Daily World News Digest, 30 September 2015

Mass graves found across Iraq

The Daily Mail reported today on a mass grave outside Baghdad which may contain the remains of up to 15,000 bodies. Saddam Hussein’s former head of protocol, Haitham Rashid Wihaib, described the events surrounding the mass grave discovered at al-Mahawil, where so far more than 3,000 human remains have been uncovered, as a “crime against humanity”. The site, near the city of Hilla about 56 miles south of Baghdad, appeared to be among the largest found in Iraq since Saddam’s government was toppled by the US-led invasion. Relatives of those who have been missing since the suppression of a Shiite uprising in 1991 have been desperately searching for the remains of their loved ones, using tractors and their own hands to dig in the soil. Thousands of people were killed during the murderous regime. In Baghdad alone, 60,000 disappeared. It is not yet known how or why the people at al-Mahawil died, but it is thought they may have been massacred by Saddam’s regime following the attempted rebellion in 1991. http://dailym.ai/1JBL26m

Pakistan: Security agencies and officials put on notice in a missing person case

The Express Tribune, a daily from Pakistan, reported today that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued notices to senior intelligence and government officials over a petition filed by the wife of a missing man. The notices were issued in response to a petition filed by Abdullah Omer’s wife Zainab Khan who petitioned the court to help in recovering her husband. Omer along with three others is alleged to have been picked up by intelligence agency officials from outside a mosque near the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences on 20 June. http://bit.ly/1FBtUD3

China’s secret detention of lawyers threatens the rule of law

Hong Kong Free Press carried a story on 29 September saying that on the night of Friday 10 July, Sui Muqing, a well-known human rights lawyer disappeared after police visited his home. He has not been seen since, due to a new form of secret detention known as “residential surveillance”, which the Chinese authorities are increasingly using to clamp down on critics, the report said. Sui Muqing is just one victim in an unprecedented crackdown against lawyers and activists – which has become known as “Black Friday”. As of 22 September, a total of 245 lawyers and activists have been targeted and 30 remain in police custody. Secret detentions have been made legal in China, the report says. “Residential surveillance in a designated place”, as the name of the provision in the Criminal Procedure Law is called, allow the police to hold criminal suspects for up to six months outside of the formal detention system. The suspects are denied legal counsel and any family visits. Families are haunted by this uncertainty. Sui Muqing is one of seven lawyers and five activists being held under “residential surveillance in a designated place” on suspicion of “endangering state security”. http://bit.ly/1KJknsr

Thailand seizes assets of officials after mass graves of refugees are discovered

News 24, a news portal from Thailand, reported on 29 September that Thai authorities have seized over US$1.5 million in assets from officials charged with human trafficking. The trafficking network came to light earlier this year after investigators discovered mass graves of refugees at a trafficking camp in southern Thailand. More than 150 warrants have been issued against officials suspected of involvement with the trafficking ring to date, with 89 detained including a general. The crackdown following the discovery of camps in southern Thailand stranded thousands of migrants in boats off Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, as traffickers refused to land. Rohingya Muslims transiting to Malaysia and further south say they suffer discrimination in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, which does not recognize them as one of the country’s official ethnic groups, and considers them illegal Bengali immigrants. http://bit.ly/1h8lnLQ

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.