172 victims of 'Anfal genocide' laid to rest in Iraqi Kurdistan

172 victims of 'Anfal genocide' laid to rest in Iraqi Kurdistan


23 February, 2024

On Wednesday, the remains of 172 victims of what many are calling the "Kurdish Anfal genocide" were finally laid to rest in a burial ceremony at the Anfal Monument cemetery in Sulaimaniyah's Chamchamal district, Iraqi Kurdistan. These remains were previously kept at a forensic medicine facility in Baghdad for over four years.

They had been transferred there in July 2019 after four mass graves, including hundreds of bodies believed to be Kurds killed by Saddam Hussein's regime, were found in the Samawa desert, 280km (174 miles) southeast of Baghdad.

Iraq's First Lady Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmed initiated the return of the remains to the Kurdistan region in cooperation with Iraq's Association for Martyrs and Mass Graves, as well as the Anfal Monument Cemetery.

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The identities found with the 172 remnants in the Samawa desert were eventially proved to be women and children from the Aghjalar area of Chamchamal. Thus, they were buried at the Anfal Monument this week.

Specialised medical teams took blood samples from more than 3,400 relatives and families of the victims to conduct DNA tests to help identify the remains of the deceased. The process is set to continue and disclosing test results would take time. At the burial ceremony, the First Lady called on Iraq's federal government, as well as the Kurdistan Regional Government, to seriously recognise the genocide against the Kurdish people and work together to compensate the relatives of the Anfal victims financially and morally.

In 1987 and 1988, as the Iraq-Iran war was winding down, Saddam Hussein's regime launched a massive military campaign in Anfal against Kurdish villagers who were supportive of the various Kurdish peshmerga rebels. Consequently, between 50,000 and almost 200,000 people were killed. The Chamchamal district is where most remaining survivors and families of Anfal victims live.