Accepted Paper:

Anfal and Halabja expressed in diaspora: narrations of violence twenty years after genocidal processes against Kurds in Iraq  


Maria Six-Hohenbalken (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines how genocidal processes against the Kurds in Iraq (Anfal Campaign and the poison gas attack on Halabja) are narrated in different discourses in the Kurdish diasporas. It will be examined how ‘Anfal’ is part of the discourse of a ‘victim diaspora’ of Iraqi and Turkish Kurdish diasporic actors. It will be shown who Halabja is narrated within the different ethno-national discourses and how persons who were directly concerned (survivors of Halabja, Partisans) narrate their experiences and deal with the situation today.

Paper long abstract:

During the ‚Operation Anfal' in Iraq in 1887 / 1988 about 180 000 Kurds were murdered, 4500 villages destroyed and masses deported. This campaign started already in 1983 when 8000 male members of the Barzani tribe were deported and 'disappeared'. In the last years excavation of mass graves bear out that these men were murdered in mass camps in the South of Iraq. In 1987 genocidal priming was enforced and the Iraqi government started to use poison gas against Kurds. In March 1988 the region around Halabja was attacked with conventional and chemical weapons killing 5000 civilians of Halabja and injuring 7000 persons in one day. Until today, families are confronted with mass murder and 'unquiet death'of family members who were deported and never returned. This paper tries to examine the long term consequences of these genocidal processes on the narrations in Diaspora communities. How is the following generation narrating Anfal? How far have these discourses enforced the creation of Kurdish Diaspora identities? How are individuals dealing with these different forms of violence, e.g. when they are informed about the fate of 'dissapeared' family members? How are refugees still affected psychologically and physically dealing with their experiences? What forms of violence are excluded from these diasporic national narrations, e.g. the role of jash (Kurdish collaborators with the Iraqi regime). Focusing on violence against women during Anfal, it will be discussed why crimes against women and resulting mental illnesses are taboo topics even in Diaspora.

Panel W039
Violence expressed