system. For more than 12 years now, the government has refused to allow them any contact with their families. An October 2014 decision by the UN Human Rights Committee recognized former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov as a victim of enforced disappearance and found that Turkmenistan is under obligation to provide him and his family with an effective remedy. http://bit.ly/1ku9L8a

Items in Daily World News Digest are summaries of published reports relevant to the issue of missing persons, compiled by ICMP staff.  These items do not necessarily reflect the position of ICMP.