Iraqi Kurds against the release of Saddam's defence minister

Iraqi Kurds against the release of Saddam's defence minister
Calls to release Saddam Hussein's defence minister, sentenced to death for his involvement in the massacre of Kurds in the 1980s, has been strongly criticised by the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament.
2 min read
09 November, 2015
Saddam-era defence minister, Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai, was sentenced to death in 2007 [AFP/Getty]

The Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament has objected to efforts calling for the release of former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein's defence minister who was sentenced to death in 2007.

Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai had been sentenced by a supreme court, formed following the occupation of Iraq, for his involvement in the massacre of Kurds in the 1980s.

According to Kurdish officials, the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein, carried out several military campaigns against Kurdistan between 1987 and 1991.

The most notable was the al-Anfal Campaign, which led to the arrest and killing of more than 180,000 residents, as well as the chemical attack on the city of Halabja, which killed 5,000 people and wounded 10,000 others.

The Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament Civil Society Committee relayed the disapproval from a number of organisations involved in defending the rights of the Kurdish victims, to the head of their parliament.

"We ask parliament and the government of the Kurdistan Region to be aware of the danger and consequences of releasing Hashim, as the efforts to release him fundamentally go against national reconciliation and do not serve the rule of law and social coexistence among the different Iraqi entities," the message said.

Former Iraqi Vice President and leader of the National Coalition [al-Wataniya] Ayad Allawi recently renewed his call for releasing Hashim saying that "he had no blood on his hands."

"These calls fall into the context of establishing a new phase of national reconciliation and promoting Iraqi nationalism and unity, and abolishing the mentality of revenge from Iraqi minds," Allawi said in a statement.

However, the Kurds see Hashim as one of the officials who were primarily responsible for the death of thousands and the destruction of hundreds of villages in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament Civil Society Committee, Salar Mahmoud, said that releasing Hashim means "the return of the Baath Party to political life," and that this "should not be allowed to happen".

The Kurdish message also said that for the sake of national reconciliation, "the law should not be violated, because Sultan Hashim had confessed during his trial to having participated in the Anfal Campaign".