the Anfal survivor, Taimour

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Halabja’s lost son is still torn between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran

Kurd Net

Halabja, Kurdistan region ‘Iraq’, —  Ali’s life is like a shattered mirror. After twenty years of separation he finally found the warm embrace of his real mother. However, when he was 17 he lost his adoptive mother, an Iranian widow. Probably Ali is the only person who can say, “The compassion of each mother feels different.”

Halabja's lost son

Halabja’s lost son Ali

Like any other child, Ali’s mind was always filled with imaginary tales and he never thought about his family’s tragic end.

“Now when I think about it, I understand that my stories are more painful than the ones of other children,” he said. “Whenever something happened to me, I would say why fate has chosen me for this.”

Those events have now become memories of the past for Ali. He is now at home in Halabja.

Zimnako Mohammed [Ali Asmin pour] his mother in Halabja, Kurdistan region of Iraq. Photo: Ayub Nuri

“On March 16th, you were on my lap. I told your dad that we would go to the basement until the shelling is over. Your father went up to the rooftop and your brother Sarteep followed him. I heard Sarteep crying as he fell. I rushed to him with a soaked piece of cloth, but there I collapsed too. When I opened my eyes I found myself in an Iranian hospital and you were no longer with me.”

After 21 years of separation, in a tearful ceremony near the Halabja memorial monument, this was how Ali’s real mother told the story to Ali in the autumn of 2009.

“Thank the almighty, after the death of my mother Kubra, he made me find my real mother.” said Ali.

Zimnako is his real name, but after the gas attack on Halabja in the spring of 1988 by the Iraqi army and his separation from his mother, the Iranian family who adopted him as a baby named him Ali.

It has been two years since Ali returned. Now he is studying at the American University in Sulaimaniyah and engaged to one of his relatives. He loves Sulaimani city in Iraqi Kurdistan where the city officials have awarded him with a Kurdish identity card and birth certificate.

Ali is now trying to get a driver’s license, and he plans to get married in the near future and move to Sulaimaniyah with his family.

“My story sounds like the one of Joseph,” said Ali.

During Ali’s return ceremony at the Halabja memorial, his Iranian uncle, Asfandiyar Hamid, looked at him with his tearful eyes and said, “His survival was like a miracle, when my sister Kubra found him in Halabja,www.ekurd.nethe was covered with flies. He had sucked on his fingers for two days from hunger. My sister Kubra loved him more than her two real sons until the day she passed away.”

“When I was playing with kids, I could hear my mom telling others that she had found me in Halabja, but she was just telling our neighbors and did not let me know.” said Ali.

Since his return a sense of sadness has been haunting Ali.

“When my mother Kubra had an accident, she was taken to hospital and her legs were amputated. I did not visit her that night, and she passed away the next day. I still ask myself why I did not visit her that night, I still feel the sorrow,” said Ali. “When she died my whole life stopped, there was nothing left for me.”

The President of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, and the president of the Kurdistan region Massoud Barzani, both met with Ali. Ali said the main focus of his meeting with the leaders was the fate of the missing children of Halabja.

“I asked them to do all they could to find the other missing children. If they see their real mothers, they will recognize them at once, even if they have not met them before.” said Ali.

Although Ali was linked to his real mother through blood tests, he said with confidence, “When I hugged my real mother, it felt as if I had known her for 100 years. I have been dreaming about her and wanted to know what she and my dad looked like.”

Ali has suffered so much being away from his real family that he is now ready to take it upon himself to go back to Iran and search for the other missing children whose families still wait for their return.

Fatima Hamidpour, aged 58, is Ali’s Iranian aunt. She made Ali promise to always come back and visit them before bursting into tears.

Hamidpour has witnessed Ali growing up in front of her eyes. She said that her sister Kubra did not want Ali to know the truth so that he isn’t hurt.

“Once I went to a psychiatrist and told him about Ali’s story, the specialist said that we should have told him the truth when he was six years old, because after that age he can feel it by himself.” said Hamidpour.

“It was because of the psychiatrist’s advice that we decided to tell Ali about the truth,” she added.

She also said that Ali would not have been in Halabja now if not for what the psychiatrist had said.

Ali is now preoccupied with the stories of Halabja and does not want them to be forgotten. He is thinking about a project for collecting the stories of the survivors in their own words.

“In every house in Halabja there is a tragic story. Next year I want to arrange a contest in Halabja schools for nonfiction stories. I plan to tell each student to go and ask their own mothers about where they were and what happened to them on March 16, 1988. I will gather these stories and I am sure a unique collection will be assembled.” said Ali.

Ali once told his tragic story in a class at the American University in Sulaimaniyah.

“When I turned back, I saw tears running down the eyes of some American teachers, then I understood what Saddam has done.” he said.

Ali saw Saddam Hussein’s execution while he was still in Iran.

“When I was in Iran, I decided to forgive Saddam and said that perhaps God will show him the right path, but he lived as a tyrant until his last moment. If not for Saddam, what would make an American feel pity for Halabja.” said Ali.

When Ali came back to his real family, he could only speak with his mother through a translator. He hasn’t mastered Kurdish yet.

Ali’s stepbrother from his biological mother said, “We thank God for brining this sweet brother back to us. He is a very good person.”

Ali was the only surviving male in his family. His four brothers, one sister and his father all perished in the chemical attack by the Iraqi army on Halabja in March of 1988 that killed 5000 people.

His mother remarried later on and now she lives with Ali in the same house.

Ali said, “When another missing child comes back to Halabja I would love to be present there and welcome him back because I understand their pain.”

Ali then spoke sadly of the day he was separated from his family.

“I was three months old when I lost my family. I was 17 when my adoptive mother died and I lost my family once more. I lived in her empty house for four years in loneliness. I always felt lonely and I kept asking myself, why should my story end like this?”

Ali misses his relatives in Iran and he would like to visit them. But his studies do not give him time.

“I always talk to them on phone and I have had the chance to visit them twice so far. But when my school is over, I will definitely visit them more because half of my heart is still there.” he said.

 

Halabja gas attack survivor reunited with mother

BBC News

A man who as a baby survived a chemical attack on the Iraqi city of Halabja in 1988 has been reunited with his mother.

Ali Pour was taken to Iran by Iranian soldiers who stormed the Kurdish city days after the gas attack by Saddam Hussein’s forces.

Ali Pour made his way back to Halabja after growing up in Iran

Ali Pour made his way back to Halabja after growing up in Iran

Mr Pour, now 21, had to wait for the results of a DNA test before it could be determined whose son he was.

His mother, whose husband and six other children had all died in the attack, fainted when she heard.

Five thousand people were killed in the Halabja attack, considered one of the worst atrocities of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Five other families were waiting to hear from a judge whether Mr Pour was their missing son, but Fatima Mohammed Salih, 58, was found to be his real mother.

“I’m in a dream,” Mr Pour said as he comforted her, according to Associated Press news agency.

Mr Pour had been adopted by an Iranian woman and named Ali.

I wonder if it is a dream or a gift from God

Fatima Mohammed Salih

He grew up in eastern Iran speaking Persian, although he always knew he was from Halabja.

Co-operation between the Iranian and Iraqi Kurdish regional governments led to this week’s reunification – the first time a long-lost son of Halabja is known to have been reunited with his family.

Mr Pour, know as Zimnaku to his birth mother, has said he plans to stay in the region to study and learn the local language.

He is proud of his Kurdish identity, and is going to move in with his mother, he said.

“I wonder if it is a dream or a gift from God,” his mother said.

Forty-one people – children at the time of the attack, are still registered as missing, the assistant chief of the Directorate of the Martyrs of Halabja said, according to AP.

As a four-month-old baby, Ali Pour managed to survive three days after the gas attack while his family died around him.

His mother remembers the gas burning her children, collapsing herself and then waking in a Tehran hospital.

An Iranian woman offered to adopt him.

When Mr Pour’s adoptive mother died in a car accident four months ago, he said: “I felt lonely and I felt a strange feeling calling me to return to the arms of my relatives.

“I decided to go back.”

Taymour Abdullah Ahmad, Kurdish boy

The army brought a large number of buses that looked like oversized

 the only human being to have experienced firsthand the innermost workings of the Anfal campaign and to have lived to tell of it.

the only human being to have experienced firsthand the innermost workings of the Anfal campaign and to have lived to tell of it.

ambulances, because they had no windows: it was all metal plating.

Before the people were put in the buses, their names were called from lists,

and then written down on a new list. I stayed with my mother and sisters.

They drove from 6 a.m. until sunset. Then the bus stopped,

and the guards opened the doors. They took everyone and

they began pushing us into the trench that I saw in front of us.

An officer and a soldier stood next to the trench

and at once opened fire at us with Kalashnikovs.

I was hit in the flesh just above my left armpit.

I tried to climb out of the trench, toward the soldier on my right.

I saw that the soldier was moved to the point of crying.

But then the officer standing on my left-hand side gave an order to the soldier

and the soldier pushed me back into the trench, and fired at me in the lower right back.

Then the shooting stopped.

 

 the only human being to have experienced firsthand the innermost workings of the Anfal campaign and to have lived to tell of it.

the only human being to have experienced firsthand the innermost workings of the Anfal campaign and to have lived to tell of it.

It was dark. The soldiers left.

I climbed out of the trench by myself. I began to walk, into the darkness.

There was no moon.

After a while I saw the shadow of a tent. Close to the tent,

dogs tried to attack me; they were barking. I threw stones at them.

The noise alerted the owner of the tent who came out with a flashlight.

When the man saw this boy in Kurdish dress who was bleeding,

he pulled me straight inside the tent.

After three days, the man took me to his brother’s family in Samawa.

After nine months, I was able to speak Arabic fluently,

and could tell my host family what had happened to me.

Taymour Abdullah Ahmad, Kurdish boy

Interviewed by Joost Hiltermann, adapted in “Genocide in Iraq,”

Human Rights Watch, July 1993

From the book, Kurdistan, In the Shadow of History.

Gallery

بریندارانی چه‌كی كیمیایی موچه‌ وه‌رده‌گرن

وه‌زیری كاروباری شه‌هیدان و ئه‌نفالكراوه‌كانی حكومه‌تی هه‌رێمی كوردستان بڕینه‌وه‌ی 400 هه‌زار دیناری وه‌ك موچه‌ بۆ بریندارانی چه‌كی كیمیایی راگه‌یاند. له‌ كۆنگره‌یه‌كی رۆژنامه‌نووسیدا ئارام ئه‌حمه‌د وه‌زیری كاروباری شه‌هیدان و ئه‌نفالكراوه‌كانی حكومه‌تی هه‌رێمی كوردستان رایگه‌یاند: به‌ مه‌به‌ستی دابینكردنی موچه‌یه‌ك بۆ برینداران و … Continue reading

Gallery

Anfal survivor – Those who went into hiding during Anfal

Interview with Bafraw Fakhradeen 23/12/05 – Serqala, Germian, 3rd Anfal By Dr.chomanhardi -www.chomanhardi.com Bafraw Fakhradeen grew up in a district and then she married and moved to a village in Germian. She had been married for less than two years … Continue reading

Gas Survivors – Interview with Nakhshin Saeed Osman

Interview with Nakhshin Saeed Osman
10/04/06 – Challawa village, Jaffati Valley, First Anfal

By Dr.chomanhardi -www.chomanhardi.com

 Interview with Nakhshin Saeed Osman 10/04/06 - Challawa village, Jaffati Valley, First Anfal


Interview with Nakhshin Saeed Osman
10/04/06 – Challawa village, Jaffati Valley, First Anfal

I visited the village of Challawa in the Jaffati valley with Kak Rewend Gharib Haladni, a young man who comes from this village. We went to Kak Khalid’s house and soon many other villagers gathered there. First of all the men came forward to talk and only when I asked for the women did they invite some of them to talk. I had already interviewed a few people when Nakhshin came. She had been ill in bed for over ten days and she particularly came to speak with me to ask for help. She was really angry. Nakhshin has survived two gas attacks during Anfal. First of all she was injured in the Jaffati Valley during the first Anfal and later in an Iranian refugee camp called Hawara Khol when Iraqi planes gassed the refugees. She has been severely ill and for ten years she was unable to have children. Now she and her husband continuously need hospitalisation and care but they are also very poor and they receive no help from anywhere. Throughout the interview there were a few attempts to silence Nakhshin who complained about the Kurdistan Regional Government for not helping her. Despite her ill health and the misery of years of poverty and illness Nakhshin is a vibrant woman who refuses to be silenced. She is a typical example of the gas survivors whose bodies keep turning against them and this causes great anger and fear.

The interview

– What is your name please?
– Nakhshin, your little sister (a Kurdish expression to show modesty).

– Your full name please.
– Nakhshin Saeed Osman.

– When were you born Nakhshin xan?
– 1968.

– Which village do you come from?
– Challawa.

– When Anfal started where were you?
– We were in Iran, ask me about before that, when I was injured by the gas. (This is a common misconception. Some people think Anfal started in the Germian region in April because this is when people started disappearing on a large scale. They don’t realise that it started in February with the gassing of Jaffati valley in February).

– Anfal started in February 1988. That must be when you fled to Iran.
– I don’t know to be honest, I am illiterate so I don’t know when it started. But all the people here know that when people fled to Iran [in the first week of March] I had not gone yet. I was with my husband in Gandaran Mountain. These brothers here (referring to the men in the room) know where it is. We stayed there, only the peshmarga were left. My husband was with me with my brother in law and a few other men, our friends. One of them was martyr Ali Ahmed beg (a common way to refer to men who died in these battles is to call them martyr). Kak Khalid here knows him. He came to us and said if you decide to leave and take the family, please don’t leave me, I will come with you. Kak Ali left me and went outside and soon I heard a quiet explosion. I got up to close the door thinking it is artillery, to protect myself from shrapnel but the explosion lifted me up and its force threw me at the wall. I fainted but a pink dust entered the room.

– Where you in a cave?
– No, they had made a small house in the mountain. The pink dust came in and I fainted. When I woke up my husband was spraying me with water. He was spraying my face with water, he too had been affected. He told me to get up and go to Zindanan Mountain. But already my sight was blurred. My eyes were heavy and dark. I called kak Ali twice but he had died immediately. He was martyred, may he rest in peace.

– Immediately?
– Immediately. That same moment he had died. My husband carried me on his back to Zindanan Mountain. When we got there, there was a group of peshmarga in late kak Latif’s house. We asked them for help. We were desperate, we had been in the snow all night. They gave us an anti-chemical injection with our clothes on. But they [the peshmarga] themselves immediately started feeling rough, they had inhaled the chemicals from our clothes. In the morning we climbed the mountain on all fours. Kak Khalid knows at the top of Ze there is a cave, we had two sacks of bread and sweets, we took them there. We had a donkey with us. My husband said: Let’s give this bread to the donkey, if he died eating it then we know we should not. The donkey just smelt the thing a few times but would not eat it. We threw it all away. We spent one night in that cave. Melting snow and rain was coming down on us. We spent that night in this way.

– Did you have any children?
– No, I didn’t. After that night we carried on walking on all fours, people helped us sometimes, holding our armpits. We were unfamiliar but we made it to Sira Merg, there were pasdars there (Iranian revolutionary guards). The pasdars held our arms till Galala. They brought an eye drop for me and my husband. They then put us into a tractor until we passed Galala.

-Apologies. I need to change the tape.
(Tape changed)

– You were saying that the peshmarga gave you injections and then you climbed the mountain.
– Yes, we climbed the mountain. When we got to Sira Merg the pasdars took us to Galala. We got on a tractor from there. After a while the tractor broke down. We stayed one night in that rain and snow inside the tractor, it was my husband and myself with an old woman, a man and my brother in law. We were hungry and thirsty in that tractor, under the snow. We spent that night that way.

– Had you all been injured by the gas?
– Yes we had all been injured.  We were blind and lame, all of us. We had no food or water, no shoes, no clothes. On the next day a car took us to Bana in Iran. Just before the town there was a camp, we spent a night there. On the next day they took us into town to the Haji Waisi mosque.  [When] they held my hand to take me in I fainted by the door [because] I had been hit by the gas 6-7 days before and I had spent a few nights in the cold and snow. The heat in the room made me faint. They put me in a blanket and took me to the first floor of the mosque where there was a pool. They had sterilised the pool and they put me in that pool three times a day. They did not allow me to be indoors, I wasn’t allowed to be near a fire, the heat made me worse. In was not supposed to be near hot steam.

– Did they give you any medication?
– Only the drops. I didn’t have any relatives with me, I was illiterate, I had no one to take me to the hospital. After that they took us to a family in Bana. That good woman washed me three times a day, morning, noon and evening. The cold water made me wake up a little. Then they took me to the camp near Bana, on the border. We were there for 6-7 nights and people kept walking out, out of fear [of Iraqi planes bombing]. I was unconscious most of the time, I could not move. I had no energy. One day they gassed us there too. We got much worse.

– Did you manage to get into the shelter?
– They dropped the gas then we went to the shelter. Now my shoulders are aching all the time, my arms. I have been in bed for ten days now (she opens her scarf and shows me her neck): I don’t dare to look up (she touches her neck). They still have not done anything for me. Neither for me nor for my husband, neither Parti (Kurdistan Democratic Party) nor Yeketi (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan). No party has spent one dinar on me. This is my medical record (she puts it before me), these are hospital reports. They have not done anything for me yet. These are all the pills I take. I have taken so many of these pills and injections. So far they have not done anything for me or my husband. Kak Khalid and the others know we are always ill. The only reason that I don’t go into hospital is because of my children. They still don’t set up a doctors board to see me as if I am not a Kurd. Obviously I am an Arab. If I wasn’t an Arab they would do something for me. At least they could pay for my trip to the city, they could pay for the car or the hospital. I have an old husband, he was born in 1945, we have four children and he cannot work. It has been fifteen days he is ill in bed.

– When you were gassed in the camp, were you injured again?
– Yes. My eyes were affected again and my skin. My body was injured and I was taken to a hospital in Seqiz and Khana. They gave me medicine and injections. I brought back all the medical reports with me when I came back to Arbat. People told me that if Saddam finds out about these documents, he would kill me. I had organised all of them in a cloth folder, putting them in different corners, all the problems I had. In fear of being caught and found out I burnt them.

– When did you come back?
– (She faces the others and asks them:) Which year did we come back through Arbat?
(A man answers: It was 1991)

Nakhshin then looks at me:
-I still have the document they gave us when we returned. In fear of reprisals I burnt all my medical documents. (This must have been after the September Amnesty in 1988 because in 1991 people returned to the No Fly Zone which was not under Iraqi control anymore. The man is probably confused about the year). From Arbat they took us to Bainjan, they arrested my husband and my brother in law. They threw me out in the south of Bainjan, I fainted. I had no one with me. One of my uncles came and found me, he carried me on his back to Bainjan. I was not conscious.

– How many children did you have then?
– I had none.

-So it must have been 1988 still when you returned.
(A man interrupts: I think it was 1989)

– Okay the Amnesty was in September 88 so you came back a few months after that. So you burnt your stuff when you came back after the Amnesty?
– Yes. I burnt them in fear of Saddam Hussein. They told me if he captures the documents on me he will hang me and this and that. So I burnt them in fear. I had kept all the documents until then.

– Where did they take your husband and the others?
– They arrested them and said they are of conscription age so they made them become soldiers. He was sent to Ziqar.

– Your husband and who else?
– My brother in law, Kak Abubakir. (She continuously blows her nose and then she looks up). Now the water in my head is very low. Once they operated my head through my nose. I keep having to blow my nose. My nose water is low. I feel ashamed of myself amongst people because I keep having to blow my nose. They still have not done anything for me. It has 15 days I am ill in bed and my husband, kak Khalid knows, he was born in 1945, he is also ill in bed. We have not received one Dinar from any party or government. No salary, no help.  How come those who were Baathists are having a few salaries now? Why don’t we have anything? I swear to God when martyr Ghareeb (the father of my guide kak Rewend) was in the Jhilwan mountain the peshmarga gave one pot of flour to two women, they gave me one pot to bake alone. I said, Kak Latif, why do I get one pot on my own when they other women get one between two? He replied, these friends know that he used to call everyone ‘my son’, he laughed and said: I don’t know my son, I don’t know what to say.

– Was that to bake bread for the peshmarga?
– We were baking bread for the peshmarga during the Daban battle. After the gas I fell really ill, everyone knows here, I could not have children for a long time. I went to many doctors in Iran and here. I went to many doctors. Finally thank God one doctor helped us and God helped us and we were able to have four children.

– You had your children when you came back here?
– Yes I was here.

– When did you return to Challawa?
– After the uprising.

– After 1991.
– Yes after the uprising.

– You talked about the mosque where you stayed in Iran, how many nights were you there?
– I was not inside the mosque, I was outside it. I was not supposed to be a in a warm room.

– Who helped you those few days in the mosque? Who washed you and gave you food?
– Iranian women in Bana. My husband was worse than me, both of us. Now [when] he sits in a car he turns to a corpse and people have to hold his armpits to bring him back. Recently he went to the city to meet Tofiq Haji Salim, (she looks at the host): Your son was one of the people who helped bring him back, how did you bring him back? (With great difficulty, he answers). Then he came home and he has been in bed for ten nights.  I have been in bed for 10-15 days and I swear by the Qura’n that is in this house, not one person has knocked on our door. I have left a little child at home right now, if she runs out no one will notice. (She blows her nose and goes silent for a while then she turns to the host): Kak Khalid is our neighbour, I don’t need to explain it to you. He is aware of everything.

– What is your income? Do you have a flock?
–  Our flock, we have 6-7 goats. We share the goats with my brother in law. The time of sharing is gone but we have no other choice. You look after a goat for a year and for the next year it will have two lambs one of them is my brother in law’s and the other is ours. That is not good.

– How old are your children?
– My first child is ten years (She looks doubtful and looks at the other woman: Do you think he is ten? The woman replies that he is not). No, he is not ten. Two of them are in the second year primary school and two of them are really small, one of them is breastfeeding. (The men start arguing about the age of her first son: some say he is seven others say he is eight).

– So you had no children for a long time?
– I had no children for a long while… It got to a stage that even if I did not have any children this thing would have killed me. It is embarrassing to say this in front of you but they took out so much black stuff from my womb, as large as your handbag. It was like dry mushrooms inside my womb. They took it out and threw it away.

– So you had an operation.
– Yes. They operated me 2-3 times. Each time I nearly died and lived again.

– Do they say that it was caused by the chemicals?
– Yes it is because of the chemicals. Now it is as if I have no head. Kak Khalid knows, he is our neighbour, since we were gassed this headache has not left me. Kak Smko knows better than kak Khalid. They all know.

– Thank you, I don’t have any questions left. If you have anything else to tell me please go ahead.
– Other questions, I just want to say that even our village has lost out on a lot. You can hardly call this electricity (the villages have dynamos which provides few hours of electricity a day). We have no electricity, no water, no paved roads. We are losing out. Even our village is like an Arab village. You look at the people and you feel sorry for them. (She goes silent and looks around, checking their reaction.)

– Do you have any other shortcomings here?
– Now if they open a hospital for us. I hired a car and took the children to Qala Chwalan hospital, we are suffering.

(One of the men who does not approve of her speaking out tries to quieten her: Okay, thanks for your time and for talking.)

(Nakhshin replies):
-May you see no pain, I also want to thank you. You are very welcome here. But I want you to take my questions to the relevant authorities. I swear to God they have not done anything to help me. This is it (she pushes the documents forward again), I was gassed. My father in law too… O (she smiles) I forgot to talk about him.

– Please go ahead.
– I forgot to tell you that when we left him (she wipes her nose), when we went to Zindanan mountain, my father in law who was elderly and had also been injured by the gas… when we went blind we could not take him with us. We left him. So when the filthy Baathists came they shot at the elderly and killed one of them. Then my father in law and his sister and a few others, Kak Khalid and the others know, they put them in a helicopter and took them to Dukan. From there they took them to Nugra Salman [the elderly people’s prison on the border of Saudi Arabia]. (She wipes her nose). [When he returned] he told us that in Nugra Salman they were put into a room, may it be far from you, he said that they slid in shit. He said they didn’t have water for 6-7 days at a time. They would bring a water tank into the courtyard and made people line up for the water like animals, the old, the ill, the young, those who had been affected by gas… they told them to bring containers for water. He said that when they took their containers to get water the soldiers would beat them by cable. Some managed to get away but others fell into the shit and filth. He was in Nugra Salman for a while (she wipes her nose). They had beaten and tortured him so much that he went blind. He became blind, disabled and lame there. They gathered the disabled and ill and released them (probably referring to after the amnesty). So we went to the big Mosque in Suleimaya. He was one of them. When we saw him we nearly didn’t recognise him, he was all black, his skin was all black. We carried him back here. About a couple of months later he too died and became a martyr. He did not survive all the torture.

– What was his name?
– Muhammad Khidir Smail.

– Do you know when he was born?
– His ID card is at home, I don’t know which year he was born. (A man says: 1929 or something like that.) His ID card is at home, if you like I can go and get it.

– It is okay. Where did you leave your father in law and the others behind?
– In the same place where I was injured by the gas.

– So you left and they could not walk with you?
– No, they could not.

– How many of them were there?
– It was my father in law (A man says: There were six of them). Where they six? (Yes).

– How many of them were killed?
– One of them was killed here and the others were taken by plane to Dukan and then they took them by car till Nugra Salman. There they were tortured and abused for a while and beaten. They did not handle it. They went blind and disabled. They brought them back and threw them in the mosque in Suleimanya.

– This is after the amnesty, right?
– Yes, yes. My father in law did not survive the torture and he died and even for his loss they have not compensated us. They have not given us the Anfal salary that others get. Neither is he accepted as a martyr. Now when I look at my own house and my furniture I feel that even my home is not like an ordinary home. I have no money, no salary, no young husband who could work for me, no grown up children. My father in law was Anfalised and they have not done anything for us, I was gassed and they haven’t done anything for me, my husband was gassed and they haven’t done anything for him. So I am not a Kurd. Find me one person who does not have an income. Those who were Baathists, those who were Jash, even their children have a salary and they mock people like me. And I have been ill in bed for 15 days and no one has knocked on the door to help me. These are all my neighbours (she points at them sitting in a row). Isn’t it true Kak Hamid? (Yes, he replies.) No one comes to my door. Years ago we were gassed but even now people don’t dare to come close to us. When I fall ill they tell each other: Don’t go, she smells of the chemicals. They think they would catch it from me. Now my head is numbed from pain, I don’t feel my shoulders.

– Is this the village women who say so?
– Yes, there is no compassion and pity anymore in the world, if you don’t have a sister or a mother who cares about you. I don’t have any of my relatives here.

– Don’t you have any relatives?
– I only have my God.

– What about your brother in law, is he here?
– Yes but it is as if they don’t exist. This will be on TV so I don’t care if he hears it.

– This is not for TV.
– I swear to God, I have not seen my brother in law’s wife in my house for 15 years.

– Do they live in this village?
– Yes they live in this village. I have not been bad to them ever, I raised my brother in law anyway, he was this small when I raised him. (A man tries once again to quieten her: Don’t talk about those, these issues are not relevant to them.) I found him a wife and he is worse than the others. Now my request is I want to know why the medical group won’t help me? I am just waiting for my children to get a little better. When they do I have to go into hospital again. I know I will be hospitalised. I have no money. Can I go on borrowing money forever? Borrowed money needs to be paid back. (A man walks in and says: Have you finished?)

– Many thanks to you for talking to me, it is all very useful.
– Thanks to you, welcome here, on our eyes. Despite all my problems I warmly welcome you.

(I switch off the camera and we talk informally and then she asks me to switch the camera back on):

– Please go ahead.
– I just want to say that despite my illness and problems, inequality and heartbreak I have always taken part in voting. Whatever brings doom to Saddam I will do it. I don’t go for salary but anything that would lead to Saddam’s extinction I will do it. Thank you for coming here, welcome to our village.

Gallery

Anfal Servivor-Interview with Nabata Fayaq Rahman

Interview with Nabata Fayaq Rahman 01/12/05 – Qara Hanjir. Germian Region, 3rd Anfal By Dr.chomanhardi -www.chomanhardi.com I first met Nabat in a conference about Kurdish women and the creation of civil society in Iraqi Kurdistan (Stockholm, 2004). She had come … Continue reading