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Genocide of 8,000 Barzanis remembered 36 years on

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Genocide of 8,000 Barzanis remembered 36 years on

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:44 pm

Barzan genocide remembered 36 years on

The killing of an estimated 8,000 Barzani men and boys at the hands of the Baath regime was remembered in a ceremony on Wednesday in Barzan, Erbil Province

Thirty-six years on, memories prove fresh for those who survive with Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani telling attendees including diplomats and governmental officials the atrocities are "all means genocide."

In an act of collective punishment for the leadership of some Barzanis in the Kurdish resistance movement, nearly 3,000 families from the Barzan confederation of tribes were forcefully re-settled from 1978 to 1982 from their homes in Barzan to Harir, Qushtapa, and elsewhere, living under the surveillance of Iraqi soldiers.

Majid Faqe, now aged 54, was a young man at the time of the genocide.

Thirty-three years since leaving Qushtapa, around 15 kilometers from Erbil, he has returned to the “cursed” house in which his family had been forcefully re-settled.

“I have come back here to remember my brothers, family, my relatives. My heart is on fire when I come here and remember [them].”

On July 31, 1983, 2,225 Barzani men and boys were rounded up in Qushtapa. They were never to be seen again.

Among them were Faqe and 33 members of his family, including three uncles, a brother, and a cousin.

The selection process was indiscriminate, he said, with everyone from boys as young as nine to elderly men taken away.

“I was 13 to 14 years old [when rounded up], and my brother was younger, but they took him too.”

On a now defunct bridge once used by Iraq military vehicles to transport Barzanis to their death, Faqe recounts how the vehicle he had been loaded into broke down.

With the soldiers focused on fixing the vehicle, he managed to flee, saving himself from the fate that awaited him. He hid in a nearby ditch for four hours.

The remains of those found in mass graves in the deserts of southern Iraq – 503 in 2005, and 93 in 2014, a fraction of those believed to have been killed - have been laid to rest in Barzan. Their gravestones lie unmarked, with no DNA testing of their remains having taken place.

A ceremony to commemorate the 36th anniversary of the genocide will take place at the cemetery on Wednesday.

While commemoration usually has a specific focus on the massacre in Barzan, this year’s ceremony is set to be of a broader scope, marking the massacres of other Kurds - including those from Badinan, Halabja and Garmiyan - in the same era.

"It [the ceremony] will be different from last year," Rebwar Ramadhan, ceremony organizer and head of the Anfal Museum in Barzan, told Rudaw.

Families of victims from Halabja, Badinan and Garmiyan will receive local, national and international officials – including, it is hoped, Nechirvan and Masrour Barzani, president and prime minister of the Kurdistan Region respectively, and current Iraqi president Barham Salih.

"We wanted for there to be unity among the families of the victims of Kurdistan, irrespective of differences in opinion. We wanted to unite the Kurdish house," Ramadhan added.

With staff from the US consulate general among the expected attendees, Ramadhan repeats the calls made to have the extent of the massacre recognized.

"We have called on the US consul general to have the Anfal [genocide] of Barzanis, Garmiyan, Feylis and Yezidis be recognized internationally as genocide," he said.

'By all means a genocide'

Nechirvan Barzani, now the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, spoke of the event to remember the genocide. It was attended by survivors, relatives, locals, government officials, and diplomats.

"Kurds were massacred en masse during Anfal for being Kurdish and patriotic," President Nechirvan Barzani said wearing his family's red traditional tightly-wrapped head scarf, called a 'jamana.'

Of the 8,000 bodies, only 596 have been returned to Barzan, according to Nechirvan Barzani, and "buried in the sacred land of Kurdistan."

"The whole Kurdish nation mourns the discovery of any mass grave or the exhumation of anybody because the mechanism of the martyrdom of Kurds and mass killing them was very unprecedented in the contemporary history of the world," he said.

Exhumations of suspected mass graves are being conducted this month in Iraq's southern Muthana province.

"It has been a few days that we have been focused on the deserts of Iraq. We eye the village of Shekhul Bada near Nugra Salman where the remains of 75 Kurds massacred during Anfal which have been discovered," he said. "They are all women and children and the scenes are very heartbreaking. Infants are discovered who appeared to have been embraced by their mothers as they were shot...

"A woman surrounded by five little kids who were all shot dead has been discovered."

During the Anfal campaign as many as 2,225 Barzani families were transported to concentration camps including in Baharka, Qushtapa and Diyana areas. Some were held in the camps for years before being taken to graves in the southern deserts.

Of all the 182,000 massacred during Anfal, the remains of only 3,672 have so far been returned to the Kurdistan Region.

"The massacre of Barzanis during Anfal is by all means genocide," he reiterated.
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Genocide of 8,000 Barzanis remembered 36 years on



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