After approximately nine months of round-the-clock shifts, the Iraqi government officially inaugurated the opening of Saddam River on 7 December 1992."23. The Security Council failed to act, leaving the United States, United Kingdom and France to impose an air exclusion zone in southern Iraq. 10 UNEP, The Mesopotamian Marshlands, pp. However, irrespective of the cause, the water which remains in the depleted areas of the marshes has reportedly become contaminated and is unfit for human or animal consumption," (United Nations, Situation of human rights in Iraq, February 13, 1993, pp. Conducting periodic and regular "punitive and deterrent operations" against those inhabitants of the marshes deemed to have "collaborated with the subversives." Widespread and deliberate destruction of homes and property through bulldozing or burning. 66 Ibid. Civilians across the country, as well as some armed opposition forces, had taken part in widespread anti-government activities. Scores of refugees who had fled to the safety of Iran and who were interviewed by Human Rights Watch in early 1993 were consistent in describing the tactics being used by government forces: 44. For more than two decades, Shi'a Muslims across Iraq, who collectively form at least 60 percent of the Iraqi population, have been subjected to a violent government campaign of persecution, the authorities fearing that Iraqi Shi'a might seek to follow the example set by Shi'a in Iran. Of the estimated 95,000 Shi'a Muslim refugees from southern Iraq currently in Iran, some 40,000 are from the marshlands.69 Of these, 15,000 are dispersed among eleven refugee camps (principally in Khuzestan and Fars provinces), while the remaining 25,000 are classified as "non-camp" refugees-in other words, living in squatter settlements (in Khuzestan and elsewhere).70 There are no reliable figures for the number of those who are internally displaced within Iraq: the government neither releases its own data nor allows international NGOs access to the marshlands. "18 Urban economic activity became the main source of income for many families even though, geographically and administratively, the marshlands themselves remained relatively isolated. 8-10, paras. Create a new account. Enforced disappearances of many of the Marsh Arabs arrested during the 1990s, whose fate and whereabouts remain unresolved to date; 28 The first allegations of the use of napalm against civilians emerged in late 1991, when the AMAR Foundation reported that villagers living near the border with Iran had sustained burns consistent with the use of napalm. 4 Members of a U.N. fact-finding mission, who spent a week in the marshes region in June 1991, estimated that "more than 40,000 people were hiding there and reported combat-ready Iraqi troops deployed along roads there" ("Humanitarian Envoy Visits Iraq's Southern Marshes," Reuters, July 11, 1991). The detailed findings were subsequently published by UNEP in its report, The Mesopotamian Marshlands: Demise of an Ecosystem (UNEP/DEWA/TR.01-3). May 7, 2015 - This Pin was discovered by Dry Ridge Dry Goods. Regular armed forces as well as special forces and Republican Guards were used in these operations. Consequently, tens of thousands of the inhabitants began fleeing to Iran or moving to safer areas outside the marshlands. While in most cases those arrested were taken away blindfolded to an unspecified destination and did not return, others were held for several days and then released after undergoing interrogation and torture. To further deprive the marshes of the waters of the Tigris, the Euphrates, and their tributaries, at least four other major drainage canals were completed in 1993 and 1994: the al-Qadisiyya River, the Umm al-Ma'arik (Mother of All Battles) River, the al-`Izz (Prosperity) River, and the Taj al-Ma'arik (Crown of All Battles) River.52 Several dams were also constructed to prevent backflow, and embankments were raised or built high enough to prevent floodwaters from overflowing into the marshes. Intensified attacks, including indiscriminate bombardment and shelling of residential areas in towns and villages in the vicinity of Basra, al-Nasiriyya, and al-`Amara. What about the Canaanite Genocide? At the time, Iraq was a party to several international agreements that made its acts illegal. In 1991, an estimated 250,000 Marsh Arabs lived in the region; today only 20,000 to 40,000 remain. Where possible, the injured were smuggled to Iran for treatment, but the journey was hazardous and some did not survive it. Van der Stoel wrote in his report: "With the corroborative value of this document, and seen in the light of the Special Rapporteur's possession of a video-cassette showing the present Prime Minister instructing generals to "wipe out" certain tribes ..., video-cassettes showing widespread destruction of marsh area villages and habitat, the fact that the described "Plan of Action" and reported events mirror the Government's Anfal operations in the Kurdish northern area ..., reports that the present military actions in the south of Iraq are under the direction of Ali Hassan al-Majid who previously directed the Anfal operations, the admission of the Government of Iraq that it has in fact been pursuing large-scale "police" actions and "development" projects, and the refusal of the Government to allow human rights monitoring, the Special Rapporteur feels compelled to give considerable credence to the allegations [detailed in his report]" (p. 35, para. The victims, among them women and children, were rounded up in the marshes of al-Chibayish (west of al-Qurna) together with captured fighters of the opposition SCIRI. Human Rights Watch made this document available to then U.N. special rapporteur on Iraq, Max van der Stoel, who published it in his February 1993 report to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.25 Subsequent developments have shown that the Iraqi government in fact succeeded in carrying out a far more ambitious plan, culminating in the almost total eradication of an indigenous people through brute force and the systematic destruction of their economic livelihoods and natural environment. The perpetrators of the crimes against the Marsh Arabs should be brought to justice. Headed by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, the Secretary-General's humanitarian envoy, the delegation visited the marsh village of al-Hammar on July 11. BARONESS EMMA NICHOLSON MEP: The thing is a catastrophe. This entailed a total ban on the transport into the marshes of foodstuffs, refined oil products, and medicines. They were executed several weeks later, on April 6. Writing in 1993, the special rapporteur said: "Witnesses point to the greenish colour of the water, `black spots' on the surface, its bitter taste and the volumes of dead fish as proof of some kind of poisoning. Others died under torture or were executed. Atheist Richard Dawkins considers the war over Canaan to be one of the most morally atrocious aspects of the OT. The tightening of the economic blockade the government had imposed on the region (as per the `Plan of Action for the Marshes'). 73-76, and A/52/476, October 15, 1997, pp. We haven't done anything. Widespread and deliberate destruction of homes and property through bulldozing or burning.45 This was carried out systematically following the shelling or bombardment of targeted villages, both to prevent the inhabitants from returning and to deprive them of their assets. 5-10. 53 Ibid, p. 27. The completion of much of the drainage works by early 1995 enabled the Iraqi government to seal off large stretches of marshland adjoining the border with Iran, and refugee flows subsequently dwindled dramatically as a result. 52 UNEP, The Mesopotamian Marshlands, pp. For a chronological account of the Iran-Iraq war, see Library of Congress, Area Handbook Series, Iraq: A Country Study. There may now be as few as 20,000 living in the marshes. Details of the U.N. investigation are also summarized in J. P. Robinson and J. Goldblat, "Chemical Warfare in the Iraq-Iran War," Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Fact Sheet, Chemical Weapons I, May 1984. 41 United Nations, Report on the human rights situation in Iraq, February 19, 1993, p. 64, para. Boats could no longer be used as the principal mode of transport in large stretches of marshland. 9-28. Using an extensive network of "undercover collaborators" to determine the location of army deserters and other "hostile groups," and attempt to "lure" them out of their hiding places to facilitate capture. The various environmental treaties to which Iraq was a party and customary international … "8 UNEP scientists attributed the desiccation of the marshlands in part to extensive damming upstream of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (involving Iraq, Iran, and Turkey), a process begun in the 1950s and continuing today. It's nearly succeeded. The result, less than a decade later, was the destruction of the Middle East's largest wetland ecosystem. 7 UNEP Press Release, May 18, 2001: "The Fertile Crescent, One Of The World's Most Important Wetlands, Devastated By Drainage". "9, Prior to their destruction, the marshlands (al-ahwar) had covered an area of up to 20,000 square kilometers around the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southern Iraq. According to U.S. government sources, an estimated 160 homes were reportedly razed to the ground on June 29, 1998, in the village of al-Masha.66. In 1970 the wetlands covered nearly 11,000 square kilometers; today they cover fewer than a thousand. Similarly, crops and other vegetation were also set on fire, and livestock deliberately were killed. After the fall of Saddam, the Marsh Arabs returned to the land and restored the flow of water by simply breaching the dams, dikes, and canals—with little or no attention to water quality concerns. The drainage of the wetlands was a deliberate and calculated act of genocide and ecocide. Why sanctions on Iraq could have been ended without any war of invasion or occupation ; no threat from Saddam’s regime to Iraqis or other countries existed by 2000; the genocide against the Marsh Arabs was largely over by the late 90s and could have been ended by air strikes in the Southern No-Fly Zone According to documents uncovered in 1992 by Human Rights Watch researchers examining and analyzing Iraqi government documents captured during the March 1991 uprising, plans for a direct assault on the marshes had been in place since the last years of the Iran-Iraq war. Many had witnessed or participated in those events in al-Najaf, Karbala', and elsewhere. They said the Iraqis used napalm and chemical weapons and poisoned the marsh waters, although the accusations have not been confirmed. Examining the possibility of "regrouping the marsh villages on dry land (which is easy to control)" and extending roads deeper into the marshes to facilitate access. The indiscriminate laying of land and water mines. Iraqi authorities rounded up thousands of people suspected of having participated in the three-week insurrection in numerous cities, towns, and villages across southern Iraq. This Briefing Paper details the ongoing campaign by the Ba'athist government of Iraq against the Ma'dan or so-called Marsh Arabs-the mostly Shi'a Muslim population that inhabits the marshlands (al-ahwar) in southern Iraq around the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The tightening of the economic blockade the government had imposed on the region (as per the `Plan of Action for the Marshes'). During the first year after the 1991 uprising, the government focused on flushing out and capturing army deserters and those suspected of having participated in the uprising; it did not initially embark on a program of forcible relocation of the local population.26 Nevertheless, the Ma'dan from the beginning bore the brunt of the military maneuvers as well as the drainage schemes that were by now in full swing.27 By late 1991 and early 1992, military attacks on the marshes were resulting in scores of casualties per month. The denial of medical treatment to injured civilians, particularly to individuals belonging to tribes considered "hostile" to the government, or those whose homes were located in the "prohibited zones" (cleared for drainage or for military purposes). Details of some of these drainage schemes, including the partitioning of the marshes, were contained in a document made public by the opposition group, SCIRI, in December 1992. 8). The repression against the Marsh Arabs since 1988 has been motivated by a combination of factors. Human Rights Watch has referred to the attacks on the Marsh Arabs as crimes against humanity. 23 UNEP, The Mesopotamian Marshlands, pp. After coalition forces drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait in the Gulf War, rebellions spread across the south and north of the country. It proceeded to do this through a range of methods that set the pattern for the next several years. "30 Saleh told the media that the plan approved by parliament "does not specify [whether the families to be relocated] will be given a choice to move or stay ... whether we say it is compulsory or optional is of no significance to them".31 The initiative was widely understood as a means through which the government could force political and military fugitives out of hiding, enable its program of drainage of the marshes to proceed without hindrance, and subjugate the local population once and for all. OF all Iraq's ethnic groups, the marsh Arabs of the southern reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers may have the strongest claim to be Saddam … Forcible population transfer-coercive expulsion of part of the Marsh Arab population from their native villages to settlements on dry land on the outskirts of the marshes and along major highways to facilitate government control over them; "54, Refugees fleeing the marshlands to Iran told a different story, and many of those interviewed by the U.N. special rapporteur on Iraq in the summer of 1994 cited the drainage of the marshes and its consequences as the principal reason for their flight.55 Independent reports also pointed out that the drained marshlands, reclaimed at great cost, were being left unused, contradicting the government's claimed rationale for the project. One of them, Shaikh `Abdul-Hassan `Abbas al-Kufi, was reportedly already under arrest when the assassinations took place, having been in custody since late December 1998. 12-13, paras. 24 The document (bearing the reference Section/1657) was sent from the Directorate of Security of Irbil province, and was addressed to the Security Director in the town of Shaqlawa (in Irbil province), informing him about security measures being taken in respect of the marshes region. Now we can put it … The heaviest attacks, which involved the use highly destructive ordnance against villages, lasted from July 20 to 27. Iraq, needless to say, ignored the U.N. Human Rights Watch believes that many of the acts of the Iraqi government's systematic repression of the Marsh Arabs constitute a crime against humanity. Al-Majid was already sentenced to death in June 2007 for genocide regarding his role in the 1988 Operation Anfal when he was also convicted for his role in the events of 1991 and given another death sentence; he was executed in 2010. This repression has been as relentless and as brutal as that visited on the Kurds in the north. In 1970 the wetlands covered nearly 11,000 square kilometers; today they cover fewer than a thousand. Contracts awarded by the Iraqi government in recent years to Russian, French, Chinese and other oil companies to rehabilitate existing oilfields or to explore untapped reserves (estimated at 220 billion barrels) have remained suspended under the terms of the U.N.-imposed sanctions. We recommend that you register using the same email address you use to maintain your ASCE Member account. Concerning the marsh people the West should help us to move their homes, build schools for them, improve their health conditions, instead of criticizing. 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