Paris (AsiaNews) – “Satisfaction for the acknowledgement of the Kurdish genocide” by an Iraqi court but concern “for the failure to identify international accomplices,” is how Saywan Barzani, Kurdish representative in Europe, reacted to the decision to sentence to death Ali Hassan Al-Majid, nicknamed Chemical Ali. In Iraq Kurdish reactions were equally ambivalent—whilst some called for the prisoner’s immediate execution, others expressed fear that it might lead to greater sectarian divisions.
The Iraqi Special Tribunal yesterday sentenced Saddam Hussein’s notorious cousin to death for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity over his role in the brutal ‘Anfal Campaign’ in which about 182,000 Kurds were slaughtered with chemical weapons between 1986 and 1989.
Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai, a former defence minister, and Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti, deputy director of the Special Security Organisation, were also sentenced to death. The defendants’ lawyers said they planned to appeal.
For Saywan Barzani, nephew of Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, the sentence “is an important acknowledgment for the Kurdish people and the world.” It is the second time that a court acknowledges that the “Kurdish genocide” took place.
In December 2005, the international tribunal in The Hague had ruled that killing of thousands of Kurds in Iraq during the 1980s constituted “genocide.”
“Let us hope that this new acknowledgement will bring the government in Baghdad and the international community to help the victims of that violence who are still living in refugee camps in the north,” Mr Barzani said.
At the same time, he noted that whilst “in the country there are another 223 people who over the next two or three years will be tried for the same crime, there are those in various other countries who are responsible for politically and financially supporting Saddam’s regime, for supplying him with weapons. Hanging all the defendants in these trials will not reveal the names all these accomplices.”
Mahmud Othman, a Kurdish MP, also agreed that the trial was incomplete. “In the whole trial nothing was mentioned about who helped Saddam make the chemical weapons, which countries and which companies helped him," he said.
But many Kurds who lost family members during the Anfal Campaign are celebrating the tribunal’s decision. Some have even suggested that the sentence be carried out in Halabja, the city that has come to symbolise the genocide.