PEN International Statement on the Murder of Prominent Iraqi Writer
05 Feb 2019
PEN International strongly condemns the assassination of Alaa Mashthob Abboud, a well-known and award-winning Iraqi novelist who was shot dead on 2 February 2019 by an unknown armed group.
According to police and eye-witness reports, Abboud was shot dead outside his house in Karbala city on Saturday evening as he returned from a meeting with other writers and journalists. The gunmen fired on him at close range thirteen times before fleeing. He died instantly at the scene.
Abboud is believed to be targeted for his criticism of local militia groups and allegations of official corruption. PEN calls for the Iraqi authorities to take all necessary steps to thoroughly investigate Abboud’s murder and bring the perpetrators to justice, and to protect writers and journalists in the country.
Abboud was born on 24 July 1968 and began writing at an early age. He has been publishing journalistic articles since 1987, and wrote for several Arab newspapers including Ahewar and al-Sabah. He obtained his PhD from the University of Baghdad in 2014. He is also the author of many novels such as The Chaos of the Nation (2014) and A Crime in Facebook (2015), and has directed a number of successful documentary films.
‘Iraq must respect its international obligations in granting and implementing the right to freedom of expression, mainly by putting an end to impunity for crimes against journalists.’ said Carles Torner, Executive Director of PEN International.
PEN International has long been working to protect writers and journalists in Iraq, and recently expressed its deep concerns about the safety of Saad Salloum, a prominent Iraqi writer and peace activist who has been subjected to death threats by an unknown Islamic group. No action has been taken to bring those responsible for Salloum’s threats to justice.