ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – During the excavation of the first mass grave in the Iraqi desert of Samawahh, 171 remains of Kurds had been extracted, an official said on Saturday.
Fuad Osman, a spokesperson for the Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs, said the 171 bodies belonged to Kurdish victims of the former Iraqi regime’s brutal Anfal campaign.
“This is the first of the three mass graves that have been found,” Osman told Kurdistan 24, adding they plan “to unearth the remaining two in the near future.”
On July 23, the unearthing of the first mass grave began in the outskirts of Samawah city, which lies on the borders of Muthanna province in southern Iraq.
Sirwan Jalal, the Director of the Mass Graves Department, said they were surprised at the number of remains after initial estimates pointed to about 80 victims, but the final results were more than doubled. Jalal said the remains would be transferred to Baghdad for DNA tests.
Traditional Kurdish clothes, children’s accessories, including pacifiers, dresses, shoes, and baby powder, were found buried among the bodies.
Between 1986 and 1989, the government of Saddam Hussein undertook a campaign of genocide against the Kurds in the north. Nearly 182,000 ethnic Kurds were killed in an operation spearheaded by the infamous Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as “Chemical Ali.”
Many people, including women and children, were forcefully displaced and transferred to camps in southern Iraq where the government eventually killed them and consigned them to mass graves, burying others alive in the desert.
The recovery of bodies from the Samawah mass grave would serve as closure as well as proof of the injustices citizens suffered under the former Iraqi regime so that they can ask the current federal government for reparations.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany