Saddam Hussain RCC meeting 1978
On the internal front through series of death penalty laws he managed to keep all opponents powerless and intimidated. Reviewing these decrees is one way in examining his ruthlessness at the domestic front.
The army was his main concern and his main target. Former non Baathi commanders were ruthlessly dismissed. Political activity by the armed forces were especially treated harshly as Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) no. 1357 of 1971 stipulated "The death penalty for any military personnel participating in a prohibited political organisation or carrying out prohibited political activity with the purpose of recruiting or spreading principles or trends detrimental to the Arab Baath socialist party".
Then RCC published in 1976 a resolution that prescribed "The death penalty for any activity or political organisation within the ranks of the Iraqi armed forces, which is detrimental to the Baath party".
Ex-police or military officer according to RCC resolution no.884 of 3rd of July 1978 is sentenced to death "by military firing squad if on his separation from the service for any reason after July 1968 is found to have joined or worked for any political party or organisation other than the Baath party".
Saddam was open about his cruel aggressiveness in preventing any political activity in the army. He spoke without any qualms about his intention to destroy but felt compelled to rationalize his intent. In press conference in 1978 responding to a question about the execution of men in the armed forces he said " those who were executed were not executed because of their political beliefs but because of their subversive activities" he went on "those had broken the Iraqi laws which forbid any activity within the armed forces other than the Baath party".
While initially political activity, with the exclusion of the army political activity, was permitted; it was kept under close watch by joining with the Baath party what is called the National Progressive Front. Any political grouping or party which did not join that umbrella its members would face execution as stated in RCC Decree 176 of 24/2/1974 which stipulate " To regard as a sabotage against the state security any political or organized association not permitted by the law or if took place outside the national progressive front".
As the party initially was gradually building its power base it had a plan to enlarge its size by mass recruiting campaign. But what remained their concern was secrecy and fear of infiltration by members from other rivals parties. Thus at the same time it was mass recruiting people , it asked every new member to sign a pledge underneath act 107 of 12 of August of 1974 which stipulate that "any member of the Arab Baath socialist party who wilfully keeps secret his previous party and political membership and links" and" Any member or whoever shall be a member of the Arab Baath socialist party, if it can be proved that he had links during his commitment to the Baath party with any other party or political grouping, or worked for it or in its interest would be executed”. Through his signature the new member would acknowledge that he faces the penalty of execution if any of the above paragraphs applied to him.
The Baath party member would face execution even if he left the party, if he had other political connection as stated in Act no.145 of 1977 "The death penalty to whoever has been a member or shall be a member of the Arab socialist Baath party and whose relationship with the party has ended, if it can be proved that he has a connection with any other party or political grouping or that he works for it or in its interest", and according to Act 111 no. of 1978 " to who ever recruits to any party or political grouping a person who has, or had, organizational relations with the Arab Baath socialist party, while knowing of that relation".
Saddam’s aggressive drive was associated with a strong need for dominance, for absolute control of the political scene as well as his personal environment.
Thus membership in some political parties became punishable by death like ‘Al Dawa’ party as RCC resolution no. 461 of 31 march 1980 stipulated that “the death penalty applies to any one who is a member of or is affiliated to ‘Al Dawa’ party or who works to achieve its objective under another guise" also the resolution had a retroactive effect as it state “ This resolution shall be executed against offences committed before its issuance which no decision have been issued to refer thereof to the competent court”.
Then the death penalty applied also to "anyone found to be a member of a party or association seeking to change the regime by armed force" as stated in RCC resolution no. 458 of 21st of August 1984. The explanation he provided was "the opposition is not a local opposition, its supported by the foreigner, and the law state to execute those who collaborate with the foreigner".
He did not show any guilt when liquidating his political opponents, he spoke contemptuously when he mentioned the head of the Dawa party AL-Sadr and referred to him as "the one in grave". In other instances he tainted the reputation of those who poke fun of him whom he ordered their execution, as is the case for well known Iraqi dermatologist Dr. Isameel Al Tatar who was executed in 1988. According to the official version he was executed under article 393/2/D of the penal code "for the crime of raping patients inside his clinics while practicing his medical profession". The widely circulated rumor in Baghdad at that time was that he poked fun of the Saddam in private gathering which was tape recorded.
Saddam seems to be in an explosive state of rage when he issued RCC resolution no.840 of 4th of November 1986 which stated "To sentence to life imprisonment and confiscate the movable and immovable property of any person who insults in any fashion the president, or anyone acting on his behalf, or the revolutionary command council, or the Arab Baath socialist party or the national assembly, or the government; to sentence him to death if the insult or attack was of barefaced nature and was intended to incite public opinion against the authorities.
To sentence to a prison term of not less than seven years, or to sentence to prison and impose a fine on any person who insults in any public fashion the courts, or the armed forces or any other public authorities, or government offices or institutions".
As a reaction to an insult Saddam feels justified in harming the other. This reaction is described as narcissistic because it has two important features: one is the exaggerated grandiosity assumed during this state when the self has been insulted. The second part of the narcissism in such rages is the others are assigned subhuman status. The person falling into such rages doe not recognize that other persons have the right even to exist, there is a destructive readiness to injure others “to sentence him to death if the insult or attack was of barefaced nature and to confiscate his movable and immovable property” on the ground they are monsters who have no right to survive.
Many soldiers started to give themselves up at an early stage of the war; some ran home while others retreated to the rear lines during the heavy fight. He decided to treat them all alike. All to be executed.
There are several RCC decrees that deals with draft dodgers or evaders, the first one He drafted was RCC resolution no. 1140 of 26th of August 1981 that state " whoever returns to commit a crime of desertion from the military service during the war, after handing over himself to the competent authorities or after being captured, shall be punished with the capital punishment"
The duration of evasion or the number of desertion that leads to execution varied, in RCC resolution no.1370 of 13 of December 1983 it was prescribed "for every army deserter or draft dodger who is captured if the duration of his desertion or draft evasion exceeds one year or if he committed desertion more than once" while in RCC resolution no.877 of 1987 "the death penalty for every army deserter or draft dodger" was prescribed "if the duration of draft evasion or desertion exceeds five days".
But in RCC decree no. 700 of 27th of August 1988 "The death sentence shall be carried out by the party organization on every deserter or draft dodger who is captured regardless of the duration and the number of his desertion". This decree also stated that "the death penalty shall be carried out by the party organization on every Division member of the Arab Baath socialist party or lower rank member and any security official or police official if proved that he knew that an army deserter lived in his area and did not inform the authorities."
For those at the level of Branch member of the Arab Baath socialist party "who did not inform the authorities on the presence of army deserter of draft dodger in their area their case should be referred to the president who would decide on what is necessary in their cases"
RCC 565 of 14/9/1989 “to pardon the draft dodger and evasion from the death penalty if their crime of evasion of draft dodging was committed after 8/8/1988 if he did similar crime before that date” .
The responsibility for carrying the execution were transferred from the military to the Arab Bath party members as stipulated in RCC decree no. 10 of 3/1/1988 "The death sentence shall be carried out by the party organization on every deserter or draft dodger who is captured if the duration of his desertion or draft evasion exceeds one year, or if he has committed the crime of desertion more than once".
Then , during the second gulf war RCC issued resolution no. 20 of 18th of January 1991 which gave a period of fifteen days for draft dodgers and evader to surrender themselves. For those captured after the end of amnesty period they shall be "sentenced to death which will be carried out by the party organization on every deserter regardless of the duration and the number of his desertion".
The same decree handed the Death penalty stated in RCC 700 of 27th of August 1988 on every party member, security official and police official if proved that he knew that an army deserter lived in their area and did not inform the authorities about their whereabouts.
As stated previously not only those that ran home were executed but those who attempted to retreat from combat during any Iranian offence in the war were executed on the spot by a special squad. The establishments of such squads were declared by Saddam to the military personnel in a secret speech dated 23ed of March 1982 in which he state "To preserve the victory and courage at the same time we have decided the following:
1-the military crops will establish a special squads nominated by the commander of the brigade with the assistance of the party official and the military intelligent officer in the brigade, specifically their duty when the enemy start his offence to work in the rear lines, and to shoot any one who is retreating or deserting behind without official order.
2- For army divisions the commander of division will establish with the consultation of the party official and the division intelligence officer a special squad like the one mentioned in paragraph one which has the authority to execute those that withdraw immediately.
3-the special squads mentioned in the above two paragraphs will be decorated with special signs for differentiation purposes and be headed by an officer at the rank of a captain.
4- After all these clear the general military command has the right to punish any commanders, party officials and the military intelligent officers who fail to perform their duties with the same sentence mentioned in paragraph 1 and 2."The authority to execute retreating soldiers was later given to lower ranking officers as stated in the Military bureau telegram no.224 of 4/9/1986, which stated “to grant the commander of battalion, ascending in rank to the commander of corps. the authority to execute immediately the cowards and traitors”
If neither evasion nor retreating was an option attempting to surrender was no better as the orders were to execute them as the fourth corps telegram no.244 of 17/12 of 1982 state "to shoot any military personnel without warning, if he leaves his position towards the enemy without a military order from higher headquarters. We emphasize the continuing surveillance of suspicious elements and shoot any military personnel outside his position without a written order".
Soldiers had no choice but to fight.
In other instances he executed people not for belonging to opposition groups or for draft evasion, but for their failure to carry out his orders in the way he wanted it to be performed. An example of such is the Telegram of the armed forces 1119/99 of 24/8/19883 which stated" the leader president the commander in chief of the armed forces has ordered the execution by firing squad until death of Brahan Kalil Ibrahim formerly the commander of infantry division 38 for his hesitancy and delay in performing the duty assigned to him despite the fact the order was a written order from the highest authority in the armed forces and the state. Those whose duties allow shall attend the implementation of the above ”.
The Iraqi penal code also prescribed Death penalty under article 164 "for any person who, in the time of war attempts to jeopardize the military, political or economic situation of Iraq" and under article 177 "for the disclosure of a state secret by a public servant in time of war in or in furtherance of interest of a foreign state".
On the 13 of March 1984 the RCC issued resolution no. 313 which sentenced to death "any one found guilty of dealing in contraband Iraqi currency or foreign currency or gold with ‘Iranian’ enemy".
The RCC issued resolution no 120 of 29th of January1986, which stipulated the “Death penalty for forgery in a passport issued by another state, or any document issued by a competent authority in Iraq in order to obtain financial benefits resulting in damage to the national economy".
On the 24th of August 1990 RCC resolution no sentenced to death penalty "any one hiding a foreigner from the government"31 and according to RCC 322 of 14th of August 1990 "any one found robbing in Kuwait"32and according to RCC 315 of 11th of August 1990 "any one hoarding food for commercial purposes"33 the same decree also ordered the confiscation of the movable and immovable property of those who committed the above act.
If we take a longitudinal section of his life we see that he approach many situations with the same set of behavior that is aggression. Thus whether its domestic situation or foreign policy the behavior would be the same, aggression.
On the domestic front as the things seem to get out of hand he generalized the application of death penalty on more and more situation.
The reason is that a partial success of the death penalty previously provided him with the reward necessary to continue with this line of behavior.
Thus many of the decrees promulgated in recent years prescribe the death penalty for offences that do not have affect on the stability of his regime.
The first such decree issued by the RCC was Decree 39 of 2 April 1994, this decree summarized a number of offences as committing "sabotage of the national economy", including: removing medicines and medical equipment illegally from public facilities;
forging official documents pertaining to medicines and medical equipment in order to hide the illegal use of such equipment or medicines; possessing medicines and medical equipment with intent to trade in these items; possession of medicines and medical equipment by non-governmental health institutions if they are obtained from non-official sources.
The penalty stipulated in this decree is death or life imprisonment, with a fine ranging between 10,000 and 100,000 Iraqi dinars. The personal assets of the offender are also to be confiscated.
On 21 July 1994, the RCC declared in Decree 92 that individuals found guilty of the forgery of an official document which results "in illegal gain or depriving others of their rights" shall be executed.
Later that same month, the RCC issued Decree 95 of 27 July 1994, which prohibits the smuggling of cars, lorries or certain items of construction equipment out of Iraq. This was deemed to be a capital offence.
A number of crimes specific to members of the military were also declared capital offences. Decree 91 of 21 July 1994 states that military personnel who use their position as members of the armed forces to commit a premeditated crime normally punishable by not less than 15 years' imprisonment shall be sentenced to life imprisonment. However, if the accused is a member of the internal security force or the special security forces, he shall be sentenced to death. A month later, the RCC passed Decree 1ll of 23 August 1994, which established a special court in the ministry of Defence to hear cases regarding specific crimes committed by military personnel and punishable by death sentence or life imprisonment. Article 2 of this decree states:
"The court shall be competent to hear the following offences committed by military personnel:
1-Offences involving theft or embezzlement of funds or material belonging to the armed forces.
2-Offences involving the falsification of documents concerning military service affairs.
3-Offences involving bribery in a manner detrimental to the public interest.
It is of particular concern that Decrees 39 and 111 call for the trial of the defendant before special courts at the Ministries of the Interior and Defence, respectively.
In some decrees, a sentence of death is mandatory when the offence is committed under specific circumstances. For example, according to Decree 59, individuals who have committed theft for the third time are subject to execution. Decree 76 of 29 June 1994, which prohibits the smuggling of antiquities, states that if the crime is committed on an archaeological site or on a large scale, the perpetrator shall be sentenced to death. Similarly, Decree 115 calls for the execution of those who have defaulted, deserted or evaded military service on three occasions.
All death penalty verdicts required the approval of Saddam himself, but as the number of those executed escalated he issued RCC decree no 840 of 15/11/1988 that stipulated " All death sentences in all crimes should be carried out on the individuals to which a final verdict was reached, the prior approval of the president is not required" However "the presidential office should be informed on all death penalty cases".
Its worth mentioning that in the majority of cases execution was accompanied by the expropriation of the movable and immovable properties of the executed.
According to RCC 1235 of 4/8/1980 “to transfer ownership of the property and the real estates that’s it proven to be owned by the hostile parties and its imprisoned or fugitive members to the general directorate of security.
To establish a special committee in the general security directorate that perform the selling of the property transferred to its ownership” .
Presidential cabinet letter no. F 281262 of 2/8/1986 “regarding the handling of the expropriated property of the saboteurs and their families:
1-to establish a committee headed by the deputy mayor of sulaimania its members will include party representative”
The relatives of those executed would also face punishment this will be discussed in details later.
The intention was that the victims would not have to think only about themselves but have their relatives to think about.
RCC 198 of 12/2/1983 “banning the work of deserters or draft dodgers in any governmental office, social ,mixed or private sector and any foreign company working in Iraq.
To sentence those breaking this law to a minimum of one year imprisonment and to a maximum imprisonment of three years. The foreign company that breaks this law will be black listed” 38
In addition to the sentence mentioned in paragraph 2 . the expropriation of the factory of shop in which the deserter or draft dodger is working whether its his own or owned by someone else in the private sector" .
Killing was transformed into an organized operation that requires a coordination of schedule and concrete tasks. It was a continuous process. One function linked to the next. A delay in finishing one step led to the delay in the killing process. Thus in a letter ref 20936 of 24/12/1987 from General directorate of security, Crime section “ the ministry of Labor and Social Affair, Legal and administration Bureau” informed the general directorate of security “that one of the main reasons why the bodies of convicted parsons are kept in the morgues beyond the latter's capacity, is the delay by the security apparatuses in informing the relatives of the convicts. This in turn has led to a delay in the execution of other convicts.” The director of General security solved the problem when he was informed about it, by him ordering that “the relatives of the convicts be informed”.
In the killing process the parents of the executed were some times to be informed as stated in Presidential cabinet letter no. sh/.h/b/4 29199 of 4/10/1987 unless “there was security reasons preventing this” the parents the directive went on “ should be provided with death certificate and the body of the executed”.
Delivering the bodies was one mean by which the copses of the dead were disposed of, but in a great number of cases the victims disappeared without a trace. This is happened repeatedly throughout the years. To many of the tabbhay, to the Kurds during the Anfal, to the Kuwaitis during the occupation, and to the Shiite during the uprising of 1991. Here no sign was permitted to point to the dead. When the Kurds started enquiring about their loved one, the directives of one Director of Security On 25/9/1990 was “The phrase "We do not have any information about their fate" will replace the phrase "They were arrested during the victorious anfal operation and remain in detention”. Here the victims not only were killed but they were deleted by the same government that “ had no information about their fate”. They disappeared from the earth as though they had never existed. Nothing should remind one of them no grave..... no memorial....