32th anniversary of The Anfal genocide in South Kurdistan

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Rozhan Adlnia

Today is anfal memorial day. The Kurdish and Kurds remember that day on the anfal offensive, where Saddam Hussein’s henchmen slaughtered over 180.000 Kurdish and Kurds between 1986 and 1988 and destroyed thousands of villages.

The Kurds who have been divided between Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria were and are the main victims of Genocide all around the world. What are you hearing now is a very short part of the Genocide of the Kurds, a nation without land, without a government, without international rights – a nation that is now fighting for democracy, for liberalism.

The Anfal genocide was a genocide that killed between 50,000 and 182,000 Kurds. It was committed during the Al-Anfal campaign (Harakat al-Anfal/Homleh al-Anfal) , led by Ali Hassan al-Majid, against Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, during the final stages of the Iran-Iraq War.

   The campaign’s name was from Sura 8 (al-Anfal) in the Qur’an, which was used as a code name by the former Iraqi Ba’athist government for a series of systematic attacks against the Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq between 1986 and 1989, with the peak in 1988. Sweden, Norway, and the United Kingdom officially recognize the Anfal campaign as genocide.

The genocide was part of the destruction of Kurdish villages during the Iraqi Arabization campaign.

The Anfal campaign began in 1986 and lasted until 1989, and was headed by Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit. The Anfal campaign included the use of ground offensives, aerial bombing, systematic destruction of settlements, mass deportation, firing squads, and chemical warfare, which earned al-Majid the nickname of “Chemical Ali”.

Thousands of civilians were killed during the anti-insurgent campaigns stretching from the spring of 1987 to the fall of 1988. The attacks were part of a long campaign that destroyed approximately 4,500 Kurdish and at least 31 Assyrian Christian villages in areas of northern Iraq and displaced at least a million of the country’s estimated 3.5 million Kurdish population. Amnesty International collected the names of more than 17,000 people who had “disappeared” in 1988. The campaign has been characterized as genocidal in nature. It is also characterized as gendercidal, because “battle-age” men were the primary targets, according to Human Rights Watch/Middle East. According to the Iraqi prosecutors and Kurdish officials, as many as 180,000 people were killed.

Under US President Ronald Reagan, the United States continued to aid Iraq after reports of the use of poison gas on Kurdish civilians,

Military operations and chemical attacks

On 16 March 1988, there was a genocidal poison gas attack on the city of Halabja in which 3,200-5,000 Kurdish people were killed, most of them civilians.

Concentration camps and extermination

When captured, Kurdish populations were transported to detention centers (notably Topzawa, near the city of Kirkuk), and adult and teenage males viewed as possible insurgents were separated from the civilians. According to Human Rights Watch/Middle East,

With only minor variations… the standard pattern for sorting new arrivals [at Topzawa was as follows]. Men and women were segregated on the spot as soon as the trucks had rolled to a halt in the base’s large central courtyard or parade ground. The process was brutal…. A little later, the men were further divided by age, small children were kept with their mothers, and the elderly and infirm were shunted off to separate quarters. Men and teenage boys considered to be of an age to use a weapon were herded together. Roughly speaking, this meant males of between fifteen and fifty, but there was no rigorous check of identity documents, and strict chronological age seems to have been less of a criterion than size and appearance. A strapping twelve-year-old might fail to make the cut; an undersized sixteen-year-old might be told to remain with his female relatives…. It was then time to process the younger males. They were split into smaller groups…. Once duly registered, the prisoners were hustled into large rooms, or halls, each filled with the residents of a single area…. Although the conditions at Topzawa were appalling for everyone, the most grossly overcrowded quarter seem to have been those where the male detainees were held…. For the men, beatings were routine. (Iraq’s Crime of Genocide, pp. 143–45. ISBN 0-300-06427-6)

After a few days in the camps, the men accused of being insurgents were trucked off to be killed in mass executions.

In its book Iraq’s Crime of Genocide, Human Rights Watch/Middle East writes: “Throughout Iraqi Kurdistan, although women and children vanished in certain clearly defined areas, adult males who were captured disappeared in mass…. It is apparent that a principal purpose of Anfal was to exterminate all adult males of military service age captured in rural Iraqi Kurdistan.” (pp. 96, 170). Only a handful survived the execution squads. Even amidst this most systematic slaughter of adult men and boys, however, “hundreds of women and young children perished, too,” but “the causes of their deaths were different—gassing, starvation, exposure, and willful neglect—rather than bullets fired from a Kalashnikov.” (Iraq’s Crime of Genocide, p. 191.) Nevertheless, on 1 September 2004, US forces in Iraq discovered hundreds of bodies of Kurdish women and children at the site near al-Hatra, who are believed to be executed in early 1988 or late 1987.

The focus of the Iraqi killing campaign varied from one stage of Anfal to another. The most exclusive targeting of the male population occurred during the final Anfal (25 August-6 September 1988). It was launched immediately after the signing of a ceasefire with Iran, which allowed the transfer of large numbers of men and amount of matériel from the southern battlefronts. The final Anfal focused on “the steep, narrow valleys of Badinan, a four-thousand-square mile chunk of the Zagros Mountains bounded on the east by the Great Zab and on the north by Turkey.” There, uniquely in the Anfal campaigns, lists of the “disappeared” provided to Human Rights Watch/Middle East by survivors “invariably included only adult and teenage males, with the single exception of Assyrians and Yezidi Kurds,” who were subsidiary targets of the slaughter. Many of the men of Badinan did not even make it as far as “processing” stations but were simply “lined up and murdered at their point of capture, summarily executed by firing squads on the authority of a local military officer.” (Iraq’s Crime of Genocide, pp. 178, 190, 192; on the fate of the Christians and Yezidi Kurds, see pp. 209–13.)

On 20 June 1987, Directive SF/4008 was issued, under al-Majid’s signature. Of greatest significance is clause 5. Referring to those areas designated “prohibited zones,” al-Majid ordered that “all persons captured in those villages shall be detained and interrogated by the security services and those between the ages of 15 and 70 shall be executed after any useful information has been obtained from them, of which we should be duly notified.” However, it seems clear from the application of the policy that it referred only to males “between the ages of 15 and 70.” Human Rights Watch/Middle East takes that as given and writes that clause 5’s “order [was] to kill all adult males” and later writes: “Under the terms of al-Majid’s June 1987 directives, death was the automatic penalty for any male of an age to bear arms who was found in an Anfal area.” (Iraq’s Crime of Genocide, pp. 11, 14.) A subsequent directive on 6 September 1987, supports this conclusion: it calls for “the deportation of… families to the areas where there saboteur relatives are…, except for the male [members], between the ages of 12 inclusive and 50 inclusive, who must be detained.” (Cited in Iraq’s Crime of Genocide, p. 298.)

According to Human Rights Watch, during the Anfal campaign, the Iraqi government did the following:

  • Massacred 50,000 to 100,000 non-combatant civilians, including women and children. However, Kurdish officials have claimed the figure could be as high as 182,000.
  • Destroyed about 4,000 villages (out of 4,655) in Iraqi Kurdistan. Between April 1987 and August 1988, 250 towns and villages were exposed to chemical weapons;
  • Destroyed 1,754 schools, 270 hospitals, 2,450 mosques, and 27 churches;
  • Wiped out around 90% of Kurdish villages in the targeted areas.
  • Made 2,000 Assyrian Christians, along with Kurds and others, victims of gas campaigns.

Violation of human rights

The campaigns of 1987–89 were characterized by the following human rights violations:

  1. 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; 17,000 persons are known to have disappeared in 1988 alone. [Ibid. 11]
  2. 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;
  3. 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 (nahyasand qadhas); Since 1975, some 4,000 Kurdish villages have been destroyed by the former Iraqi regime.
  4. Human Rights Watch/Middle East estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed. Some Kurdish sources put the number higher, estimating 182,000 Kurds were killed.
  5. In 1989, army engineers destroyed the last major Kurdish town near the Iranian border. Qala Dizeh had a population of 70,000 before it was razed. Afterwards, the surrounding area was considered a “prohibited area”

Also The Halabja chemical attack was a massacre and genocide against the Kurdish people by Saddam Hussein in 1988. The attack took place during the closing days of the Iran-Iraq War in the Kurdish city of Halabja in southern Kurdistan just 48 hours after the town fell to the Iranian army. It killed 5,000 people and injured 7,000 to 10,000, most of them civilians. The Halabja attack is the largest chemical weapons attack directed against a civilian-populated area in history.

And these Genocides continues in Iranian Kurdistan by the Islamic Republic of Iran regime. In Gharna, Ghalatan, Serchinar, Pawe, Sanandaj, Mariwan, Indirqash, Oshnavieh and more than 20,000 Kurdish men, women and children were killed by the Iranian regime. here we will talk shortly about some of these Genocides in Iranian Kurdistan.

One of the most painful human tragedies of the Kurdistan wars was the massacre of innocent people in the village of Gharna. The background of this tragedy dates back to the clashes between the Kurdish Peshmarga and the forces who were called ‘Javanmardan’ under the command of Mullah Hassani.

On September 2, 1979, around 1:00 pm, the forces under the command of Mullah Hassani launched an assault on the village of Gharna using tanks and canons. As an act of revenge against those killed in the earlier clash, the forces massacred the village people. Based on the names and statistics available, 64 citizens were viciously murdered.

Ghalatan. 02. sep.1979

Mullah Saleh Rahimi, while pointing out the tragic incident in the village of Ghrana in which some armed and irresponsible individuals killed some of the village residents as an act of Qesas for the martyrs of Doab cervix said, “Innocent people who were martyred in the village of Gharna were all faithful to the Islamic Revolution.”

A woman who has lost her 15 and 18 year old children in the massacre says, “They showed mercy to nobody. We have never heard of such atrocities anywhere. Those who are alive were either away from their homes and the village, or found a way to hide themselves

Following the regime’s massacre of “Gharna” and “Ghalatan” villages in Kurdistan, harassment of women over the compulsory Islamic dress code was exacerbated.

On 28 Aug 1980, Revolutionary Gaurds attacked the village of “Ghalatan” in the suburbs of “Naghadeh” city; This brutal atack resulted in the death of 13 civilian.

On the 4th of November 1980, “Basij” forces under the commandership of Maboudi attacked the villages of “Inder Ghash” and ” Yousef Kand” located 10 kilumeters away from Mahabad. The invadors massacared 35 civilians in a matter of few hours.

On 8 Nov 1980, only 4 days after the massacare of civilians in “Inder Ghash” and ” Yousef Kand”, revolutionary Gaurds, under the commandership of “Mullah Hassan” and “Maboudi” raided in “Soufian” village in the suburbs of “Oushnavieh” city and murdered 12 people. Age of 7 of the victims were over 50. During the attack, 20 people were also wounded.

The policy of mass slaughter of Kurds continued and 40 people were massacared in the villages of “Dilancherakh”, “Halbi”,”Koykan”, “Raizi Shakakan” and “Youneslian”.

On 25 March 1983 in the villages of “Cheghel Mostafa” , “Khalifelina” and “Gourkhaneh” in the suburbs of “Naghadeh” city, 21 people were massacared.

On 23 March 1983 in the villages of “Halghoush” and “Gijeh”, in the region of “Soma”, situated in the suburbs of “Oroumia” city 13 people were murdered.

Sardasht. June 28, 1987

In Sardasht, West Azerbaijan (June 28, 1987), Iraq dropped what Iranian authorities believed to be mustard gas in two separate bombing runs on four residential areas.

 In mid-August 1979, Khomeini, the new religious leader of Iran, in his statement, declared a jihad (holy struggle) and a fatwa (religious edict) against the Iranian Kurds and key Kurdish nationalist figures were declared “enemies of the state”, like Ghassemlou, Then the government then began a three-week campaign to clear out Kurdish strongholds, mainly Saqqez and Mahabad. On August 20, 1979.

The Kurds great leaders like as Ghazi Mohammad, who headed the Republic of Kurdistan in Mahabad and An Iranian military court sentenced  Qazi and two of his associates to death by hanging in Chwarchira Square, in the center of the city of Mahabad, on March 31, 1947and Dr. Abdulrahman Ghasemlou, who has been terror by Iranian Regime

Today we have a big amount of Execution, Arresting, Long Life prison and Terror but the Kurds are continue to make their freedom, independence and Human rights like as other free nations, and no one can stop them.

Rozhan Adlni is one of the Roji Kurd’s journaliss and one of the Kurdistan Human Right Organization- Rojhelat members.

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