An appeal to indict the Saddam regime for genocide (1997)
AN APPEAL TO THE UNITED NATIONS TO INDICT THE HIGHER ECHELONS OF THE IRAQI REGIME FOR CRIMES OF GENOCIDE COMMITTED AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF IRAQI-KURDISTAN
His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, New York.
Members of the Security Council:
Ambassador Juan Somavia (Chile)
Ambassador Qin Huasun (China)
Ambassador Fernando Berrocal Soto (Costa Rica)
Ambassador Dr Nabil A. Elaraby (Egypt)
Ambassador Alain Dejammet (France)
Ambassador Alfredo Lopes Cabral (Guinea-Bissau)
Ambassador Hishashi Owada (Japan)
Ambassador Njuguna M. Maahugu (Kenya)
Ambassador Dr. Z. Bigniew M. Wlosowicz (Poland)
Ambassador Pedro Catarino (Portugal)
Ambassador Park Soo Gil (Republic of Korea)
Ambassador Sergey V. lavrov (Russia)
Ambassador Peter Osvaald (Sweden)
Ambassador Sir John Weston (United Kingdom)
Ambassador Bill Richardson (USA)
The Iraqi regime has perpetrated many crimes against the people of Iraqi Kurdistan, most of them are considered as crimes of genocide as defined in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 9th December, 1948 which was approved by Iraq on 20th January, 1959. Some examples of the criminal acts committed by the Iraqi regime against the Kurdish people during the last three decades are the destruction of the Kurdish villages and the policy of ethnic cleansing, by the mass deportation of the Kurds and the settlement of Arab tribes in their place, public execution, mass murder, internment, the confiscation of property, torture, rape, large-scale disappearances, the systematic humiliation and demoralisation of individuals and groups of people and the use of chemical weapons against the civilian population.
This programme of destruction has been condemned by the international organisations concerned with human rights and especially those which have conducted research into the documents found in the Security Service and Intelligence departments in Kurdistan, after the uprising of March 1991. Several tons of these documents are in the library of the U.S. Congress in Washington.
The Security Council has already condemned the inhuman politics of the Iraqi regime in its Resolution No. 688 of 5th April 1991. The General Assembly of the U.N. has also passed many resolutions concerning the situation of human rights in Iraq, in particular Resolution No. 46/134, of 17th December 1991, Resolution No. 47/145 of 18th December 1992, Resolution No. 48/144 of 20th December 1993 and Resolution No. 49/203 of 23rd December 1994.
The U.N. Commission on Human Rights has also passed resolutions concerning the situation of human rights in Iraq:
1. E/CN. 1991/74, 6th March 1991.
2. E/CN. 1992/71, 5th March 1992.
3. E/CN. 1993/74. 10th March 1993.
4. E/CN. 4/1994/74, 9th March 1994.
5. E/CN. 4/1997/60, 9th March 1997.
The Sub-Commission for the Prevention of Discrimination and the Protection of Minorities also passed the following resolutions on the situation of human rights in Iraq:
1. E/CN. 4/1994/2, E/CN. 4/Sub. 2/1993/520, 20th August 1994.
2. E/CN. 4/1995/2, E/CN. 4/Sub. 2/1994/56, 25th August 1994.
Max van der Stoel, the special reporter for the Commission on Human Rights of the U.N. has submitted many reports which also condemn the Iraqi regime:
1. E/CN. 4/1992/31, 18th February 1992.
2. E/CN. 4/1993/45. 15th February 1993.
3. E/CN. 4/1994/58, 25th February 1994.
4. E/CN. 4/1995/56, 15th February 1995.
5. E/CN. 4/1997/57, 18th February 1997.
We can give here some examples of the criminal acts committed by the Iraqi regime which constitute genocide according to the international conventions:
A. The destruction of thousands of villages and small cities and the murder of their inhabitants.
The Iraqi regime began the destruction of the villages close to the Iranian border at the beginning of 1975, and followed this with the destruction of the villages near the Turkish border, and then those on the plains of Kurdistan which are far from the international border. The inhabitants of these villages and small towns were forced into concentration camps situated near the large cities or main roads. They were built especially for them and lacked even the barest necessities and facilities for basic living. These concentration camps were similar to those built by the Nazis during the Second World War which were administered by the Secret Services.
Those rural areas of Iraqi Kurdistan which were destroyed, represented more than 80% of the Kurdish agricultural land which supplied most of Iraq with food. The area was converted into a military zone "prohibited for security reasons". This operation was at its height during the years of the Anfal campaign. "Anfal" was the code-name given to the regime's policy of eliminating the Kurds and it was carried out in three stages during 1987 and 1988. The legal framework for the Anfal campaign was established in a decree, signed by Saddam Hussein, dated March 29th, 1987, in the name of the Revolutionary Command Council, which is the highest legislative and executive authority in Iraq and is composed of all the most powerful figures of the regime. This decree gave, to Ali Hassan Al-Majid, the cousin of the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, absolute power over all civilian, military and security institutions and the authority to use chemical weapons. The aim of the Anfal campaign was to force the inhabitants of most Kurdish villages in the Governorates of Kirkuk, Sulaimania, Arbil, Duhok and the Kurdish districts in the Governorate of Mosul and Dyala to leave their villages and surrender themselves to the military or Secret Service. Orders were given to clear the area completely. To this end, any person encountered by the forces was to be immediately executed and any who surrendered were to be handed over to the Security Services. Some of the villagers managed to escape to the borders, but most were obliged to surrender. They were later taken to the desert in the south of Iraq where they were killed by machine-gun and buried alive. The number killed in the three Anfal operations is put at 182,000 Kurds. In May 1991, when asked by a Kurdish delegate to the peace negations in Baghdad, Ali Hassan Al-Majid nervously said, " it couldn't have been more than 100,000"!
These Anfal operations and other previous operations from the mid- 1970s resulted in the destruction of 3,839 Kurdish villages, including many Assyrian christian villages. There were, in these destroyed villages, 1757 primary schools and 2457 mosques, many old monasteries and churches and 271 clinics. 219,828 Kurdish and Assyrian families were deported and, in rural Kurdish society, a "family" would include at least five people. The magnitude of this destruction clearly demonstrates the intention of the Iraqi regime to destroy totally the Kurdish entity.
(B) The policy of ethnic cleansing by the Arabization of some regions of Kurdistan.
The Iraqi regime began its policy of ethnic cleansing in the Governorate of Kirkuk when the Ba'athist regime came to power in February 1963. This policy began in the Kirkuk region because of its oil fields and rich farm lands. It became the policy of each succeeding government and has been extended to include the region of Kanakeen (in Dyala Governorate) and Makhmur (in Arbil Governorate) and the Kurdish districts (in Mosul Governorate). It was carried out in a two-fold process, each stage complementing the other.
In the first phase of this process the Kurds were forced to move out of these areas. The second phase was accomplished by bringing thousands of Arab families from central and southern Iraq and settling them in these areas. They were provided with housing and were employed in various installations or in the repressive government machine, such as the military, the intelligence, the security service, the Ba'ath party organisation and the "Popular Army", etc..
Here are some examples of the policy as implemented in the Kirkuk Governorate:
1. The destruction of 13 Kurdish villages near the city of Kirkuk in mid-1963, in particular those near the oil fields.
2. The expulsion of all the Kurds living in 34 Kurdish villages which were under the jurisdiction of the sub-district of Dubz - now Arabized to Al-Dibiss - and the resettling of those villages with Arab tribes.
3. Changing the name of the Kirkuk Governorate to the Arabic "Al- T'ameem" (meaning nationalisation), with the aim of obliterating the name it had held throughout a thousand years of history. At the same time the regime changed the names of the Kurdish quarters, streets and schools to Arabic names and forced the owners of commercial establishments to change the names to Arabic.
4. Between 1970 and 1990, 732 Kurdish villages with their 493 schools, 598 mosques and 40 clinics were destroyed in this Governorate. 37,726 Kurdish families were deported.
5. The city and the surrounding area was converted into a large military camp and fortification. Its historic castle was turned into a military fort.
6. A major step in the process of the Arabization of Kirkuk was the settling of tens of thousands of Arab families, in successive waves, with guaranteed housing and jobs. Parallel to this, the regime announced the grant of a monetary gift or bonus to any Kurd who would leave Kirkuk, in addition to securing housing for him in southern or central Iraq. During this time more than ten new quarters were built in the city for "new Arab settlers". Many new quarters with Arab names were built for these new settlers.
7. All low-ranking civil servants, including Kurdish elementary and secondary school teachers, as well as workers in various government departments and in the oil company facilities, were transferred to areas outside the Kirkuk Governorate and replaced with Arab civil servants and workers.
8. The Kurds were forbidden to sell their homes and properties except to Arabs and were prevented from buying homes and property under any circumstances. The city administration refused to grant any "building permit" or "permit to renovate" to Kurds even if their homes were badly in need of renovation, in order to force them to sell their homes or to abandon them and move out of the city. From the early eighties, this policy was applied to the Turkman minority also.
9. Four out of the seven districts of the Governorate of Kirkuk were detached from it and attached to the neighbouring Governorates, in order to make the Kurds a minority in the Kirkuk Governorate.
Today, tens of thousands of Kurdish families from Kirkuk live in tents and camps in the region controlled by the Kurds in extremely harsh conditions, resulting in the deaths of many, especially among the children and the elderly. For the most part, they depend for their survival on assistance from relief organisations and international aid.
This same policy of deportation continues to this day. In May and June 1997, more than 3000 Kurds were deported from the city of Kirkuk and its environs in preparation for a government census in October 1997. The names of most of these people are in our possession.
In other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan still under the control of the Iraqi regime, the same policy was enforced. Kurds in all these areas were forced to register themselves as Arabs, under the threat of expulsion from these areas if they failed to do so by the time of the Census.
The expelled Kurds wish to return to their homelands in their cities and villages under the protection of the United Nations.
C- The deportation of tens of thousands of Kurdish Shi'ite families to Iran.
In 1971 the regime designated many groups, mainly Shi'ite Kurds living in Baghdad and other cities in central Iraq, as Iranian and deported them to Iran. This operation increased during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980 to 1988. All their personal belongings were confiscated, including their Iraqi nationality papers and passports. Most of these people and many of their parents and grandparents were born in Iraq before the creation of the state of Iraq in 1921. Many of them had completed their national service in Iraq. According to figures supplied by the Red Cross, they numbered about 400,000. They were deported in a most inhuman way. Taken by the Security Services to the Iranian border, they were forced to walk many miles in the cold weather, without food, during the war between Iraq and Iran. Their journey took several days and some were killed in the crossfire between the warring factions or by land- mines. In addition to children and old people there were, among them, pregnant women and physically and mentally disabled people.
The Iraqi authorities incarcerated more than 4,000 young people from among these deportees and, to this day, their families have no knowledge of their whereabouts as the Iraqi authorities did not give their names to the Red Cross or to any other organisation. Their families desperately wish to know what has happened to their children.
Some of these deportees now live in Europe and elsewhere as refugees, but most remain in Iran, living in abject poverty and considered neither as refugees in Iran nor as Iranian but as "Iraqi"! These people also wish to return to the land of their birth and to be compensated for their loss.
D. The use of chemical weapons on the Kurdish city of Halabja.
On 17th March, 1988, the city of Halabja, originally with a population of 70,000, was bombarded with cyanide, mustard gas and nerve gas by Iraqi military aircraft. The result was the death of more than 5000 civilians, mostly women, children and the elderly. About 10,000 more were injured and the bombardment devastated the entire area. No life remained. This was the first time in history that a government had used chemical weapons against its own civilian citizens.
In reality, the city of Halabja was not the only place on which chemical weapons were used by the Iraqi regime. Before this incident, many beautiful Kurdish villages in the sub-district of Aghjalar in Kirkuk Governorate, in the sub-district of Karadagh in Sulaimania Governorate, the valley of Balissan in Arbil Governorate and other villages in Duhok Governorate were also attacked. But the attack on a large city such as Halabja, under the direct orders of Saddam Hussein and without condemnation by the international community, encouraged the further use of chemical weapons in the mid-1990s against the marsh Arabs of southern Iraq.
In this criminal way the regime continued to kill hundreds of Kurdish Peshmerga (fighters), on many occasions when there was a general amnesty in force and they had surrendered their weapons. Hundreds of other young Kurds were tortured to death or killed after appearing before a formal tribunal. Some of them were children under fifteen years of age. After the uprising of March 1991, many mass graves were discovered near the cities of Arbil and Sulaimania where the corpses of whole family groups, including children, were found.
We consider these crimes to be genocide, committed deliberately by the Iraqi regime throughout three decades, in an attempt to eliminate more than four million Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan.
It was not only the Kurds who suffered at the hands of the regime. A great many Iraqis were subjected to a campaign of torture and mass execution, especially following the uprising of March 1991 in the Shi'ite cities and marshes of southern Iraq. During the Iran-Iraq war 1980-1988, chemical weapons were used extensively against Iranian military targets, and Iranian cities were regularly bombarded with artillery, aircraft and ballistic missiles not aimed at specific military targets. Later, on August 2, 1990, the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait in direct violation of Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter. The regime's obvious intention was the destruction of the sovereignty of the Kuwaiti state.
The perpetrators of all these crimes must be punished by the international community as were those of Nazi Germany, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, etc..
We appeal to the Security Council to create an international tribunal, or to extend the competence of the existing War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, to bring the "higher echelons" of the Iraqi regime to justice.
1. The National Union of Teachers in Kurdistan.
2. The Farmworkers Union of Kurdistan.
3. The Artists Union of Kurdistan.
4. The Photographers Union of Kurdistan.
5. The Union of Agricultural Workers of Kurdistan.
6. The General Workers Union of Kurdistan.
7. The Engineering Union of Kurdistan.
8. The Association of the Clergy in Kurdistan.
9. The Association of Lawyers in Kurdistan.
10. The Association of Economists in Kurdistan.
11. The Association of Technical Engineers.
12. The Students' Union of Kurdistan.
13. The Association of Sociologists in Kurdistan.
14. The Association of War Veterans.
15. The Association of Cultural Workers.
16. The Organisation for Child Welfare in Kurdistan.
17. The Organisation for Graduates in Law in Kurdistan.
18. The Union of Veterinary Surgeons.
19. The Union of Doctors of Medicine.
20. The Union of Chemists and Pharmacists.
21. The Centre for the Care and Protection of Orphans.
22. The Christian Centre of Kurdistan.
23. The Association of Retired Workers.
24. The Union of Geologists.
25. The Union of Nurses and Ancillary Staff.
26. The Civil Service Union.
27. The Union of Working Women.
28. The Union of `Women Social Democrats in Kurdistan.
29. The Women's' Union of Kurdistan.
30. The Kurdistan Islamic Sisters Union.
31. The Salah Hawramy's Cultural Centre in Kurdistan.
32. The Democratic Youth Union in Kurdistan.
33. The Kurdistan Socialist Democracy Student and Youth Union.
34. The Union of Students of Zahmatkeshan of Kurdistan.
35. The Union of Women of Zahmatkeshan of Kurdistan.
36. The Social and Cultural Association of the Governorate of Kirkuk.
37. Ezidi's Centre Abroad.
38. The Labour Party for Independent Kurdistan - European Section.
39. The Kurdish Human Rights Organisation - Sweden.
40. SKKMR - Sweden.
41. The Islamic Union of Kurdistan - British Section.
42. The Kurdish Information Centre - London.
43. The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights`- New York.
44. The Kurdish Organisation for Human Rights - U.K.
Kurdish Organisation for Human Rights - UK
London, September 18, 1997