They consider it symbol of genocide,

People of Topzawa reject army deployment in Anfal detention camp

Collage of military vehicle in front of the old Topzawa military base with images of protests and strikes. KirkukNow

By Mohammed Almass

The residents of Topzawa village insist on opposing the Iraqi army's efforts to repair an old military base in the area, which is considered by citizens to be one of the "symbols and memories of the Kurdish genocide and Anfal campaigns."

For several weeks, a number of residents of Topzawa in Yaychi sub-district (northwest of Kirkuk) have set up tents to protest against the presence of army forces in the area.

“A few days ago, the army came back again. They brought materials and concrete to surround the military base, but we gathered and prevented them, later minister Khalid Shiwani (a Kurd) talked to minister of defense and the army retreated,” said Sati’a Nasih, a resident of Topzawa and representative of the protestors.

Since last month, the army has entered the village several times to prepare for the renovation of the military base, but has been prevented.

The 11th Army Division wanted to station itself on the grounds that the camp belonged to the Ministry of Defense.

“This military base has its own characteristics. Anfal victims were detained there in 1988, so they are not pleased to turn it into a military base again,” Sath said It contains the area.

The Topzawa military base was built in 1987 when the villagers were forcibly displaced. A year later, during the 1988 Anfal campaign, according to witnesses and documents; Thousands of Kurdish citizens were detained in the barracks before being transferred to the Samawa desert and Nugra Salman prison.

Falah Yaichli, acting Kirkuk mayor, who is aware of the details of the case, told KirkukNow that the 11th Division of the Iraqi army was planning to deploy in the military base after the decision to vacate the headquarters of the Kirkuk Joint Operations Command.

"It's close to the city, but after people's protests, I think they have found another place to settle near Rashad (sub-district),” he added.

The Joint Operations Command building in Kirkuk's Shorawi neighborhood was supposed to be handed over to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) which deserted it in 2017 per a decision by the Iraqi Prime Minister yet protests against that process by support of the United Arab Front disrupted the handover and the Federal Court suspended the decision.


Farmers of Topzawa village and a number of other villages gathered against the decision of the Ministry of Defense to build housing units on their agricultural land, Kirkuk, May 2023. KirkukNow

Sherzad Mohammed, a resident of Topzawa village, told Kirkuk Now: “We will not accept the renovation of the military base because we have a bitter history with it.”

During the Anfal campaign, the former Baathist Regime of Iraq brutally killed 182,000 civilian Kurds, including women and children, and some of them were buried alive in mass graves south of Iraq.

The families of the victims are still wounded, and their eyes are full of tears. A significant number of them have a misery life as neither the promises of the political parties nor those of the government have been fulfilled.

Organizations defending the rights of the relatives of the Anfal victims have repeatedly called for the Topzawa military base to be saved from destruction and to be turned into a monument, as it contains dozens of messages and stories of the victims of Anfal.

About 50 organizations, personalities and activists in the field of Anfal in a statement issued on Saturday called for the decision to repair the Topzawa military base, because the land is a Kurdish property and became state property in the 1980s.

They said the renovation of the Topzawa camp is against the draft law for revocation of the decisions by Revolution Command Council chaired by Saddam Hussein, and the verdicts by the Supreme Criminal Court which has issued a decision to compensate the victims morally and materially and the protection of the military base is within the framework of the moral compensation.

This is not the first time the army has requested the Topzawa military base.

The Kurdistan Regional Government KRG has recognized April 14 as the anniversary day of Anfal, which has also been recognized as an act of genocide by the KRG and its parliament as well as the Federal Iraqi Government in Baghdad.

In the Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR, out of 182,000 people, including the Barzanis massacred by the former Baathist Regime, only 2,500 corpses have been exhumed and reburied in the Anfal memorial.

We will not accept the renovation of the military base because we have a bitter history with it

Mohammed said there are about 1,000 families in the area, which are close to the military base and the army cannot be stationed in the houses.

"It is impossible to live like this. (Besides), The military base is a property for ordinary people per official documents not the army.”

In March this year, a team from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense visited the agricultural lands of Topzawa village and a number of other villages in the same border and warned them that the lands would be turned into housing units for army personnel.

"If we have no authority to prevent the army from stationing in the area and repairing the barracks, we will have to leave the area," said the representative of Topzawa strikers.

Deciding the fate of the ownership of agricultural land in most areas of Kirkuk is within the framework of the procedures of Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, the implementation committee has been reactivated according to the agenda of the current federal government and resumed its duty.

  • FB
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YT