I read this and just shake my head. Up to 1500 bodies found in this grave, almost all of them being women and children who were lined up and shot. Saddam and his people should be executed the same way:
NEAR SAMAWA, Iraq (Reuters) – Investigators have uncovered a mass grave in southern Iraq containing as many as 1,500 bodies, most of them thought to be Kurds forcibly removed from their homes in the late 1980s.
The site, near the town of Samawa, about 180 miles south of Baghdad, consists of 18 shallow trenches dug by earth-moving vehicles into hard limestone rock.
Most of the victims were women and children who were apparently lined up in front of the pits and shot with AK-47 assault rifles, according to a U.S. investigator.
Around 110 bodies have been excavated from the site so far, nearly two thirds of them children and teenagers.
They are being forensically examined and evidence gathered will be used to build cases against Saddam Hussein and his top deputies for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The site appears to have been carefully chosen and was well concealed, factors prosecutors believe will convince a court of the systematic nature of the crime.
Many of the victims were wearing clothing that is traditionally Kurdish, and even specific to certain villages. They were wrapped in multiple layers, suggesting they knew they were being moved somewhere, investigators said.
The site was first identified early last year by the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, but proper examination did not begin until early this month and finished on April 24.
A reporter was taken to visit the site with Iraq’s minister of human rights, an Iraqi judge and international experts.
It is one of around 300 suspected mass graves that have been discovered around Iraq since Saddam was overthrown. Some contain as few as a dozen bodies, while others, including one near the southern city of Basra, contain several thousand.
In the area around Samawa, a largely Shi’ite Muslim town where Saddam cracked down against locals after an uprising in 1991, 27 suspected grave sites have been found.
An official from the Regime Crimes Liaison Office, a U.S. body working with Iraqi authorities to build evidence of crimes committed by the former government, said the Kurds were probably moved south during the Anfal campaigns of 1987-88.
During that period, Saddam and his top lieutenants oversaw the rounding up and forced removal of hundreds of thousands of Kurds from towns and villages across northern Iraq.
Saddam’s armies crushed Kurdish opposition throughout the region and are accused of gassing residents of Halabja, near the Iranian border, killing more than 5,000 people.
The excavation of grave sites at this point is focused on gathering evidence for trials against former Iraqi leaders due to begin this year. Precise identification of victims, including DNA analysis, is not expected to happen for some time.
Bakhtiar Amin, Iraq’s outgoing human rights minister, who is a Kurd, said Iraqi authorities needed to set up some sort of fund for the victims of Saddam’s rule. He suggested that five percent of oil revenues be allocated for compensation.
“Compassion is not sufficient,” he said. “Something tangible needs to be done for the victims of Saddam’s regime.”
Here is a map of the area that show’s just a few of the sites that have been found in 2003.
As USAID states on their report, these finding could surpass the genocide of Rwanda:
“We’ve already discovered just so far the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves,” said British Prime Minister Tony Blair on November 20 in London. The United Nations, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch (HRW) all estimate that Saddam Hussein’s regime murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people. “Human Rights Watch estimates that as many as 290,000 Iraqis have been ‘disappeared’ by the Iraqi government over the past two decades,” said the group in a statement in May. “Many of these ‘disappeared’ are those whose remains are now being unearthed in mass graves all over Iraq.”
If these numbers prove accurate, they represent a crime against humanity surpassed only by the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Pol Pot’s Cambodian killing fields in the 1970s, and the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.
Most of these grave sites correspond to about 5 events in recent history:
- The 1983 attack against Kurdish citizens belonging to the Barzani tribe, 8,000 of whom were rounded up by the regime in northern Iraq and executed in deserts at great distances from their homes.
- The 1988 Anfal campaign, during which as many as 182,000 people disappeared. Most of the men were separated from their families and were executed in deserts in the west and southwest of Iraq. The remains of some of their wives and children have also been found in mass graves.
- Chemical attacks against Kurdish villages from 1986 to 1988, including the Halabja attack, when the Iraqi Air Force dropped sarin, VX and tabun chemical agents on the civilian population, killing 5,000 people immediately and causing long-term medical problems, related deaths, and birth defects among the progeny of thousands more.
- The 1991 massacre of Iraqi Shi??a Muslims after the Shi??a uprising at the end of the Gulf war, in which tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians in such regions as Basra and Al-Hillah were killed.
- The 1991 Kurdish massacre, which targeted civilians and soldiers who fought for autonomy in northern Iraq after the Gulf war.
I think Captain Ed put it succinctly when he stated:
Clearly, Saddam made himself into one of the most successful practitioners of genocide in the past century. Not only did he manage to kill millions of people based on their ethnicity and religion, he also engaged the Western liberal elite to defend him and his sovereignty — the same people who swore “Never again!” when genocide involved Caucasians, who bombed Belgrade when Bosnians became the victims but conveniently looked away from Arab genocides such as in Iraq and in Darfur.
If these people had been in charge in 2003, Saddam would still run Iraq with an iron fist and he would still be killing his enemies by the thousands to this day. He would still be filling these trenches with bodies of women and children, slaughtered by the hundreds in sprays of machine-gun fire and dropped into landfills like the trash Saddam considered them to be. That would have been a fine legacy for Western liberalism: the unnecessary deaths of millions of more Iraqis and others simply because too many of democracy’s leaders made money off of Saddam’s kickbacks. Shameful.
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