A leading figure of the Tishreen Movement

Nasiriyah unveils monument to missing activist Sajjad Al-Iraqi renewing calls for justice

NASIRIYAH — A statue commemorating prominent activist Sajjad Al-Iraqi, abducted in 2020, was unveiled Wednesday in a poignant ceremony at the Al-Hadharat Bridge in central Nasiriyah.

Al-Iraqi, a leading figure in the 2019 Tishreen protest movement, was kidnapped on September 20, 2020, while traveling with friends. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Funded and erected by his family, the statue serves as a stark reminder of Al-Iraqi’s unresolved fate and that of other protesters who also disappeared.

“Sajjad is a hero of the Tishreen protests and a symbol of the movement in Dhi Qar,” Ali Jawad, another activist, told 964media. “The statue reinforces our demands for answers about his disappearance and his return to his family.”

Al-Iraqi’s activism focused on exposing corruption cases. According to Amnesty International, his family has faced “numerous threats” believed to be linked to his abductors. Amnesty says the Popular Mobilization Units have pressured the family to drop their legal case.

In November 2020, arrest warrants were issued for two individuals, Idris Kreidi and Ahmed Mohammed Abd, in connection with Al-Iraqi’s kidnapping. Neither suspect has been apprehended. However, both were issued death sentences in absentia in March 2023 for abducting Al-Iraqi.

Wednesday’s unveiling ceremony, attended by local youth and community members, highlighted broader calls for transparency and improved human rights protections in the region.

Widespread protests erupted across Iraq on Oct. 1, 2019, fueled by economic hardship and allegations of government corruption. The Tishreen Movement, considered the largest since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, was largely unaffiliated with established political parties.

Demonstrators demanded the resignation of then-Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s cabinet, an interim government, and early elections. Security forces and paramilitary groups’ response to the anti-government demonstrations resulted in an estimated 600 deaths and thousands of injuries among protesters.