Stop Assassinations and Threats against Academics in Iraq


“What Happened To Nuclear Physics professor Dr Ismail Khalil Jasim Al-Tikriti ?”

Statement of The BRussells Tribunal Committee (26 April 2024)


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    The assassinations and threats against academics in Iraq continue unabated despite optimistic press reports on levels of violence falling dramatically and  pompous declarations of the Iraqi puppet government about “reconciliation”.  

    On April 21, a female university professor has become the latest victim in a string of murders of intellectuals in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Last month, Ahmed Murad Shehab, a professor of Mosul University's Faculty of Administration and Economics, was fatally shot on the city's left bank.  

    Some Iraqi academics who fled abroad from violence and oppression are reportedly trickling back home. This is not in response to pleas from the puppet government, but rather because in addition to the difficulties of life abroad — without working permits — their savings have been depleted. It is also because Western countries are refusing them refugee status and political asylum due to the so-called “improvement” of the security situation, while neighbouring countries cannot satisfy all their needs.

    In full knowledge of the evident threats that a return constitutes to their lives, several hosting countries continue to deport Iraqi refugees back to Iraq.  The Swedish government f.i. is systematically expelling Iraqi academics from its territory. In the last months we received two requests from Iraqi academics to help with asylum procedures. A Swedish activist wrote:  “Lots of actions take place in Sweden against mass deportation of Iraqis and the asylum committees are working with lawyers to put pressure on the government, but the results are poor.”  

    At a two-day conference aimed at luring back tens of thousands of skilled Iraqi professionals after years of war, sanctions and sectarian violence drove them away, prime Minister of the puppet government Nuri al-Maliki asked the elite diaspora to help rebuild Iraq. "We say frankly the country cannot be built without you," he said in a speech. "We cannot fully assume responsibility in your absence and the absence of the capabilities and qualifications you have."  

    But those academics who return are finding jobs few and the welcome far from warm.  

    A prominent Nuclear Physics professor, Dr Ismail Khalil Jasim Al-Tikriti, has disappeared four months ago, in the Jadiriya/ Karada district in Baghdad. He had been invited by The Iraqi Higher Education Ministry to visit Iraq from Lybia. They promised to assign him as the president of Salah Al-Din University in Tikrit. After his arrival in Baghdad and meeting with officials in the Ministry of Higher Education, he visited his house in the Jadiriya area to take his books, researches and belongings. That was the last time he has been seen since. His family doesn't know what to do and is afraid to accuse anybody. They think that he has been kidnapped and may have been killed by the militias in the area.   

    The Jadiriya/Karada district is under total control of the Badr Brigade of Abdul Aziz Al-hakim and the Amar Al-hakim militias.  Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim was not only a founding member of SIIC in 1982 but also headed its military wing, the notorious Badr Organization.  

    We hold the Ministry of Higher Education fully responsible for this terrible set-up.    

    On  March 25, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Dr. Abd Thiab Al-Ajeeli and Minister of Human Rights Dr. Wijdan Salim Al-Adeeb, reviewed means of  signing a memorandum of cultural and scientific cooperation that enhances the bonds of joint cooperation between the two ministries.  

    If the Minister of Higher Education is really concerned about the human rights of the people he’s responsible for, he should start investigating immediately the brutal assassinations of 418 Iraqi academics, that the BRussells Tribunal has documented:  

    If the Minister of Higher Education was really serious about asking the academic community in exile to return home, he would at least guarantee their safety.   

    The BRussells Tribunal issues an urgent call for any information concerning Dr Ismail Khalil Jasim Al-Tikriti.  We also want to alarm the academics who are being invited to return to be aware of such criminal acts.   

    The Iraqi puppet government and especially the Minister of Higher Education are responsible of investigating the disappearance of prof. Dr Ismail Khalil Jasim Al-Tikriti and assuring his safety and wellbeing and take real initiatives to stop the harassment and threats against Iraqi academics.  

    We call on all academic institutions and trade unions , all human rights organisations and institutions, every person who believes in science, education and liberty of thinking to take steps to save prof. Dr Ismail Khalil Jasim Al-Tikriti and to wage campaigns to protect Iraqi academics.