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Iraq stop Anfal survivor relatives for wearing Kurdish flag

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Iraq stop Anfal survivor relatives for wearing Kurdish flag

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:55 pm

Iraqi security stop Anfal survivor
relatives for wearing Kurdistan flags


Rudaw English reached out to some lawmakers in the Iraqi parliament; however, they chose to not comment on the sensitive issue. Iraqi has several layers of security at the local, provincial, federal, and other levels, so affiliations are not always easily known

“I want to apologize to the people of Kurdistan and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for today’s incident at the mass grave sites in Samawa,” Muthana Governor Ahmed Manfi told Rudaw TV on Tuesday evening.

“Today’s incident doesn’t represent neither the Samawa governorate nor the Iraqi government or people of Iraq; the action belongs to the officer and only the officer,” he added.

“More than 80 burials from the mass graves which belong to the Kurds in Samawa have been transferred to Baghdad for DNA tests,” Manfi revealed.

The Iraqi security officials at the scene were asked to apologize to the Kurdish families, but they refused according to Hassan Ali Haji Faraj, an Anfal survivor from Garmiyan, who was one of the Kurdish visitors carrying the Flag of Kurdistan.

“I had the Kurdistan flag proudly on my shoulder believing that the new regime in Iraq would give me the right to raise it," Faraj told Rudaw. "But it seems that the new regime has the same mentality as the old regime toward Kurds."

The graves contain the remains of hundreds of Kurdish civilians, including women and children, killed during Saddam Hussein’s campaign of extermination in the late 1980s known as the Anfal, launched to punish Kurds for rebelling against the Baath regime.

“I lost all my family during the Anfal campaign and I’m the only one left,” he added.

Salar Mahmoud, a special advisor to Iraqi president Barham Salih who is a Kurd, was accompanying the Kurdish group to the mass grave site.

“We made sure that the Kurdish families who were finally able to go to the mass grave sites in Samawa with the Kurdistan flag on their shoulder..." he told Rudaw.

"[It] appeared in the videos circulating on social media, the Kurdish families did enter the sites of the mass grave with Kurdistan flag on their shoulder,” Mahmoud said.

Iraqi officials paused the exhumations over the weekend after Teimour Abdullah, the lone proven survivor of the mass murder in Samawa in 1988, was bothered by the process while seeing the exhumations first-hand. He was also present on Tuesday.

“We wanted to go to the mass grave site when this officer stopped us like the old Baathists because one of us was wearing a Kurdish flag around his neck,” Abdullah told Rudaw English. “There was tension and the Kurds were stunned to see this kind of behavior."

"At the end the Kurdish man had to wrap the flag around his neck in a way that was not visible in order to let us go," he elaborated.

Abdullah was 12 years old when Iraqi soldiers rounded up most of his family and other villagers in the Garmiyan region, south of Sulaimani, and transported them more than 600 kilometers south to the deserts.

The exhumation of three mass grave sites in Shaikiya, around 80 kilometers southwest of Samawa the capital city of Muthana Province near the Saudi Arabian border, began on July 23.

Muthana Amin, an MP in Baghdad from the Kurdistan Region, condemned the incident on Tuesday.

“The actions of the Iraqi officer against the Kurdistan flag in Samawa are totally disrespectful to the families of Anfal victims,” he told Rudaw.

Kurdistani blocs in the Iraqi parliament have sent an official request to the Iraqi defense and interior ministries to commence an investigation with the Iraqi officer, Muthana added.

“It is also disrespect to the people of Kurdistan and the Flag of Kurdistan that is officially recognized in the Iraqi constitution” he argued.

Some Iraqis expressed their opinions on Rudaw Arabic Facebook. While some were pleased with the Iraqi officer's actions, others condemned it.

"Good job to him. There is one flag for Iraq, and he has the right to oppose [the Kurdistan flag]," said Taranim al-Intidhar.

Others were more sensitive.

"If one of these days, you see a car and there is Kurdistan's flag in it, would you also remove the flag? What is this mentality?" posited Abdullah al-Iraqi.

One Iraqi man commended the work of the security officials for their country.

“Good job, you hero," said Amir Ghanim, referring to the Iraqi officer. "No voice is above the voice of Iraq."

Another argued that the Kurdish visitors should have displayed both the flags of Iraq and of Kurdistan for the sake of unity.

"Raise it alongside the Iraqi federal flag because they are more powerful together. That would show the martyrs of this mass grave are from Iraqi Kurdistan and their families can get their rights from the federal Iraqi government," Sada al-Haq said.

Still, others took a darker tone.

"That is why he [Saddam] buried them alive." Omar Riva al-Iraqi said.

Rudaw was told by Faraj that a Kurdish delegation will visit the Iraqi presidential Peace Palace in Baghdad on Wednesday to meet the President Salih.

The Anfal campaign took place over eight phases – beginning in 1986, reaching its climax in 1988 with the Halabja genocide that instantly killed 5,000 people and injured another 10,000. It culminated in the closing weeks of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88).

More than 182,000 people are thought to have died. Anfal, the eighth sura in the Quran, was the codename used by the Baath regime for the slaughter.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/300720191
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Iraq stop Anfal survivor relatives for wearing Kurdish flag

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Iraq President hosts Anfal families after Kurdish flag fuss

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:04 pm

Iraq President Salih hosts Anfal victim
families after Kurdistan flag fuss


Iraqi President Barham Salih told Kurdish families of Anfal victims the country is “in debt” to them after some were prevented on Tuesday by Iraqi forces from visiting a mass grave that may contain their relatives' remains in Muthana province. However, an Iraqi MP continued to defend the officer’s actions, calling apologies by politicians “shameful.”

Salih, a Kurd himself who welcomed the delegation to the presidential Peace Palace, condemned the atrocities of the Iraqi former regime committed against the people of Iraq, specifically the Anfal against the Kurds.

“We are in debt to the families of the Anfal genocide and whatever we do, we cannot pay them back for their sacrifices or [ever] meet their needs,” he said in a statement released by his office on Wednesday.

Salih as head of state has limited powers, but is guardian of the Constitution.

“It is an honor for us to provide more services and incentives to the families of Anfal genocide victims, and help them to go through the obstacles that faces them in their lives,” Salih said in the statement.

Iraq will never forget these "barbaric tragedies" and the country will always work to prevent such tragedies in Iraq against any ethnicity or religion from repeating, Salih continued.

“Anfal was genocide against the Kurds and it is a wound that won’t heal in every Iraqi’s soul,” he added.

Some Kurdish families, who lost their family members during Saddam Hussein's Anfal campaign that culminated in 1988, visited the area near Samawa city on Tuesday to see the exhumations.

But arguments broke out between security officials wearing Iraqi military fatigues and the Kurdish family members who suspect their relatives are buried there, over the flag of Kurdistan.

Some Anfal victim family members and a survivor with the Flag of Kurdistan draped around their necks tried to visit the sites of the mass graves near Samawa city on Tuesday attempting to locate their relatives, but Iraqi security officials prevented them from entering the sites if they wouldn't take off the Kurdistan flag.

“This is Iraq and only Iraqi flag is allowed,” one member of Iraq’s security forces shouted, sparking the incident.

The governor of the local Muthana Province later apologized for the incident, and condemned it by calling the incident a "personal act by the officer."

“I want to apologize to the people of Kurdistan and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for today’s incident at the mass grave sites in Samawa,” Muthana Governor Ahmed Manfi told Rudaw TV on Tuesday evening.

Samawa is the capital city of Muthana province in southern Iraq, near the border with Saudi Arabia.

The Kurdistan Region presidency also released a statement on Wednesday condemning the actions of the officer and thanking the Muthana Governor for his apologies.

“The actions of the Iraqi officer in Samawa against the Kurdistan flag and the Kurdish families who lost loved ones in the Anfal campaign is a personal act and we are strongly condemning it,” the Kurdistan Region president's office stated.

“We are thankful and pleased for the responsible act of the Muthana Governor for his kind apologies to the people of the Kurdistan Region and for vowing to bring the Iraqi officer to court,” the statement added.

The main Anfal campaign took place over eight phases reaching its climax in 1988 with the Halabja chemical gas attack that instantly killed 5,000 people and injured another in the closing weeks of the Iran-Iraq war.

“We want to inform everyone that those actions define only individuals who do not respect the Iraqi constitution and the law. We believe in coexistence and peace toward every ethnicity and religious group in this country, and respecting the constitution and human rights,” read the Kurdistan Region presidency’s statement.

Still some Iraqi MPs defended the actions of the Iraqi security official and argued he should not apologize

"The apology of Muthana Governor is shameful, and the action of the Iraqi officer is right and brave," MP Oday Awad, a member of Oil and Natural Resources committee in the Iraqi parliament, said on Facebook.

"We have never witnessed a Kurdish politician apologizing to the Iraqi people due to on-stop humiliation that is happening against the Iraqi flag in Kurdistan Region every day," claimed the Fatih Coalition politician from Basra.

The Iraqi flag regularly is displayed alongside the Kurdistan flag for official KRG events, including the swearing-in ceremony of new Prime Minister Masrour Barzani in July at the Kurdistan Region parliament.

More than 182,000 people are believed to have been killed. Anfal, the eighth sura in the Quran, which was the codename used by the Baath regime for the slaughter.

"The Kurdish delegation should have raised the Iraqi flag," Iraqi MP Awad added.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/310720193
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