Iraq's notorious desert prison

Experts push for preservation of Nugra Salman Prison

AL-MUTHANNA, August 9 — The Al-Muthanna Heritage Inspector confirmed that it submitted a recommendation to the Ministry of Culture to convert the Nugra Salman prison into a heritage museum that commemorates the plight of Kurds and other victims of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Historians and archaeologists had previously advocated for transforming the prison within the Salman Fortress, colloquially known as Nugra Salman, into a heritage museum. This museum would document the suffering of victims of the former regime, especially the Faily Kurds and Barzanis who were persecuted within the facility.

Salwan Al-Samawi, Director of the organization, told 964: “Recommendations have indeed been submitted to the Ministry of Culture for the conversion of the prison into a heritage museum that documents the plight of the Faily Kurds. There has been collaborative effort and coordination with the ministry since 2014, and there are indications of approval to transform it into a heritage museum in Muthanna.”

The Salman prison is located within a fortress built by the Ottomans on a hill overlooking  Salman district. It served as a headquarters for border guards in 1979.

Abdul Amir Al-Abboudi, a historical researcher told 964: “Converting the Salman Fortress into a historical symbol and a museum for Iraqi visitors, especially Faily Kurds, contributes to immortalizing the tragedies they endured in the 1980s: imprisonment, displacement, and torture from the north to the heart of the Salman desert.”

“Within this prison, dozens of children and elderly individuals were killed due to torture or futile escape attempts amid the vast desert surroundings; they would escape only to die of thirst.”

“This fortress has served as a prison since the era of British occupation and was designated for Faily Kurds and Barzanis in 1981. During that period, a plague outbreak claimed the lives of many prisoners, and their bodies were buried near the prison.”

“Leaving the prison abandoned makes it vulnerable to seizure and vandalism, hence the necessity of converting it into a heritage site to prevent any desecration.”