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Iraq: Al-Dujayl Survivor Says 'We Want The Deserved Punishment For The Guilty'

Radio Free Iraq (RFI) interviewed lawyer Adnan al-Dujayli, a native of Al-Dujayl, where a massacre occurred in the early 1980s for which former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and other officials from his regime are currently standing trial. The interview was in Baghdad by RFI correspondent Imad Jasim and broadcast on 22 August 2005.

Al-Dujayli: The number of people who undertook the act and were
arrested [for the assassination attempt against Saddam Hussein when he
was visiting Al-Dujayl] were, as far as I have been informed, about
seven. RFI: And how many people were executed?

Al-Dujayli: There were between 143 and 153 people executed.

RFI: Was there any investigation of these people before they were executed?

Al-Dujayli: There was absolutely no fair investigation of the
men arrested in Al-Dujayl. They were not put before any fair trial. The
majority of the men arrested neither had any political links nor did
they take part in the act [of the assassination attempt]. They were
innocent. The only thing that could [link] a person was that he was a
brother of someone. RFI: Was this the reason they were executed?

Al-Dujayli: They were executed for this reason.

RFI: Even women?

Al-Dujayli: Women were dying in prisons. Old men were dying in
prisons. Children were dying in prisons. Unfortunately, there were
families here who were, so to say, exterminated. I can tell you now
that for example the family of Abd Jawad al-Zubaydi was finished with.
They all were killed, only a girl survived. RFI: Were all of its members taken to prison and killed?

Al-Dujayli: All of them. Father, mother, children -- all of
them. There was another family, known as the "Storytellers," or the
family of Ya’qub Majid al-Ya’qub. Everyone in this family was
exterminated apart from two women, who survived. Seven boys and [their]
father were all killed. Well, there are families of whom not a single
person survived. Regarding my family, my stepbrother, called Mahrus,
took part in the act [of the assassination attempt]. After he
participated in the act, Al-Dujayl was massacred. The Republican Guards
forces, police with dogs, aircraft, and army stormed Al-Dujayl and
disgraced it.... Altogether seven of my brothers were executed by
Saddam Hussein.... The [other] arrested members of my family were: my
mother, [another of] my father’s wives, my three sisters, my brother’s
wife, my two brothers, and my nephew. When the arrests happened, my
sister-in-law was pregnant. She was the wife of my brother Ali, who was
one of the ones executed. During interrogations by the intelligence
officers she gave birth to a son. Due to the absence of care in the
jail, he died. My brother Ali has four daughters left [who are alive
now] but the others did not have any offspring. After they had been
jailed by the intelligence service for approximately a year, they were
expelled to...a village on the Iraqi-Saudi border. Four years after the
[incident], the [arrested Al-Dujayl residents] were acquitted. All of
them returned to the town [of Al-Dujayl], all [survivors] from among
the 120 Al-Dujayl families. After the incident that happened on 8 July
1982, as far as I can remember, a whole month of arrests followed when
the town was occupied by the [security and intelligence forces]. As for
six of my brothers, some of them were [at the time] in the army on the
front [in the Iraq-Iran War] and others were working. They did not know
anything about the [assassination attempt] and had no relation to it.
They did not have any political orientation. They had no liaison to any
political or religious parties. After the men and families were
arrested, a destruction of gardens and uprooting of trees began.
Beginning in October 1982, bulldozers arrived and destroyed everything
between the highway, the town, and Al-Ishaqi [irrigation] plant -- an
estimated 70,000 to 80,000 donums [i.e. 17,500-20,000 hectares of
agricultural land]. There were well-cultivated vineyards and orchards
of palms, pomegranates, and oranges. Whole families and cities lived
off of this. This was nurturing the cities. Baghdad and all cities of
Iraq were supplied with fruits from here.… When the door of a house was
knocked on, children were sat down in a room. People were scared and
then they opened the door. They would say: “I will [go],” hoping the
family could stay. It would rarely happen that someone would not open
the door. The [security and intelligence forces] would break the door,
and storm and search the house. There were families killed even here
[on the spot]. In one family close to my place, they raided [a home
fille with] women and slaughtered them. RFI: Did this operation continue during the whole period of the former regime?

Al-Dujayli: [Yes,] for the whole period of the former regime.
After 1986, the affairs calmed down a little but all people kept
waiting for their children to be acquitted. My mother, for instance,
was wondering until her death who [from among the arrested relatives]
would come back.
RFI: And one of her sons [i.e. Adnan al-Dujayli’s full brother] was killed.

Al-Dujayli: [Yes,] one of her sons....

RFI: The corpses were not returned to you?

Al-Dujayli: No, none of the seven corpses has ever been
returned. But after the fall [of the regime of Saddam Hussein] we
received death certificates. We got the decree on their execution, the
decree on the execution of 143 young men of Al-Dujayl. Based on this
decree, we requested the death certificates.... Saddam is a human being
so he cannot have stayed [in power] forever. One day, he had to be
finished with his deeds. Saddam Hussein was terrorizing and oppressing
people.... The supreme and almighty Lord is the one who has taken
revenge on Saddam and drawn to him this destiny that he had not been
expecting. Thank God Saddam Hussein is finished. God willing, the Iraqi
people will [see] that he receives a just punishment. We do not want to
do him wrong. On the contrary, Saddam Hussein is one of the Iraqis and
he did wrong to the Iraqi people. So if justice and law are applied on
him, he will be punished by us more than we were being punished by him.
RFI: How do you feel when you see him handcuffed now, after he killed so many of your relatives?

Al-Dujayli: By God, I will not take the anger out on anyone. But
this is justice. This is justice that must be followed on this issue
and in this form.... We do not want to do him wrong. We want the
deserved punishment for the guilty, and fair treatment for those who
will be found innocent, even if it were Saddam Hussein or his aides....
The Iraqi judiciary is pure, transparent, and competent. (Translation
by Petr Kubalek)