Genocide of the Kurdish People
Genocide of the Kurdish People in Iraq
The Kurdish People in Iraq have been subject to genocide and persecution during the Ba’ath Chauvinist Party’s rule of Iraq lead by Saddam Hussein from 1968 to 2003 (keeping in mind that the same party came to rule Baghdad from February 1963 to November of the same year when their rule was ended by president Arif). During that 35 years of ruling several heinous crimes were committed against the people of Kurdistan. It is not easy to shed light on all the details of all the crimes persecuted against the Kurds due to the long period and the vast areas of different crimes. But nonetheless, we try our best to classify the stages were the biggest crimes had been perpetrated and to depend on clear evidences and documents. Doing so we aim at proving what our people have suffered and if the crimes were indeed genocide actions by the international standards.
Therefore, we go back in time to remember and reconsider all the genocidal campaigns that the Ba’ath gang had planned for and committed them systematically according to the chronological time and the size of the crime. Here, we have to start with the unluckiest Kurdish group (Fayli Kurds):
The Genocide of the Fayli Kurds
The Faylis are the Shiite Kurds who live in the middle and southern areas in Iraq. This Kurdish ethnic group was always a subject for discrimination by the Sunni rulers of Baghdad and just because of their religion back ground they were accused of being pro-Iranian. The worst enmity was pronounced by the head of the Ba’ath regime Saddam Hussein when he instructed his men to deport them to Iran but without allowing them taking their belongings.
Actually Fayli Kurds were subject to all kinds of hardships both during the first stage of Ba’ath rule in 1963 and then under the rule of the tyrant Saddam Hussein that lasted for 35 years. As an example, Iraqi internal minister, who was Saddam’s half brother, issued an order in 1980 stating that: (1- All Iranians who have not got Iraqi citizenship and all those who applied for Iraqi citizenship but their paper works are not yet processed shall be thrown outside of the border. 2- The Fayli youth aged between 18 and 28 shall be detained and imprisoned in the governorates’ prisons. 3- All the Kurds who are deported to Iran shall be executed if they try to come back to Iraq.)
The ugliest decision is yet to come and that is when the Ba’ath organ ‘Al-Thawra newspaper’ published a statement on Feb. 26 1981 ascribed to Saddam Hussein as saying that all Fayli Kurds shall be terminated in order to protect the Iraqi soil from dirtiness, and the marriage with them shall be prohibited to keep the purity of the Iraqi blood.
These evidences are quite obvious; they clarify the chauvinist nature of Saddam Hussein’s regime and its involvement of mass killing of the oppositionists and terminating all those who have different opinions. This regime never hesitated to kill those who refused to join the Ba’ath, there slogan was; those who are not with us are against us!
Numerous documents shed light on large number of unjustified deportation, mass killing and torturing to death in the prison cells of Saddam’s secret police. The documents that came to light after the fall of the regime in 2003 show how the defenseless Faylis were treated; the number of deportees to Iran is around 2000 people, that makes about 65% of the population in the whole Iraq. Unfortunately most of those deportees have no desire to come back to Iraq.
Over and above, the number of those who were kidnapped and disappeared or tortured to death is not known but no doubt the number is very high in regards to blood-thirsty nature of the regime. All these tragedies leave psychological consequences on the society; there are children who are eager to see their father once in their life and there are mothers who look for dear ones all their life long.
The Genocide of Qaladiza
This city of 140,000 inhabitants is situated in north of Sulaymaniyah, near the Iranian border, the city is located in a middle of the historical district of ‘Peshdar’. The city was a subject to destruction and devastation several times during the rule of Saddam Hussein’s regime; firstly the newly opened university was bombarded with unconventional weapons in 1974 aiming at killing the educated notables. Secondly and in 1989 the entire city was bombarded and destructed.
And thus the city became uninhabitable, there were no resources, of living no social or educational life, and therefore the people of Qaladiza crossed the border to live in Iran as refugees. They could only come back to their homeland after the courageous uprising of the Kurdish Nation and liberating most of the cities and towns of Kurdistan from the squalors of Ba’ath criminals.
Genocidal Campaigns of the Barzanis
The campaigns of mass killing of the Barzanis had started after the signing of Algerian Treaty of 1975 between Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein of Iraq. According to this treaty the Shah stopped helping the Kurds and their revolution had soon collapsed. The Kurdish people remained without protection and they became any easy target for Saddam Hussein’s forces.
As the revolution was lead by Mustafa Barzani, his men and followers became the first subject for a series of genocidal campaigns which was executed through the following steps.
- The families were deported to Iran and were located in different cities and towns.
- The inhabitants of Nazar and Broz towns were deported to the southern desert of Iraq and were relocated in a camp near the city of Diwania
- In 1978 the inhabitants of Mazuri, Shirwan and Grde districts were forced out from their villages to be settled down forcefully in concentrations camps of Bahraka, Diana, Harir and Kortu near to the city of Erbil.
- The inhabitants of Shirwan and Mazn towns were, in 1982, forcefully relocated in the Sibran settlement which was under the military control. All these settlements were similar to the Nazi concentration camps during the WW2 and they continuously checked by the military police.
It was obvious that those forceful gatherings were preplanned by the Ba’ath Chauvinist Party for a big genocidal campaign under the direct instruction of their chef Saddam Hussein. The extermination of Barzani men had started and was planned to be perpetrated in four stages.
Stage one was conducted on 29 and 30 of July 1983 when the elite of this dynasty were separated and killed by fire squash. Stage two was designed to execute all the males of Quds and Qadsia Camps. Stage three was also designed to shoot and kill the adult men of the settlements of Harir, Bahraka and Diana near the city of Erbil. The fourth and the final stage came as an attempt to chase and kill all those Barzani men who managed to hide, eventually eight thousand Barzani men were detained, taken to Albusiba desert in the south of Iraq, shot dead and thrown to pits of mass graves.
The genocidal massacre against the historical city of Halabja took place on 16 March 1988 during the closing days of the Iraq-Iran War that lasted for more than eight years. The attack was part of Anfal Campaign in the southern part of Kurdistan. It took place after 48 hours of the liberation of the city by the Kurdish Peshmarga who were backed by the Iranian army.
The attack killed between 3,200 to 5,000 people and injured 7,000 to 10,000 more, thousands more died because of complications, contaminations with poisonous gases and lack of adequate medical treatment. This genocidal massacre against a populated city is considered the worst chemical attack on civilians in the history.
The attack was preplanned and aimed to massacre a biggest number possible. The criminals of Ba’ath Party lead by Saddam Hussein’s cousin “Chemical Ali” had shelled the city with heavy artilleries and rockets in the morning of that bloody day to force the inhabitants to gather in the basements of the houses then poured several types of chemicals and heavy gases that go down deep to the basements.
Several mixtures of deadly gases such as mustard, sarin and the nerve agent tabun and possibly cyanide were used. Casualties were very high because the people were not protected and the bombardment was very dense and lasted for several days. Add to all these the airplanes were chasing those who were looking for drops of drinking water or trying to take their children to safer places near or inside the Iranian border. Moreover and in an attempt to make more damages, the shelling of the heavy artilleries was hitting all the other villages and towns around in the area.
Here, it’s worth mentioning that the Iranian people and government helped the injured people a lot in spite of that they themselves were suffering from much bigger casualties inflicted upon them by the Iraqi war machine.
The effect of this ugly crime will remain for decays to come because most of the wounds and defects remain for lifetime, children are born with side effects, the soil and water sources are contaminated, and the environment is highly polluted.
Although, several parliaments, governmental bodies and human rights organizations had defined the crime as genocide, war against humanity or violation of human rights, but the victims are not yet fairly compensated.
Anfal the Biggest Genocidal Campaign
The last quarter of the 20th century had seen the cruelest systematic operations of exterminating the Kurdish people in the history. This happened in a country known as the cradle of civilization. The campaign started in February 1988 and ended in September of the same year. This genocidal was planned long before, when the tyrant Saddam Hussein had given his cousin Chemical the authority of president in the region of Kurdistan. Several divisions of the Iraqi army, security forces and mercenaries were put under his command. The forces were allowed to shot and kill any moving existence, and massive areas were considered ‘Muharrama’ or prohibited land.
The Ba’ath plan was set up to exterminate the human race, leveling the villages with ground, eliminating the house animals wealth, drying up the water resources and gathering the rest of the survivors in concentration camps under the police control.
However, this inclusive campaign was executed in 1988, and in 8 stages according to the places where the detentions of people and destructions of houses were taking place. And here are the phases:
Phase one started on 23 February, ended on 18 March, performed in Dolli Jafety
Phase two started on 22 March, ended on 1 April performed in Qaradakh District.
Phase three stated on 7 April ended, on 20 April performed in Garmyan.
Phase four started on 3 May, ended on 8 May performed in the Valley of the Lesser Zab.
Phase five, sixth and seven started on 15 May, ended on 23 August performed in Shaqlawa and Rawanduz.
Phase eight and the last started on 25 August, ended on 6 September 1988
Actually the number of the victims may never be estimated but Kurdish officials claim that the number is close to 182 thousand depended on several tons of documents taken to the USA. No doubt the number of the exterminated children, youth, men and women were in tens of thousands. Eye witnesses who could escape the mass graves tell that everyday 30 buses carrying 35 people were moving from Topzawa camp to the pits of mass graves. Nevertheless, some the busses were packed with children and mothers.
Statistics tell us the 5,000 villages and towns were bulldozed, thousands of agricultural fields and gardens were destructed. Naturally hundreds of schools, mosques, clinics and governmental offices were ruined. Over and above the soldiers and mercenaries had looted whatever they could put their hands on. What is actually saddening is that the survivals and the relatives are not fairly compensated and they still live in misery. Most the family of the victims are still waiting for the return of the corpses of their loved ones but this may never take place.
The Chemical Attacks on Kurdistan
The Iraqi regime had performed several chemical attacks on defenseless villages, towns and cities in the region. Besides the mass direct killing by gunshots and besides devastation of the land and bringing about widespread of destruction, war-planes were always engaged in raiding using rockets, napalm bombs and lately chemical weapons. Once Chemical Ali started performing his genocidal plans, he used whatever means possible to exterminate the largest number of Kurdistani civilians.
There is an estimated 40 chemical raids on Kurdistan but we better see what the ‘Middle East Watch’ writes about these raids of the years 1987 and 1988 its report after listening to the eyewitnesses. Eventually they could they could make a list of 60 towns and villages. The organization believes that the number may be higher but they couldn’t not be consolidated them with documents.
However, the organization views four reasons of performing these raids by the Iraqi overthrown regime, and they are:
Firstly to hit the headquarters of the Peshmarga forces as it happened in Qaradakh and several other places.
Secondly to take the Peshmarga by unexpected attacks during the withdrawal of their forces and that is what happened in Shanaxsi
Thirdly to punish the civilians who offered aid, food and places to Peshmarga to make them feel at home. Here, Halabja comes as a good example; they were hit with chemicals when they welcomed Peshmarga as liberators of their city.
Fourthly to tell the civilians that there is no choice remained for them but to surrender. And to listen to their promises that their safety would be guaranteed by the government. But, that was nothing more than a trap to capture and to genocide them.
Numerous are the genocidal crimes of the Ba’ath chauvinist party. To list all of them, you have to go back to 1960s when they came to rule Baghdad and put the army under their control. Here we would like to shed light on some other genocidal operation committed by same ruling party:
The beautiful valley and town of Balisan belong to Erbil city not very far from Shaqlawa resort. The inhabitants of Balisan are well known for their skill in producing several types of fruits and vegetables. They love their soil and nation, and they always helped the freedom fighters and that how they became important targets for military aggressions of the Iraqi forces. Actually, this valley had exposed to several attacks in different times,
- On 16 April the towns of Balisan and Sheikh Wasan, and the near-by villages came under chemical attacks by the Iraqi air force. There were 109 martyrs and 281 deeply wounded victims.
- The regime repeated the chemical attacks on just 5 days after the first campaign.
- On 23 May 1978 the near-by villages Lorsher and Kendol were subjects of chemical bombardments.
- Four days later the Iraqi war planes were in action again hitting these villages; Mlkan, both upper and lesser Bla, Smaqulli and Tarinan with fatal chemicals.
- Eight villages in the same area were hit by chemical weapons on second of July 1978, casualties were high and destructions were very extensive. The devastated villages were: Smaqulli, Saruchawa, Sharsina, Xatie, Drash and also the towns of Balisan and Nazanin Krwan.
- July 31 1978 had also seen the chemical attacks, and Balisan, Smaqulli and Heran were once more subjects of chemical attacks.
- On 25 August 1978 Xatie and Wre villages attacked by same weapons. The hit was intensive that caused inflictions upon the inhabitants of the historical city of Rawaduz.
Documents show horrible figures of casualties in this relatively small area, Sheikh Wasan alone got 109 martyrs, Balisan 24 and 50 others from the villages of the same area all buried in mass graves in thse same valley. Children were not lucky either 33 little children and 28 others aged from 5 to 14 were massacred, 9 elderly people over 60 years of age were also killed. Because the hospitals of the area were not equipped to treat chemical weapon victims, many wounded people died as they were not given proper treatment; 10 victims in Rania and 4 victims in Erbil laid their lives because of poor medical care.
It seems that this number of casualties were not enough to quench the blood thirst of Saddam Hussein regimes, that why they order to kidnap people of that area who were then tortured to death in the prison cells run by the security directorate of Erbil. In the first phase 75 victims, in the second phase, 22 victims and in the third phase 50 victims were killed, most of them were from Sheikh Wasan and Balisan. However, the total number of martyrs of the valley is 400 people; their names and other details are documented and registered.
The Genocide of Goptapa
This village is belong to Agjalar town and the city of Kirkuk, and due to its commercial and touristic location, it’s used to be over crowded and it’s considered as one the biggest villages of Kurdistan. Goptapa located at the bank of the Lesser Zab River and surrounded with hills and mountains.
The Ba’ath regime had also targeted this village but because of the ruggedness of the roads, they resorted to air raids, and thus on 3 April 1988, they attacked the village with chemicals and as a result 335 citizens were either killed or wounded. Those unlucky have never got proper treatment and some of them are still suffering from chemical side effects.
The Genocidal Operation in Sewsenan
Sewsenan was a lovely quiet village in Qaradakh district. This village had made its fame by quality agricultural production. The village was promoted to a township after the victory of the glorious uprising of the Kurdish people in 1991. However, the inhabitants of Sewsenan were not always lucky for the gangs of the Ba’ath ruling party were not happy with their prosperous life, and thus they targeted their paradise from the very start of notorious Anfal campaign.
It was as early as March 1988 and within the second phase the genocide when the Iraqi army wanted to their heavy artilleries to launch chemical weapons on the defenseless of Sewsenan, and due to their inferior nature they shelled the village at midnight to exterminate the largest possible number.
Said Sadiq Was Hit Several Times
This important city in the middle of the fertile Sharazoor plane on the cross roads of Halabja, Hawraman and Penjwin was never safe, it was repeatedly a subject of direct mass killing and deportation of its inhabitants.
The casualties and damages that hit this city are well documented. Evidences show human rights violation, mass killings and deportation that can be viewed as genocide by the international standards
The Mass Killing In Suria Village
As the genocidal campaign performed in 1969, all allegations that claim say that the Iraqi regime retaliated from the Kurd because of their collaboration with Iran during the war that started in 1980 and lasted until 1988, remain baseless. The enmity of this chauvinist party to the Kurdish people became obvious as early as 1963 when they first came to power and ruling Baghdad. On the very city they attacked Sulaymaniyah city, imposing military curfews, detaining people shooting them and throwing their corpses into a mass grave near the military barracks which is now turned to Azadi Park.
However, the poor village of Suria is close to Zaxo in Duhok governorate and it’s close to Turkish border. The inhabitants are a mixture of Chaldean and Assyrian Christians who came under the attack of the Iraqi army on 6 September 1969 for no clear reason at all. The mass killing was never justified, the burning of the corpses was not justified either. Nevertheless, being Kurdistani citizen was always a reason to be killed by the Ba’athism.
The Genocide in Dkan Cave
This Cave became a symbol of atrocity and cruelty. On 16 August 1969, the people of Dkan village went into hiding in a nearby a cave known after the same village, they did so to take the cave as safe place away from the atrocity of the primitive soldier of the Iraqi army. But the army soon discovered their where about, shoot all of the inside their refuge and put the whole place on fire, and as the result 76 human being were scorched and blackened.
This horrible genocidal took place in a dark night without any consideration to children and women. The elderly people of this village which is located in Shexan County near the city of Mosul remember with bitterness what had happened to their families. Unfortunately nobody could arrange any documentation about that heinous crime of that night.
The Genocide of Zewa Village
After the painful collapse of the Kurdish revolution in 1975- when the Algerian treaty was arranged between Iraq and Iran by the American Foreign Ministry and accordingly Iran played the negative role to stop the revolution-many Kurdish gunmen sought a safe place near the Iranian border while their families could inter the Iranian territory and settle down in a village called Zewa.
Although the village was well behind the border it was targeted four times by the Iraqi war planes. The first raid was performed in 1981, when Iraq-Iran war was going on. The attack inflicted heavy casualties upon the civilians. The second raid happened on 6 April 1985 to kill and injured a remarkable number of defenseless people. A month later the third air attack was performed targeting the same poor people, this bombardment was intensive and naturally the casualties were high; 150 people were massacred 373 others were injured. The fourth attack on the same village was carried out in August of the same year and caused heavy casualties as well.
THE MASS GRAVES
Once you want to count the number of mass graves in Iraq you think that the entire country is turn to a grave-yard of Iraqi citizens especially and the Kurds and Shiite Muslims. As from the start of Anfal campaigns till the fall of Saddam Hussein tens of thousands of Kurdish citizens were being taken to unknown places and to face unknown fates. Hundreds of thousands troops and mercenaries were employed to carry out the Anfal campaign. Great parts of Kurdistan were regarded as Muharrama where no man could live there, their villages were leveled with ground and the inhabitants were taken at gun point to concentration camps then moved to pits of mass graves to be killed by intensive fire squads.
Kurds and Shiites were subject to genocide for decades. The corpses of the victims were either left behind or thrown to big pits by bulldozers. As we already mentioned earlier the year 1988 had seen the biggest mass killing of Kurdish citizens of different ages, the Shiite were also massacred and buried when they rebelled against the tyrant Saddam Hussein. Although hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were exterminated by the thrown regimes, it was difficult to get correct information about the victims because leaking of such information revealing the states secrecy and facing death penalty.
Therefore, the secrecies of the Ba’ath criminals were only revealed after their humiliating fall in 2003. Those who survived and the Arab citizens who lived in the deserts in the middle and south of the country could provide valuable information about the locations of the mass graves. So far 300 mass graves are recovered but only a small number of them are taken back to their families and reburied in the traditional ways
The New Campaign to Genocide Yezidis
Kurdistan had yet, exposed to another savage group of killer called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), their first target was the Yezidi Kurds in Sinjar- or Shangal- County. On 3 August 2014 the terrorists of this state could occupy Shangal and several villages of the area. 30 thousand inhabitants could leave their homes and take refuge in liberated parts in Kurdistan. But unfortunately 75% of the population could not manage to escape and most of them became targets for shooting and killing. Young women, girls and children were taken to become forced sex-slavers.
About 95% of those who fell under the state of terror were of Yezidi Kurds, children were making 40% of those unlucky captured people. The other 5% were Christians and they were also ill treated.
The Islamic State gunmen were as wild as Saddam’s soldiers who committed Anfal crimes. However the number of the Yezidi martyrs is well over 6 thousand victims. The fighter from all parts of pan Kurdistan came to rescue their brother and eventually 2,500 Yezidis were liberated
Statistics show the following crimes were perpetrated against the Yezidis:
- 430 thousand Yezidis had left their homes and properties to live in refugee camps in Kurdistan Region.
- 140 thousand men, women and children had suffered from severe shortage of water and food in Shangal Mount.
- 250 thousand headed to live with their other Kurdish brother in Syria and Turkey.
- Only in the village of Kojo 1,800 Yezidi men were shot dead and bulldozed in mass graves.
- The ISIS gunmen have kidnapped more than 6 thousand children and young girls and used as sex slaves.
- Separating wives from their husbands and taking them to other countries for their dirty business.
- More than 500 Yezidi men were taken by this state to unidentified places, the ID of 254 people are available.
- 600 people died due to lack of drinking water and mal niutrition.
- Destruction of more than 16 Yezidi temples
Genocide Crime As Recognized By the International Law
According to the UN Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 and the Resolutions of the International Criminal Court and the Roma Statue to identify Genocide Crime, the crimes perpetrated against the Kurdish Nation by the over thrown regime of Saddam Hussein, and the crimes committed by ISIS against the Yezidi Kurds are all recognized as Genocide. Articles 2 and 3 of the UN Convention clearly constitute these crimes as pure Genocide.
The International Criminal Court had so far issued six decisions to identify the crimes of Anfal, Extermination of Fayli Kurds, Mass Killing of Barzani Men, Chemical Bombardment of Halabja and the Raids on Qaladze as actions of Genocide.
However, the Iraqi Supreme Court has not yet issued any such decisions concerning the mass killing of Barzanis or the bombardment of Said Sadiq. Over and above the former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al- Maliki had sustained the activity of this court for political reasons. The new Prime Minister just like his predecessors did not do much either, his Cabinet did not work to identify the crimes of Anfal, Halabja, Said Sadiq, Qaladze and Fayli Kurds as Genocide.
The Iraqi Government is Expected to do the Following Duties:
First, asking for forgiveness from the Kurdish people for all genocidal crimes committed against all its ingredients.
Second, to pay compensations for all the crimes and damages that perpetrated or inflicted against the Kurdish people and its land.