Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Human rights in Saddam's Iraq
Secret police, torture, murders, targeted assassinations, chemical weapons, and the destruction of wetlands (i.e. the destruction of the food source of rival groups) were but a few of the documented atrocities Saddam Hussein used to maintain control. The total number of deaths related to torture and murder during this period are unknown and the reports of human rights violations are beyond count they are so numerous. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued regular reports of widespread imprisonment and torture. Human rights abuses are reported also from members of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.
- In 2002, a resolution sponsored by the European Union was adopted by the Commission for Human Rights, which stated that there had been no improvement in the human rights crisis in Iraq. The statement condemned President Saddam Hussein's government for its "systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law". The resolution demanded that Iraq immediately put an end to its "summary and arbitrary executions... the use of rape as a political tool and all enforced and involuntary disappearances".
- Two years earlier, two human rights organizations, the International Federation of Human Rights League and the Coalition for Justice in Iraq released a joint report, accusing the Saddam Hussein regime of committing "massive and systematic" human rights violations, particularly against women. The report spoke of public beheadings of women who were accused of being prostitutes, which took place in front of family members, including children. The heads of the victims were publicly displayed near signs reading, "For the honor of Iraq." The report documented 130 women who had been killed in this way, but stated that the actual number was probably much higher. The report also describes human rights violations directed against children. The report states that children, as young as 5 years old, are recruited into the "Ashbal Saddam ," or "Saddam's Cubs," and indoctrinated to adulate Saddam Hussein and denounce their own family members. The children are also subjected to military training, which includes cruelty to animals. The report also describes how parents of children are executed if they object to this treatment, and in some cases, the children themselves are imprisoned.
- Full political participation at the national level was restricted only to members of the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party, which constituted only 8% of the population. Therefore, it was impossible for Iraqi citizens to change their government.
- Iraqi citizens were not allowed to assemble legally unless it was to express support for the government. The Iraqi government controlled the establishment of political parties, regulates their internal affairs and monitors their activities.
- Police checkpoints on Iraqi's roads and highways prevented ordinary citizens from traveling abroad without government permission and expensive exit visas. Before traveling, an Iraqi citizen had to post collateral. Iraqi women could not travel outside of the Country without the escort of a male relative.
- The activities of citizens living inside Iraq who received money from relatives abroad were closely monitored.
- In 1988, the Hussein regime began a campaign of extermination against the Kurdish people living in Northern and Southern Iraq. This is known as the Anfal campaign. The attacks resulted in the death of at least 50,000 (some reports estimate as many as 100,000 people), many of them women and children. A team of Human Rights Watch investigators determined, after analyzing eighteen tons of captured Iraqi documents, testing soil samples and carrying out interviews with more than 350 witnesses, that the attacks on the Kurdish people were characterized by gross violations of human rights, including mass executions and disappearances of many tens of thousands of noncombatants, widespread use of chemical weapons including Sarin, mustard gas and nerve agents that killed thousands, the arbitrary imprisoning of tens of thousands of women, children, and elderly people for months in conditions of extreme deprivation, forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of villagers after the demolition of their homes, and the wholesale destruction of nearly two thousand villages along with their schools, mosques, farms, and power stations.
- In April 1991, after Saddam lost control of Kuwait in the Gulf War, he cracked down ruthlessly against uprisings in the Kurdish north and the Shia south. His forces committed wholesale massacres and other gross human rights violations against both groups similar to the violations mentioned before. Estimates of deaths during that time range from 40,000 to 100,000 for Kurds, and 60,000 to 130,000 for Shi'ites.
- In June of 1994, the Hussein regime in Iraq established severe penalties, including amputation, branding and the death penalty for criminal offenses such as theft, corruption, currency speculation and military desertion.
- On March 23, 2003, during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Iraqi television presented and interviewed prisoners of war on TV, violating the Geneva Convention.
- In March of 2003, Britain released video footage of Iraqi soldiers firing on fleeing Iraqi citizens near the town of Basra in southern Iraq.
- Also in April of 2003, CNN admitted that it withheld information about Iraq torturing journalists and Iraqi citizens that were interviewed by CNN in the 1990s. According to CNN, the channel kept the information secret because they were afraid that their journalists would be killed if they reported it.
- After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, several mass graves were found in Iraq containing several thousand bodies total, and more are being uncovered to this day. While most of the dead in the graves were believed to have died in the 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein, some of them appeared to have died due to executions or died at times other than the 1991 rebellion.
- Also after the invasion, numerous torture centers were found in security offices and police stations throughout Iraq. The equipment found at these centers typically included hooks for hanging people by the hands for beatings, devices for electric shock, and other equipment often found in nations with harsh security services and other middle eastern nations.
- According to some reports, torture was used to improve the performance of the Iraqi soccer team. .
Collusion of foreign powers in Saddam-era human rights abuses
Foreign powers at times colluded in Iraqi state oppression, including France, the Soviet Bloc and the United States, all of whom helped arm the Baathist regime throughout the 1980s. Also, Saddam's bloody purges of communists were undertaken with the help of intelligence provided by the CIA .
Involvement of 'Saddam's Dirty Dozen' in abuses
According to officials of the United States State Department, many human rights abuses in Saddam Hussein's Iraq were largely carried out in person by Saddam Hussein and eleven other people. The term "Saddam's Dirty Dozen" was coined in October 2002 (from a novel by E.M. Richardson , later adapted as a film directed by Robert Aldrich) and used by US officials to describe this group. Most members of the group held high positions in Iraq's regime and membership went all the way from Saddam's personal guard to Saddam's sons. The list was used by the Bush Administration to help argue that the 2003 Iraq war was against Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party leadership, rather than against the Iraqi people. The members are:
- Saddam Hussein, Iraqi President, accused of many torturings, killings and of ordering the 1988 cleansing of Kurds in Northern Iraq.
- Qusay Hussein, son of the president, head of the elite republican guard, believed to be chosen by Saddam as his successor.
- Uday Hussein, son of the president, accused of having a private torture chamber and of the rapes and killings of many women. He was partially paralyzed after a 1996 attempt on his life, and is the leader of a paramilitary group named Fedayeen and of the Iraqi media.
- Taha Yassin Ramadan, Vice-President. He oversaw the mass killings of a Shi'a revolt in 1991, and he was born in Kurdistan, north Iraq.
- Tariq Aziz, Foreign minister of Iraq, supposedly backed up the executions by hanging of political opponents after the revolution of 1968.
- Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Hussein's half brother, leader of the Iraqi secret service, Mukhabarat. He was Iraq's representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
- Sabawi Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Hussein's half brother, he was the leader of the Mukhabarat during the 1991 Gulf War. Director of Iraq's general security from 1991 to 1996. He was involved in the 1991 suppresion of Kurds.
- Watban Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Hussein's half brother, former senior Interior Minister who was also Saddam's presidencial adviser. Shot in the leg by Uday Hussein in 1995. He has allegedly ordered tortures, rapes, murders and deportations.
- Ali Hassan al-Majid, Chemical Ali, alleged mastermind behind Saddam's lethal gassing of rebel Kurds in 1988. A first cousin of Saddam Hussein Majid had vast scientifical knowledge.
- Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, military commander, vice-president of the Revolutionary Command Council and deputy commander in chief of the armed forces during various genocide campaigns.
- Aziz Saleh Nuhmah, appointed governor of Kuwait from November of 1990 to February of 1991, allegedly ordered looting of stores and rapes of Kuwaiti women during his tenure. Also ordered the destruction of Shi'a holy sites during the 1970s and 1980s as governor of two Iraqi provinces.
- Mohammed Amza Zubeidi, alias Saddam's shi'a thug, prime minister of Iraq from 1991 to 1993 - ordered many atrocities.
- Human rights situation in pre-Saddam Iraq
- Human rights situation in post-Saddam Iraq
- U.S. list of most-wanted Iraqis
- 2003 invasion of Iraq
- Arms sales to Iraq 1973-1990
- Abu Ghraib Prison
- Remembering Saddam
- Amnesty International report on torture in Iraq (2001)
- US State Department report: 'Iraq: Crimes Against Humanity' (2002)
- INDICT - campaign to prosecute human rights abusers from the Hussein regime
- Iraq's dirty dozen
- Women recall terror, yet yearn to return, Washington Times March 7, 2003
- Human Rights Archive 1999-2001 The Iraq Foundation
- UN condemns Iraq on human rights, BBC April 2002
- PM admits graves claims "untrue" As of July 18th, 55 of 270 suspected mass grave sites have been exhumed, revealing approximately 5,000 bodies (as opposed to previously claimed figures of 400,000).
-  More info on mass grave excavation, including the use of satellite spectral imaging to detect suspected gravesites, the order of priority excavation, and details of the largest single gravesite (3,100 remains from the 1991 Shia uprising).
- Medical Action Alert #47: Iraq, Physicians for Human Rights
- Iraq 1984-1992, Human Rights Watch
- Reports on Human Rights Practices, U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
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