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Crimes committed during the regime of Saddam Hussein

Last updated: January 2021

Saddam Hussein and the Baath party used violence, killing, torture, execution, arbitrary arrest, unlawful detention, enforced disappearance, and various forms of repression to control the population [Targeting, 1.1.1, 1.7].

Kurdish people were systematically persecuted. The al-Anfal military campaign against Kurdistan in Northern Iraq between 1986 and 1989 is qualified by some European countries as genocide. 182 000 Kurds were estimated to have been deported, killed, disappeared in depopulation campaigns in Kurdish areas carried out by Baath party. A particularly well known incident was when the northern Kurdish village of Halabja was gassed with poison in 1988, killing 5 000 and wounding 10 000 Iraqi Kurds suspected of disloyalty to the regime [Security situation 2019, Annex I; Targeting, 1.7]. Under the former Baath regime, the Fayli Kurds also faced systematic marginalisation and targeted discrimination from the State. Estimated 300 000 Fayli Kurds were deported to Iran by the Baathist regime [Targeting, 3.4.12; see also the profile Fayli Kurds].

Persons adhering to the Baha’i faith were particularly oppressed by the Baath party regime from the early 1970s. At that time, the UN reported that the religion was banned, Baha’i property was confiscated and members of the community ultimately faced prison or execution [Targeting, 3.4.9; see also the profile Baha’i].

After the first Gulf War, in the south, up to 200 000 Shia Marsh Arabs were killed between March and October 1991 and the marshlands between Euphrates and Tigris were drained to eliminate the hiding places for many Shia during and after the uprising [Security situation 2019, 1.1.1].