Barzani mas­sacre still ef­fec­tive on vic­tims

“Iraq has as many mass graves as oil wells. I hope the time ded­i­cated for seek­ing oil is also ded­i­cated for seek­ing the mass graves,”

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By Zakaria Muhammed

Thirty years af­ter con­duct­ing An­fal cam­paign against mem­bers of Barzani tribe, the vic­tims of the mas­sacre are still suf­fer­ing as they can’t for­get the loss of 8000 of their fam­ily mem­bers.

In 1983, over 8,000 Kur­dish men and boys of the Barzani tribe, some as young as 13, were killed by the pre­vi­ous regime in a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to rid the Kur­dish com­mu­ni­ties of adult males of mil­i­tary ser­vice age.

Thirty years af­ter con­duct­ing An­fal cam­paign against mem­bers of Barzani tribe, the vic­tims of the mas­sacre are still suf­fer­ing as they can’t for­get the loss of 8000 of their fam­ily mem­bers.

In 1983, over 8,000 Kur­dish men and boys of the Barzani tribe, some as young as 13, were killed by the pre­vi­ous regime in a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to rid the Kur­dish com­mu­ni­ties of adult males of mil­i­tary ser­vice age.

Killing 8000 Kur­dish men and boys of the Barzani tribe was con­ducted un­der a cam­paign named An­fal. The An­fal Cam­paign also known as the Kur­dish Geno­cide was geno­ci­dal cam­paign against the Kur­dish peo­ple.

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 govern­ment for a series of sys­tem­atic at­tacks against the Kur­dish pop­u­la­tion con­ducted be­tween 1980s.

The man for­merly in charge of the Barzani cases at the Iraqi Supreme Court, Judge Aso Mo­hammed Sofy, said the cam­paign started with the trans­fer of the Barzani tribe mem­bers from the Kur­dish cities to the south­ern cities of Iraq in 1975. Peo­ple lived in very bad con­di­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to Sofy, 2 225 adult males aged 13-90 were killed and put in a mass grave. “I have doc­u­ments that prove not one of those killed was tried legally. Al­though the for­mer regime claimed that 16 courts dealt with the cases, these were imag­i­nary and the peo­ple were al­ready killed when the for­mer regime claimed they were tried,” di­vulged Sofy

The women and chil­dren the killed men left be­hind suf­fered ter­ri­bly, as they were de­prived of even the sim­plest ser­vices.

Now, af­ter 30 years, they are still wait­ing for the re­mains of their dead to be re­turned to them. Ev­ery now and then, a mass grave gets dis­cov­ered full of the bones of mas­sa­cred mem­bers of the Barzani tribe. Some of the mass graves have still to be dis­cov­ered.

“Iraq has as many mass graves as oil wells. The Iraqi fed­eral govern­ment and Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Govern­ment need to work hard in or­der to find the mass graves. I hope the time ded­i­cated to the search for oil will also be ded­i­cated to seek­ing the mass graves,” said Sofy.

Al­though the Kur­dish govern­ment has done many good things for the vic­tims of the Barzani Mas­sacre, the psy­chol­ogy of the fam­i­lies they left be­hind is still far from good. For­tu­nately, they are no longer ig­nored, and re­ceive fi­nan­cial sup­port from the govern­ment. As Sofy says: “The sor­row of the mas­sacre can never be for­got­ten. I know girls who were en­gaged to boys killed in the mas­sacre of 1983 who re­main un­mar­ried and are still wait­ing for their fi­ancés to reap­pear.”

Al­though the Supreme Iraqi Crim­i­nal Tri­bunal has al­ready ruled that the killing of Kur­dish men from the Barzani tribe by the Baath regime in the 1980s was an act of geno­cide and a crime against hu­man­ity, the vic­tims have not yet been com­pen­sated.

Based on the Con­ven­tion for the Pre­ven­tion and Pun­ish­ment of the Crime of Geno­cide which was adopted by the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly on 9 De­cem­ber 1948 and en­tered into force on 12 Jan­uary 1951, the Barzani fam­ily killings is a crime against hu­man­ity and can be con­sid­ered to be geno­cide. This made the Iraqi Fed­eral Court to rec­og­nize the crime as geno­cide.

Sofy said that the cur­rent Iraqi govern­ment is legally obliged to apol­o­gize to the vic­tims and to fi­nan­cially com­pen­sate them.

The Kur­dish Govern­ment and many NGOs have been work­ing hard to dis­cuss the is­sue in par­lia­ments out­side Iraq. Sofy is op­ti­mistic that the Barzani Mas­sacre will be rec­og­nized in­ter­na­tion­ally as geno­cide.

The geno­cide of Kurds from the Barzani tribe is re­mem­bered an­nu­ally. The event was com­mem­o­rated in the Barzan area last week at an event at­tended by the Pres­i­dent of Kur­dis­tan, Ma­soud Barzani and a num­ber of am­bas­sadors and of­fi­cials from other coun­tries.

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