Hundreds of suspected government opponents and their relatives were detained and tens of thousands arrested in previous years continued to be held. Among them were prisoners of conscience. Torture remained widespread. The judicial punishments of amputation and branding were widely imposed. The fate of thousands of people who had "disappeared" in previous years remained unknown. Numerous judicial and extrajudicial executions were reportedly carried out. Human rights abuses were committed in areas of Iraqi Kurdistan under Kurdish control, including arbitrary arrests, torture and deliberate and arbitrary killings. Economic sanctions against Iraq, imposed by a UN Security Council cease-fire resolution in 1991, remained in force. Two "air exclusion zones" over northern and southern Iraq continued to be imposed. The distribution of humanitarian relief under the terms of a previous UN-sponsored Memorandum of Understanding continued on a reduced scale. In March Turkish government forces entered northern Iraq, apparently to pursue members and fighters of the opposition Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK). During military operations, incidents of human rights violations were reported against the local Iraqi population by Turkish armed forces. Also in March, armed clashes took place along the internal front-line in Arbil and Kirkuk provinces between Iraqi government troops and forces of several Kurdish opposition groups and the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC). In August Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel al-Hassan al-Majid, a former defence minister and senior officer in the Republican Guards, and his brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Saddam Kamel, a former officer in the Special Security Directorate, fled to Jordan where they obtained asylum. Both sons-in-law of President Saddam Hussain, they were accompanied by their families and several officials. In a subsequent public statement, Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel announced that he would work for the overthrow of the Iraqi Government. In October a national referendum was held in Iraq to "approve" President Saddam Hussain's assumption of the office of President. According to results announced by the authorities, President Saddam Hussain, who was the only candidate, received a 99.96 per cent "endorsement". The Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), Iraq's highest executive body, decreed two amnesties in July. The first of these benefited certain prisoners convicted of non-political offences as well as defaulters and deserters from military service. The amnesty provided for the commutation of sentences of ear amputation imposed on military personnel, and of sentences of limb amputation imposed on other prisoners who had already spent two years in custody. Death sentences ratified before the amnesty were commuted to life imprisonment. The second was a general amnesty benefiting people in Iraq or abroad who were wanted for, or had been convicted of, political offences. Both amnesties excluded certain prisoners, including those convicted of espionage, premeditated murder, embezzlement of state funds and rape. It was not known how far the provisions of these amnesties were implemented nor how many people had benefited by the end of the year. Kurdish opposition forces retained control of parts of the northern provinces of Duhok, Arbil, Sulaimaniya and Kirkuk. The economic blockade imposed on the region by the Iraqi Government in Octo-ber 1991 remained in force. Widespread clashes, which broke out in December 1994 between the forces of the two main political groups in the region, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), continued until February when a cease-fire was agreed. However, further clashes on a smaller scale continued intermittently for several months. In August peace talks were held in Ireland between KDP and PUK representatives under the auspices of the US Government, but by the end of the year no lasting political settlement had been reached. Throughout the year the two parties retained separate administrations of those areas under their control, and the Council of Ministers for the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, which had administered the region, became defunct. In March the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution expressing concern "at the exceptional gravity of the human rights situation in Iraq", extended the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Iraq for a further year, and reiterated its request to the UN Secretary-General "to provide the Special Rapporteur with all the necessary assistance in carrying out his mandate", including the setting up of a human rights monitoring operation for Iraq. A resolution adopted by the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities in August also called for such assistance to be extended to the Special Rapporteur. In December the UN General Assembly passed a resolution asking the UN Secretary-General to "approve the allocation of sufficient human and material resources" for setting up a human rights monitoring operation for Iraq. By the end of the year the monitoring operation had not been set up. Hundreds of suspected government opponents and their relatives were reported to have been arrested throughout the year, but it was generally not possible to obtain further information on the detainees' fate and whereabouts. Some appeared to be prisoners of conscience. In May scores of people, many of them from the al-Dulaim clan, were arrested following demonstrations in al-Ramadi Province protesting at the execution earlier that month of a senior military officer from the region, Lieutenant-General Muhammad Mathlum al-Dulaimi. It was not known how many remained in detention at the end of the year. The fate and whereabouts of other political detainees arrested during the year remained unknown. Over 40 people were arrested in May following an alleged assassination attempt against President Saddam Hussain near the town of Samarra'. They included several officers and other senior military personnel, among them Yunis ‘Atallah al-Samarra'i and Yassin Jassem al-‘Abbud. Their fate and whereabouts remained unknown by the end of the year. In August, following the defection of Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel to Jordan (see above), an unknown number of senior military personnel and Ba‘th Party officials said to have been closely associated with him were arrested. They included Brigadier-General ‘Issam al-Tikriti, formerly a senior security official at Iraq's Military Industrialization Organization. Others were placed under house arrest, including Major-General Kamal Mustafa al-Tikriti, commander of the Republican Guards' First Brigade. Some of those detained were reportedly later executed, but no further information on this or on the fate of the detainees was received. Reports of the torture of detainees and sentenced prisoners continued to be received, including amputation and branding, introduced as judicial punishments in 1994 (see Amnesty International Report 1995). During the first six months of the year, several hundred army deserters and defaulters were reportedly subjected to the amputation of the external part of one ear for a first offence, and of both ears for further offences. Most were also said to have been branded with an "x" symbol on their foreheads. The majority of such operations were reportedly carried out in public hospitals in the southern provinces, including the Basra Teaching Hospital. One doctor working in the city stated in September that scores of military personnel were mutilated in this manner in early 1995 and that doctors were routinely threatened with reprisals if they refused to carry out these operations. The cases of thousands of detainees who "disappeared" in previous years remained unresolved. Among them were over 100,000 Kurds who "disappeared" during the 1988 and 1989 "Anfal Operations"; an estimated 625 Kuwaiti and other nationals arrested by Iraqi forces during the occupation of Kuwait in 1990 and 1991 and believed to be held in Iraq; and several thousand Shi‘a Muslims arrested in the southern provinces of Basra, al-Nasirayya and al-‘Amara in the aftermath of the March 1991 uprising (see previous Amnesty International Reports). Numerous executions were reported during the year but it was not possible to determine the total number or whether they were judicial or extrajudicial executions. Among the victims were over 150 detainees who were allegedly executed in Abu Ghraib Prison near Baghdad over a two-day period in January. They included ‘Umar ‘Ali al-Dawudi and Jamal Hussein Muhammad al-Jaf. Extrajudicial executions of suspected government opponents also continued to be reported. They included several people poisoned with thallium believed to have been administered by Iraqi government agents operating in Kurdish-controlled territory. Among them were Shaikh Faisal al-Sha‘lan and ‘Abd al-Amir Shahin who were poisoned in January in the town of Shaqlawa. ‘Abd al-Amir Shahin died several days later. In March another victim, ‘Abdullah al-Shubbar, died from poisoning in Shaqlawa. All three were involved in opposition activities within the inc. In August, seven other suspected opponents were poisoned in Sulaimaniya Province, one of whom, Muhammad Sati al-Anbaki, subsequently died. Two of them were members of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq while the rest were armed opposition Pesh Merga fighters. New information was also received about cases of thallium poisoning in southern Iraq at the end of 1994. Kurdish opposition groups were responsible for serious human rights abuses during the year, particularly in the context and aftermath of clashes between the forces of the KDP, PUK and the Islamic Movement in Iraqi Kurdistan (IMIK). Scores of fighters were taken prisoner by these groups, and although most were later released in prisoner exchanges, some were reported to have been killed after capture or surrender. The victims included five PUK fighters allegedly captured and killed by the KDP following clashes in February in the town of Rawanduz, among them Ramadan Mam Nuri and Ghaffur Khadr Hassan. The bodies of two of them were reported to have been subsequently mutilated. Scores of unarmed civilians were arbitrarily detained on the basis of their political affiliation. Some were held in unacknowledged places of detention and reportedly tortured. Many of those arrested were members or suspected sympathizers of the KDP who were arrested after PUK forces took control of the city of Arbil in January. It was not known how many remained held by the end of the year. It was not known whether any death sentences were imposed by the criminal courts in Iraqi Kurdistan during the year, or whether any executions had been carried out. It was also not possible to confirm whether 22 prisoners sentenced to death by the criminal courts of Arbil, Sulaimaniya and Duhok between March 1992 and August 1994 had been executed. Four other death sentences were reduced to life imprisonment by the Court of Cassation. However, an unknown number of people were reported to have been executed after summary trial by a special court set up by the PUK in Arbil in January. The court was set up ostensibly to deal with large numbers of people suspected of theft, extortion and other criminal offences. Its procedures were said to have been summary in the extreme, with defendants being tried in the absence of defence counsel. Several suspected offenders were allegedly shot dead by PUK personnel upon capture. There were also fears that the victims may have included suspected political opponents executed after being accused of ostensibly criminal offences. In May the KDP reportedly executed Ahmad Saleh ‘Uthman, an Iraqi Kurd charged with responsibility for a car bomb explosion in Zakho in February which killed scores of civilians. Ahmad Saleh ‘Uthman was apparently tried by a court in Duhok after allegedly stating that he had acted on behalf of the PUK. No information was available on the procedures followed. During the year, Amnesty International appealed to the Iraqi Government to halt human rights violations, including the detention of prisoners of conscience, arbitrary arrests of political suspects, unfair trials, "disappearances" and executions. It also continued to call for the abolition of the cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments of amputation and branding and the commutation of all death sentences. No substantive responses were received. In May Amnesty International received a letter from the government commenting on the Amnesty International Report 1994. The government rejected as "baseless" most of the allegations contained in the report, including reports of widespread arrests, the continued detention of thousands of political opponents, "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions. Regarding the expansion of the scope of the death penalty to include new criminal offences, the government stated that Amnesty International failed to take into account the necessity to combat rising crime resulting from the situation arising in the aftermath of the Gulf War and from the sanctions imposed on the country. In February Amnesty International published a report, Iraq: Human rights abuses in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991, detailing widespread abuses committed by the Kurdish administration and political groups in the region, in particular the KDP, PUK and IMIK. These abuses included the detention of suspected political opponents, among them possible prisoners of conscience; torture and ill-treatment of political and common law detainees; and executions after summary trials and unlawful and deliberate killings. During the year, Amnesty International repeatedly urged Kurdish political leaders to put an end to human rights abuses and to implement the recommendations submitted in the organization's report. Representatives of both the PUK and the KDP undertook to respond in detail to the report, but by December no response had been received. There was also no response from the IMIK leadership or the Council of Ministers for the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

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