by Ayub Nasri
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region — A Christian woman who was 3-years-old when Baathist-regime loyalists killed hundreds of thousands people in Iraq including her parents and two siblings recounts how she has not allowed Anfal to make her a victim.
"I know my parents only through photos," said Helin, all of whose immediate family members were lost. "Nothing was left for me except these photos."
She is from Konkosa village in Duhok province.
"I was very sick," she explained after returning to her village after the Baathist forces rounded up hundreds of thousands of people in detention camps before some were sent south. "I went to receive treatment. When I returned, they [the Baathists] had destroyed the village and taken away all villagers including my parents to Bahirka."
Her two siblings, a younger sister and brother, went with her parents. Helin was taken in by her grandparents.
"I did not understand anything because I was very young," she explained.
Helin is now married, employed, and has started a new life. Still though, at church and in her prayers she often thinks of her lost family.
"I have never let [the loss of my family] be obvious," she said. "I have wanted to at least make ends meet, as a daughter of martyrs to make my parents proud, continue living, and succeed to make them happy."
She says her co-workers and friends are like her sisters and her office like home.
Some 182,000 Kurds were killed in the Anfal genocidal campaigns of the regime of Saddam Hussein during the 1980s. Most victims were taken to killing fields in southern Iraq and executed by the truckload.
The former Iraqi regime destroyed thousands of Kurdish villages. Thousands of Kurdish families were also forcibly displaced, and their lands given to Arab families, a process Kurds call Arabization.
April 14 marks Anfal memorial day in the Kurdistan Region, where it is recognized as a genocide.
Anfal, the eighth sura in the Quran, was the codename used by the Baathist regime for the slaughter.