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Iraq police arrest Sunni MP and protest supporter on terrorism charges

Iraqi police arrested Ahmed al-Awlani, an MP and prominent Sunni supporter of anti-government protests, on Saturday in the city of Ramadi. Awlani, a member of the Sunni supported Iraqiya bloc was reportedly wanted on terrorism charges [BBC report] along with his brother, Ali. Ali and five bodyguards were killed in the police raid, and 18 others were wounded. Awlani has been a strong supporter of a group of protestors who have camped on a highway outside Ramadi in order to rally against perceived persecution of Iraqi Sunnis by the Shia-controlled government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic; JURIST news archive]. Sectarian fighting between Sunni and Shia Muslims has been considerable this year; over 8,000 people have been killed, mostly in sectarian clashes, since January, making 2013 the deadliest year for Iraqi civilians since 2008.

Authorities in Iraq have led a significant and controversial crackdown on alleged terrorists in recent months. In October Iraqi authorities announced the execution of 42 people [press release, in Arabic] convicted on terrorism charges. In August the Iraq Ministry of Justice [official website, in Arabic] reported the execution [press release, in Arabic] of 15 men and two women convicted of terrorism. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] in April condemned [JURIST report] Iraq's execution of 21 prisoners [JURIST report] convicted of terrorism earlier that month, urging the country's compliance with international human rights obligations. Also in April Iraq announced plans to reform [JURIST report] its de-Baathification laws to allow former members of Saddam Hussein's regime to serve in the public sector. De-Baathification is a controversial subject that should be approached with caution [JURIST op-ed], according to JURIST Guest Columnist Haider Ala Hamoudi.

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