Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative

The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) is dedicated to bringing together Iraqi and international civil societies through concrete actions to build together another Iraq, with peace and Human Rights for all.

Safe Campus, Humane Practices: Condemning Harassment and Cruelty at the University of Baghdad College of Veterinary Medicine

The recent incidents of animal killing that occurred at the Veterinary College in the University of Baghdad have raised deep concern amongst the students. The students, for the past 8 years, have been residing without complaint, alongside the animals, that includes a female dog named Zaina, who had received vaccinations and medical treatments. These students strongly condemned the act allowed by the Deanery and Monitoring Department of the college. In response, dozens of students from the Veterinary College held a protest and went on strike to express their outrage and demand accountability from those responsible. The students warned against any attempt to harm animals within the college, regardless of the position of the individuals involved, and stated that it will be met with escalation and widespread protests inside the campus. They emphasized the need for a compassionate and respectful approach towards animals and urged the college administration to prioritize their welfare and well-being. The students also called for a reconsideration of the rights and responsibilities of the members of the security personals, and requested the Dean of the college to retrieve surveillance footage, to determine the truth of the incidents.

The wanton killing of stray dogs that were living within the college premises is deeply troubling. As a college that focuses on veterinary medicine, the welfare and humane treatment of animals should be a guiding fundamental principle. The indiscriminate killing of stray dogs without proper justification or humane methods is unacceptable and goes against the principles of animal welfare and ethical veterinary practices. We call upon the college administration to conduct a  thorough investigation of these incidents, and in response to the findings, to take decisive and appropriate action to prevent such cruel and inhumane treatment of animals from recurring in the future.

During the meeting that followed the protest at the Veterinary College in the University of Baghdad, students brought to light more shocking incidents that had taken place on campus. One student bravely spoke up about her experience of verbal harassment, along with many other young women, by the security personnel on campus. This revelation further fueled the students’ outrage and concern, as it highlighted a violation of human rights. Verbal harassment, or any form of harassment, is unacceptable and goes against the principles of respect, dignity, and equality. The students expressed their condemnation of such behavior and demanded that the college administration take immediate action to ensure the safety and well-being of all students on campus. They emphasized the need for a campus environment that is free from harassment and discrimination, and where all students, regardless of gender or any other characteristic, can pursue their education in a safe and respectful manner. The students called for accountability and appropriate measures to be taken against those responsible for such harassment, in line with human rights principles and international standards.

Iraqi Civil society solidarity initiative unequivocally condemn the recent incidents of harassment towards the students by the security guards at the University of Baghdad’s College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as the senseless killing of stray dogs that resided within the college premises. Such actions are unacceptable and go against the fundamental principles of compassion, respect, and professionalism that should be upheld in an academic institution, especially in a college dedicated to veterinary medicine. Moreover, we are deeply concerned about the presence of armed individuals who were granted access to the campus premises. while this incident may not seem significant on its own, we are alarmed by the risks of normalizing the presence of weapons in university sites. Given the highly militarized context as Iraq, it is crucial to ensure that key civic spaces, including universities,  are kept free of weapons and violence.  

As an educational institution that is entrusted with the responsibility of shaping the next generation of veterinarians, it is vital that the University of Baghdad’s College of Veterinary Medicine guarantees a safe and inclusive environment for all students. Harassment of any form, whether physical, verbal, or psychological, is utterly unacceptable, and must not be tolerated in any academic setting. We urge the college administration to take immediate and firm action to address these harassment reports, in order to ensure that all students are treated with dignity and respect, in line with the values of an esteemed educational institution. 

In addition, we strongly urge the University of Baghdad’s College of Veterinary Medicine to take proactive measures to raise awareness and implement programs that promote responsible pet ownership. These could include but not be limited to: neutering/sterilization, vaccination schemes, and encouraging the adoption of stray animals, all of which will follow humane and ethical guidelines. This will not only enhance the welfare of animals, but also cultivate a culture of compassion and empathy among the students, faculty, and staff.

In conclusion, Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) stands in solidarity with the students who have experienced harassment, and unequivocally condemn the killing of the stray dogs at the University of Baghdad’s College of Veterinary Medicine. We call upon the college administration to take swift and appropriate action to address these pressing issues and ensure that the college maintains a safe, inclusive, and compassionate environment for all its members. Furthermore, we also urge the college to prioritize animal welfare and ethical veterinary practices as fundamental principles, throughout its educational program and institutional policies.