Conflict

People in Iraq's Salahuddin Province commemorate anniversary of Speicher Massacre

Iraq

Four years after the Speicher Massacre was committed by ISIS leaving over 1700 cadets dead, the families of the cadets demand further information about their loved ones. Some families have not received their loved ones bodies in order for them to conduct a proper funeral.

Families who lost loved ones in the Speicher Massacre in Tikrit in 2014 are still waiting for solace and closure as they still search for answers regarding the bodies of their loved ones.

The 12th of June 2018 marked the fourth anniversary of the massacre that ISIS and its tribal allies had committed against over 1,700 Shi’a air force cadets in the Speicher Base in Tikrit. Survivors of the massacre claimed that ISIS separated the Shi’a and Sunni cadets before slaughtering the 1700 cadets.

The bodies of the cadets were either tossed into the river or buried in mass graves, resulting in many bodies still undiscovered four years later.

As of late 2017, over 15 mass graves had been found in Tikrit that contained the bodies of over 1150 cadets.

“4 years ago and my father is missing. Bring him back to me whether he is dead or alive,” said a young girl whose father went missing after ISIS’ attack on the base.

Despite the massacre occurring over four years ago, the Iraqi Government has not done a thorough excavation and investigation of the area, which has now become a shrine for families to visit every year.

Families are still seeking justice against those who caused the death of the 1,700 cadets.
“We have come to pay tribute to this painful anniversary and demand the State to punish those who caused the deaths of our children,” said a father of one of the victims. “We don’t want rights or anything. We don’t even want them alive. We just want their bodies. The government is not doing what’s necessary, and it has left us.”
After the liberation of Tikrit in April 2015, the Iraqi Government was able to arrest ISIS militants that were accused of participating in the crime.  After pressure from families, the government executed 36 ISIS militants charged with participating in the massacre.

Recently, the French authorities arrested an immigrant who after interrogation was accused of participating in mass murder including in the Speicher Massacre before leaving Tikrit. Earlier this week Iraq’s Interpol representative demanded that France extradite the member to Iraq to face justice. However, the decision as to his fate has not yet been decided.

Despite the Iraqi Government showing interest in punishing participants in the massacre, many families have not yet received death certificates for their loved ones and as a result have not been able to receive a soldier or martyr salary to cover their basic needs.

“I would like the Iraqi Government to look at our situation and care for us. I did not find my son, and I could not find his remains, not a single bone,” said a grieving mother.

The remembrance of the massacre was not limited to families visiting the Speicher Base and the Republican Palace where the cadets were executed. Iraqi observers and activists took to Twitter to remember the fallen cadets. However, many noted that unlike previous years, this year Iraq commemorates the cadets while being free of ISIS.