Tuesday, September 4, 2012

59. Saddam's Killing Fields (1992)

British historian and documentary filmmaker Michael Wood brought the story of the Shia Marsh Arabs to attention in 1993.  The Marsh Arabs had their ancient culture destroyed by Saddam who poisoned the marshes, resulting in the putrification of fish and the displacement of the community.  

The film tells the story of Saddam's killing fields for a Western audience.  Highlighting the complicity of European businesses selling arms to Iraq and also of Western forces which encouraged the Kurds in northern Iraq and Shia Muslims in the South to rise up against Saddam, the film takes a historical approach in order to explain the massacre of an estimated 300000 Shia muslims by the Ba'athist regime. Wood interviews locals and international actors in order to develop a picture of Saddam's responsibility for crimes.  

In 2003, Saddam Hussein was prosecuted for crimes against humanity by the Iraqi Special Tribunal.  The trial was set up under the US-UK occupation by the Iraqi governing council with jurisdiction to prosecute crimes between 1968-2003.  The trial forced on the purging of Dujail after rebels made an attempt to assassinate Saddam in 1982.  Saddam's forces imprisoned and tortured residents and executed 143 of them at Abu Ghraib jail.  Saddam was executed following the trial, which was considered by many (including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch) to be flawed.  

This documentary shows one aspect of the crimes perpetrated by Saddam. Check out the video on PBS. 

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