Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi thanked on Twitter the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq “for their co-operation for getting to the perpetrator in record speed”.
The unnamed suspect on Tuesday broke into the home of Sheelan Dara in Al Mansour, Baghdad’s premier neighbourhood, strangled her and stabbed her parents to death, police said.
We have seen so many incidents like this. The authorities should make public the details
Rights advocate Inas Jabbar
Sarah Al Mawla, head of the Human Rights Committee at the Iraqi Bar Association said Dara was also raped.
“She was killed after she was raped and the whole house was robbed,” Ms Al Mawla said from Baghdad by WhatsApp, adding that Dara’s murder was not political.
Initial reports by Iraqi official media suggested that the suspect who was arrested had accomplices.
Unlike previous killings and summary executions of activists, the authorities said the theft appears to have been the motivation for Dara’s murder, citing the fact that valuables were stolen from the house.
A pharmacist, Dara attended demonstrations in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square demanding the removal of all of the country’s main politicians, Iraqi rights advocate Inas Jabbar said.
This would have identified Dara with the downtrodden Arab Shiites who comprise the bulk of the protest movement.
“Sheelan was a single child. It looks that she was killed because she and her family were well-off. Regardless, the authorities should make public the details,” she told The National.
“We have seen so many incidents like this and the perpetrators and the results of investigations remained unknown,” Ms Jabbar said.
The non-violent uprising started in October 2019, demanding removal of the entire political class. The authorities and pro-Iranian Shiite militias crushed the demonstrators early this year, using killings and abductions.
But the ascendancy of Mr Al Kadhimi, a secular reformist supported by the United States, to power in May helped revive the demonstrations.
Despite vows by Mr Kadhimi to curb rampant crime, Dara’s murder was the latest in incessant attacks in the last few months on supporters of the protest movement.
Within the span of a week last month, three young civilian figures were killed. Among them was Riham Yaqoob, a doctor shot in her car in the city of Basra.
The Daras were one of relatively few Kurdish families in Baghdad, the former great capital of Arab civilisation.
The city largely emptied of its minority populations as Shiite and Sunni militants terrorised the more liberal components of Iraqi society after the 2003 invasion that toppled former leader Saddam Hussein.
Since 2003, hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled Baghdad, mostly to northern Iraq.
Updated: September 17, 2020 02:00 PM