The remains of 730 Kurdish people shot through the head or buried alive as part of the former regime's Anfal genocide campaign were returned to their homeland on Monday for a ceremony in Suleimaniah and reburial the following day.
The bodies were recovered from a mass grave in the deserts of the Mahari area of Diwania Province in southern Iraq where they were discovered last year. They were identified as Kurdish victims of the Anfal campaign that were massacred by the former regime in 1988.
In the ceremony to commemorate their return to the Region, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said, "The graves of these martyrs which stand in front of us are the symbol of all our martyrs." Adding, "What we have achieved until today is a result of the blood of these martyrs, who sacrificed their lives for the sake of Kurdistan and the Kurdish people, and we therefore promise to defend all these achievements until our last breath."
"Those who have been executed for committing these crimes are the exception," the Prime Minister said. "Fundamental changes are still needed since there are still people trying to protect the former regime's ideology, and it is possible that the same thing could happen to us again. Today, some political parties in Iraq are following the same path as the former regime," he said, concluding that it is for this reason that the KRG is trying to create a strong adherence to the rule of law and the constitution in order to not allow another dictator to rule in Iraq again.
More than 4,500 villages were destroyed during the Anfal campaigns and over 180,000 people were murdered or disappeared. The campaign has been recognized as genocide by the Iraqi Council of Representatives and the Iraqi Tribunal Court as well as a number of international organizations.
Most of the victims were found to be from Chamchamal, Kadar-Karam and Garmeyan province, so they were all reburied in Chamchamal on Tuesday near a monument that was built in remembrance of the genocide. Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani participated in the burial service on Tuesday.
The ceremonies were organised by the KRG Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs, and the event in Suleimaniah was also attended by Vice President Kosrat Rasul Ali, Speaker of Kurdistan Parliament Dr Arsalan Bayiz, Minister of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs Sabah Ahmed Mohamed, as well as some members of the Iraqi and Kurdistan Parliaments, the Mayor of Sulaymaniyah, the British Consul General to Kurdistan Region and a number of other officials.