Dujail Massacre

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Dujail massacre
Location Dujail, Iraq
Date July 8, 1982
Attack type
Judicial reprisals
Deaths 142–148 Shiite civilians
Perpetrators Ba'athist Government of Iraq
Motive An unsuccessful assassination attempt against the President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein

The Dujail Massacre refers to the events following an assassination attempt against the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, on 8 July 1982 in Dujail. The city had a large Shiite population, with 75,000 residents at the time of the incident. It is located 53 km (33 mi) from Baghdad in the predominantly-Sunni Salaheddin province of Iraq.

Hundreds of men, women and children were detained after the failed assassination attempt. More than 140 people were sentenced and executed[1] for their alleged involvement in the plot, including four people who were mistakenly killed during the executions. Hundreds more were sent into exile and their houses, farms and properties were demolished. Saddam Hussein was hanged on 30 December 2006 for crimes against humanity in connection with his involvement in the massacre. Many others, including Hussein's brother, were also sentenced and executed for crimes against humanity.

Background[edit]

Dujail was a stronghold of the Shiite Dawa Party[citation needed], a Shiite Islamist organization involved in the Iranian backed insurgency against Saddam Hussein's Baathist government in Iraq during the Iran–Iraq War. Widely viewed in the West as a terrorist organization at the time[citation needed], the Dawa party was banned in 1980 and its members sentenced to death in absentia by the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council.[2]

Events[edit]

On 8 July 1982, Saddam visited Dujail to make a speech praising local conscripts who had served Iraq in the fight against Iran. Hussein visited several households, and after finishing his speech, he prepared for his return to Baghdad. As his motorcade proceeded down the main road, up to a dozen gunmen used the cover of the date palm orchards that lined both sides of the road to open fire, killing two of his bodyguards before they fled on foot. In the ensuing four-hour firefight, most of the attackers were killed and several were captured.[3][4]

Reprisals[edit]

Saddam personally interviewed two of the captured attackers before he ordered his special security and military forces to round up all suspected Dawa members who lived in Dujail, along with their families. He later ordered the razing of orchards on both sides of the road from Balad to Dujail to prevent a repeat of the ambush.[4]

On 14 October 1982, the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council ordered the retitling of the roadside farmland to the Ministry of Agriculture and the compensation of the owners for their loss.[5]

By late December, 393 men over the age of 19 as well as 394 women and children from Dujail and the nearby town of Balad had been arrested.[6] Held in detention at Abu Graib, near Baghdad, an unknown number were tortured, with 138 male adult detainees and ten juveniles being referred to trial before the Revolutionary Court after they had confessed to having taken part in the assassination attempt.[7]

Over several months, the remaining prisoners were transferred to detention centres in the desert to the west. More than 40 of those detained died during interrogation or in detention.[8] A resident of Dujail later testified at Saddam's 2005 trial that he had witnessed torture and murders during the reprisal, including the murders of 7 of his 10 brothers.[9]

After nearly two years in detention, around 400 detainees, primarily family members of the 148 who had admitted involvement, were sent into exile to a remote part of southern Iraq. The remaining detainees were released and sent back to Dujail.[7]

Trial and execution of suspects[edit]

Following the 1982 confessions of 148 of the accused, the judiciary investigated the evidence in support and in late May 1984, it accepted their pleas of guilty to treason for providing armed support for Iran during the war, allowing the Revolutionary Court to review the investigation records and confessions before it sentenced the suspects. On 14 June 1984, the court handed down the mandatory death sentence. On 23 July 1984, Saddam signed the court documents authorising the executions and ordered the razing of the homes, buildings, date palms and fruit orchards of the convicted.

On March 23, 1985, 96 of the 105 condemned still living were executed. Two of the condemned were accidentally released, and a third was mistakenly transferred to another prison and survived. The 96 executed included four members of the Abdel-Amir family who had previously been found not guilty and ordered released. They were instead mistakenly executed. An investigation recommended for a decree to be issued to declare the Abdel-Amirs "martyrs" and the return of the property confiscated from their relatives. It further recommended the prosecution of the officer responsible. Saddam gave his approval to the recommendation and issued the decree. The officer would be sentenced to three years of imprisonment.[8]

Ten children aged between 11 and 17 were originally believed to have been among the 96 executed, but they had actually been transferred to a prison outside the city of Samawah. In 1989, the ten juveniles, all now adults, were secretly executed on the orders of the Mukhabarat.[8]

After fall of Saddam[edit]

The executions in Dujail were the primary charges for which Saddam was hanged on 30 December 2006.[3][10] At 1 a.m., on 13 December 2006, Barzan Hassan, Saddam's half-brother and the former Iraqi intelligence chief, and Awad Bandar, the former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, were escorted from their cells and told by their American guards that they were to be executed at dawn with Saddam. Nine hours later they were returned to their cells, as Iraqi authorities had decided to execute Saddam alone. They were both later hanged on 15 January 2007 for "aiding and abetting" a crime against humanity for naming the suspected Dawa Party members to be arrested.

Barzan Hassan was decapitated when he was hanged because of the wrong measurements of the rope. On January 25, 2010, Saddam's first cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, was hanged.[6][11] Later, Taha Yassin Ramadan, Saddam's former deputy and vice-president who, as national commander of the Popular Army, had command responsibility (originally sentenced to life in prison but later to death by hanging), was likewise charged with "aiding and abetting" for arresting Dawa members and razing the orchards. Ramadan was executed on March 20, 2007, the fourth and last man in the Dujail trial to hanged for crimes against humanity.[6][12]

The charges against Saddam included razing 250,000 acres (100,000 ha) of Dujail farmland. However, the source for the figure was an unsourced claim published in a 2005 New York Times article.[13] The claimed area is larger than the total amount of farmland surrounding Dujail, and less than 2% of the city's population had land confiscated or razed. Earlier media reports ranged from "thousands" to a high of "tens of thousands" of acres, which included the land confiscated from those convicted but also the land cleared to remove places of cover along the road from Balad to Baghdad for which the owners were compensated. There is no record of how many acres were actually razed. Two of the four Baath Party officials who were executed for the massacre lived in Dujail, and the roadside farmland razed included land that belonged to both.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Saddam Hussein Fast Facts". CNN. Retrieved 1 November 2017. 
  2. ^ Wright, Robin (2001). Sacred Rage: the wrath of militant Islam. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-3342-5. 
  3. ^ a b Menendez, James (25 November 2005). "Seeking Justice in Dujail". BBC. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Saddam video shows calm before storm". CNN. 19 October 2005. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 
  5. ^ Revolutionary Command Council Decision Number 1283 dated 14 October 1982
  6. ^ a b c "Judging Dujail (section 7)". Human Rights Watch. 19 November 2006. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "Judging Dujail (section 3)". Human Rights Watch. 19 November 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c "Prosecutors: Saddam approved executions". China Daily. 1 March 2006. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 
  9. ^ Witness won't let Saddam intimidate him, The Sydney Morning Herald
  10. ^ At Saddam's Hearings, U.S. May Be on Trial Archived January 10, 2007, at the Library of Congress Web Archives (Znet;1 December 2005).
  11. ^ Report: Saddam's half-brother, other co-defendant hanged CNN January 15, 2007 accessed via Wayback Machine June 15, 2012
  12. ^ Saddam's former deputy hanged in Iraq 20 March 2007
  13. ^ Burns, John (3 July 2005). "A Town That Bled Under Saddam Hails His Trial". New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  14. ^ Stephens, Eli (26 May 2006). "Dujail - searching for the facts". Uruknet. Retrieved 3 December 2009.