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Friday, 19 July 2024
Shiyar Khalil


In decades of political repression and ongoing human rights violations, the Ba'athist governments in Iraq and Syria have become a model for gruesome grave exhumation and evidence concealment. The roots of these practices trace back to when the Ba'ath Party took power in Iraq in 1968 under Saddam Hussein and in Syria in 1963 under Hafez al-Assad.

In Iraq, Saddam Hussein's era witnessed a brutal use of force to maintain the regime. Grave exhumation and evidence destruction were integral parts of the intimidation and coercion policies that characterized this regime. For instance, during the Anfal campaign in the 1980s, the Iraqi government exhumed graves and concealed evidence of its crimes against the Kurds.

In Syria, the Ba'athist legacy of torture and oppression continued under the rule of Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar. The regime established hundreds of detention and torture centers, witnessing crimes against humanity. This is vividly evident in grave exhumation operations to bury thousands of political detainees who were killed or died due to torture.

The urgency to uncover the truth and achieve justice intensifies, especially given the attempts by the Iraqi and Syrian regimes to destroy evidence and distort facts. The history of the Ba'ath in Iraq and Syria serves as a painful lesson about the importance of confronting violations and seeking justice for the victims.

This becomes particularly apparent with the recent news about satellite images revealing the grave exhumation in Qatifa near Damascus, an area currently under the control of the Syrian regime. The timeline of these operations closely associates with the Syrian regime, with evidence clearly pointing to their initiation last year.

The images show an acceleration in exhumation operations at the end of 2022, halting in January 2023, corroborated by the Association of Detainees and Missing Persons of Sednaya Prison confirming the construction of a wall around the graveyard in 2019. This raises concerns about the regime's attempts to destroy mass graves and erase evidence of torture and enforced disappearances.

Recent satellite images expose clear efforts to hide the truth, making it imperative to uncover these crimes and hold the responsible parties accountable. Failure to do so opens the door for the regime's attempts to conceal evidence and reshape history to align with its interests.

It is now evident that the international community must intervene promptly and establish international teams to investigate these events. The lack of international intervention might provide the regime and its allies with an opportunity to hide evidence and distort the facts. This case underscores the importance of transparency and international accountability to ensure justice is served and prevent the recurrence of such heinous crimes.

The example of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, with grave exhumation and evidence concealment to obfuscate its crimes against political dissidents, parallels what occurred in North Korea with grave exhumation and evidence disappearance as part of a history of human rights violations against the North Korean people, as well as the Iraqi people. These examples illustrate how such operations can be part of the suppression policies and attempts to cover up the crimes of dictatorial governments. This emphasizes the importance of international intervention to investigate these events and achieve justice.

The lack of international intervention and attempts to exhume graves and conceal evidence can be considered part of the regime's attempts to stay afloat and avoid accountability. These actions indicate the regime's desire to hide its crimes and oppressive practices, thereby evading international scrutiny and legal consequences.

By destroying evidence and distorting facts, the regime seeks to tarnish its human rights record and justify its actions. This behavior reflects the regime's dedication to remaining in power and avoiding accountability when more evidence emerges of human rights violations.

Therefore, the regime's floating is intertwined with attempts to avoid legal and political consequences through evidence concealment and distortion of international investigations and reports."