Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who took office in May, has pledged justice for activists killed or abused by armed groups, and has faced off against some Iran-backed parties.
But the formation of nearly 35 committees by the new government to tackle the challenges, including pursuing those responsible for protesters’ deaths, has resulted in no prosecutions so far.
“I’ve lost all the hope I had in Kadhimi,” Aldhamat’s brother, Mohammed Aldhamat, told Reuters in Amara.
Speaking in Amjad’s home, where their mother also lives, he added that his family had been told they would see the results of the investigation into his brother’s death within three months. Four months have passed with no word.
An Iraqi government spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said state institutions were “infiltrated” by parties and militia groups that had no interest in punishing the killers of protesters.
The government has vowed to crack down on what it says are criminal armed groups trying to destabilise the country, and to impose state control over weapons as part of efforts to reduce the influence of militias.
Alminshid said a police officer at the hospital where Aldhamat was pronounced dead asked him a few questions, but no one has contacted him since.
The day after Aldhamat’s killing, military authorities in Amara sent a memo to the interior ministry recommending that security forces protect nine other activists it said were on a hit list, according to a document seen by Reuters.
A military official confirmed the document’s authenticity.
One of the activists on that list, 28-year-old Hamza Qassem, got wind of the memo through a friend in the Amara police force and left for Istanbul, where he, Alminshid and other exiled Iraqis who used to run a rights NGO in Amara now reside.
That NGO no longer exists. Seven of its founders are in Turkey and three have been killed.
“Amara has become a terrifying city,” Qassem said.
The main protest site in Amara, which was occupied a year ago by throngs of anti-government protesters, is now sealed off by security forces and metal gates.
“We took to the streets and asked for a nation, but the authorities gave us a cemetery,” said one of the protesters, Haider Halim. “The only solution is to leave.”
Reporting by Amina Ismail, Editing by John Davison and Mike Collett-White
Mohammed al-Dahamat, brother of late civil society activist, Amjad al-Dahamat, speaks on the phone to Hasanain Alminshid, who fled Amarah after receiving threats for participating in anti-government protests, in Amarah, Iraq October 12, 2020. REUTERS/Charlotte Bruneau