Iraq rights activist criticizes PM on live TV

Baghdad (AFP) June 5, 2011

A leading human rights activist confronted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on live television on Sunday over what she said was the insinuation that rights groups were fronts for terrorism.

Maliki delivered a speech at the opening of a conference on Iraq’s national rights action plan and referred to last month’s arrest of a man security forces said had taken part in the massacre of a wedding party in 2006, but had been posing as an activist since.

“Unfortunately, as you see on TV, there are some human rights organizations working under this name, but are unfortunately practicing killing,” Maliki said in his speech.

“As you all saw, the head of a human rights organization killed innocent people with his hands at a wedding, and he filmed the crime,” he added.

Maliki was apparently referring to Firas Fleih, who was detained last month after allegedly taking part in the killing of 70 members of a wedding party.

Officials said Fleih had hidden by posing as a prison rights activist.

After Maliki and UN special envoy Ad Melkert finished their speeches, activist Hana Adwar walked to the front of the conference hall, stood in front of Maliki and shouted “Is that reasonable? That we are accused of terrorism?”

She added: “Where is the free opinion? Where is the freedom of peaceful demonstration and civil gathering?” in a reference to the detention last week of four protesters in central Baghdad during a regular weekly rally.

Activists and the four young men’s families have said they are being held illegally, though security forces said they were arrested for having false identification papers.

Footage of the confrontation, broadcast live on Iraqiya state television, continued for several minutes, and showed Adwar holding up a poster and eventually being led away. She was not immediately available for comment.

Source: Space War.

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