August 18, 2006

The day of reckoning

By Dana Hameed

On 21 August, Saddam and six co-defendants will
go on trial for the mass killing of hundreds of thoussands of Kurds.

Mass killings, suppression and annihilation were suffered by the Kurdish people under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein for decades during which nobody in the international community raised a voice to  condemn those crimes against humanity.

Saddam had become a close ally of western countries during the Iran-Iraq war, which helped Saddam to start an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kurds, and to move hundreds of thousands of Kurds to the deserts of south Iraq burying them alive in mass graves.

The campaign was called Anfal. The title was taken from a Surah of the Quran meaning spoils of war. The term had been used previously during the time of the Prophet to decapitate those who were at war with the Prophet and Islam.

The case of the area of Garmiyan was similar. For more than a month, the area was enveloped in wave after wave of assaults by infantry, artillery, air force and jash (mercenaries). Jash is a Kurdish word referring to those Kurds who were working for Saddam.

The people of Garmiyan were persuaded to surrender by the near-impossibility of escape; never before had
they seen such overwhelming concentrations of troops and militia.

The army did not leave the area until all living things had been captured, and they pursued any fleeing villagers, by helicopter and on foot, into the mountains and into the towns and cities.

Anfal left thousands of children separated from their parents and their loved ones, breaking up several families forever. The aftermath of this great tragedy is still evident in Garmiyan where many of the Anfal victims were situated. Widows, widowers and orphans together form a tragic community in Garmiyan, and almost 18 years on, many Anfal survivors still have not recovered from the loss of their loved ones

The victims’ relatives seek retribution from those responsible for the mass killings. Of course, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and his codefendants should be the first to be charged for the Anfal tragedy.

People from the Kurdistan region believe that the best way to punish the dictator is through his trial, hoping that it would at least reduce some of their sorrow and loss.

Iraq’s High Tribunal announced that after the Dujail case, the former dictator and six co-defendants will go on trial on 21 August for the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Kurds.

Among the Saddam’s co-defendant is Ali Hassan Majeed (known among Kurds as ‘Ali Kemiyayi’ or Chemical Ali, for his role in the chemical bombardment of Halabja, where 5,000 innocent civilians perished). Today, thousands of survivors from Halabja are affected by the abandoned chemical weapons, and suffer from different diseases.

This is considered by the people of Kurdistan as a time for revenge. Hundreds of Kurds have volunteered to be witnesses at the trial, hoping for justice.

Kurdish officials are working to compile evidence for the trial. The estimated death toll was as high as 182,000. It would come as no surprise that many Kurds want Saddam and the other members of his regime to be sentenced to death for the crimes they committed against innocent

Printed with permission. From Soma