A mass grave dating back to 1988 has been uncovered in Samawah, Iraq, as Kurds finally discover the fate of family members who perished during the Anfal massacre.
A mass grave has been discovered in the area of Shiekhiya in Muthanna Province in southern Iraq that contains the bodies of over 70 people, many of whom are women and infants. According to the specialist committee that exhumed the bodies, the victims found in the mass grave belonged to the Feyli Kurd community in Iraq that was persecuted by the Saddam regime. The Feyli Kurd community is a majority Shi’a Kurdish community that live across Iraq but centre mostly around Baghdad and Wasit Provinces.
Farhad Rashd, a young Kurdish man, came down to the southern Iraqi Province in the hope of finding the remains of his family members who went missing during the Saddam regime’s Anfal Campaign, which targeted the country’s Kurdish community during the last few years of the Iraq-Iran war. The campaign, which is now recognised as a genocide by many countries, used chemical weapons, aerial bombardment and destruction of villages to oppress the residents of northern Iraq.
“I am a member of a family that was killed in the Anfal operations. My mother and father were killed, and I am the only survivor,” said Farhad. “These are my parents, my relatives, my brothers, my family, and the people of my region.”
According to the director of the forensics department responsible for identifying the bodies discovered in the grave, Dr Zaid Ali Abbas, most of the victims were shot by the regime’s forces and then buried together, with the youngest victim being less than a year old.
As a result of this discovery, political figures across Iraq have called on the Iraqi Government to expose the previous regime’s crimes by sending special reports to international and human rights organisations documenting the atrocities committed by Saddam’s administration.
“We call on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Human Rights Commission to raise this issue to the United Nations and international organisations to inspect these crimes committed by the Baathist regime and the regime of Saddam Hussein,” said Kadhim Awda the deputy director of the Martyrs Affairs Foundation in Iraq.
Since the fall of the previous regime in 2003, dozens of mass graves have been discovered throughout the country. Furthermore, following the invasion of ISIS in 2017, the militant group left many more mass graves in Iraq, borrowing this cruel technique from the Saddam regime.
Following the defeat of ISIS, the United Nations launched a special committee to documents the crimes of the militant group to prosecute those responsible while honouring the victims. Families of the victims of the Saddam regime say that a similar committee should be created to document Saddam’s crimes.