Kurdish artist unveils memorial to victims of Anfal killings

SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq (Reuters) - A Kurdish artist has unveiled a new iron mural in the Iraqi city of Sulaimaniyah, commemorating the victims of Saddam Hussein’s “Anfal” campaign that targeted Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s.

The memorial, entitled “Anfal and Oppression”, was created by Kurdish sculptor Othman Qader, himself a survivor of the campaign. It depicts a family fleeing their home, which he says symbolises all Kurdish families who suffered during the period.

The 22-meter-long (72 ft) mural, which overlooks a main street in Sulaimaniyah, cost 5 million Iraqi dinars ($4,000) and was funded by Iraq’s Ministry of Culture.

“I was one of those who fled the Anfal operation. I saw with my own eyes the atrocities and oppression by the (ruling Iraqi) Ba’ath party against my people,” Qader told Reuters.

“I decided to narrate such atrocities to the next generations through my artistic work to let them know the extent of the oppression that the Kurdish people are subjected to.”

During Anfal, which translates as “Spoils of War”, thousands of villages, declared “prohibited areas” by Saddam’s government, were razed and bombed as part of a scorched-earth campaign.

Thousands of villagers were forced to flee. Up to 180,000 people may have been killed as chemical gas was used in the operation.

In 2007, an Iraqi tribunal sentenced Ali Hassan al-Majeed, also known as “Chemical Ali,” to death for his part in directing the campaign. He was hanged in 2010.

($1 = 1,184.0000 Iraqi dinars)

Reporting by Saman Mahmood Mawlood; Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; Editing by Gareth Jones