First Published: 2003-05-22

 
Iraqis take revenge on Baathists
 

Wave of Baghdad killings as Iraqis exact vengeance on their former tormentors who belong to Baath party.

 

Middle East Online

By Marc Carnegie - BAGHDAD

Some of the Baathists never hurt an Iraqi and were still killed

When Najem al-Miyahi stepped out of a taxi in Baghdad's dirt-poor Shiite Muslim suburbs, he met the same fate as dozens of members of Saddam Hussein's once all-powerful Baath party.

He was gunned down in cold blood.

"My son swore to me on his soul that he never hurt an Iraqi even though he was a Baathist," said his father Abdullah, sitting in the funeral tent outside their house on the day after the killing.

"He never harmed anybody. My son was innocent."

The pent-up rage over decades of brutality at the hands of the Baath has erupted in a wave of murders in Sadr City, a Shiite slum where Saddam repaid the hatred for his regime with his own brand of oppression.

Hospital officials said dozens of Baathists have been slaughtered or left critically wounded in recent weeks. They said the numbers are rising as Iraqis exact vengeance on their former tormentors.

"There have been 60 or 70 cases in the last three or four weeks, too many to count," said Ali Salman, a receptionist at the emergency room at Al-Qadisiyah hospital, poring over his admissions list.

"Sometimes they are people we know from the neighbourhood as Baathists. Sometimes their family will tell us or we hear from the people who hang around outside."

Salman produced a photo of a blood-soaked corpse, a young man shot in the neck and at least twice in the torso. "This is what happens," he said.

What to do about the Baath, which ran a vast intelligence apparatus of fear whereby informants could turn a casual remark into a jail term or worse, is one of the most emotionally charged issues in post-war Iraq.

Under Saddam's rule it was nearly impossible to move up the ranks in any profession without being an active party member, and now it is proving difficult to separate those who joined for mundane reasons from those who took leading roles in his regime.

The US administration has ordered almost all Baathists to turn themselves in and Iraqi political groups working to set up a post-Saddam government have deplored the killings.

"We don't agree with violent retribution," said Goran Talabani from the Iraqi National Congress. "They're taking the law into their own hands and that's not something we agree with."

The killings are not only happening in Shiite areas. Daoud al-Qaissi, a singer who glorified the Baath regime and the army, was shot dead in his house Saturday in central Baghdad.

But in Sadr City, where around two million desperately poor Shiites were oppressed by Saddam's Sunni Muslim elite, the bodies are piling up.

"The number of killings is increasing," said Qazem Abbud, who works in the admissions department at Al-Shuwadr hospital. "I saw four or five myself last week, and I work six-hour shifts."

He said that one Baathist who was brought in dead was accompanied by his teenage son who had also been attacked and left in critical condition. Both had been shot in the head.

"Those who don't die are being taken out of the hospital by their families. They're afraid the gunmen are going to come back to make sure the job is finished," Abbud said.

"Some of those shot were reporting on their neighbours. I'm not surprised. We're all expecting a lot of revenge."

The attacks have been facilitated by the flood of weapons in the Baghdad streets, where Kalashnikovs and other assault rifles, many of them looted from former depots of Saddam's army, are widely on sale.

"Before the war the injuries were stab wounds," said Dr Khaldun Ahmed, a resident at Al-Qadisiyah's casualty ward. "Now they're always shootings."

Ali Salman, the receptionist, said that in Sadr City, the fury at the people's treatment by Saddam's regime was a guarantee of more bloodshed to come.

"I know people who were arrested and then had electric shocks applied to their testicles. There were people who had a death sentence under the regime, and they know who reported them," Salman said.

"Of course these things will happen."

 

10 killed in Toronto “deliberate” van attack

Yemen Huthi political leader killed in coalition raid

Rouhani warns Trump against betraying nuclear deal

Saudi king to launch 'entertainment city'

Can Arab satellite TV catch up with social media?

Nine people killed in Toronto van attack

Syria security chief refuses Lebanon court appearance

Air raid kills dozens at Yemen wedding

Algeria draws Europe’s ire by cutting imports, boosting trade with China

Russia says no decision yet on delivery of S-300 missiles to Syria

French MPs adopt controversial immigration bill

Qatar Airways ‘robust’ despite large losses

IS threatens to attack Iraqi polling station

Jordan sounds the alarm over rising online crimes

Yemen forces clash with jihadists in Taez

Paris attacks suspect gets 20 years over Brussels shootout

Jailed Egyptian photographer wins UN press freedom prize

14 Saddam-era officials still jailed in Iraq

Gaza death toll rises to 40 as Palestinian dies of wounds

HRW says African migrants face rape, torture in Yemen

Four British pilgrims killed in Saudi road crash

HRW warns Egypt fight against IS threatens humanitarian crisis

Iran, Israel trade blame for surge in hostilities over Syria

Iran vows to resume enrichment if US quits nuclear deal

UAE accuses Qatari jets of ‘chasing’ passenger flight

Israel rubbishes claims Mossad behind Malaysia assassination

Syrian refugees are not going home anytime soon

Resumption of direct flights from Moscow brings hope to Egypt’s tourism sector

Saudi finalises drone regulation after security alarm

Will Lebanon have more women MPs after May 6 poll?

Saudi shoots down ‘toy drone’

Mass grave discovered under Raqa football pitch

UN Security Council meets over Syria in Sweden

Turkish government rejects criticism of election campaign

Condemnation after Gaza teenager killed by Israeli soldiers

Syrian rebels agree to leave new area outside Damascus

Rouhani slams officials' 'vow of silence' in face of protests

Family accuses Israel of killing Palestinian in Malaysia

Natalie Portman says backed out of Israel prize over Netanyahu

Morocco, EU start talks on new fisheries deal

FIFA to return to Morocco to check hotels, stadiums

Turkey in shock after violent Istanbul derby

Iraq pays first war reparations to Kuwait since 2014

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

Romanian president slams plan to move Israel embassy