At least 100 members of opposition groups were extrajudicially executed and hundreds arrested when government forces entered Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Hundreds of people were executed during the year. Hundreds of suspected government opponents, including possible prisoners of conscience, were reportedly detained without charge or trial. Tens of thousands arrested in previous years remained held. Trial and pre-trial procedures for political detainees fell short of international standards. Torture and ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners remained widespread. The fate of thousands of people who had "disappeared" in previous years remained unknown. Human rights abuses continued in areas of Iraqi Kurdistan under Kurdish control. They included arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention of suspected political opponents and executions. Economic sanctions on 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. In May, Iraq agreed to the implementation of a UN Security Council resolution allowing it to sell oil worth US$2bn every six months and to use the proceeds for humanitarian purposes. The agreement began to be implemented in December. Humanitarian relief continued to be distributed on a reduced scale under the terms of a UN-sponsored Memorandum of Understanding. At the end of August, Iraqi government forces entered Arbil, located within the northern "air-exclusion zone", in conjunction with forces of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), taking control of the city and ousting forces of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Within days, US forces responded by launching missile attacks on military targets in southern Iraq and, together with allied forces, extended the southern "air-exclusion zone" up to the 33rd parallel. The Iraqi Government announced that its forces would withdraw to their previous positions, but in December Iraqi army units, together with intelligence and security personnel, remained stationed in the vicinity of Arbil. The government also announced the lifting of the economic embargo it had imposed on the Kurdish-controlled region in October 1991. Following armed clashes in September, PUK forces retreated from most areas under their control in Arbil and Sulaimaniya provinces, which fell under KDP control. In October, PUK forces launched counter-attacks and regained control of these regions, with the major exception of the city of Arbil, and called for a negotiated settlement. During these clashes human rights abuses were committed by all sides and an estimated 70,000 people fled to neighbouring Iran. Talks between the KDP and PUK with the aim of finding a durable solution to their differences began in Turkey in October, under US Government auspices, and were continuing in December. A cease-fire agreement was implemented and no major armed clashes were reported by the end of the year. In January, the government announced that the judicial punishments of amputation and branding (see Amnesty International Report 1995) had ceased and would be abolished by law. In March, President Saddam Hussain reportedly ordered an end to the practice of ear amputation for army desertion and the release of hundreds of army deserters and draft evaders. In August, the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), Iraq's highest executive body, reportedly issued Decree 81, abolishing the judicial punishments of ear amputation and branding for army desertion. In March, a new 220-seat parliament was elected. All 160 ruling Ba‘th Party candidates were elected; the remaining 60 seats were filled by pro-government, non-affiliated candidates. A further 30 deputies were appointed to represent the Kurdish areas. In September, the government announced an amnesty for all Kurdish political opponents, excluding those convicted of espionage, embezzlement of state funds, premeditated murder or rape. In March, the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution condemning "the massive and extremely grave violations of human rights for which the Government of Iraq is fully responsible" and extended for a further year the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Iraq. A resolution adopted by the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities in August welcomed, as in previous years, the Special Rapporteur's proposal for the setting up of a human rights monitoring operation for Iraq, but such an operation had not been set up by the end of the year. Hundreds of people were executed during the year. At least 96 members of the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC) and four members of the Iraqi National Turkman Party were executed by government forces following their capture in Qoshtapa, near Arbil, in August. Among the victims were Lieutenant Ra‘ad ‘Umar al-Khalidi and Fahd Muhammad Sultan. Hundreds of suspected government opponents, including possible prisoners of conscience, were also arrested in Arbil. They included members of the INC and the Iraqi Communist Party, suspected members of Turkman and Islamist parties and other non-Kurdish political opponents. They were said to be detained in government-controlled areas but their fate and whereabouts remained unknown. At least 12 Iraqi army officers were reportedly executed for objecting to orders to intervene in the take-over of Arbil. They included Brigadier General Adham al-‘Alwani, Major Jihad ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-‘Alwani and Major Faisal ‘Abd al-Hamid al-‘Issawi. Several political prisoners were said to have been executed, among them Duraid Samir Jihad al-Khayali and Jihad Samir Jihad al-Khayali, executed in May in connection with anti-government demonstrations in al-Ramadi province in 1995 (see Amnesty International Report 1996). They were reportedly subjected to torture prior to execution. More than 120 army officers believed to be connected to the opposition Iraqi National Accord, were executed following an alleged coup attempt against President Saddam Hussain in June. Among those executed were several high-ranking officers, including Major-General ‘Abd Mutlaq al-Jibburi, Major Fawzi Karim al-Hamdani and Colonel Riyadh Talib Jassem. Up to 300 had been arrested but the fate and whereabouts of those detained remained unknown. In February, Lieutenant-General Hussain Kamel al-Majid and his brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Saddam Kamel, both sons-in-law of President Saddam Hussein, who had fled to Jordan in August 1995 (see Amnesty International Report 1996), were killed within days of having returned to Iraq after reportedly being pardoned. Their father, a brother and three other relatives were also killed. The government announced that the killings constituted an act of revenge by other members of the al-Majid family, but it was widely believed that the killings had been carried out with the acquiescence of the President. There was no investigation into the killings and no one was brought to justice. Hundreds of suspected government opponents, including possible prisoners of conscience, were arrested during the year and remained held without charge or trial. Relatives of detainees were arrested on the basis of family links. In some cases relatives of suspected political opponents who fled abroad were said to be under house arrest. About 2,000 people arrested in 1995 following demonstrations in al-Ramadi province (see Amnesty International Report 1996) continued to be held without charge or trial, as were tens of thousands more arrested in previous years. Following an assassination attempt in December on ‘Uday Saddam Hussain, the President's eldest son, hundreds of arrests were reportedly carried out in Baghdad and other cities. The fate and whereabouts of those arrested remained unknown. Trials of political detainees continued to be held in camera, using procedures which did not meet internationally recognized standards for fair trial. Defendants had no access to defence counsel and appeared before special ad hoc security courts, usually headed by a military or security officer. It was not possible to ascertain the number of political detainees tried during the year. Physical and psychological torture and ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners remained widespread. Methods of torture reported included beatings, electric shocks to the tongue and genitals, suspension from a rotating fan, burning the skin using heated metal implements or sulphuric acid, and rape. Some prisoners were said to have been flogged before their release. The fate of thousands of people who had "disappeared" in previous years remained unknown (see previous Amnesty International Reports). Among the victims were seven brothers of the al-Hashimi family who "disappeared" following their arrest in Baghdad in October 1980. In May, the authorities released Nadia Muhammad al-‘Anaizi, a Kuwaiti national who was among an estimated 625 Kuwaiti and other nationals arrested by Iraqi forces during the occupation of Kuwait in 1990 and 1991 and believed to remain held in Iraq. In September, the Iraqi Government announced that it had set up a committee to determine the fate of "Iraqis and Kuwaitis missing since the 1991 Gulf war". The committee, said to be composed of members of parliament, lawyers, members of an Iraqi human rights organization and the Iraqi Red Crescent, was to establish offices throughout Iraq to gather information about those missing. It was not known by the end of the year whether this took place. Serious human rights abuses were carried out in the Kurdish-controlled provinces by the two main political groups, the KDP and PUK. Members of smaller political groups were among those targeted for arrest, prolonged incommunicado detention and torture or ill-treatment. They included members of the Iraqi Workers' Communist Party, the Kurdistan Farmers' Movement and the Surchi clan (see below). In May, two unarmed members of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), Samir Moshi Murad and Peris Mirza Salyu, were killed in ‘Ain Kawa, near Arbil, by Kurdish students allegedly associated with the PUK. The ADM members were reportedly intervening to settle a dispute between Kurdish and Assyrian students when they were deliberately shot. Although PUK leaders condemned the killings, no one was brought to justice (see below). In June, at least 10 people were reportedly killed in armed clashes when KDP forces attacked members of the Surchi clan in the village of Kalakin, north of Arbil. Among the dead were two women and Hussain Agha Surchi, head of the Association of Kurdish Clans. It was not known whether death sentences had been imposed by courts operated by the KDP and PUK in Iraqi Kurdistan during the year, nor whether any passed between 1992 and 1994 had been carried out (see previous Amnesty International Reports). In October, 59 KDP members were reportedly executed in the town of Rania after their capture by the PUK. They included Shukri Hussain Diab and Mustafa Hassan ‘Uthman. In September, four PUK members were said to have been executed in Sulaimaniya after their capture by the KDP. Among them were Amjad Haji Khaled and Fa'iq Tawfiq. Up to 17 other PUK detainees were reportedly executed in October in various areas under KDP control. Amnesty International continued to raise serious human rights violations with the government, including the detention of prisoners of conscience; arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detention of political suspects and their relatives; unfair and secret trials; the widespread torture and ill-treatment of prisoners and detainees; "disappearances"; and executions. In April, the organization published a report, Iraq: State cruelty – branding, amputation and the death penalty, documenting cases of ear amputation, hand amputation and branding of the forehead. It also raised concern at the widening of the scope of the death penalty to cover at least 18 new offences. Amnesty International urged the government to officially abolish the penalties of amputation and branding. It also called on the government to provide compensation for victims or for families of victims of human rights violations, to commute all outstanding death sentences and to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In August, the authorities responded by noting that RCC Decree No. 81 ended the practice of ear amputation and branding for army desertion. However, no copy of the decree was made available. In August, Amnesty International welcomed the release in May of Nadia Muhammad al-‘Anaizi and called for the release of all remaining Kuwaiti and other nationals held in Iraq since the end of the Gulf war. During the year Amnesty International expressed its concern to Kurdish political leaders about human rights abuses committed by their respective parties, including arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention and unlawful killings. In July, Amnesty International raised with the PUK the cases of two ADM members killed in ‘Ain Kawa in May (see above). The PUK told the organization that an investigation into the killings was initiated but that the main perpetrators had fled to government-controlled areas. In September Amnesty International raised with the KDP, among other things, reports that at least 100 members of opposition groups were executed by Iraqi Government forces in August in Arbil, reportedly with the complicity of KDP forces, following door-to-door searches for suspected opponents. In its response the KDP stated that Iraqi intelligence personnel had been responsible for human rights violations committed during the capture of Arbil. It denied allegations that it had assisted the Iraqi forces in committing the violations, and stated that efforts were being made to implement the recommendations submitted in Amnesty International's report, Iraq: Human rights abuses in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991 (see Amnesty International Report 1996). By the end of the year, none of the Kurdish political groups had responded substantively to Amnesty International concerning the allegations of human rights abuses contained in the report.

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