Entries in Kurds (3)


After 20 Years, Families of Genocide Victims Bury Their Dead

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- The bodies of 730 victims of Saddam Hussein’s military campaign against Kurdistan, their coffins draped in the Kurdish flag, returned home to Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, on Monday and were finally laid to rest.

Their remains were discovered last year in the desert in southern Iraq, and subsequently identified as Kurds massacred in 1988 by the former regime.  It’s believed they were either buried alive or executed with a bullet to the head, before their bodies were transported south of Baghdad in an effort to conceal the crime.

The coffins were laid out at a ceremony in Sulaymaniyah attended by grieving families and local political leaders.  The dead will be buried in Chamchamal, where a monument has been erected in the memory of those who perished in the genocide.  It’s estimated that more than 180,000 Kurds were killed and thousands displaced during what became known as the Anfal campaign.

The central government in Baghdad did not send any high-level representatives, but in a symbolic move, the Iraqi national anthem was played at Monday’s ceremony.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Islamic Cleric Undertakes Mission to Keep Iraq Unified

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- Firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr finds himself in the role of peacemaker in an attempt to calm a crisis that threatens to split Iraq.

Al-Sadr, who is pro-Iran and vehemently anti-America, traveled to Iraq's semiautonomous northern Kurdish region on Thursday to try and convince its president, Massud Barzani, to give up secession plans.

Both the Kurds and Sunnis say they are being marginalized by the Shiite-dominated central government in Baghdad, with accusations that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is trying to consolidate as much power as possible.

Having already met with al-Maliki, the cleric seemed to be sympathetic to those on the outside of the government, saying, "Minorities are an important part of Iraq, and we have to bring them to participate in building Iraq, politically, economically and in security."

He also called for "canceling the policy of neglect and marginalization."

Al-Sadr says that he has an 18-point plan to end the stalemate that would be accomplished through inclusiveness and dialogue.  Barzani is willing to give the government until September to change course or else he'll call for an election to secede from Iraq.

Sunnis don't have the same political sway.  Their recourse instead is to launch insurgent attacks that have kept national security forces on a constant state of alert.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kurd Rebels Kill 24 Turkish Soldiers; White House Condemns Attack

Thinkstock/Comstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House Wednesday condemned the latest aggression by the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in which at least 24 Turkish soldiers were killed on their border with northern Iraq.

The U.S. and other nations consider the PKK a terrorist organization that has fought the Turkish government since 1984 for an autonomous Kurdistan and the rights of Kurds living in southeastern Turkey.

Tens of thousands of people have died during the 27-year-long conflict and this latest incident dashes any hopes of finding a peaceful settlement to Turkey's ongoing battle with the PKK.

According to reports, as many as 200 PKK fighters attacked a Turkish military outpost early Wednesday, leaving two dozen soldiers dead.

Turkey responded by sending fighter jets into northern Iraq to go after the militants.  Kurds who govern the semiautonomous region have allowed Ankara to attack the terrorist group so long as the incursion is not too deep.

Wednesday's incident comes at a time when the U.S. is preparing to withdraw virtually all of its remaining forces from central and southern Iraq by the end of the year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio