“Chemical Ali” to hang —another betrayal of historical memory?

“Chemical Ali” Hassan al-Majid has been convicted of genocide and sentenced to death by hanging for his role in the 1988 “Anfal” counter-insurgency campaign in Iraqi Kurdistan, in which up to 180,000 Kurds were killed—some in poisonous gas attacks, some gunned down en masse at detainment camps. Majid is to be the seventh associate of Saddam Hussein to face the gallows. The location of the trial and identity of the prosecutors were secret.

Majid was one of six defendants remaining from the Anfal trial. The seventh was Saddam Hussein, hanged in December after being convicted in connection with a separate massacre against Shi’ites in Dujail. Saddam’s execution left Majid, his cousin, the most notorious of the Anfal defendants. The others were Hussein Rashid Muhammed, Sultan Hashim Ahmad, Sabir Abdul Aziz Al-Douri, Farhan Mutlak Jabouri and Tahir Tawfiq Ani. All were high-ranking military or intelligence officials under Saddam—except Ani, who was a northern governor. The charges against Ani were dismissed after the presiding judge found there was insufficient evidence. Jabouri and Douri were each given life in prison. Majid, Tai and Muhammed, convicted of genocide, were sentenced to hang. (LAT, June 25)

Few news accounts are emphasizing that survivors of the March 17, 1988 gas attack on Halabja, which left 5,000 dead, are expressing mixed feelings about the verdict—because the Halabja attack was not included in the charges against Majid. Said Luqman Mohammed, leader of a Halabja survivors association: “Halabja is worried it will never see its day in court.” (Guardian News Service, via The Hindu, June 26)

We pointed out at the time of Saddam Hussein’s hanging that his execution before he could face justice for Anfal and Halabja was a betrayal of historical memory. Is this crime about to be repeated?

See our last posts on Iraq, Kurdistan, the trials of Saddam’s clique, and the legacy of Halabja.

  1. Chemical Tolimir, aka: Zdravko Tolimir and Srebrenica Genocide
    My question to Bill and other readers: What about “Chemical Tolimir” who requested use of Chemical Weapons to gas fleeing Srebrenica civilians, so they could put pressure on B&H Army to surrender? ‘Chemical Tolimir’ (aka: Zdravko Tolimir) is not getting much of mainstream media attention.

    In 2006 opening statements, the U.N. Prosecutor McCloskey stated that “criminal orders in war are as a rule issued verbally”, and that a few exceptions existed to the rule. One of the most striking ones is a report sent on 21 July 1995 by General Zdravko Tolimir from Zepa to General Radomir Miletic, acting Chief of General Staff of the VRS. Tolimir is asking for help to crush some BH Army strongholds, expressing his view that “the best way to do it would be to use chemical weapons”. In the same report, Chemical Tolimir goes even further,proposing strikes against refugee columns leaving Zepa, because that would “force the Muslim fighters to surrender quickly”, in his opinion