German art curator kidnapped in Iraq

Rights activist and art curator Hella Mewis was kidnapped outside her office in Baghdad by unidentified men. The incident is the latest in a series of abductions of anti-government activists.
Hella Mewis, who runs an arts program at the Iraqi art collective Tarkib, was kidnapped outside her office in central Baghdad, said Ali al-Bayati, a member of the semi-official Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights.
A spokesperson for Iraq’s Interior Ministry confirmed Mewis’ kidnapping to news agency DPA.
Mewis had left her office and was riding her bicycle “when two cars, one of them a white pickup truck used by some security forces, were seen kidnapping her,” according to a source quoted by news agency AFP.
Another activist, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said her phone was not reachable and that security forces had begun searching for her.
Dhikra Sarsam, a friend of Mewis, wrote in a social media post that police officers witnessed the kidnapping but did not intervene. “Hella expected to be kidnapped because we all expect this fate,” she wrote.
Mewis, a Berlin-born art curator, is associated with the Goethe Institute in Baghdad, where she had lived for several years. She worked on establishing an art collective that aims to promote the work of young Iraqi artists.
Sarsam said that Mewis had been worried about the killing of Hisham al-Hashemi, an Iraqi scholar and government advisor who has voiced support for the anti-government protests. “I spoke to her (Mewis) last week and she was really involved in the protests too, so she was nervous after the assassination,” Sarsam told AFP.

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