Fayli Day in Stockholm. Photo: Susanna Guven
COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Fayli Kurdish communities around the world have been commemorating the Iraqi regime's April 1980 attacks and deportations against them, calling on the world to recognize the atrocities.
In Copenhagen and Stockholm – both cities with large Kurdish immigrant populations -- Fayli Associations staged memorials for victims who were killed or who disappeared during Saddam Hussein's regime and buried in unknown places.
Bahar Reza was 10 when she was deported by the Iraqi army, together with her family, from Baghdad to Iran along with along with thousands of other Faylis. They were accused of not being Iraqis and siding with the enemy in Saddam’s 1980-88 war with neighboring Iran.
"We want the world community to recognize what happened to us, so these things will not be repeated generation after generation in the world,” Reza told Rudaw from Copenhagen.
During the war many Western countries supported Saddam against the common enemy: Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.
“Since they supported Saddam, we are not only Saddam's victims. We are the entire world's victims and therefore they should recognize our tragedy,” Reza said.
Various Kurdish and Arab organizations and parties participated in memorial and read their messages.
In Sweden, Kurds from Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran were present. The Federation of Kurdish Associations in Sweden (FKKS) also took part.
FKK board member Pirshang Tiwana believes Sweden should recognize the deportations against Faylis, as in 2012 they recognized Saddam’s mass murder against the Kurds, committed under his Anfal genocide campaign of the 1980s.
"By recognizing the killings and deportations against the Faylis, Sweden shares their grief and gives them moral support," Tiwana told Rudaw.
The Fayli Kurds are a Shiite community with roots in Ilam, Kermanshah and Luristan in Iranian Kurdistan. Today, they are found in Baghdad, Khanaqin and Mandali in Iraq. They have their own dialect, called Fayli.
In Copenhagen, muffled cries were audible at the memorial, inside the room where the lists of victims dead or disappeared were posted on walls.
Abdel Wahhab, whose cousins disappeared in 1980, wants Europe to recognize the Fayli suffering.
“My cousins were all young and were taken away,” said Wahhab, who was imprisoned by Iraqi authorities. “We want Denmark and Europe to recognize this. Fifty-thousand of our people were martyred and disappeared.”
At the memorial the Faylis explained they are demanding their rights to return to their homes in Iraq and restore lost lands now inhabited by Arabs. In addition, they want those who were responsible for the anti-Fayli campaigns prosecuted.
The Fayli Kurds supported the Kurdish rebellion in Iraq between 1961-1975. This created a concern among the Baath-regime, since they feared that the Fayli Kurds would support the theocratic regime in Iran against Iraq because of their shared Shiite faith.
Large numbers of Fayli Kurdish families and citizens were forcefully deported by Iraqi forces in the early eighties to Iran. Their properties and papers were confiscated. Thousands were killed or died -- including women and children -- as they tried to find shelter beyond Iraq’s closed borders.
Since Saddam’s overthrow after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, some Fayli Kurds have reclaimed their confiscated properties and struggled to prosecute those behind the deportations.
The bodies of some missing Faylis have been found and identified, but many of the disappearances are still waiting to be solved. Many Fayli Kurds still live in Iran as refugees.