From the Associated Press: The bloodiest massacres of Saddam’s 23-year presidency occurred in Iraq’s Kurdish north and Shiite Muslim south, but the Gallup Baghdad Survey data indicates the brutality extended strongly into the capital as well.
The survey obtained Monday, which the polling firm planned to release on Tuesday, asked 1,178 Baghdad residents in August and September whether a member of their household had been executed by Saddam’s regime. According to Gallup, 6.6 percent said yes.
The polling firm took metropolitan Baghdad’s population–6.39 million–and average household size–6.9 people–to calculate that 61,000 people were executed during Saddam’s rule. Past estimates were in the low tens of thousands. Most are believed to have been buried in mass graves.
The U.S.-led occupation authority in Iraq has said that at least 300,000 people are buried in mass graves in Iraq. Human rights officials put the number closer to 500,000, and some Iraqi political parties estimate more than 1 million were executed.
Without exhumations of those graves, it is impossible to confirm a figure. Scientists told The Associated Press during a recent investigation that they have confirmed 41 mass graves on a list of suspected sites that currently includes 270 locations.
You can argue about how much of a direct threat Saddam’s regime was to the US, the UK and other countries but this is a reminder of the main issue – the terrible threat that he posed to the people of Iraq.
I suspect executions could be carried out within 45 minutes of an order.
The killers kept bankers’ hours.
They showed up for work at the barley field at 9 a.m., trailed by backhoes and three buses filled with blindfolded men, women and children as young as 1.
Every day, witnesses say, the routine was the same: The backhoes dug a trench. Fifty people were led to the edge of the hole and shot, one by one, in the head. The backhoes covered them with dirt. Then the backhoes dug another hole, and the next group was led to their deaths.
At 5 p.m., the killers — officials of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party — went home to rest up for another day of slaughter.
In this wind-swept field in the central town of Mahaweel, witnesses say, this went on without a break for 35 days in March and April of 1991, during a crackdown on a Shiite Muslim uprising that followed the first Gulf War.