The Kurdish Genocide

Kate Hans & Astrid Murray

Interview clips sourced from: https://vimeo.com/39764719

According to the United Nations...

"Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

  1. Killing members of the group;
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

The Kurdish Genocide was an atrocity that lasted from 1986 to 1989, destroying 4,000 villages, displacing one million Kurdish people, and killing hundreds of thousands. The exact death toll of the genocide is not known. Human Rights Watch estimates between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed, but Kurdish officials believe that up to 182,000 were killed. Nevertheless, innocent people lost their lives, many of which have already been forgotten as no one was held accountable for their deaths. During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980’s, the Iranians had given support to the Kurdish guerilla forces in their battle for independence from Northern Iraq. Most of the Iraqi military was able to promptly crush the rebelling Kurds, but with the help of Iranian units, Kurdish guerrillas continued to attack the Iraqi military. Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq at the time, wanted to punish the Kurds for siding with Iran and for demanding independence from the Iraqi state, so he launched a campaign called “al-Anfal.” The word “Anfal,” means “the spoils of war” and is also the title of the 8th sura (chapter) in the Quran. The anfal campaign consisted of aerial bombing, destruction of villages, concentration camps, mass executions, and chemical warfare, all of which targeted the Kurdish population. The genocide culminated in 1988 with a nerve gas attack on Halabja. This attack alone left 5,000 Kurdish people dead.

“Anfal Campaign and Kurdish Genocide.” Kurdistan Regional Government, https://us.gov.krd/en/issues/anfal-campaign-and-kurdish-genocide/


Behruz, Sharif. “Powerful Aljazeera Documentary on Halabja Genocide and Anfal Campaign.” Online video clip. YouTube. Youtube, 16 March 2014


"Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide." United Nations, 12 January 1951. https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/atrocity-crimes/Doc.1_Convention%20on%20the%20Prevention%20and%20Punishment%20of%20the%20Crime%20of%20Genocide.pdf.


Johns, Dave. “The Crimes of Saddam Hussein.” PBS, https://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/iraq501/events_anfal.html.


“Kurdish Genocide.” The Kurdish Project, https://thekurdishproject.org/history-and-culture/kurdish-history/kurdistan-genocide/.


Resool, Shorsh Haji, "The Anfal Campaign of the Kurds in Iraq." Middle East News Online, 3 April 2001. https://search.proquest.com/centralk12/docview/203035986/E98EC3904B36432CPQ/15?accountid=14955.