Monday, January 08, 2007

No Justice for Kurds

Kurds Cheated Again over Saddam Execution

by Bilal Wahab

Saddam Hussein was hanged last night. To many Iraqis his reign looks like distant history compared to how long and bloody post-Saddam Iraq seems. The Iraqi Special Tribunal trying Saddam and his top aides for crimes against humanity meant to offer justice to the victims of his rule. Justice and accountability are what his victims wanted. In our meeting with President Bush last December on Iraqi election day, one angry student retorted that that Saddam Hussein must not be given a trial at all but rather executed right away. The President advised him that new Iraq would set an example that even Saddam like individuals will get a fair trial. Fair or not, thousands of Kurds are denied justice.

Today is Eid al-Adha, although Shiites will celebrate tomorrow. Culturally and religiously, Eid is a day of reconciliation and feasting. This day often has been a day in which Iraqi governments offer amnesties to prisoners, or allow them to visit their families. Saddam’s execution today breaks that norm, rendering the execution out of place. The date will fulfill Saddam’s wish that he will be a “sacrifice” of the day, in reference to the Eid sheep sacrificing ritual.

Such an end for the former dictator will help his decade-long legacy of appealing to the peoples of Muslim countries. Following the first Gulf War, in which he lost the Western favor, Saddam proclaimed himself “the faithful servant of God.” He handwrote “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) into the Iraqi flag, had the Iraqi TV show him in solemn prayers, and donated money to Palestinian families. Facing death, he exploited the court and used it as a platform for his propaganda to incite violence. The court behaved as if Saddam himself was advising it. The execution verdict came few days before US midterm elections, and the execution is carried out as the Muslims celebrate their biggest holiday. These are blows against a court already being accused of illegitimacy in the Arab media.

Moreover, being Eid, the scene is set for demonstrations throughout the Muslim countries, which Saddam managed to throw dust in their eyes. They will be protesting against putting a president to death for killing less than two hundred citizens. With atrocities against Kurds untold, that makes Saddam seem the least brutal among other nominally Muslim leaders. Thanks to the Americans and the Shiite government, and to a premature execution, Saddam will be considered a hero in many parts of the world.

Above all, the Kurds are cheated. Kurds were Saddam Hussein’s primary victims. He gassed the town of Halabja in 1988 and killed five thousand people, mostly women and children, instantly. Residents of Halabja still suffer form diseases and women from miscarriages. I recently lost a friend who was diagnosed with Leukemia from exposure to polluted soil. Although he escaped the immediate attack, the gas killed him years later. Saddam Hussein’s regime is also responsible for the death and the disappearance of thousands of Kurds in the so-called Anfal operation. His bulldozers razed four thousand Kurdish villages. As a Kurd you were naturally guilty unless proven innocent. Saddam’s treatment of the Kurds is genocide and cannot be excused on any pretext. The trial was a chance to let the world, especially the Arabs, know why we Kurds have issues with Saddam.

But Saddam Hussein was put to death for the killing of comparatively few in retaliation for an assassination attempt while his major crimes are dismissed. After his death, the case of Anfal is automatically closed, and with it the unknown fate of thousands of Kurds. It is a lost case for the Kurds, which exerted time and effort ever since the uprising in 1991 to be ready for this day. The Kurds were instrumental in the establishment and work of the Iraqi Special Tribunal, which conducted the trial. Thousands of Kurdish widows and orphans will spend this Eid with a lost long-sought justice and no hope for knowing the fate of their lost ones. History seems to have once again wronged the Kurds. It is easy to blame history.

With Saddam’s death are buried many secrets. Rather than being a case of a brutal dictator whose trial sets an example for the rest of Middle East and the world, his trial became a local issue. A quick execution may quench the thirst of revenge for the Shias, but will deny justice to the Kurds. Silencing Saddam and his rushed death may serve parties other than Iraqis. We need to know where Saddam got his weapons of mass destruction that he used against us. We need to know who helped him remain in power. We need to know the secrets of eight years of war with Iran. We need to know where our relatives are buried.

This year-end came with many disappointments for the Kurds. Despite prior assurances, the Kurds came out disillusioned with the Baker-Hamilton report and its recommendations for not recognizing the region’s achievements. Kurd’s Shiite allies in the central government got their revenge as soon as they could without heeding to the ongoing Anfal genocide proceeding. Kurds seem to be running thin of friends. This is not a good sign, especially as the Turkish army lays bare its fangs against the only safe part of IraqKurdistan. Being cheated from many sides, should we Kurds run back to our old friends—the mountains?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Kurds are stronger than anyone in a Iraq. Their will power can out stand any army. And no I'm not Kurdish, I'm European. My best friend is a Kurd. So put your brain where your mouth is- no offense :]
But do a little research.

Tuesday, 17 April, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kurds have suffered for years; not only by Saddam's regime but also throughout history. The question is, if Kurds have the power now to live in peace and build the future of their children, don't you think they should look for better people to represent them rather than voting for those who are in power now???
You are willing to establish a good relations with your brothers and sisters from the Sunnies, Shities, Turkmans, etc. but those who are in power now are doing the opposite.

your friend Ahmed from the UAE.

Wednesday, 25 July, 2007  
Blogger Joshua said...

To the first commenter: perhaps you would wish to retract your statement if you examined the history of the Kurdish people. Have have, in fact, been oppressed for many years: Saddam Hussein and now the threats of the Turkish government to name two sources of oppression. Mr. Wahab has, I am sure done quite a lot of research in this area and is quite beyond needing the defense of a student as young as me, but you would do well to listen to him.

To Bilal,

Thank you for this article. It's been too long since I have visited your site. I always appreciate hearing from you. I have been paying attention to the recent broadcasts for news of Kurdistan, but everything is about the election nowadays. Whenever anything gets through about Iraq, it's focused solely on Baghdad. How are things?

Josh Hastey, from William Jewell College Mideast Colloquium

Wednesday, 05 September, 2007  

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