Kurdistan Regional Government statement: Crimes of Halabja gassing, Anfal and Arabisation

The Kurdistan Regional Government issues the following statement concerning the crimes that were committed against the people of Kurdistan by the Iraqi government.
17 August 2006, Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq (KRG) – The people of Kurdistan have been victims of internationally recognised crimes against humanity committed by Iraqi governments, and in particular by the Ba’ath regime led by Saddam Hussein.
Beginning in the 1970s, the Iraqi government carried out an Arabisation or ethnic cleansing programme in Kirkuk, Khanaqin, Sinjar, and other areas inhabited by Kurds, Turkmen and other minorities. Non-Arabs living in Kirkuk were compelled under duress to change their registered nationality in their identity documents to the Arab nationality. Those who refused were forced to leave their homes and lands, and their properties were confiscated. Borders were gerrymandered to consolidate the change in ethnic composition of the governorates. This Arabisation programme of ethnic cleansing continued until 2003.
In 1980, the Iraqi government rounded up some 10,000 young Faili Kurds who disappeared without trace. To this day, their whereabouts are unknown, and it is feared that they were executed by the Iraqi government. During the 1970s and 1980s, the Iraqi government stripped of their nationality and deported to Iran tens of thousands of Faili Kurds, and ill treated, detained and/or murdered many other Faili Kurds.
In 1983, the Iraqi government rounded up some 8,000 boys and men of the Barzani tribe. 22 years after their disappearance, it has been discovered that they were imprisoned in concentration camps in the south of Iraq, executed and buried in mass graves.
At least 182,000 persons from Kurdistan were killed by the Iraqi government during the 1970s and 1980s. The majority of these persons were killed from 1987 to 1989 in the genocidal campaign that the regime officially called Anfal (the Koranic sura justifying the killing and looting of ‘infidels’). In this campaign, the Iraqi government abducted and summarily executed tens of thousands of civilians, including large numbers of women and children, and destroyed over 4,500 villages.
On 16 March 1988, the Iraqi military bombarded the town of Halabja with chemical weapons and nerve agents, including mustard gas, sarin and tabun, killing at least 5,000 civilian men, women and children in one act. The Iraqi military bombarded with chemical weapons several other villages in Kurdistan.
In conducting its genocidal campaign, the Iraqi government destroyed much of the civilian and rural infrastructure in areas inhabited by Kurds, and damaged the environment of Kurdistan.
The Iraqi government ruled the people of Kurdistan through fear, torture and cruelty.
The people of Kurdistan continue to live with the legacy of suffering. The crimes have left behind a generation of women who lost their husbands, and children who lost their fathers, uncles and grandfathers. The Iraqi government’s acts have resulted in illnesses from chemical weapons exposure, unusually high rates of cancer, large numbers of internally displaced persons, and families still fighting to reclaim their homes and lands. Bodies of men, women and children continue to be unearthed from mass graves. In 2005, forensic teams unearthed the remains of members of the Barzani tribe in mass graves. For decades to come, this horrific period of their history will remain in the collective memory of the people of Kurdistan.
These policies and crimes were conceived and conducted by Saddam Hussein and his regime. The Kurdistan Regional Government has sought and will continue to seek justice for the victims through legal, democratic and transparent means. The Kurdistan Regional Government welcomes the trial of Saddam Hussein at the Iraqi Special Tribunal. Justice must be done, and must be seen to be done.
The Kurdistan Regional Government demands that the Iraqi government compensate the victims of the crimes committed by Saddam Hussein’s government, as provided for in the constitution of Iraq.
The Kurdistan Regional Government demands that the Iraqi government fulfil the provisions set out in Article 140 of the constitution of Iraq to resolve the situation in Kirkuk and other Arabised areas. The Kurdistan Regional Government has and will continue to use legal, constitutional and democratic means to seek justice for those whose homes and lands were confiscated under the Arabisation programme.
Useful links:
“Anfal: The Kurdish Genocide in Iraq”, by Dr Khaled Salih
KRG Ministry for Human Rights: www.mohr-krg.org
KRG Ministry of Extra-Regional Affairs: www.moera-krg.org
Human Rights Watch, Middle East Watch Report “Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal campaign against the Kurds”

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