Mass arrests involving house-to-house searches following artillery and mortar attacks on villages. UN Environment Programme. Discover (and save!) 71 Fawcett and Tanner, The Internally Displaced People of Iraq, p. 33. It also redeployed troops and weaponry that had been withdrawn from the area for the duration of the U.N. delegation's visit (Trevor Rowe, "U.N. Says Iraq `Tricked' Aid Mission," Washington Post, July 19, 1991). 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. 187(f). Migration to urban centers, whether for permanent or seasonal work, accounted for much of the reduction in the size of the indigenous population up to the late 1980s, when the government policies targeting the Marsh Arabs described in this briefing dramatically increased the pace of depopulation. Until 1991, the Madan lived traditionally, growing rice and dates, raising water buffalo, fishing and building boats and houses from reeds. The Marsh Arabs whose ancestors had lived in the wetlands for five thousand years were forced to flee; many died. Water levels began to drop. Comprising members of many different tribes and tribal confederations, such as the Āl Bū Muḥammad, Ferayghāt, … 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. In February-March 1984, Iran had opened a new front in the al-Huwaizah marshes, east of the town of al-Qurna, capturing the oil-rich Majnun Islands.22 In the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War and the mass uprising that followed, "a massive hydro-engineering programme was launched to drain the marshlands. On July 19, the five permanent members of the Security Council called on Iraq to withdraw its troops from the marshes and allow U.N. staff to distribute humanitarian aid to the besieged civilians. There were also persistent allegations that the armed forces were using napalm in these attacks.28. 56 For an assessment of the economy of the marshlands, see Alexander Tkachenko, "The Economy of the Iraq Marshes in the 1990s," in AMAR, Iraqi Marshlands, pp. The marshlands also contain great wealth: they are today recognized as the site of some the richest oil deposits in the country. Enforcing an economic blockade on areas in which "subversives" were operating, to be implemented through the withdrawal of food supply agencies, imposing a ban on the sale of fish, taking "the severest measures" against those who smuggle food to "deserters, outlaws and hostile groups," and prohibiting all commercial traffic to the areas in question. 15-16, paras. Drainage of parts of the al-Hammar marshes had also been carried out in the first half of the 1980s to enable the exploitation of oil reserves. 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. President Saddam Hussein's slow genocide of the Marsh Arabs is reaching its climax. Assigning to security committees in the relevant provinces the task of controlling vehicle traffic between the marshes region and the major town centers, and coordinating all security activities with the air force such that helicopters and military aircraft could be made available for operations involving the pursuit of army deserters and others. 48 United Nations, Report on the Human Rights Situation in Iraq, February 13, 1993, p. 39, para. "60 The Iraqi government ignored these calls and continued with its drainage works. Most water mines were laid in the al-Hammar and al-`Amara marshes, concealed in and around river entrances leading to the marshes, apparently with the aim of deliberately killing or maiming those entering or leaving these areas. Such operations were to include the demolition or burning of homes. 50. Government forces reportedly employed artillery and armored divisions in attacks against a number of villages in 1996.61 The special rapporteur also reported on the continuing use of the ration card system as a means of enforcing "loyalty" to the authorities,62 or as a tool for collectively punishing marsh tribes deemed "hostile."63. 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. The Iraqi marshes were drained by Saddam Hussein in the 1990s as part of a counterinsurgency campaign against the Marsh Arabs as a collective – an operation that has been analyzed previously as a case of ecocide and genocide. In 2002, 40,000 Marsh Arabs still lived in refugee camps in Iran. 63 United Nations, Interim reports to the General Assembly, Situation of human rights in Iraq, A/51/496, October 15, 1996, pp. "24 It discusses the activities being carried out by "subversives" and "hostile elements" in the marshlands, specifically army deserters and "Iranian-trained agents" (the latter refers to the armed wing of the opposition Supreme Islamic Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the Badr forces). The special rapporteur reiterated his recommendation every year until his resignation in 1999, but it was never acted upon despite being endorsed in annual resolutions adopted by the Commission for Human Rights and the General Assembly. More than half a million Shi'a Muslims, at the very least, were systematically expelled over the course of the 1980s. Dellapenna describes the Iraqi government's campaign against the Marsh Arabs as “ecocide as genocide.” 10 He defines ecocide as the destruction of an entire ecosystem, noting that one of the unavoidable outcomes of such massive destruction is the extinction of species of animals and plants that were endemic to the marshes and found nowhere else on Earth. 2, January 14, 2002. Administratively, the marshlands cut across three of Iraq's eighteen provinces: Misan (originally al-`Amara), Dhi Qar (originally al-Nasiriyya), and Basra. 133-134. There may now be as few as 20,000 living in the marshes. The stories of Iraqi brutality and violence against the Marsh Arabs abound and accusations of cultural genocide are increasing in vehemency. Due to their ancient way of life, culture and needs, the indigenous Marsh Arabs tried to stay in the Marshes despite all sort of losses and uncertainty. T he Ma dan, or Marsh Arabs are a mostly Shiite Muslim Iraqi people who have lived off the country s wetlands in southeastern Iraq for more than 5,000 years. She said the Madan would not be able to return home unless Saddam Hussein was replaced by an administration which would allow the marshes to be re-flooded. In the same year, Minority Rights Group estimated that the size of the indigenous population had dwindled to some 50,000 (in The Marsh Arabs of Iraq, London: 1993). "18 Urban economic activity became the main source of income for many families even though, geographically and administratively, the marshlands themselves remained relatively isolated. Mass arrests involving house-to-house searches following artillery and mortar attacks on villages. 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. Between August and November, in particular, ground forces backed by tanks and artillery launched fierce attacks on targets in the vicinity of Basra, al-`Amara, and al-Nasiriyya. 49 Julie Flint, "Iraqi scientist tells of gas atrocities," The Guardian, November 8, 1993. For a chronological account of the Iran-Iraq war, see Library of Congress, Area Handbook Series, Iraq: A Country Study. 8 See, e.g., Colin Freeman, Marsh Arabs Reclaim Paradise , THE SCOTSMAN, August 16, 2003. The following month, additional aerial photographs were presented by a U.S. official, David Scheffer (then Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues), showing further destruction near al-Masha: "We have four photos showing the sequence of destruction of a village near al-Masha. See also the U.N. special rapporteur's interim report to the General Assembly, Situation of human rights in Iraq, A/49/651, pp. 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 Brookings estimates that between 20,000-40,000 of the local population may be remaining in the marshes region, and that "upwards of 100,000 must be displaced" (p. 31). Both the Commission for Human Rights and the General Assembly adopted resolutions endorsing his recommendation and requesting the U.N. secretary-general to authorize the necessary funding, but it was never done. Today about 50% of the marshes have been restored. But the UN special rapporteur on Iraq, Max van der Stoel, concluded in 1995 that he had found "extremely little evidence" of successful land reclamation and "indisputable evidence of widespread destruction and human suffering". The remaining pockets of water became stagnant, and supplies of drinking water also significantly declined.57 The special rapporteur observed that he found "extremely little evidence" of successful land reclamation, while finding "indisputable evidence of widespread destruction and human suffering which have resulted in massive displacement, an influx of destitute refugees to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the loss of a way of life for the Marsh Arab people. 35 United Nations, Report on the situation of human rights in Iraq, February 19, 1993, p. 37, para. Except when it violated the terms of the 1991 ceasefire agreement by using fixed-wing aircraft within the zone, Iraq was essentially left to conduct ground operations backed by helicopters (which were not prohibited under the ceasefire agreement) with impunity. The number of people killed in the ensuing clashes was not known, but the head of one of the villages, al-`Amayra, was reported to have been arrested and later executed. In connection with this event, the special rapporteur stated that "security forces were dispatched to the marshes area where they reportedly intimidated people, warning them that their ration cards would be confiscated if they did not vote for Saddam" (United Nations, Report on the human rights situation in Iraq, March 4, 1996, E/CN.4/1996/61, p. 12, para. Regular and persistent artillery bombardment of areas designated for drainage or for security operations drove out villagers from their homes. The repression against the Marsh Arabs since 1988 has been motivated by a combination of factors. The UNSCOM team found no evidence to support the allegations.51, As of early 1993, the Iraqi government pressed ahead with extensive drainage works, of which the construction of the Third River was only the start. 53 Ibid, p. 27. 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. They included large numbers of women, children, and the elderly. Starting shortly after the end of the Gulf war in 1991, Marsh Arabs have been singled out for even more direct assault: mass arrests, enforced "disappearances," torture, and execution of political opponents have been accompanied by ecologically catastrophic drainage of the marshlands and the large-scale and systematic forcible transfer of part of the local population. Baroness Nicholson, who visited Marsh Arabs in Iran in early February 2003, said the psychological impact on them had been "total and devastating". In addition to the fact that Marsh Arabs are Shi'a, Iraqi authorities have targeted them because the remote terrain of the marshlands provided refuge for political. Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group. This was apparently designed to spread fear among the local population and to demonstrate that despite the imposition of the "air-exclusion zone," the Iraqi government remained in control of the region. 38-39, para. 9 See Freeman, supra note 8; Spoils of War, supra note 1; Marsh Arabs, supra note 4. Hussein is "very likely" guilty of genocide against the Marsh Arabs, Dellapenna said. 5 Ayatollah Murtadha al-Burujerdi was shot dead, together with two companions, by armed assailants on April 22, 1998, in the city of al-Najaf. 73-76, and A/52/476, October 15, 1997, pp. Offering army deserters and evaders pardons in return for carrying out assassinations of "hostile elements" in the marshes. Many have been arrested, "disappeared," or executed; most have become refugees abroad or are internally displaced in Iraq as a result of Iraqi oppression. 8-10, paras. Human Rights Watch has referred to the attacks on the Marsh Arabs as crimes against humanity. A major project begun in 1953, known as the Third River project, involved the construction of a massive drainage canal aimed at rendering large tracts of land between the Tigris and the Euphrates arable through desalination.20 The construction of the canal, which came to be known officially as the Saddam River, was still in progress during the 1970s and 1980s, but its "focus gradually shifted from building an irrigation drainage system to marshland reclamation. 119. 22-29. The zone was extended northwards up to the 33rd parallel in 1996. The Ma'dan consist of a number of different Shi'a tribes, including the Bani Asad, Bani Tamim, Albu-Hassan, Albu-Muhammad, and Bani Lam.13 Estimates of population size have varied largely due to the paucity of official government data and the relative inaccessibility of the region, which left sections of the Ma'dan population unaccounted for in population censuses.14 One anthropological study put their number at 400,000 in the 1950s.15 Economic migration between the 1960s and the 1980s had reduced the population to an estimated 250,000 by 1991. Referring to the Kurds, Saleh told the Reuters news agency: "At the time we evacuated those people and put them in complexes and provided them with amenities, [but] for political reasons there was a row against us in the West. Such operations were to include the demolition or burning of homes. In the latter half of 1998, the government launched a new offensive to crush armed opposition forces in the marshlands. "43 The special rapporteur's contention that the Iraqi government's continuing repression of the civilian population in the country "is in violation of Security Council resolution 688 (1991) which mandated `that Iraq, as a contribution to removing the threat to international peace and security in the region, immediately end this repression,'" also fell on deaf ears at the Security Council. your own Pins on Pinterest the ancestors of the people known today as the Marsh Arabs, a culture uniquely adapted to the marsh environment. Known as the Eden Again Project, it aims to produce a phased restoration plan by mid-2003. 2 For crimes against humanity, the attack need only be "widespread or systematic," not both, as is the case here. This however, did not prevent Iraqi government forces from conducting ground operations backed by helicopters over the next few 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. Together, these wetlands formed a series of interconnected permanent marshes and lakes covering an area of some 8,800 square kilometers, extending to some 20,000 kilometers when large tracts of dry or desert land were seasonally inundated.10, The marshland region is also the site of some of the richest oil deposits in the country. 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