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Prime Minister Barzani: Iraqi government must compensate families of Anfal genocide victims

SUN, 2 SEP 2018 18:46 | KRG Cabinet

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) - Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, attended the 30th anniversary of the Anfal genocidal campaign against the people of Kurdistan in Duhok and the burial of 13 Anfal victims’ remains.

In a speech, he called on the Iraqi government to meet its constitutional obligations towards the families of Anfal campaign victims.

He said, “The Parliament and Government of Iraq should support the decision of the Iraqi Supreme Criminal Court that considered the Anfal campaign as genocide, a crime against humanity and a war crime. This particular court decision and Iraqi Constitution Article 132 obliges the Iraqi government to compensate areas that were targeted in the Anfal campaign.”

In 1988, hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraqi Kurdistan were subject to a brutal campaign of extermination, the use of chemical weapon and forced displacement by the former Iraqi Baath regime.

Below is the text of Prime Minister Barzani’s speech:

Ladies and Gentlemen
Dear families of Anfal genocide victims
Dear people of Behdinan,

Today, we mark the tragedy of the brutal Anfal genocide in Nizarke 30 years ago. Fathers were tortured and killed before their own children, family members were forcibly separated from each other and then disappeared. Today, we ask where are the criminals? They are in the dustbin of history, and Behdinan and all of Duhok are free and prosperous.

We are here to commemorate the loss of thousands of lives. In August 1988, they became victims of one of the cruelest atrocities committed against humanity. After the Iraq-Iran War ended in 1988, from the 25th of August to the 6th of September five Iraqi military corps implemented the biggest military operation against the people of Behdinan. They spared no one from the operation. It covered areas from Duhok to Zakho, Amedi, and Sheikhan. The operation targeted Muslims, Yezidis, and Christians.

The Anfal genocide of Behdinan - the last stage of the “Anfal Campaign” - covered a wide area. 620 villages were attacked. Crimes against humanity and war crimes were committed against civilians. Chemical weapons were used in 70 locations. In some areas, people were executed by firing squads. Nearly 25,000 families were forcibly displaced. Some sought refuge in Turkey while others were forcibly relocated to Jezhnikan and Behirka near the city of Erbil.

The loyal people of Erbil demonstrated their honour, patriotism, and humanity by providing displaced people in Jeznikan and Behirka with all they could offer. This will be always remembered with profound appreciation. On this anniversary, I extend my appreciation to the people of Erbil, Jezhnikan, and Behirka and the surrounding areas, and to the Kurdistan diaspora in Europe who drew attention of the world to this despicable crime.

Thousands of victims were martyred and the remains of too many have not been found. Medical examination is in progress of the remains of twenty-one victims found in a mass grave in Erbil. To identify the remains, I call upon families to cooperate and collaborate in carrying out blood and DNA tests for proper and dignified burial. Today, on this occasion we lay to rest the remains of thirteen martyrs of the Anfal genocide of Behdinan area found in a mass grave.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The campaigns of persecution, from killing and expelling Faili Kurds to the genocide of Barzanis, the chemical attack on Halabja, the Anfal operations of Germiyan, Khoshnawati, and Behdinan areas and the masskilling of Yezidis, are all the products of one mindset. It is a mindset that cannot tolerate coexistence, forgivingness, and the rich diversity of faiths and ethnicities. Along with the courage of the Peshmerga, the people of Kurdistan have stood strong and will always remain together with all their faiths and ethnicities through perseverance and struggle.

The injustice of all the attacks carried out by enemies of our nation could not destroy the people of Kurdistan with its coexistence and ethnic and religious diversity. The people of Kurdistan have proved to be a peace-loving and friendly nation. With peace, security, and coexistence, no force or weapon can break our nation apart.

The beloved and colourful Behdinan, the Behdinan of coexistence, the Behdinan that always abides by law and respects the high values of our nation, the Behdinan that always defends and perseveres. The Behdinan whose arms have always been open to all who have come. The Behdinan of heroes and martyrs. The epitome of coexistence, peace-seeking, and life loving of the Kurdistan nation.

Today, the first of September, is the day of world peace. It coincides with commemorating one of the largest atrocities committed against the Kurdistan nation and humanity. As we commemorate the crimes committed against our nation, we send our wishes for peace and coexistence to the world. We are a peace-seeking nation. We want to live on our land freely, and coexist with others.

On this international day of peace, we reassure everyone that the Kurdistan Region will remain a place of coexistence and peace. The message of the Kurdistan Regional Government to the relatives of the victims of the Anfal genocide campaign and all people of the Kurdistan Region is that coexistence will continue.

On this occasion, I would like to remind the Iraqi government to commit itself to all constitutional, legal, and moral obligations towards the relatives and victims of the Anfal genocide campaign with moral and financial support. The Government of Iraq should compensate them. The Parliament and Government of Iraq should support the decision of the Iraqi Supreme Criminal Court that considered the Anfal campaign as genocide, a crime against humanity and a war crime.

This particular court decision and Iraqi Constitution Article 132 oblige the Iraqi government to compensate areas that were targeted in the Anfal campaign. In addition, it should provide a means of living for the victims’ families. Until now, however, the Iraqi government has neither met its obligations in accordance with the court’s decisions nor has it provided anything towards the Kurdistan Region pursuant to Article 132.

The Iraqi government and the Iraqi parliament should seriously consider this responsibility and compensate the people and victims with financial and emotional support. This should be a main topic when the Kurdistan delegation discusses the formation of the next Iraqi government. In addition, this should be one of the main priorities for the Kurdistan representatives in the next Iraqi parliament.

Dear beloved relatives of Anfal campaign victims

The KRG is well aware of your situation. Serving you is one of the main priorities of the KRG. Designating one ministry for the affairs of martyrs and Anfal victims shows the KRG’s eagerness to support your lives and future. Until now, the KRG has done all it could to support you. We know, however, there still are many things to be done. In other words, whatever has been done for you is less than what you deserve, because you deserve all and every service.

I would like to reassure you that the KRG would do whatever is in its capability. We are in continuous contact with the Iraqi government for your just compensation. After the decision of the Iraqi parliament for unifying the rights and benefits of Anfal with Iraqi beneficiaries, a ministerial committee has been formed to pursue this matter with Baghdad. I hope they will reach a positive result for the relatives of martyrs and victims.

On the international level, more work is needed so that the brutal Anfal crimes -chemical attacks, persecution, disappearance of hundreds of thousand of people of Kurdistan- are considered as genocide. In the case our Yezidi people, the KRG will strive for their case to be treated as genocide by international courts so that such crimes will be prevented from happening again.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The people of Behdinan,

I sometimes hear that Duhok or Behdinan has been neglected. Duhok or Behdinan area has always been a strong front against our enemies and it will always be a strong front that bolsters our confidence. I reassure you that Duhok and Behdinan are always in our hearts. I reassure you that difficult days are over and a better future is ahead of us. Your stance during hard times will never be forgotten. The determination and endurance of you and other cities of the Kurdistan Region will pave the way for a better future.

We are going through a delicate and sensitive period. The only way to a better future and prosperity is through unity. We have the right to defend our case, we are ready for any scenario, and we shall prevail just as we prevailed before. We prefer to solve our issues in a peaceful manner through dialogue. We deem this as the best method for solving our issues. At the same time, however, we are ready to defend our achievements. We are strong together and we will stay together.

In the end, I salute the brave souls of our fallen Peshmerga.

Thank you.