MESOP FLASH : Sweden to Vote on Recognizing the Anfal as Genocide

26/11/2012 RUDAW By SHAD MUHAMMAD – STOCKHOLM, Sweden—Swedish Parliament is expected to formally recognize the Anfal campaign as genocide this week. Kurdish MPs say that if the Swedish Parliament recognizes the Anfal as genocide, it will be the first such recognition internationally.

Jabbar Amin, a Kurdish MP from the Swedish Green Party, told Rudaw, “This will be an important beginning towards the recognition of Anfal in the world and in Europe.”

Activists in Sweden say that the country’s seven parliamentary groups have expressed support for the bill, and Amin says that the project was started by the Green Party and the Leftist Party. “It is the project of me and two other MPs,” Amin said. “It took a lot of hard work and many rejections by the other parties before we reached this stage.”

Azad Heydari, a member of the Kurdocide organization, applauded the move by Swedish Parliament and its Kurdish MPs. “The support of the Kurdish diaspora for this project played a significant role,” said Heydari. Meanwhile, he criticized the authorities of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for not giving enough support to this project. “We and Kurdocide filled the vacuum that was created by the absence of KRG representation in Sweden,” Amin said. “Up to now, no political party from the Kurdistan Region has come to push Swedish Parliament on this topic.”

Last week, Kurdistan’s human rights parliamentary committee visited Sweden and encouraged the Swedish foreign committee to vote in favor of the Nov. 28 motion.

Over the past several years, there have been numerous efforts both in Kurdistan and foreign countries to recognize the Anfal as genocide. Anfal is the name of a campaign launched by Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi army in the late 1980s against the Kurdish population. Tens of thousands of Kurdish civilians were caught by the army and never seen again, and thousands of villages were razed to the ground. Viyan Rahim, a Kurdish MP in Swedish Parliament, told Kurdish Radio in Sweden that Kurds abroad have a big share in this responsibility of gaining recognition for Anfal.

“It is true that in Kurdistan and Iraq they work to win recognition for Anfal,” Rahim said. “But it is important that Kurds abroad work to make it an international issue.” Rahim believes that this recognition will have legal repercussions and facilitate bringing to court countries that were in any way involved in the Anfal. This is the not the first time the issue of Anfal has been raised in Sweden. In 2006, 42 MPs supported a similar project, but on the day of voting their parties withdrew their support.

However, Kurdish activists in the country, along with Kurdocide, organized seminars and gatherings in front of Swedish Parliament, most noticeably in 2008.“In the past, we sat down one on one with Swedish MPs on this issue, but didn’t succeed,” said Heydari. “This time, however, after we organized a seminar and received a parliamentary team from Kurdistan, we managed to persuade the Swedish MPs.”

Heydai said that Swedish parties believed that recognizing Anfal as genocide “was not their job,” but that changed after the most recent seminar. According to Heydari, an important result of the effort was persuading the Social Democrat Party to join the motion.

Iraqi authorities have long considered the efforts of the Kurdish MPs and activists in Sweden as interference in Iraq’s domestic affairs. KRG officials have also criticized the MPs in the past for speaking about Kurdistan’s internal affairs. But Amin brushes aside such criticism as the work of dictators, saying, “Only dictators see this kind of project as interference. In the past, Saddam Hussein used to say this, and now it is [Syrian President] Bashar Assad.”“We have been thanked by ordinary people as well Kurdistan’s politicians,” Amin added.