First aid volunteer Ahmed Bukli secretly detained for nearly a week

First aid volunteer Ahmed Bukli secretly detained for nearly a week

On November 16, 2019, Ahmed Bukli was last seen on the Al Jumhuriyah Bridge in Baghdad while providing first aid to injured demonstrators. His family believes he was arrested by members of the anti-riot police that controlled the roadblock sealing off the bridge.

Ahmed Bukli, a first aid medic, had been volunteering and offering medical assistance to injured protestors at the anti-corruption demonstrations in Baghdad since October 25, 2019. He normally works as an Area Coordinator for the psychosocial unit of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq.

On November 16, 2019, at 06:33 pm, Mr. Bukli was last seen by other first aid volunteers on the Al Jumhoriya Bridge in Baghdad while he was trying to transport a wounded protestor to a safe place. The bridge connects Tahrir square, the main rally point for demonstrators, with the Green Zone.

Although Mr. Bukli’s family has not received any information concerning the perpetrators responsible for his enforced disappearance, they believe he was arrested by the anti-riot police who were controlling the roadblock sealing off the bridge. On November 20, 2019, his family filed a complaint at the Al Saadoun police station in Baghdad. He was eventually released two days later.

On October 1, 2019, protests started in Baghdad and southern cities calling for improved services and more action to curb government corruption. The demonstrations were met by excessive and unnecessary lethal force by Iraqi security forces, killing more than 300 people and injuring around 15,000 protestors since the beginning of the unrest.

First aid volunteers have been particularly subjected to deliberate attacks while performing their duties. According to Human Rights Watch, Iraqi security forces have attacked medical workers for treating protesters since October 25, 2019—firing teargas and live ammunition on medical workers, tents, and ambulances.


November 22, 2019: Released
November 21, 2019: MENA Rights Group requests urgent intervention of UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances.
November 20, 2019: Family files complaint at the Al Saadoun station in Baghdad, but to no avail.
November 16, 2019: Bukli disappears on the Al Jumhoriyah Bridge in Baghdad.
October 1, 2019: Anti-government protests begin in Baghdad.