May 1, 1994

Iraq’s 1988 Anfal campaign of extermination against the Kurdish people living within its borders resulted in the death of at least 50,000 and as many as 100,000 people, many of them women and children. This book, co-published with Yale University Press, investigates the Anfal campaign and concludes that this campaign constituted genocide against the Kurds. The book is the result of research by a team of Human Rights Watch investigators who analyzed eighteen tons of captured Iraqi government documents (10 of these documents are reproduced in the appendix) and carried out field interviews with more than 350 witnesses, most of them survivors of the Anfal campaign. It confirms that the campaign was characterized by gross violations of human rights, including mass summary executions and disappearances of many tens of thousands of noncombatants; the widespread use of chemical weapons, among them mustard gas and nerve agents that killed thousands; the arbitrary jailing and warehousing of tens of thousands of women, children, and elderly people for months, in conditions of extreme deprivation and without judicial order; the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of villagers to barren resettlement camps after the demolition of their homes; and the wholesale destruction of some two thousand villages along with their schools, mosques, farms, and power stations. The book is a searing indictment of the Iraqi government’s carefully planned and executed program to destroy a people, harrowing in its detailed and objective recounting of crimes against innocents.

Get the Report