In order to have a future, and lay the foundations of justice for the future, the people of Iraq must come to terms with the atrocities perpetrated in their name during three decades of Ba’thist rule. The ultimate rationale behind the Iraq Memory Foundation is that the truth can help heal a society that has been politically brutalized on a large scale.
Citizens of a new and free Iraq have whole new identities to forge. And identity is memory. People whose identities are cobbled together from half-truths, or from distorted memories of who is to blame and who is blameless, are prone to commit new transgressions. The Iraq Memory Foundation has no “higher” purpose than to place the Iraqi experience of suffering and oppression, between 1968 and 2003, in the global context of the history of pain and suffering. It seeks to do this by filming and archiving the individual stories of many thousands of survivors and witnesses of atrocity. And it seeks to digitize, index and classify the totality of the documents recovered from the outgoing regime that deal with Iraqi pain and suffering.
These words of the victims and records of their victimizers will become available to the public through a museum, a public outreach project intended to work with teachers of elementary and secondary school students, and a research facility linked to the Iraqi university system. Such sensitive material will not be used for purposes of apportioning blame or playing politics, but in accordance with a protocol established by a fully sovereign and constitutional Iraqi government.