WKI Press Release
June 26, 2007
Washington, D.C. – The President of Washington Kurdish Institute, Dr. Najmaldin Karim, commended the conviction of Ali Hassan al-Majid on June 24, 2007 for the genocidal crimes of the ‘Anfal’ campaign against the Kurdish people. Al-Majid, known commonly as ‘Chemical Ali’ for his use of chemical weapons against civilians, is a kinsman of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Dr Karim said: “The Iraqi Special Tribunal clearly decided that the ‘Anfal’ was a genocide according to the internationally accepted definition of the 1951 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to which Iraq, and over 100 other states, is a party. There is no statute of limitations on this crime. The overthrow of the Ba’thist regime was a belated act of justice that made the Iraqi Special Tribunal possible. People of conscience will welcome this verdict and remember with shame the silence of the world while this crime was being committed.”
Dr. Karim noted that: “While justice has been done, it is not full justice. It is a shame that Saddam Hussein, the engine of Iraq’s totalitarian murder machine, hanged without being held accountable for his role in the ‘Anfal.’ We commend the Iraqi authorities for their change in attitude to these trials.”
According to Dr. Karim: “Official recognition that the ‘Anfal’ was a genocide is long overdue. It is shameful that leading media outlets and academic institutions dismissed Kurdish reports of persecution as exaggerated or even denied Iraqi responsibility for the crime of Halabja. We thank those who stood by us. A leading role in studying the ‘Anfal’ was taken by Physicians for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch, which in 1993 published its path breaking report, Genocide in Iraq: the Anfal campaign against the Kurds. Now is the time for a full study of the ‘Anfal.’ I hope that American institutions will lead this effort.”
Dr. Karim concluded by calling for restitution and support for Iraqi Kurdistan: “Now is the time for full reparations to the people of Iraqi Kurdistan for the crimes of the Ba’thist regime. Those who profited from the regime, at home and abroad, should now assist the victims and help to rehabilitate Iraqi Kurdistan. The democracies of the world should unite in their efforts to enable Iraqi Kurdistan to develop into the decent, tolerant, democratic society that its citizens yearn for. To ensure that this crime is never committed again, we must learn from the past and build for the future.”
Background on the ‘Anfal’
Named after a sura of the Quran, the ‘Anfal’ was campaign of genocide in which the Ba’thist regime sought to exterminate Kurds across large swathes of Iraqi Kurdistan. The regime systematically destroyed towns and villages, murdering the inhabitants or deporting them to mujammat (concentration areas). Thousands upon thousands were either murdered on the spot or driven in trucks to unmarked graves where they were lined up and shot. The murderers used bulldozers to fill in the graves, burying the wounded alive as they lay with the dead.
Torture was systematic and the regime repeatedly used chemical weapons against civilians. In addition to the 5,000 civilians murdered at Halabja by chemical weapons in March 1988, thousands of others were killed in smaller attacks in the Kurdish countryside. The final death toll from the ‘Anfal’ is unknown. The regime destroyed 4,500 villages with a population of 182,000 persons. Many thousands have suffered physical and mental disability from the trauma of torture, deportation and exposure to chemical weapons.