Five bod­ies found in mass grave in Er­bil

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By Salih Wal­ad­bagi

There are ev­i­dences of tor­ture on the bod­ies. Three of them shot dead in the head. The Iraqi gov­ern­ment has to fi­nan­cially and psy­cho­log­i­cally in fu­ture com­pen­sate the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims. Of­fi­cial sources from the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment’s (KRG) Min­istry of Mar­tyrs and An­fal Af­fairs an­nounced on Mon­day June 3 in Er­bil, the cap­i­tal of the au­ton­o­mous Kur­dis­tan re­gion in north Iraq, ex­ca­vat­ing the re­mains of a mass grave, in­clud­ing five bod­ies, in a ceme­tery known as “Asphalt Plant”. The date of killing the vic­tims goes back to end of the 80s of the last cen­tury.

The KRG’s Min­is­ter of Mar­tyrs, Aram Ahmed, told Kur­dish me­dia out­lets that: “Five re­mains out of six have so far found. There are ev­i­dences that they were ex­e­cuted by the Iraqi for­mer regime’s North Se­cu­rity Of­fice in Er­bil. There are also indi­ca­tions that they were tor­tured be­fore shot to death and be­ing ex­e­cuted. The re­mains go back to 1988.”

The vic­tims had been iden­ti­fied, the min­is­ter said, by their clothes and the bod­ies will be sent to foren­sic in­sti­tu­tion to take sam­ple from their buns and DNA.

“Out of the five bod­ies, three were shot dead in the head. The ex­ca­vat­ing team will con­tinue seek­ing more re­mains.”

The re­mains were found af­ter two days of non­stop work­ing in a drilling op­er­a­tion launched by a joint team which in­cluded the Iraqi Fed­eral Min­istry of Hu­man Rights, the KRG’s Min­istry of Mar­tyrs and An­fal Af­fairs as well as the Fed­eral and Re­gional Min­istries of Health. The ini­ti­ated drilling process su­per­vised by the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee on Miss­ing Per­sons (ICMP).

The process of dig­ging out the mass graves and iden­ti­fy­ing the vic­tims, might take decades and it is be­cause of its scope and dif­fi­cult ter­rain that in­cludes landmines and un­ex­ploded or­di­nance, re­quires a highly ex­pe­ri­enced per­son­nel that does not ex­ist in Iraq.

The bod­ies are be­lieved to be the Pa­tri­otic Union of Kur­dis­tan’s (PUK) mem­bers. Son of one of the vic­tims said that the fam­i­lies of the dead peo­ple in­formed the min­istry about the grave. He added that they knew of the grave since a long time and they uncovered it in 1992 but they could not iden­tify the bod­ies.

It is ex­pected that the mass grave will be reg­is­tered in Iraq’s Supreme Court as one of the crimes com­mit­ted by the Iraqi for­mer regime against the Kur­dish peo­ple.

“Un­cov­er­ing such mass graves is in­ter­na­tion­ally very sig­nif­i­cant. The gov­ern­ment has to strug­gle to rec­og­nize such crimes in the in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions in or­der not to be re­peated once again,” the Min­is­ter said.

Par­win Nuri, a mem­ber of the joint team, said that on the first day of ini­ti­at­ing the drilling process the team found some ev­i­dences that there might be more mass graves nearby.

A mem­ber of the team, which was from the Iraqi Min­istry of Hu­man Rights, said that the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims have to be fi­nan­cially and psy­cho­log­i­cally com­pen­sated.

A PUK of­fi­cial in Er­bil said that the vic­tims were his party’s mem­bers and they were in charge of or­ga­niz­ing the PUK’s po­lit­i­cal se­cret ac­tiv­i­ties at that time. He said the bod­ies be­long to each ““Mohsen al-Khayat, Mo­hammed Jawhar , Nour­d­dine , Tahsin Darkala and Has­san Abu Sh­wareb.”

The Iraqi for­mer bru­tal regime was ac­cused of mur­der­ing hun­dreds of thou­sand Iraqis, es­pe­cially the Kurds and Shi­ites, dur­ing its rule, last­ing for ap­prox­i­mately three con­sec­u­tive decades. Many of whom were buried in mass graves, while, part of them have so far not found.

Sad­dam Hus­sein’s regime launched eight bru­tal cam­paigns un­der the name of “An­fal” against the Kur­dish peo­ple. It be­gun in 1987 and ended in 1988. The num­ber of the peo­ple mur­dered in the cam­paigns is es­ti­mated to be around 180,000. The regime also de­struc­ted about 3,000 Kur­dish vil­lages dur­ing the cam­paign. More than ten thou­sands of peo­ple dis­placed from their houses too.

Two mem­bers of the joint Iraqi and Kur­dish team from the Min­is­ter­ies of Hu­man Rights un­cover a mass grave, which in­cluded five bod­ies of the Pa­tri­otic Union of Kur­dis­tan (PUK) mem­bers killed by the for­mer Iraqi regime of Sad­dam Hus­sein in the 80s of the last cen­tury, in Er­bil, cap­i­tal of the au­ton­o­mous Kur­dis­tan Re­gion on Tues­day June 4.

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