Families of Anfal campaign’s victims force minister to leave ceremony in Chamchamal

Part of platform where minister of martyrs and Anfal affairs Abdulla Haji Mahmoud presents his speech on Anfal campaign was damaged after families of Anfal campaign victims forced the minister to leave the ceremony in Chamchamal, April 14, 2022.

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Families of victims of Anfal campaign carried out by former Baath regime forced the Kurdistan Region’s minister of martyrs and Anfal affairs to leave a ceremony held to commemorate the campaign in Chamchamal on Thursday.

Former dictator Saddam Hussein’s Baath regime systematically killed 182,000 Kurds in the Anfal campaign, which began in 1986 over eight phases and reached its peak in 1988 with the Halabja chemical attack which killed 5,000 people and injured thousands of others.

Some of former Baath regime’s largest military operations against the Kurds took place on April 14, 1988 – which is now the official day of remembrance for those killed in the Anfal campaign.

Families of the victims held a ceremony to commemorate the 34th anniversary of the Anfal campaign in Chamchamal on Thursday.

Esta Media Network reporter in Chamchamal said Minister of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs Abdulla Haji Mahmoud was prevented from reading his statement on the Anfal campaign during the ceremony and was forced to leave.

“The minister unwillingly left the ceremony … Some of the families of the victims threw stones at the minister,” the reporter added.

The ceremony was also halted due to the tensions, he said.

“We didn’t listen to him and he didn’t tell anything,” a man who has lost three brothers in the Anfal campaign told Esta Media Network.

“We also have no demands because they are lying. Whatever they say is a lie,” he said.

“They [officials] are not from this city. They are from outside. They come and enrich themselves on petrodollars then leave here,” he added.

Another man who also lost his father, uncles and aunts in the campaign said the city of Chamchamal had been “without water and services” for 34 years.

“Let them come and provide us with services first,” he told Esta Media Network.

“Let them find the graves of our victims. Why the Barzanis could bring back bodies of their victims but why we couldn’t bring back [bodies] of 180,000 people,” he said.

“This minister has no power. If he had power, he would have promised four projects to this city.”

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