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Iraqi Kurdistan prime minister Masrour Barzani attended the special ceremony to mark the 36th anniversary of the Barzani genocide, Erbil, July 31, 2019. Photo: Ekurd.net/screenshot NRT TV

E-Kurd : Barzani genocide remembered in Iraqi Kurdistan, 36 years on

HEWLÊR-Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— Iraqi Kurdistan region holds a special ceremony on Wednesday to mark the 36th anniversary of the Barzani genocide, senior Kurdish, Iraqi and foreign officials have attended the ceremony.

The ceremony in the memorial graveyard of the Barzanis, located in Erbil Province’s Barzan area, according to local news.

The three presidencies of  Iraqi Kurdistan, along with the presidency of the Iraqi Parliament, representatives of the Iraqi federal government, and foreign diplomats in the country have attended the event.

Kurdistan president Nechirvan Barzani and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani have attended the ceremony but the leader of Barzani clan and ex-president of the region Massoud Barzani not seen at the ceremony.

On July 31, 1983, the Ba’athist regime in Iraq took around 8,000 members of the Barzani tribe, including men, women, and children, to deserts in southern Iraq, executing them indiscriminately before burying them in mass graves.

Remains of some have been already found in southern Iraq and been transferred to the Kurdistan region, but the whereabouts of most of victims up to now remain unknown.

Anfal is the Arabic term used in the Quran for “spoils of war.”

It was the word chosen by Saddam Hussein’s regime when they launched the campaign against civilians in different areas of the Kurdistan region.

Anfal was a multi-phase political, military, economic, cultural, and social process of annihilation by the former Iraqi regime led by Hussein. The campaign resulted in the deaths of an estimated 182,000 Kurds and the eradication of 5,000 villages.

Masrour Barzani, in a statement released on Wednesday, said that despite the civilian executions and the repeated destruction of villages in Barzan, the former Iraqi government failed to extinguish the resistance and fight of the Kurdish people.

He mentioned that the struggles and sacrifices of Kurds and Peshmerga forces “resulted in the elimination of Anfal campaigners and in the success of the Kurdistan region, with our people continuing to survive.”

Barzani noted that his government will do its best to serve the families of Anfal victims and provide for them. He also added their rights and entitlements is a point the Kurdistan regional Government (KRG) will negotiate with the federal government of Iraq to secure the “moral and financial compensation of the victims of the genocide” in the Kurdistan region.

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.

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