For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 4, 2003
Past Repression and Atrocities by Saddam Hussein's Regime
For over 20 years, the greatest threat to Iraqis has been Saddam
Hussein's regime -- he has killed, tortured, raped and terrorized the
Iraqi people and his neighbors for over two decades.
When Iraq is free, past crimes against humanity and war crimes
committed against Iraqis, will be accounted for, in a post-conflict
Iraqi-led process. The United States, members of the coalition and
international community will work with the Iraqi people to build a
strong and credible judicial process to address these abuses.
Under Saddam's regime many hundreds of thousands of people have
died as a result of his actions - the vast majority of them
According to a 2001 Amnesty International report, "victims of
torture in Iraq are subjected to a wide range of forms of torture,
including the gouging out of eyes, severe beatings and electric
shocks... some victims have died as a result and many have been left
with permanent physical and psychological damage."
Saddam has had approximately 40 of his own relatives murdered.
Allegations of prostitution used to intimidate opponents of the
regime, have been used by the regime to justify the barbaric beheading
Documented chemical attacks by the regime, from 1983 to 1988,
resulted in some 30,000 Iraqi and Iranian deaths.
Human Rights Watch estimates that Saddam's 1987-1988 campaign of
terror against the Kurds killed at least 50,000 and possibly as many as
100,000 Kurds. o The Iraqi regime used chemical agents to include
mustard gas and nerve agents in attacks against at least 40 Kurdish
villages between 1987-1988. The largest was the attack on Halabja
which resulted in approximately 5,000 deaths. o 2,000 Kurdish
villages were destroyed during the campaign of terror.
Iraq's 13 million Shi'a Muslims, the majority of Iraq's population
of approximately 22 million, face severe restrictions on their
religious practice, including a ban on communal Friday prayer, and
restriction on funeral processions.
According to Human Rights Watch, "senior Arab diplomats told the
London-based Arabic daily newspaper al-Hayat in October  that
Iraqi leaders were privately acknowledging that 250,000 people were
killed during the uprisings, with most of the casualties in the south."
Refugees International reports that the "Oppressive government
policies have led to the internal displacement of 900,000 Iraqis,
primarily Kurds who have fled to the north to escape Saddam Hussein's
Arabization campaigns (which involve forcing Kurds to renounce their
Kurdish identity or lose their property) and Marsh Arabs, who fled the
government's campaign to dry up the southern marshes for agricultural
use. More than 200,000 Iraqis continue to live as refugees in Iran."
The U.S. Committee for Refugees, in 2002, estimated that nearly
100,000 Kurds, Assyrians and Turkomans had previously been expelled, by
the regime, from the "central-government-controlled Kirkuk and
surrounding districts in the oil-rich region bordering the Kurdish
"Over the past five years, 400,000 Iraqi children under the age of
five died of malnutrition and disease, preventively, but died because
of the nature of the regime under which they are living." (Prime
Minister Tony Blair, March 27, 2003) o Under the oil-for-food
program, the international community sought to make available to the
Iraqi people adequate supplies of food and medicine, but the regime
blocked sufficient access for international workers to ensure proper
distribution of these supplies. o Since the beginning of Operation
Iraqi Freedom, coalition forces have discovered military warehouses
filled with food supplies meant for the Iraqi people that had been
diverted by Iraqi military forces.
The Iraqi regime has repeatedly refused visits by human rights
monitors. From 1992 until 2002, Saddam prevented the UN Special
Rapporteur from visiting Iraq.
The UN Special Rapporteur's September 2001, report criticized the
regime for "the sheer number of executions," the number of
"extrajudicial executions on political grounds," and "the absence of a
due process of the law."
Executions: Saddam Hussein's regime has carried out frequent
summary executions, including: o 4,000 prisoners at Abu
Ghraib prison in 1984 o 3,000 prisoners at the Mahjar prison from
1993-1998 o 2,500 prisoners were executed between 1997-1999 in a
"prison cleansing campaign" o 122 political prisoners were executed
at Abu Ghraib prison in February/March 2000 o 23 political
prisoners were executed at Abu Ghraib prison in October 2001 o At
least 130 Iraqi women were beheaded between June 2000 and April 2001