By Sazan Mandalawi
The Globe- Erbil
Atrocities committed by the Baath Regime against the Fayli Kurds during the Iran-Iraq War finally recognized for what they are: Genocide.
Hamdiya Abdulla, 44, watches television in tears alongside her elder sister as the atrocities her family faced over three decades ago are declared genocide.
Tariq Aziz, also known as Saddam Hussein's right hand, was sentenced to 10 years" imprisonment by the Iraqi court for the displacement and genocide of Fayli Kurds in the Iran-Iraq War.
The Abdulla family, Shiite Muslims, lived in Baghdad. "We were among the families who were displaced in 1980," she began. "I was in high school studying for an exam I had the next day when we were evacuated from our own house after midnight." In less than 48 hours, the parents and Abdulla's 11 brothers and sisters were placed on the border of Iran with other families. "Our documents were all taken away, and so was one of my brothers."
Monday marked a celebration for many Fayli Kurds, as the sentence was handed down to the former deputy prime minister of Iraq. "This still doesn't bring back the life of my innocent brother," said Abdulla. Rashid Abdulla was held hostage for no apparent reason. The family hoped that after the fall of the Baath Regime in 2003 they would find him in one of the prisons. "All we know is that he was killed; we don't know how, when or where."
The houses and personal belongings of Faylis were seized as they were forced to leave their homes and belongings under the supervision of authorities. "They refused to recognize us as Iraqis, saying that we were Iranians. A day like to today means a lot to me, to see that what we went through is finally being recognized." She continued: "Our Iraqi nationality was cancelled; we were forced to live for years without nationality and identity cards." Iran also refused to recognize them as Iranians, which means were unable to continue their studies after high school.
Rasmiya Ali, an activist for the rights of Fayli Kurds in Baghdad, said that while Aziz's sentence is worthy of celebration, the fact that the actions are considered genocide must now lead to a solution to the issues faced by Fayli Kurds--in particular for those who have returned from Iran. "To date, their cases have been neglected, and they have not been compensated for their losses."
Ali said that during the process, "almost all of the families lost their houses and possessions; today these possessions have not been returned to their owners." Those who did get their houses back had to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees. "Many of the victims cannot afford to hire a lawyer. They should be entitled to have their land and houses back," Ali stated.
Batoul Mousa, a lawyer and Fayli Kurd, said, "I have worked on the cases of more than 25 Fayli Kurds, and their compensation has been a large sum of money. I have cases pending since 2005 and 2007, as the assigned committees have not yet approved the attainment of the compensation due to the heavy load placed upon them." Mousa was optimistic that her clients will face fewer difficulties in the future.
The planned census in Iraq was going to provide an in-depth data of the number of Fayli Kurds, although for the time being Ali stated that "there are no reliable statistics, but from the previous elections and the information that the KDP and PUK branches have, we have estimated that currently approximately 250,000 Fayli Kurds are residing in Baghdad."
Due to lack of proof, Saddam Hussein's half brothers were dismissed on charges concerning the case of Fayli Kurds. As for the fate of Aziz, 74, walking on a cane, he has been sentenced to death from previous charges laid against him. Nonetheless, President Talabani was seen on French TV saying that he will not sign an agreement for Aziz's death penalty. The reasons given by Talabani are that he suffers from poor health conditions, he is old, and furthermore, he is an Iraqi Christian.