Surviving family submit DNA samples

Remains of 172 Anfal victims reburied in Chamchamal ceremony

CHAMCHAMAL — The remains of 172 victims, primarily from the Aghjalar and Jalawla villages in Chamchamal, were laid to rest in a solemn ceremony on Wednesday. Unearthed from mass graves in the Samawah desert since 2019, the victims were interred at the Anfal Monument in Chamchamal after being held by Baghdad’s Department of Forensic Medicine after their exhumation.

The discovery of the mass graves followed severe flooding in the Babulshaykh area of Samawah in 2019, bringing to light atrocities committed by the Ba’ath regime during the Anfal campaign. Investigations have revealed that most of the deceased were women and children from the Chamchamal area.

Families of suspected victims had previously sought the return of their remains. One man, Bakhtiar Raouf, told 964media he believed 28 of his family members were among those buried, and submitted DNA samples to authorities to confirm his relatives were part of the group interred.

A joint effort by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs, the Iraqi Martyrs Foundation, the Iraqi Mass Graves Affairs Directorate, and Baghdad’s Department of Forensic Medicine, aided in identifying the victims. The collaboration included collecting blood samples from relatives in Chamchamal and Garmiyan for DNA matching.

DNA testing, which began with the repatriation of the remains from Baghdad last month, is crucial for identifying families, emphasized Habil Ahmad, director of the Anfal Monument in Chamchamal. Berivan Hamdi, deputy minister of Martyrs, confirmed the ministry’s preparation for the reburial ceremony.

Organized by the Sulaymaniyah Directorate of Martyrs and the Anfal Monument, Wednesday’s ceremony was part of  ongoing efforts to acknowledge and remember the victims of the Anfal campaign.