Friday, February 24, 2006

"The infant had been shot in the back of the head and the woman in the face."

A mass grave being excavated in a north Iraqi village has yielded evidence that Iraqi forces executed women and children under Saddam Hussein.

US-led investigators have located nine trenches in Hatra containing hundreds of bodies believed to be Kurds killed during the repression of the 1980s.

The skeletons of unborn babies and toddlers clutching toys are being unearthed, the investigators said.

...The victims are believed to be Kurds killed in 1987-88, their bodies bulldozed into the graves after being summarily shot dead.

One trench contains only women and children while another contains only men.

The body of one woman was found still clutching a baby. The infant had been shot in the back of the head and the woman in the face.

"The youngest foetus we have was 18 to 20 foetal weeks," said US investigating anthropologist P Willey.

"Tiny bones, femurs - thighbones the size of a matchstick."

Full article:
Hatra mass graves
Iraqi Holocaust Files

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Uday vs. Women

from The Mesopotamian:

'You might have heard that an assassination attempt against Uday had taken place in 1996, which left him with injuries that caused impotency. This made him even more cruel and sadistic than his usual self. It has been revealed after the fall of the regime that he shot the doctor who broke the news to him (c.f. interview with one of the close bodyguards of Uday at Al Arabia last year). This added one more complex to his extensive repertoire of psychological problems. He started to hate anything to do with other people having any kind of sexual pleasure.

Well, that horrible day we learnt that the night before the Fedayeen [under Uday's command] had attacked scores of houses and dragged women and young girls to streets and beheaded many with swords leaving the heads at the doorsteps of the victims houses. Some of these heads were left in place for more than twenty-four hours. The atrocities lasted for several weeks.'

The Mesopotamian, May 12, 2004

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Room 63

Reuters via Yahoo (article by Michael Gregory and Paul Tait):

'BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Men and women were tortured for days and babies left to die in an interrogation facility which featured a meat grinder for human flesh, the first prosecution witness to face Saddam Hussein told the court on Monday.

After weeks of delay and legal arguments over security and the legitimacy of the court, the trial of Saddam and seven co- defendants on charges of crimes against humanity heard confusing but graphic witness evidence of torture and summary execution.

"I swear by God I walked by a room and on my left I saw a grinder with blood coming out of it and human hair underneath," said 38-year-old Ahmed Hassan, who said he had been kept in room 63 at the Hakmiya intelligence headquarters in Baghdad.
"My brother was given electric shocks while my 77-year-old father watched," Hassan said. "They told us, 'why don't you confess, you will be executed anyway'," he said.

"One man was shot in the leg with two bullets... Some people were crippled because they had their arms and legs broken."

He said they were held in Hakmiya for 70 days. While they were there a woman told a guard that her infant baby needed milk or he would die.

"He died and the guard threw him from the window," Hassan told the court. "Pregnant women gave birth in the prison. Their babies died."
Read the full article at the link.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Torturer's Crocodile Tears

Author: Michael Gregory
Source: Reuters
Saddam Hangman Still Loyal

BAGHDAD, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Saddam Hussein may be fighting for his life in court but he still mesmerises Abu Hussein, a former torturer and hangman for the toppled leader who executed hundreds of Iraqis with the noose or the bullet.

"I cry every time I think that he is on trial. I pray for his strength and freedom. Saddam must come back to rule Iraq," he told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

"I am ready to return to my job if Saddam comes back."
Deserters from Iraq's war with Iran faced the firing squad. Prisoners who had insulted Saddam were hanged because it was crueller, said Abu Hussein, who declined to give his full name.
"They would usually say 'there is no God but God'," said Abu Hussein.

Death always came after weeks of torture.

"Sometimes we would hang them upside down and beat their feet with clubs. Or we would electrocute them," he said.
"One of the worst things was putting 10 people in a one-square-metre room for weeks. They had a brief break every day and were allowed the toilet every three days," he said.
Abu Hussein, a father of three, said watching men writhe in agony as they died sometimes made him cry. But he said nobody could afford to defy orders in Saddam's Iraq.

"We would have been killed on the spot. One time this executioner was one hour late in hanging someone and he was himself hanged. What could we do? All of this had a toll on us," he said.
"Only Saddam can save us. It felt terrible but I am willing to hang and torture again. Saddam taught us about force. He is a strong personality," he said.

Full article at the link.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Website: The Documental Center for Human Rights in Iraq

Currently this website is only available in Arabic, but English pages are under construction. Includes photographs and documentation. Thanks to Doug for the link.

Documental Center

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

"The Quality of Death"

"Numbers do not capture the quality of death that remains the main issue for those still alive. In any case most victims meet a different fate [from those whose executions are officially recognized]. The pattern is for agents to pick someone up from work, or at night from his house. No explanations are proffered as there would be in an official killing. Unlike Central American 'disappearances' in which the state denies complicity, the Ba'ath give the event a macabre twist. What one assumes to be the corpse is brought back weeks or maybe months later and delivered to the head of the family in a sealed box. A death certificate is produced for signature to the effect that the person has died of fire, swimming, or other such accident. Someone is allowed to accompany police and box for a ceremony, but at no time is he or she permitted to see the corpse. The cost of the proceedings is demanded in advance, and the whole thing is over within hours of the first knock on the door.

The gap between the formality and the reality of such a death can henceforth be acted out as a gigantic lie by all concerned, including the victim's family who now are able to announce the event and carry out the appropriate public mourning ceremony. The lie that lives has replaced the grisly truth buried in the casket."

- Kanan Makiya, "Republic of Fear" (1989), ch. 2.

The Shadow of the Past

From Mohammed at Iraq the Model:

'Something caught my attention while I was examining the students, some of the names do not belong to the south in any way; names that are not even Arabic and when I asked about it the students told me that they were Kurds. “What would the sons of the mountain do in the south?”I asked. Here an old man tried to make things clear for me he said that they were 500 families forced to leave their homes and brought to the south in the early 1980s “these kids were born here” he added with tears starting to form in his eyes “but it’s ok, we’re all Iraqis and here is our land too; this is what Saddam planned for us, twenty years is too much time and my son got married here. We have to accept it and I wish that Allah will avenge us”. Later I knew that most of those families returned to their lands in the north while 13 families decided to stay in Samawa.

I felt pain, deep inside, I’m supposed to work here for one single year but I’m counting days to go back to my beloved Baghdad. What would I do if I had to stay here for the rest of my life. I kicked these thoughts out of my mind; this is beyond my capabilities and it’s not going to happen again in our new Iraq.

I heard a lot of unconfirmed stories about crimes committed by Saddam’s regime in this town but I’m going to mention one of these because I met the victim himself. He’s an agricultural engineer and I met him one evening in the coffee shop. He was dedicated to his job as many of the locals said.

When the uprising started in 1991 he was taken with his family to one of Saddam’s jails “Saddam’s dogs left me handicapped” he said and showed me his arms that were full of ugly scars from torture “they used a hot iron to burn my arms” I shared his pain with him while he was telling me the details “I survived because I was not found guilty but my two brothers were not lucky as I was; I’m still looking for their bodies in the mass graves” and continued “Saddam had stolen every dream we had, look at the desert just beside the river! we couldn’t plant anything here, and even now we don’t have the money or the technology and Baghdad was and still taking the priority. I doubt they will look after us soon. The future is not for my generation, it’s for our children”.'

"Dreams and Worries"

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Assyrian Woman Testifies to Atrocities

A Lone Woman Testifies To Iraq's Order of Terror

by Peter Finn, Washington Post Foreign Service — July 21, 2003; Page A01.
Special correspondents Souad Mekhennet and Hoda Lazin contributed to this report.

Posted: Sunday, July 27, 2003 at 09:22 PM CT
BAGHDAD — She was walking hurriedly, as if in a trance, oblivious to the weakness in her legs, not seeing the bewildered looks of the American troops trailing her, not hearing her own cries of anguish. Jumana Michael Hanna, tears streaming down her face, had slipped into the darkest recesses of memory.

Hanna, a 41-year-old Assyrian Christian from a formerly rich and prominent Iraqi family, returned last week to the well of her nightmares: the police academy in Baghdad, a sprawling complex of offices, classrooms, soccer, polo and parade grounds -- and prison cells, some of them converted dog kennels, according to American officials who now control the campus.

This is the place where in the 1990s Hanna was hung from a rod and beaten with a special stick when she called out for Jesus or the Virgin Mary. This is where she and other female prisoners were dragged outside and tied to a dead tree trunk, nicknamed "Walid" by the guards, and raped in the shadow of palm trees. This is the place where electric shock was applied to Hanna's vagina. And this is where in February 2001 someone put a bullet in her husband's head and handed his corpse through the steel gate like a piece of butcher's meat.


Full article:
Iraqi Holocaust Files: Assyrian Woman Testifies

Assyrian Woman Recalls Atrocities

Thanks to Dilnareen at KBU for the link.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Torture and Executions

From Hammorabi:
There are countless numbers of the documented crimes and torture of this family and those who worked with it. Some of these crimes and tortured methods are listed below:
1. Mass executions without trials
2. Genocides against Shia and Kurds by chemical and conventional weapons
3. Disappearances of thousands for ever after their arrest
4. Arresting and executing large numbers of young men, women and children during Iraq Iran war. The arrests could happen at any time and in any place.
5. Arresting any students just by simple doubt especially if not in the Baath party Shia and Kurds. In 1980s the Baath introduce what is called the (Closed Colleges and Universities) which means that all the students should be Baathist.
6. Cutting tongues until death
7. Mutilation of the body parts including ears cutting and tattoing on the forehead
8. Decapitations with swords
9. Falakah which is striking the feet with a painful sticks
10. Nails pulling
11. Insertions of glass in the gentilia
12. Death by mass rape (raping the victim by several rapist until death)
13. Death by starving dogs or lions
14. Hanging on a fan
15. Hanging up side down
16. Raping relatives in front of a victim to force him or her to confess
17. Inserting needles or nails in the body
18. Inserting then hammering to drive in a big piece of wood from the anus to go out from the shoulder
19. Keeping the prisoners in a coffins with nails inside it and no air go in but opened for 30 minutes a day
20. Eyes gouging out
21. Putting salt and acids on the wounds
22. Sitting on a broken bottle to go inside the anus
23. Making the prisoners to rape each other or to whip each other
24. Inserting the heads in the faces or the whole body
25. Putting snakes and scorpions and insects with the prisoner in a small cell and he should not kill them
26. Putting the person in Al Mathramah (Chopping Machine) starting with his feet to make his body into mince
There are too many other countless psychological and physical ways of tortures.

Source:December 13, 2003: Saddam's Relatives ...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

40 Men with the Wrong Name

Omar: 'Al Iraqyia TV showed a very sad story that seems closer to fiction but it happened in Saddam’s Iraq. A story that can happen only in a country ruled by brutal regime like Saddam’s and its likes. It’s beyond imagination yet it’s cold reality that reflects the fear the dictator have from his people and his readiness to kill everyone if it takes for him to stay in power.

Such people don’t know the meaning of negotiation or dialog and suspicion is enough evidence for them to kill. The important thing is to give no voice other than the voice of the dictator, a chance to be heard.

I found this story worth reporting and sharing with the others so that we all realize and keep remembering the necessity of the change and why it happened and also to try to imagine what’s happening in other countries ruled by dictators. Just because we don’t hear much about human rights violations and similar crimes in other totalitarian regimes, doesn’t mean that they don’t happen, as this story happened in the early 80s way before the world even heard about Saddam’s horrible crimes.
I found this story particularly important because some people think that Saddam’s victims are only those lying in the mass graves which is so far from the truth, and I’m talking about those killed, or tortured directly by Saddam’s regime and not the victims of wars or sanctions. The mass graves were used only later in Saddam’s days while before that and for a long time, individuals and small groups were executed and assassinated on a daily basis and handed to their families or buried in cemeteries. The number of these victims, and putting in mind the long years of Saddam’s reign, is far from being small or un compared to the number of those buried in the mass graves and I think this story throws a light on that.

Al Iraqyia met a number of undertakers and clerics who work in the largest cemetery in Iraq; Al Najaf cemetery (Najaf city). One of those undertakers said, “the security guards used to come often at night carrying the bodies of those who were executed secretly or died under torture. The burying procedure used to be done very quickly and we never dared to ask anything about the dead men and women, who were they and why were they killed. There was only a brief document with the name of the victim on it and no one from the victim’s family was allowed to attend the ceremonies which were very short.

One night in the beginning of the 80s 10 security cars came carrying the bodies of 10 young men who all seemed in their early twenties. We started to burry them but as we were writing down their names we noticed something really strange, they were all carrying the name “Sabah”! What was even stranger that the same thing happened for the next days. Every day a new group of dead men all named “Sabah” until the number reached 40!

We didn’t know the reason at that time, was it just a coincidence or what? Later on, after the war we knew what happened after one of the security officers was arrested and told the story. The reason behind this strange story was that one of Al Dawaá party members was arrested. He refused to give them the name of the guy in charge of his group and during the terrible torture and as he was about to collapse he broke down and said, “Sabah, a student in the college...” he couldn’t finish his words out of pain and exhaustion and went in coma soon. The man died and they (the security) never knew anything more from him.

Destiny had an appointment with all the student named “Sabah” in the colleges in Baghdad as the arrested man was from Baghdad, and especially with Sheát ones or those who are not know to be loyal enough to the regime. 40 young men died just because they carried the name “Sabah”!”

This is the story as it appeared on Al Iraqyia TV by the undertakers in “Al Najaf” cemitery. Mere doubts were enough to lead a man to death at those times. This was the time when Saddam was still using documents when he executed “traitors” before he changed his style as the number of “traitors” increased incredibly and started to use mass graves in remote areas without using any document. The number was too high to be contained in Iraq’s cemeteries.'

source: Iraq the Model
"Doubts as Evidences"

What is the worst thing?

Alaa: 'Suffice it to say that personal death was not the worse thing, not even in the top league of "Worst Things". I mean, you can see this even now from the kind of terror campaign that [Saddam]� is conducting even from his dying bed. The main concern of prison cell designers� was not to have anything in the cell, which could be used for suicide purposes. This was quite a serious problem for them. A suicide was considered a very serious negligence and could incur cruel punishment. It was not even torture that was the worst thing.

You may think this is some kind of dramatization and exaggeration, but believe me death is nothing compared to having your wife or sister raped in front of your eyes, in seeing your children brought in and tortured in your presence. And so many things like that, I don't like to go on. '

source: The Mesopotamian
November 22, 2003

Death for Laughter

Ays: 'In Islamic traditions, when a person die, his parents should write an obituary on a piece of a black cloth so as to inform the people about his death, so every Muslim would read it and pray upon his soul, in addition to the 3 to 7 days of consolation in a Mosque or at his house.
Under Saddam, when someone was executed it was forbidden to make all that.

[A consolation posted after the liberation of Iraq]

Alfatiha/The remembrance to the death of the deceased, the Pediatrician
Dr.Hisham Mahir Al-Salman
Was executed in Nov -21- 1988 in an accusation of laughing at a joke about Saddam Hussien.
He is a father of Dr.Mahir and the father of Dr.Zaed Tariq’s and the engineer Ammar Al-Dujaily’s wives.
We are to Allah and to him we belong

That was one of millions of Iraqis who were the victims of the beast.'

source: Iraq at a Glance
"The Cause was a Joke"

Sunday, July 25, 2004

The Iraq Foundation

"The Iraq Foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental organization working for democracy and human rights in Iraq, and for a better international understanding of Iraq's potential as a contributor to political stability and economic progress in the Middle East. For more information on the Foundation, please see our About and Projects sections."

Iraq Foundation

Thanks to Louise for the link.

Kuwait Occupation: "A Kind of Malignancy"

"A kind of malignancy was at work during the Ba'athi occupation of Kuwait, which went beyond the killing of Kuwaitis and the looting of houses. Specific violations were in the end attributable to it. Imagine Kuwait being visited by a foul-smelling kind of plague, one that could not be seen but that secreted deadly humors in its wake. These came seeping out of pus-filled sores whose very existence no one had been aware of before. The most tangible thing about this malignancy was that it exuded a stench. An Israeli novel imagines a former soldeier in the Occupied Territories who returns from his job only to find that he cannot rid himself of a foul odor that has begun to emanate from his body, becoming an ineradicable part of his constitution. "The smell covered us like a heavy cloud, attacking the senses. It was hard to sit there. ... Maybe it is a punishment for cruelty." (Yitzhak ben-Ner, Ta'to'on, 1989.) The truth in such fiction is that occupation - whether on the West Bank of the Jordan River or in Kuwait - is always foul-smelling.

"A similar kind of truth is present in the observation that a new rotten odor was in the air in Kuwait after August 2, 1990. The smell was unusually bad, permeating everything. The garbage, after all, was not collected, and decomposed to release a stew of organic odors. The bodies of Kuwaitis who resisted and were caught ... were left out in the streets. There was nothing to hinder the bacteria from working on their human remains and their work naturally smelled. Both Iraqis and Kuwaitis sweated more profusely, and they would have cleaned themselves less often than before. Water, after all, was scarce. Soiled clothes remained unwashed. Electricity was intermittent. Maintenance standards in the desalination and water-purification plants had plummeted. Crude oil was pumping out into the ocean and finding its way back into the city by mysterious pathways. Marine life was dying and decomposing.

"So it was true that the rank odors of refuse, vile-smelling fish, dirty water, and sweaty, filthy, rotting bodies filled the air of Kuwait with a pungent and offensive aroma, to say nothing of the later effects of six hundred burning oil fields and children who now took to coughing up soot-laced mucus. The truth of the matter, whether physically tangible or fictional and literary, is the same: occupation seeps into the body. Kuwait smelled differently under Iraqi occupation, and maybe it will never smell the same again."

- Kanan Makiya, Cruelty and Silence (ch. 1)

Saturday, July 24, 2004


Indict is an organization dedicated to documenting the crimes of the Saddam Hussein regime. Check out their website.

Iraq's Tortured Children - BBC, 2002

Saturday, 22 June, 2002, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Iraq's tortured children

By John Sweeney
BBC correspondent in Iraq

The star witness against the government of Iraq hobbled into the room, her legs braced with clumsy metal callipers. "Anna" had been tortured two years ago. She is now four years old.

Her father, Ali, is a thick-set Iraqi who used to work for Saddam's psychopathic son, Uday. Some time after the bungled assassination of Uday, Ali fell under suspicion.

He fled north, to the Kurdish safe haven policed by Western fighter planes, but leaving his wife and daughter behind in Baghdad.

So the secret police came for his wife. Where is he? They tortured her. And when she didn't break, they tortured his daughter.

"When did you last see your father? Has he phoned? Has he been in contact?" They half-crushed the toddler's feet.

Now, she doesn't walk, she hobbles, and Ali fears that Saddam's men have crippled his daughter for life. So Ali talked to us.

I have been to Baghdad a number of times. Being in Iraq is like creeping around inside someone else's migraine. The fear is so omnipresent you could almost eat it. No one talks.

So listening to Ali speak freely was a revelation. He is not exactly a contender to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

He has the heft of an enforcer. He told me that he had tortured for the regime. But I don't think he was lying to us.

'Faked funerals'

Ali talked about the paranoid frenzy that rules Baghdad - the tortures, the killings, the corruption, the crazy gangster violence of Saddam and his two sons.

And the faking of the mass baby funerals.

You may have seen them on TV. Small white coffins parading through the streets of Baghdad on the roofs of taxis, an angry crowd of mourners, condemning Western sanctions for killing the children of Iraq.

They used to collect children's bodies and put them in freezers for two, three or even six or seven months

Usefully, the ages of the dead babies - "three days old", "four days old" - are written in English on the coffins. I wonder who did that.

Ali gave us the inside track on the racket. There aren't enough dead babies around. So the regime stores them for a mass funeral.

He said that he was friends with a taxi driver - he gave his name - whose son had a position in the regime.

Ali continued, he told me that he had to go to Najaf - a town 160km (100 miles) from Baghdad - in order to bring children's bodies from various freezers there, and that the smell was unbearable.

They used to collect children's bodies and put them in freezers for two, three or even six or seven months - God knows - until the smell got unbearable.

Then, they arrange the mass funerals. The logic being, the more dead babies, the better for Saddam. That way, he can weaken public support in the West for sanctions.

That means that parents who have lost a baby can't bury it until the regime says so.

So how could it be that people would put up with this sickening exploitation of grief?

A murder story

Ali told another story. He had seen Uday kill with his own eyes. This was some years ago, before the assassination attempt left Saddam's oldest son half-paralysed and impotent.

Uday's lust is famous in Baghdad. He wanted a woman who played tennis at Baghdad's Sports Club and he and Ali went round to the club.

As Uday was turning into the car park, a tennis ball came over the fence and bounced against the car of the woman he desired.

The tennis player came into the car park to retrieve the ball, apologised to the woman. Maybe there was a bit of flirting - that does happen at tennis courts, even in England.

From his car Uday watched the two of them. Enraged, he took out a wooden cosh and beat the tennis player's brains out.

And then - get this - a few days later, the dead man's relatives apologised to Uday for the distress their son had caused him.

Incredible? I don't think so.

In northern Iraq - the only part of the country where people can speak freely - we met six other witnesses who had direct experience of child torture, including another of Saddam's enforcers - now in a Kurdish prison - who told us that an interrogator could do anything:

"We could make a kebab out of the child if we wanted to." And then he chuckled.

In that environment, with that background noise of fear, it is not impossible to imagine that the government of Iraq could have conned the world, inventing numbers of dead babies that the gullible - and that includes the United Nations - accept as reliable.

While we were in the north of Iraq, the chairman of the Great Britain Iraq Society, Labour MP George Galloway, was in Baghdad.

He popped up on Iraqi TV and bared his soul. "When I hear the word Iraq," he said, "I hear someone calling my name."

I don't. When I hear the word Iraq, I hear a tortured child, screaming.

Iraq's Tortured Children

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Life Under Saddam

from Hammorabi:

Psychological and social crimes of this kind which destroyed the Iraqi society and personality for many generations should be included as one of his major crimes during his trial.

1. Hanging in the public places
2. Charging the families the price of the bullets used to kill their beloved ones. The family have to sign a statement that their son is a traitor and are prevented from mourning the death. (This happened to my grandfather after Saddam's regime executed his two sons. Few days after their execution the security men informed him of the death by requesting the price of the bullets).
3. Using the rat poison to kill the detainees. It happened to my uncle who was only 13 years old.
4. Undercover killings by poisoning food or drink. It happened to many highly educated people e.g. university lecturers etc.
5. He killed his cousin Dr Raji Tikriti after Kuwait invasion by putting him in a cage with 25 starved dogs. The dogs attacked Raji Tikriti in front of Saddam ministers. After few minutes Raji was bones with out meat!
6. They could arrest up to the 6th degree relatives of the detained person for no reason but to make him confess by torturing and humiliating them in front of him. This happened to my father's cousin and his 15 years old son after they arrested his eldest son.
7. Smuggling escaped people from outside Iraq and killing them. This happened to my cousin after they arrested and killed his brother who was only a teenager. His family only discovered that he was killed after the liberation of Iraq in 9th April 2003. Before that they thought that he was in the Europe. He was in fact smuggled from Kuwait when the relations were OK between Saddam and the Kuwaiti government in 1980s and executed by Saddam's Mukhabarat.
8. Putting many prisoners in one small cell as to deprive them from rest and sleep.
9. Using dark and isolated cells deep under ground. The prisoner receives a piece of bread and water or soup through a hole opened once a day.
10. Horror cells by using different ways to horrify the prisoner.
11. Teeth pulling
12. Immersion of the person in a tank filled with strong acid until he or she dissolves away.

Full text at Iraqi Holocaust Files:
Hammorabi: Life Under Saddam

Hammorabi: Rape and Mutilation

from Hammorabi:

Rape and Mutilation

Body mutilation and tattooing were two commonly used punishments by the deposited regime of Saddam.

His son Udy used to have a tool similar to the one used for stamping the animals with a preheated iron stamp for identification.
One day he abducted a young woman from Baghdad and she refused to give herself to his dirt in bed. He then raped her and instructed his body guards to ...

Rape and Mutilation

HRW on Anfal, 1993

The full text of the 1993 Human Rights Watch report on the Anfal campaign may be found here:

IHF: Text of HRW report

Anfal Campaign: Iraqi Kurdistan, 1988

Case Study:
The Anfal Campaign
(Iraqi Kurdistan), 1988


The anti-Kurdish "Anfal" campaign, mounted between February and September 1988 by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, was both genocidal and gendercidal in nature. "Battle-age" men were the primary targets of Anfal, according to Human Rights Watch/Middle East (hereafter, HRW/ME). The organization writes in its book Iraq's Crime of Genocide: "Throughout Iraqi Kurdistan, although women and children vanished in certain clearly defined areas, adult males who were captured disappeared en masse. ... 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.

view full article:
IHF: Anfal 1988

Balisan Valley, 1987

Tuesday May 18, 3:23 PM

Saddam's Kurdish victims eager to provide testimony

By Seb Walker

BALISAN VALLEY, Iraq (Reuters) - In a darkened corner of his modest farmhouse, Aziz Mahmoud removes a pair of dark glasses to reveal a legacy of Saddam Hussein's attempt to control Iraq's rebellious Kurds with chemical weapons.

Mahmoud's eye-sockets are wizened and sightless -- burned by poisonous gas bombs dropped by Iraqi planes on the Balisan valley in northern Iraq in 1987, devastating the population of his tiny mountain village.

He cannot go outside into the daylight without sunglasses and still has difficulty breathing. His mother, sister, and two brothers perished in the attack.

"The jet fighters came in the early evening, bombing our village and the surrounding mountainside so nobody could escape," recalled Mahmoud, now 51.

"The smell was like apples and sulphur, we didn't know what was happening -- I climbed blindly into the mountains to die."

When more than 4,000 Kurds were killed in a similar attack at Halabja a year later, Saddam dismissed accusations of genocide, saying Iranian forces, with whom Iraq was intermittently at war from 1980-88, were the target.

Unlike Halabja, the Balisan valley is far from the Iran border and villagers remember how government forces arrived the next day trying to force people to state in front of TV cameras that the bombs were dropped by Iranian planes.

Injured survivors seeking treatment at hospitals in government-controlled Arbil were taken away by the security forces -- and many were never seen again.

"I didn't go, but the price was losing my eyes," said Mahmoud, adding that 150 men from his village had disappeared in the same way as authorities tried to bury the evidence.

"I am now just living to see the day when those who took my sight are brought to justice."


Kurds from villages in the Balisan valley are being given the opportunity to give testimony to prosecutors gathering evidence for trials of former government figures, and they are buoyed by the prospect.

"Even if it's in Baghdad we are ready to use our own money to go and testify," said Najiba Rasoul, a resident of a neighbouring village who lost several family members, including a young son, when Iraqi planes bombed the area.

"Saddam has to pay for what he did."

According to Kurdish government officials, the Iraq Special Tribunal -- a body set up to organise the trials process -- will soon be opening an office in Arbil where victims can go to present their cases.

Mohammed Ihsan, human rights minister for the Kurdistan regional government and a member of the Tribunal committee, said the Arbil office would serve the whole northern region, although teams of evidence-gatherers would also travel to the provinces.

"Claimants will have to have some kind of documentary evidence that they have been affected," said Ihsan.

"The difficulties are that most people will be highly emotional and will probably also be after some kind of compensation -- which would bankrupt us if we were to follow up every claim."

Ihsan said the new office would open in less than a month -- lawyers and investigative judges are currently being trained in the basics of crimes against humanity -- and trials will be held in Iraqi courts under international supervision.

Halabja is a possible venue for the court, and some news reports have suggested that Ali Hassan Majid -- known as "chemical Ali" for his leading role in chemical weapons attacks against the Kurds -- could be among the first to be tried because of damning evidence immediately available from Kurds.


Kurdish human rights activists say Iraq's Kurdish zone should be of special interest to the tribunal because the area suffered years of relentless persecution under Saddam.

"Evidence and documents we already have will be useful in the trials," said Adalat Saleh, a senior official at the Kurdistan Anfal Victims' Centre, a Kurdish charity working to collect data and witness testimonies from victims of Saddam's Anfal campaign to suppress the minority Kurds.

Saleh said years of relative autonomy for the Kurdish region had allowed human rights groups to investigate crimes perpetrated in the area. She said her organisation was just weeks away from completing a count of complaints from Anfal victims in two of the three Kurdish governorates.

"We've had about 10-15,000 claims so far, some of them for the loss of entire families," Saleh said.

"We're expecting a lot of problems for the tribunal office since huge numbers will come once it's announced in the media."

For Kurds in the Balisan valley, the start of the trial process is something eagerly awaited for years.

In 1991, peshmerga fighter Fakhir Mustafa and some friends collected the huge rusted bomb casings littered around the hillside -- they now stand at the entrance to his village as graphic evidence of the attack.

"We thought that one day it just might be useful," Mustafa said with a smile. "It's not too late to bring Saddam to justice now."

Balisan Valley, 1987

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


I believe this piece was written around 1998, when Northern Iraq (Kurdistan) was under semi-autonomous Kurdish control. Thanks to Dilnareen at KBU for the link.

Steve Platt on Halabja

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"The day we found the mass grave"

Read this very moving first-person account by a US Marine:

Mass Grave

New Site: Iraqi Holocaust Files

For complete information on items referenced here, I've created a second site

Iraqi Holocaust Files

in easy-to-read black-on-white format. The current page (TIH) will continue to feature updates and new items and will serve as a "front page" for IHF. IHF will serve as a resource for fuller documentation.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Amnesty International Report, 2001 - Press Release
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Stop the Torture
AI Index: MDE 14/012/2001 - News Service Nr. 142
Publish date: 15/08/2001

Amnesty International called on the Iraqi authorities to put an end to the systematic torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners and to introduce legislative and practical steps to improve the human rights situation in the country.

In a report published today -- Iraq: Systematic torture of political prisoners -- the organization paints a grim picture of routine torture, whereby horrendous physical and psychological suffering is inflicted upon political prisoners and detainees.

"Victims of torture in Iraq are subjected to a wide range of forms of torture, including the gouging out of eyes, severe beatings and electric shocks," said Amnesty International, based on interviews with hundreds of torture victims in Iraq over the years. "Some victims have died as a result and many have been left with permanent physical and psychological damage."

Other methods of torture include extinguishing of cigarettes on various parts of the body, extraction of finger nails and toenails and piercing of the hands with an electric drill. Some have been sexually abused and others have had objects, including broken bottles, forced into their anus. In addition to physical torture, detainees have been threatened with rape and subjected to mock executions.

Over the years many victims of torture have been Shia Muslims from Baghdad or from Southern Iraq. The fate of al-Shaikh Nazzar Kadhim al-Bahadli, a 29-year-old theology student from Saddam City, a district of Baghdad, is typical. He was arrested in 1999 and was tortured for long periods in the building of Saddam City Security Directorate. His wife, father and mother were reportedly brought to the building in August 1999 and were tortured in front of him to force him to confess to being one of those responsible for the April 1999 disturbances in Saddam City. He was said to have confessed in order to spare his relatives any further torture. They were released following his confession but he was sentenced to death later and executed at the beginning of 2001.

Torture is used against other political opponents and army and security officers suspected of dissidence or involvement in coup attempts. Amnesty International's report also documents torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial executions of women.

A 25-year-old woman known as "Um Haydar" was beheaded in the street without charge or trial at the end of December 2000 after her husband, who was suspected by the authorities of involvement in Islamist armed activities, fled the country. Um Haydar was taken from her house in al-Karrada district, in front of her children and mother-in-law, by men belonging to Fedaiyye Saddam. Two men held her by the arms and a third pulled her head from behind and beheaded her in front of the residents. The beheading was also witnessed by members of the ruling Ba'ath Party in the area. The security men took the body and the head in a plastic bag and took away the children and mother-in-law. Their fate remains unknown.

The report stresses that torture in Iraq is also practised through various judicial punishments, which were introduced in the mid-1990s ostensibly to stem the increase in the crime rate that the Government attributed to the impact of economic sanctions imposed on the country since 1990. These 'judicial punishments,' including amputation of hand and foot, branding of forehead and cutting off of the ears, used to be publicized by the Iraqi media. Such publicity became rarer since the end of 1996, following international condemnation of these punishments.

Amnesty International's recommendations to the Iraqi authorities include renewed calls to ratify and implement fully in domestic law and practice the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; repeal all decrees imposing punishments amounting to torture; set up an independent body to undertake impartial investigations into all allegations of torture and bring to justice anyone responsible for serious violations; and put an end to all extra-judicial executions.

"The systematic torture and climate of fear that have prevailed in Iraq for so many years must be brought to an end," Amnesty International said. "The continuing scale and severity of human suffering must not be allowed to continue."

Read the report: Iraq: Systematic torture of political prisoners:

Source: Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street, WC1X 8DJ, London, United Kingdom

Contact your nearest Amnesty International office for more information
© Copyright 2001
Amnesty International

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Tuesday, July 06, 2004


From Iraq the Model:

I met him in a photo copy office owned by a friend. My friend introduced him to me, his name is Firas Mahmood Ya'koob, a junior resident in Al-Karkh hospital for surgery in Baghdad, a shy young man, holding some photos of men, women, and children. He wanted to make copies of them so
I knew there was a story behind them. I couldn't help asking him about it, he said "I’m from Al-Dujaile". I understood what he meant.
In Saddam's time we used to whisper about Al-Dujaile, we all knew that a massacre happened there, but we didn't dare to ask about the details and I never met any one from there. Now I can know all about it from my new friend and here it is, in his own words:

-"Al-Dujaile is my home town, I always looked at it as god's heaven on earth, it's about 60 kilometers to the north of Baghdad, on the bank of al Ishaki river (a branch of Tigris), inhabited by few thousands, most of whom are farmers, our village is well known by its date palms and grapes, a fascinating nature that takes your breath away, its people are related by strong tribal relations that keep them as one large family.
- Date: 7/8/1982, Saddam decides to visit the village, the Ba’ath party in the region prepared the people to make a big reception, they took us out of the schools(I was 7 years old). They made us line in a row on both sides of the road to wave for him and cheer his name. It never occurred to me that it would be my last day in the childhood world. I was forced to skip that period of my life with such cruelty that I can not explain.
-17 of the finest young men in the village had decided to put an end to the tyrant's life at that day, they had the courage to face him, we didn't know about their intention.
The brave men set an ambush among the palm trees, they couldn't tell which car was his, there were dozens of cars, all identical in model and color.
-The attack starts, the brave young men open fire from their simple weapons, some of the body guards get killed, others wounded, the tyrant get panicked, imagine that (Saddam is afraid) the man who enjoyed terrorizing people lives a moment of fear with all its details, he was so close to death this time.
8 of the attackers were killed, the rest fled out of the country.
(Woe to the sinners) who dared to make him scared, you should fear his revenge, you should learn the lesson so that it won't happen again, you should bow more and more and fear more and more, you should be scared to death so that you don't dare even to think of harming him; the shadow of god on earth.
-The answer was fast, one hour after the escape of the tyrant, we had to face his anger, I heard the sound of helicopters over our heads wreaking their vengeance upon our small village, backed later with shovels that leveled the trees with the ground, the order was clear(the terror should be great) so that the others would learn.
I ran away to my home into my mothers' lap, my younger brother and sisters gathered around me, I realized something huge has happened and anticipated the eminent evil. it didn't take long for the security to get to our house, we were taken to the unknown, me, my mother(who was 4 months pregnant), my sisters Einas(5 years), Zeina(3 years)and my brother Mohammed(1 year).
-The first station in our long journey was Al-Hakimiyah prison that belongs to the intelligence, I found hundreds of my village people, old, young, men, women and children, we were 480 there. Out of whom 80 were relatives of mine.
It was enough to say the word Hakimiyah for any Iraqi to be completely paralyzed(the one who gets in is a missing-the one who gets out is reborn-this was what we used to say about this prison, the walls of which tell thousands of horror stories that you refuse to believe.
I was too young to know why we were treated like that, but I sure knew the meaning of being scared to death. The sound of foot steps that stops by the door was enough for every one to freeze, as after that the door would be opened, a name of one of the men would be announced and he would be dragged to the interrogation room to return few hours later unconscious, covered by blood, wrapped in a blanket, and would be thrown on us.
The women and children had their share, and this is what saw: extraction of nails and teeth, electric shocks, whipping with lashes, using razors to tear the skin into shreds, my aunt was left hanging from the roof after her clothes had been wrapped of her in front of her brothers to force them to talk. Do you know how much pain we suffered? Can you imagine? I doubt it.
We stayed at Al-Hakimiyah for one month, the space was too small for all of us to sleep, some of us had to stay on their feet so that the others could sleep.
-After that we were transferred to Abu-Ghraib prison, where we met the men for the last time, after that, the 143 men separated from us and then transferred to another place, as for the rest of us, we were kept in Abu-Ghraib prison for six months, during that time, the day for my mother to deliver her baby came, she had complications and they didn't take her to the hospital until it was too late, the baby died. my mother never if it was a boy or a girl.
In the prison, 4 people died, my grandfather(Yousif Ya'koob), my uncles wife(Noofa Hasan), the old man(Abdul Wahab Ja'far) and his wife (Sabreya), after that we were transferred to a camp in the desert, near the Iraqi-Saudi borders, 400 kilometers south-west to Baghdad(Leeah camp).
We spent four years there.
Four years in hell, we were isolated from the world, all we could do is stay alive and pray for the men whom their destiny was unknown to us.
We were released in 1986, only for another journey of pain and suffering. We had to start a new life as all our properties were confiscated and we still don’t know anything about the men.
The other good people in our village helped us, offered us jobs in their lands and a place to stay in. I had to work -with my little brother and sisters- to earn our living and to continue with our study. Farming is too hard a job for children of our age, but we had already passed that stage.
It’s hard to explain what life is when you're a suspect with the eyes of security agents following you, stifling your breath, making your life even harder and harder, we had to give them all the pennies we could save to get some information about the missing ones, and they always promised us good news, and that our beloved ones were alive and being treated well. we didn't believe that, but what is life without hope!?
-Sixteen years later...October/2002. I finished medical school and started to practice my job as a doctor in Baghdad. The same year, Saddam suffers a hard time, the USA and the allies tighten the circle around him, he decides to set all prisoners free, including the political. That was what he said, the fact; he released only the murderers and the thieves.
Our cries lost their way trying to find our relatives among the thousands of faces, each time they reassure us that there would be another group to be released the next day, but all our efforts were in vain, we had no one but god to pray to and seek his help to show us the way.
Date: 4/9/2003, I can’t believe it, the tyrant falls, is it a dream?
Does it mean no more fear, no more terror, and no more death? We jumped into the streets wreaking our vengeance on his pictures and statues that surrounded the village he raped in a dark night.
The towns and villages expelled him and expelled his name……..WE WERE SAVED.
I took a deep breath, the air had the scent of freedom, nothing can be more beautiful, it’s difficult to describe, but we were overwhelmed by happiness, with only one distress: where had our beloved ones gone?
We started to search the security departments in Baghdad,- like thousands of Iraqis- looking for a trace, I didn’t take a long time, we found what we were looking for. The documents of the crime, I read with tears in my eyes; the presidency order dated: 7 /23 /1985, signed by the tyrant, ordering the execution of 143 men from Al-Dujaile, the youngest one (Najeeb Abd Kadim) 11 years old. Among these, 35 were relatives of mine.
God bless your souls martyrs, may you have peace in heaven, if it wasn’t your courage and blood we wouldn’t be proud.
This is the story behind these photos, my friend. It’s time they have a decent funeral. We haven’t found their remains yet, but they will always remain in our hearts”

My friend surprised me saying” we don’t regret what happened, and yesterday, when the nine remaining heroes returned to Iraq, we met them with flowers, as the heroes of all the Iraqis, and we will never blame them, as they’re the ones who kept our chins up.”

Iraq the Model: al-Dujail massacre
Saddam Hussein

Introduction: The Iraqi Holocaust

This blog will serve as a reference point for information on atrocities in Ba'athist Iraq under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Readers are strongly encouraged to submit links, documentation, first-person accounts, photographs, books, print articles, and any other relevant information.