On anniversary of Barzani massacre, Kurdistan Region demands compensation from Baghdad

Photo: Archive
Photo: Archive

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Marking the 38th anniversary of the genocide of the Barzanis, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Saturday pressed the Iraqi government to compensate victims of atrocities committed by the former Baathist regime.

The prime minister said in a statement: “Today we commemorate, with honor and reverence, the memory of one of the most heinous crimes and the most atrocious campaign of racial cleansing perpetrated by the former Iraqi regime 38 years ago, when it took thousands of innocent Barzani to the deserts of southern Iraq, and they were buried alive in mass graves for no other reason than because they were Kurds."

The campaign against the Barzanis was the blueprint for further crimes against Kurds, including the Anfal genocide half a decade later. 

Barzani explained that the genocide happened in stages, “including burning, demolition, and sabotage, then the bombing of Halabja with chemical weapons, demolishing thousands of villages and towns to the ground, as the mass killing and destruction in Kurdistan reached the utmost levels of injustice and brutality.”

On July 31, 1983, the regime of Saddam Hussein kidnapped 8,000 members of the Barzani tribe, including children, and moved them to deserts in the Iraqi south. They were indiscriminately executed and buried in a mass grave. 

Some remains have been repatriated to the Kurdistan Region for reburial, but the whereabouts of most of the victims remain unknown.

Barzani on Saturday said the current Iraqi government still “bears a moral and legal duty to compensate the victims of all the massacres against the people of Kurdistan.” 

Iraq’s High Criminal Court has deemed the Anfal campaign a genocide – the deliberate attempt to ethnically cleanse Iraq of its Kurdish population.

The premier reiterated, "The Kurdistan Regional Government's commitment to continue providing everything befitting the martyrs, their families, and the families of the Anfal victims, and to do everything in our power to serve them."

Anfal was a years-long process of annihilation that killed an estimated 182,000 Kurds and the destruction of 5,000 villages between 1986 and 1989, with a peak in violence in 1988. The former regime sought to control and ultimately eradicate the Kurdish population militarily, economically, culturally, and socially. 

In addition to the human cost, schools, hospitals, places of worship, and countless local businesses in what is now the Kurdistan Region were looted and destroyed. 

Thousands of Kurds, including women and children, from mainly the rural areas of the Kurdish region were buried alive in the desert south while thousands of others were forced into camps, in an echo of the earlier massacre of the Barzanis.