Al- Anfal and the Final Solution were two facades of one Coin Called Genocide
By Eamad Mazouri
As, I was preparing to write this article, and to my delight, I read, that soon in Denmark, there would be a seminar focusing mainly on Al-Anfal, The Final Solution and the Armenian Massacre before and during WWI. Seminar: al-Anfal, Holocaust and Armenian genocide
More than once, I have promoted the idea that Kurds should never let the world fail to remember about the massacres they have been subjected to in their more recent history. The main focused subject of the Kurdish media must remains the Genocide committed against Kurdish population, mostly civilians, including the use of weapon of mass destruction, such as chemicals and biological by Saddam’s regime. Major resources need to be put at the disposal of those efforts to remind the world incessantly of these horrendous atrocities. Grand Monuments should be erected and seminars and symposiums ought to be organized to keep this painful memory constantly alive in the consciousness of mankind forever.
This subject matter is gaining more momentum as the trial of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, his cousin Ali Hasan Al-Majid (known by Kurds as Ali the Chemical) and the other 6 co-defendants has started. Their charges range from war crimes to crimes against humanity and Genocide.
Those who are following the trial have by now witnessed the gripping testimonies of surviving Kurds. Horror stories and heart wrenching tales of how Kurdish villages and towns were destroyed and demolished, how people were exterminated and the rest rounded up, men, women and children separated and mass transported like cattle to concentration camps in various places build specifically for this purpose, and some to the southern and western deserts left for certain death in a very systematic method and operation dedicated to it most of the state’s institutions and apparatus. Not to mention the mass graves, those are being discovered on daily basis all over Iraq.
For those who have lived under the regime and are familiar with its diabolic nature, it came as no surprise the insolent attitude of the dictator and his co-culprits by not showing a slightest sign of remorse towards the victims or the ordeal of those survived. On the contrary, they have been defiant to the court and the suffering of the victims. This psychotic behaviour should tell the court and the whole world what these characters are about, what they have done and what they are capable of doing if given another chance.
Twentieth century has been described as a bloody one. Many mass- murders based on hatred were committed against certain groups of people in order to annihilate that particular group. These include but are not limited to Ottomans’ massacres against Armenians, the holocausts against Jews, Genocide acts in Bosnia, Rwanda and finally in Kurdistan.
Once again, I emphasize that Kurds in general; their friends and sympathizers, the civilized world and the entire humanity should never let the world forget these horrible atrocities. No group of people has to live in fear of being subjected once more to such a crime, ever again. This task falls on the shoulders of every decent human being to try to eliminate that awful possibility. However, I must point out that although the world of post WWII and Holocausts thought for once that no such crimes could or should be recurring again, it did, and repeatedly in various countries, and in the latest the victims were helpless Kurdish civilians; women, children, elderly and even babies that their heartbreaking photos dominated TV screens all over the world. Let us hope that the prosecution in Saddam’s ongoing trial is skilled, competent, experienced, qualified and capable to prove to the world that he is responsible for those crimes.
“Kurds rightfully have always referred to al- Anfal attacks as Genocide.
In December 2005 a court in The Hague ruled that the killing of thousands of Kurds in Iraq in the 1980s was an act of Genocide”.
One thing, history has taught humanity that perpetrators of Genocide acts and Genocide usually do not use the term Genocide while referring to their mass-murder, but find substitute terms such as final solution as by the Nazi during WWII against Jews. In Iraq the Ba’ath regime of dictator Saddam did not break out of the rule by using various phrases and expressions such as Kurdish solution or al-Anfal as it was officially called later on.
Just “like the Nazi Germany, the Ba’ath regime covered its actions in euphemisms. Where Nazi officials spoke of "executive measures," "special actions" and "resettlement in the east," Ba'athist bureaucrats spoke of "collective measures," "return to the national ranks" and "resettlement in the south." But beneath the euphemisms, Iraq's crimes against the Kurds amount to genocide, the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.” Definition of Genocide
“L. Elizabeth Chamblee in her “POST-WAR IRAQ: PROSECUTING SADDAM HUSSEIN” states that the multilateral treaty, the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention), to which Iraq acceded on January 20, 1959, defined genocide in Article II as:
Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
To convict Hussein of genocide he must have “committed” one or more of the above forbidden acts against members of a protected group with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, that group. Hussein did not have to perform the acts himself. Instead, under Article III of the Genocide Convention, acts punishable under the treaty include “Genocide; conspiracy to commit genocide; direct and public incitement to commit genocide; attempt to commit Genocide; [and] complicity in genocide.” Thus, if Hussein specifically ordered or even turned a blind eye to any of these acts, his failure to act would constitute genocide under the Genocide Convention. The International Court of Justice, the ITCY and ITCR statutes, as well as the International Criminal Court statute all follow the Convention’s definition and its general elements”.
On the other hand, Encarta encyclopedia defines, Genocide as, a crime of destroying or conspiring to destroy a group of people because of their ethnic, national, racial, or religious identity.
The definition continues to emphasize that, the perpetrator is usually a non-democratic country that views the targeted group of people as a barrier or threat to maintaining power, fulfilling an ideology, or achieving some other goal .The perpetrator see the victim as inferiors, subhuman who don’t deserve to live. This approach is used mostly to mentally prepare the ruling group and state institutions and apparatus to carry out the dreadful policy.
In 1948 the General assembly of the UN passed an act called the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It took effect in 1951, provided a legal definition of genocide and established it as a crime under international law. According to the Genocide Convention, any of the following actions when committed with the intent to eliminate a particular national, ethnic, racial, or religious group constitutes Genocide:
Killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to kill, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children out of group.
In spite of these laws, the world was never serious about the legal concept of Genocide Convention except when their interests are intertwined with the application of the convention. In general, the enforcement of the Genocide Convention has proven difficult. The UN has not established an international office or system to enforce it. Furthermore, victims do not have a permanent international criminal court to which they can bring their complaints. In 1988 UN delegates adopted a statute that would create a permanent international criminal court to try individuals accused of genocide and other violations of international criminal law. The court would have been established if 60 countries ratified the statute, and would have been headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands. Regrettably, after George W. Bush took office in the White House he refused to seek the Congressional ratification of such a law.
Al-Anfal vis-?-vis The Final solution
Mass-killing, destruction of villages, deportation to forced concentration camps is the first steps towards Genocide. In both scenarios these acts stand salient and well documented. In fact, in both instances victims were used as test subjects for chemical and biological experiments.
Holocaust encyclopedia states that, the Nazis, under cover of the war, developed the technology, bureaucracy, and psychology of hate to efficiently murder millions of Jews. The details of the "Final Solution".
were worked out at the Wannsee Conference. All Jews in Germany and the occupied countries were deported to sealed ghettos as a holding area. Many were then shipped in cattle cars to labor camps where they lived under brutally inhuman conditions. Hundreds of thousands were sent directly to the gas chambers in death camps. As the Allies advanced on the camps, death marches further depleted the ranks of potential camp survivors.” All the steps taken by the Nazis were aimed at removing the Jews from German society. As well as exterminating Gypsies Polish and Ukrainians.
“After the beginning of World War II, anti-Jewish policy evolved into a comprehensive plan to concentrate and eventually annihilate European Jewry. What is clear is that the genocide of the Jews was the culmination of a decade of Nazi policy, under the rule of Adolf Hitler. The "Final Solution" was implemented in stages. In January 1942, the Nazis began the systematic deportation of Jews from all over Europe to six extermination camps established in former Polish territory -- Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Majdanek. Extermination camps were killing centers designed to carry out genocide. Over three million Jews were gassed in extermination. In its entirety consisted of gassing, shootings, random acts of terror, disease, and starvation that accounted for the deaths of about six million Jews -- two-thirds of European Jewry” How it was carried out, these were the preparations steps:
1. An entire state bureaucracy was mobilized solely for the purpose of annihilating Jews.
2. German technological expertise was harnessed to make the mass murder as efficient and low-cost as possible.
3. Special camps were created solely for the purpose of killing Jews and other "undesirables."
4. The conditions in these death camps and other concentration camps were brutal, and designed purposely to make survival only temporary Comparing al-Anfal Campaign to the above mentioned procedures, it is easy to find the many similarities both campaigns share with same objective of terminating people as a whole. From the documents seized after the Kurdish uprising of 1991, and later on following the liberation of Iraq there are testimonies to the fact that the whole state bureaucracy was drummed up to accommodate this particular objective; the extermination of Kurds in Iraq.
Official correspondents among various state institutions are unambiguous, straight forward and very much indicting when it comes to the intention and the partial implementation of Genocide.
L. Elizabeth Chamblee in her report continues on the Kurdish Genocide by Saddam’s regime “The plight of the Kurds at the hands of Hussein’s regime began well before the first Gulf War. Beginning in 1985, Hussein’s plan to address “Kurdish affairs” formed a systematic program of destruction for Kurdish villages through chemical weapons and military force, subsequent relocation of the Kurds in concentration camps, and summary executions upon arrival. In 1988, Iraqi forces killed as many as 182,000 Kurds and destroyed at least 4,000 Kurdish villages”.
“Once it finished using chemical and conventional bombing, the army and domestic militia dynamited and bulldozed Kurdish villages. The Iraqi army destroyed at least 703 Kurdish villages in 1987 alone After the armies razed the village of Serkand Khailani, officials arrested most of the villagers and later subjected the leaders to beatings with cables, suspensions from ceiling hooks, and electric shocks to the earlobes. Some of those arrested were executed. Others were sent to the collective camps. The Iraqi government painstakingly videotaped and documented a number of these events Al -Anfal Campaign against Kurds “Surat al-Anfal, a Verse on Jihad ("the Spoils of War") is the eighth chapter of the Qur'an, with 85 verses. It is a Madinan sura, recorded after the Battle of Badr.The al-Anfal Campaign was an anti-Kurdish campaign led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein between 1986 and 1989 (during and just after the Iran-Iraq war). The campaign takes its name from Surat Al-Anfal in the Qur'an, which was used as a code name by the former Iraqi Baathist regime for a series of military campaigns against the peshmerga rebels as well as the mostly Kurdish civilian population of southern Kurdistan. The campaign was headed by Ali Hasan al-Majid, a cousin of the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The al-Anfal campaign included the use of ground offensives, aerial bombing, systematic destruction of settlements, mass deportation, concentration camps, firing squads, and chemical warfare, which earned al-Majid the nickname of "Chemical Ali".
A report of Human right watch on al-Anfal campaign was detailed and vivid and established beyond any doubt those gross crimes of Saddam’s Regime against Kurds as Genocide, especially the Attack on Halabja with Chemical weapons and al-anfal Campaign, which has been described as a campaign of extermination against the Kurds of northern Iraq.
“The campaigns of 1987-1989 were characterized by the following gross violations of human rights:
Mass summary executions and mass disappearance of many tens of thousands of non-combatants, including large numbers of women and children, and sometimes the entire population of villages; · The widespread use of chemical weapons, including mustard gas and the nerve agent GB, or Sarin, against the town of Halabja as well as dozens of Kurdish villages, killing many thousands of people, mainly women and children; · The wholesale destruction of some 2,000 villages, which are described in government documents as having been "burned," "destroyed," "demolished".
and "purified," as well as at least a dozen larger towns and administrative centers (nahyas and qadhas); · The wholesale destruction of civilian objects by Army engineers, including all schools, mosques, wells and other non-residential structures in the targeted villages, and a number of electricity substations; · Looting of civilian property and farm animals on a vast scale by army troops and pro-government militia; · Arbitrary arrest of all villagers captured in designated "prohibited areas" (manateq al-mahdoureh), despite the fact that these were their own homes and lands; · Arbitrary jailing and warehousing for months, in conditions of extreme deprivation, of tens of thousands of women, children and elderly people, without judicial order or any cause other than their presumed sympathies for the Kurdish opposition. Many hundreds of them were allowed to die of malnutrition and disease; · Forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of villagers upon the demolition of their homes, their release from jail or return from exile; these civilians were trucked into areas of Kurdistan far from their homes and dumped there by the army with only minimal governmental compensation or none at all for their destroyed property, or any provision for relief, housing, clothing or food, and forbidden to return to their villages of origin on pain of death. In these conditions, many died within a year of their forced displacement; · Destruction of the rural Kurdish economy and infrastructure.” “According to Iraq's report to the UN, the know-how and material for developing chemical weapons were obtained from firms in such countries as:
The United States, West Germany, the United Kingdom, France and China. By far, the largest suppliers of precursors for chemical weapons production were in Singapore (4,515 tons), the Netherlands (4,261 tons), Egypt (2,400 tons), India (2,343 tons), and Federal Republic of Germany (1,027 tons).
One Indian company, Exomet Plastics (now part of EPC Industries) sent
2,292 tons of precursor chemicals to Iraq. The Kim Al-Khaleej firm, located in Singapore and affiliated to United Arab Emirates, supplied more than 4,500 tons of VX, sarin, and mustard gas precursors and production equipment to Iraq”.
-During the Anfal campaign, the Iraqi government destroyed about 4,500 villages in Iraqi Kurdistan -The Iraqi government executed approximately 182,000 men, women, and children
-1,754 schools destroyed
-2,450 mosques destroyed
-27 churches destroyed
-270 hospitals destroyed
-around 75% of villages wiped out
-The Kurdish town of Qaladize of over 70,000 populations was totally destroyed.
- Parts of major Kurdish cities were demolished in 1991 as the start of another or final phase of the annihilation of Kurds.
“The campaigns of 1987-1989 were not out of the blue, they were rather deeply rooted in the history of the Iraqi Kurds. Since the earliest days of the establishment of Iraq. when Kurds were coerced into an involuntary union with the newly established Iraq and were denied their rights. They faced that with a chain of revolutions. However, the situation became worse when Ba’ath took power and started a systematic plan to annihilate the Kurds who Saddam saw them as an obstacle on his path of pan-Arab nationalism.
However, with the granting of emergency powers to al-Majid in March 1987, the intermittent counterinsurgency against the Kurds became a campaign of destruction. As Raul Hilberg observes in his monumental history of the Holocausts” Hilberg's Paradigm
Raul Hilberg (born June 2, 1926) is one of the best-known and most distinguished of genocide historians. His three-volume, 1,273-page “The Destruction of the European Jews” regarded as the seminal study of the Nazi Final Solution “A destruction process has an inherent pattern. There is only one way in which a scattered group can effectively be destroyed. Three steps are organic in the operation:
Concentration (or seizure)
“This is the invariant structure of the basic process, for no group can be killed without a concentration or seizure of the victims, and no victims can be segregated before the perpetrator knows who belongs to the group.
To pursue Hilberg's paradigm a little further, once the concentration and seizure was complete, the annihilation could begin. The target group had already been defined with care. Now came the definition of the second, concentric circle within the group: those who were actually to be killed.”Beginning with a presidential order of October 15, 1987--two days before the census--that "the names of persons who are to be subjected to a general/blanket judgment must not be listed collectively. Rather, refer to them or treat them in your correspondence on an individual basis." The effects of this order are reflected in the lists that the Army and Amn compiled of Kurds arrested during Anfal, which note each person's name, sex, age, place of residence and place of capture”.”The Kurdish genocide of 1987-1989, with the Anfal campaign as its centerpiece, fits Hilberg's paradigm to perfection” as Dr. Khalid Salih deems it.
The Halabja Attack
Almost all current accounts of the incident regard Iraq as the party responsible for the gas attack, which occurred during the Iran-Iraq War.
The war between Iran and Iraq was in its eighth year when, on March 16 and 17, 1988, Iraq dropped poison gas on the Kurdish city of Halabja.
“The poison gas attack on the Iraqi town of Halabja was the largest-scale chemical weapons (CW) attack against a civilian population in modern times.
It began early in the evening of March 16, when a group of eight aircraft began dropping chemical bombs, and the chemical bombardment continued all night. The Halabja attack involved multiple chemical agents, including mustard gas, and the nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX. Some sources have also pointed to the blood agent hydrogen cyanide” The massacre at Halabja did not raise protests by the international community in March 1988. At the time, it was admitted that the civilians had been killed "collaterally" due to an error in handling the combat gas.
Two years later, when the Iran-Iraq War was finished and the Western powers stopped supporting Saddam Hussein, the massacre of Halabja was attributed to the Iraqi government.
After 1991 uprising in Iraqi Kurdistan, as Kurdish people were liberating their cities they discovered hundreds of tons of documents enough to indict every single Iraqi official who was involved. These documents were transferred to the United States. All the elements of the definition of Genocide under international law individually and collectively do apply to the Kurdish case. For example, killing members of the group, the attack carried all the element of every type of Genocide: ideological, retributive, developmental, and despotic. Simply, because the regime was trying to achieve an ideal social structure in which all Iraqis are alike and hold the same beliefs based on pan-Arabism. Their ideology based on pan Arab nationalism mixed with the principles of socialism led them to believe that Kurds as a different ethnic group are the major obstacle in their way to implement their policies and achieve their goals. Therefore, they have to be eliminated or at least neutralized or marginalized.
Although Iraq is one of the signatory of the Genocide Convention since January 20, 1959 the Iraqi regime was never charged for any crimes committed against Kurdish people. It was the Ba’ath’s mentality translated into state policy to annihilate Kurdish people since the very beginning.
They have never given up on that. After the collapse of the Kurdish revolution in the spring of the 1975 as the result of the Algiers ‘s Agreement, Hundreds of thousands of Kurds left Iraq to Iran and other counties while the rest surrendered to the government. They were deported to southern Iraqi desert. The majority of them perished or were shot in unmarked mass graves. Arabization has been an official policy of this government. Many Kurdish cities and towns such as Kirkuk, Mendaly, Khanaqin, Shingar and Atrush has been systematically evacuated of their Kurdish population and replaced with Arab tribes. In 1980 the government arrested hundreds of thousands of the Faily Kurds who were dwelling Baghdad and actually running the economy of the capital city. They were rounded up, after confiscating all their properties except the cloth on their back. They were split into two groups. One group just disappeared without any traces. While the other was deported to Iran. Nevertheless, the government was persistent on pursuing its deadly policies towards the Kurds. In 1983 they rounded up over 8 thousand male members of the Barzani tribe, and nobody ever heard anything about their unfortunate fate. The rest of the women, elderly male, and children were put in a concentration camp similar to those used in Europe by the Nazi for Jews during the WW11.
However, the worst was still lurking ahead. In 1988 the government attacked the Kurdish town of Halabja with chemical and possibly biological weapons killing indiscriminately over 5000 people, mostly women and children. This was the first time these weapons of mass destruction has been used since the WW1.As a result and after showing the demonic crime on the TV screens all over the world. It was decided in a conference in Paris to reprimand the Iraqi regime while refusing the Kurdish representatives, here, the real victims of the crime of the century, to even attend the conference. This savage attack was followed by the infamous al- ANFAL Campaign led by defense minister Ali Hassan Al Majid, Known in Kurdistan as Ali the Chemical, who is the dictator Saddam Hussein’s cousin. During this barbarous campaign the entire southern Kurdistan was turned into a military zone. The Iraqi army, whose only experience was the killing of Kurdish people, was authorized to shoot and kill anything alive and moving. Over a quarter of a million of Kurdish people were eliminated.
Many were taken to the Iraqi desert in the south and buried alive in unidentified mass graves, according to very few eye witnesses who survived by a miracle.
Human Watch report on al-Anfal Campaign The fact that al-Anfal was, by the narrowest definition, a counterinsurgency as dictator Saddam and defense team are trying to portray it, does nothing to diminish the fact that it was also an act of genocide. There is nothing mutually exclusive about counterinsurgency and genocide. Indeed, one may be the instrument used to consummate the other.
Article I of the Genocide Convention affirms that "genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law." Summarily executing noncombatant or captured members of an ethnical-national group as such is not a legitimate wartime or counterinsurgency measure, regardless of the nature of the conflict In addition to this argument of principle, many features of Anfal far transcend the realm of counterinsurgency. These include, first of all, the simple facts of what happened after the military goals of the operation had been accomplished:
The mass murder and disappearance of many tens of thousands of non-combatants--50,000 by the most conservative estimate, and possibly twice that number; · The use of chemical weapons against non-combatants in dozens of locations, killing thousands and terrifying many more into abandoning their homes; · The near-total destruction of family and community assets and infrastructure, including the entire agricultural mainstay of the rural Kurdish economy; · The literal abandonment, in punishing conditions, of thousands of women, children and elderly people, resulting in the deaths of many hundreds.
Those who survived did so largely due to the clandestine help of nearby Kurdish townspeople.
“Finally, there is the question of intent, which goes to the heart of the notion of genocide. Documentary materials captured from the Iraqi intelligence agencies demonstrate with great clarity that the mass killings, disappearances and forced relocations associated with Anfal and the other anti-Kurdish campaigns of 1987-1989 were planned in coherent fashion. While power over these campaigns was highly centralized, their success depended on the orchestration of the efforts of a large number of agencies and institutions at the local, regional and national level, from the Office of the Presidency of the Republic on down to the lowliest jahsh”.
By April 23, 1989, the Ba'ath Party felt that it had accomplished its goals, for on that date it revoked the special powers that had been granted to Ali Hassan al-Majid two years earlier. At a ceremony to greet his successor, the supreme commander of Anfal made it clear that "the exceptional situation is over."
To use the language of the Genocide Convention, the regime's aim had been to destroy the group (Iraqi Kurds) in part, and it had done so, mission was accomplished as they proclaimed it. Intent and act had been combined, resulting in the consummated crime of genocide against Kurdish people. The survivors, the families of the victims, the entire Kurdish people, those who have suffered from Saddam's successive belligerence and aggression, every decent human being and the whole civilized world is waiting for this court to get the justice done.