July 31 marks the 39th anniversary of the genocide of the Barzanis, in which thousands of men and boys from the Barzani tribe were systematically killed by the Ba’ath regime in Iraq. We honor those who were murdered and reflect on the suffering and resilience of those who survived. On July 31, 1983, under the orders of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi army raided numerous camps near Erbil and further north in Iraqi Kurdistan and abducted 8,000 Barzani men and boys, some as young as 10 years of age and elderly men of up 80 years. Their mothers, wives, and daughters would never see them again. The Barzani men and boys were taken to deserts in southern Iraq, executed and buried in mass graves. The remains of some were found in the deserts of the south after 2003 and transferred to the Kurdistan Region for proper burial, but the whereabouts of thousands of victims are still unknown.
The genocide of the Barzanis ultimately became a blueprint for Saddam Hussein’s Anfal campaign five years later that led to the deaths of up to 182,000 Kurds who were killed by chemical weapons and massive operations of displacement and disappearance. Today the sons and daughters of those victims are part of the revival of Kurdistan. Their success in education, economy, and society is testimony to the resilience of the people of Kurdistan. We honor the memory of those laid to rest and all those still missing, and we salute the survivors for their resolute spirit.
The Tragedy of the Missing Barzanis This mass kidnapping went unnoticed by the outside world but the emotional pain it caused is still deeply felt by the Barzani tribe – long regarded by Saddam’s regime as enemies of the state. Read more kurdistanmemoryprogramme.com