|Date||July 8, 1982|
|Deaths||142 - 148 Shiite residents|
|Motive||An unsuccessful assassination attempt against then Iraqi president, 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. Dujail, a town with a large Shiite population and up to 75,000 residents at the time of the incident 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 on Hussein. More than 140 people were sentenced and executed 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.
Dujail was a stronghold of the Shiite Dawa Party, an organization involved in the Iranian backed insurgency against Saddam Hussein's Baathist dictatorship in Iraq during the Iran–Iraq War. Widely viewed in the West as a terrorist organization at the time, the Dawa party was banned in 1980 and its members sentenced to death in absentia by the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council.
On 8 July 1982, Saddam Hussein 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 prepared for his return to Baghdad. As his motorcade proceeded down the main road, up to a dozen gunmen, using the cover of the date palm orchards which lined both sides of the road, opened fire killing two of Hussein’s bodyguards before fleeing on foot. In the ensuing four-hour fire-fight most of the attackers were killed and several were captured.
Saddam Hussein initially interviewed two of the captured attackers in person before ordering his special security and military forces to round up all suspected Dawa members who lived in Dujail along with their families. He later ordered that orchards on both sides of the road from Balad to Dujail be razed to prevent a repeat of the ambush. On 14 October 1982, the Revolutionary Command Council ordered that the roadside farmland be retitled to the Ministry of Agriculture and the owners compensated for their loss.
By late December, 393 men over the age of 19 and 394 women and children from Dujail and the nearby town of Balad had been arrested. 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 confessed to having taken part in the assassination attempt. 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 while in detention. A resident of Dujail later testified at Saddam's trial in 2005, that he had witnessed the torture and murders during the government reprisal, including the murders of 7 of his 10 brothers. 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.
Trial and executions
Following the 1982 confessions by 148 of the accused, the judiciary investigated the evidence in support and in late May 1984, accepted their pleas of guilty to treason for providing armed support for Iran during war, allowing the Revolutionary Court to review the investigation records and confessions before passing sentence. 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 that the homes, buildings, date palms and fruit orchards belonging to those convicted be razed.
On March 23, 1985, 96 of the 105 condemned still living were executed. Two of the condemned were accidentally released while 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 that a decree be issued to declare the Abdel-Amirs "martyrs" and that property confiscated from their relatives be returned. It further recommended that the officer responsible for the mistake be prosecuted. Saddam gave his approval to the recommendation with the officer subsequently being sentenced to three years imprisonment and the decree issued.
Ten children aged between 11 and 17 were originally believed to have been among the 96 executed, but they had in fact 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.
The executions in Dujail were the primary charges for which Saddam Hussein was hanged on 30 December 2006. At 1 am on 13 December 2006, Barzan Hassan, Saddam's half-brother and former Iraqi intelligence chief, and Awad Bandar, 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, due to the wrong measurements of the rope. On January 25, 2010, Saddam's first cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid was hanged. 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 al-Dujail trial to die by hanging for crimes against humanity.
The charges against Saddam Hussein included razing 250,000 acres (100,000 ha) of Dujail farmland. However, the source for this figure was an unsourced claim published in a 2005 New York Times article. The claimed area is larger than the total amount of farmland surrounding Dujail, while less than 2% of the town's population had land confiscated or razed. Earlier media reports ranged from thousands to a high of tens of thousands of acres that not only included the land confiscated from those convicted, but also the land cleared to remove 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. Ironically, two of the four Baath Party officials executed for the massacre lived in Dujail and the roadside farmland razed included land belonging to both.
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