02 July 2006

Saddam's Road to Hell

In his Observer column Nick Cohen draws attention to a harrowing short film called Saddam’s Road to Hell. Made by reporter Gwynne Roberts it focuses on massacre of Barzani clan members. In 1983, the Baathists took away 800 men and boys of the Barzani clan as a collective punishment for the Kurdish revolt against Saddam. They murdered them all. Everyone knew it, except the relatives who to this day cling on to the hope that somehow their husbands and sons will stumble back to their villages.

The film follows Mohammed Ihsan, Kurdistan's Human Rights Minister, as he sets off to find the bodies of the dead, a case for the prosecution in the trial of Saddam. We see backstreet shops where, for a very high price, lawyers looking for evidence can buy documents looted from secret police archives, skeletons being dug out of mass graves in the desert and snuff videos of torturers blowing up prisoners or throwing them from rooftops. All the time, like a low hum in the background, the threat of assassination hangs over the investigators.

The film has been broadcast by TV stations in 20 countries but it has yet to be seen here in the UK. Channel 4 has the film but has delayed its broadcast – it is now expected to be shown in November. Could Kurdish suspicion be correct - that the delay be down to Channel 4 “being full of liberals, uncomfortable with crimes against humanity they can't blame on Tony Blair or George W Bush” A film about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay would probably not have been delayed.

The Road to Hell is an excellent film and is available to view here . I would highly recommend you watch it: its facts have been triple-checked, the producers present other points of view and the reporter shrinks into the background allowing Iraqis to speak for themselves. Western “radicals” who still cling to the crass belief that Saddam is a victim should be made to watch this sort of film. Perhaps it will help impress on them that at least some of the world’s ills can be laid at the feet of someone other than Bush and Blair. On the other hand who am I kidding!


Bob Piper said...

Is there anyone out there who did not think Saddam Hussain was a mudering bastard? I doubt it, and therefore I see no point in delaying the film at all. Many of us thought he was a murdering bastard when the West eased his path to power to prevent a socialist/communist regime nationalising Iraq's oil. Many of us thought he was a mudering bastard when the US, Soviets, and French were selling him arms and Thatcher's puppy Paul Channon was sitting on the famous white sofa doing business deals with the murdering bastard. For those who want to use the invasion to call Saddam a murdering bastard... welcome to the party... you're late..

jams o donnell said...

Bob. Thanks for your post and and thank's for visiting my blog.

While the great majority of people would quite rightly view Saddam for the vile piece of shit he was, there are still quite a few who refuse to believe that he was a butcher. Take Halabja for example: A lot of so called leftists hold the view that it was the Iranians that commited that atrocity. One question for thos idiots: Why would the Iranians gas their allies?

Then again this should come as no surprise when you consider the holocaust deniers or those that still believe Stalin was a hero.

Perhaps I spent too much time in the company of Saddam apologist scum for my own good!

Mizgîn said...

Another question would be why would the Left, or liberals, endorse an opinion that was originally proposed by the US Army War College in a report written by Stephen Pelletiere, a CIA analyst?

Funny, isn't it, how Pelletiere and the AWC completely disregard the eye-witness reports of the survivors?

The report is online, and it is the source of this lie. Of course, the promotion of this lie served US interests since, at the time, Saddam was an ally while Iran was, and still is, the enemy.

jams o donnell said...

I agree mizglin, Pelletiere and the Army War College went totally against the overwhelming evidence of teh Kurds, SIPRI, Physicians for Human rigts et al. I can only imagine that the view was put forward to show Sadam in a less bad light and thus downplay prior US support for his regime against Iran.

The only reason I can think that so many have jumped on the Pelletiere report is because they are so set in their anti americanism that they cannot or will not see Saddam for the butcher he was.

MC Fanon said...

Few will contest that Saddam was a bad apple. However if we're going to look at who is worst, Joseph Kony, upping the insurgency group Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda has committed attrocities against his own people that make Saddam's crimes look like an everyday bank robbery. I don't question that outting Saddam was a good thing. I question the motives of people who try to pass it off as America's "noble cause for invading Iraq".

Sounds like a good film. I'll have to check it out. Great post. I'm really loving your blog!

-Comrade Dave

CC said...

Again, deep swellings of platonic love for you jams for writing this fine little piece.

Your common sense and willingness to fault things in an unbiased fashion, just may be responsible for my shifting opinion of leftists.

Funny that new reports of found WMD's in Iraq get the brushoff from mainstream media too. American style Pravdas, all.

Mizgîn said...

The Pelletiere lie is also strong among the Arabs, not so much among Iraqi Shi'a, but among the rest. This may also be a reason why the Left does not want the documentary shown, because the Left always makes apology for the Arab world.

As for the documentary itself, it recalls for me many memories. All of it is very accurate from the Kurdish perspective.

I think the part that angers me most is when Mohammed Ihsan has to bargain with the Sunni Arab Saddam supporters in the south, for the bodies of the murdered Barzanîs, as if they were some mere commodity in the bazaar.

I am truly disgusted by that, and I agree with Kak Mohammed that this is one of the things that proves Kurds cannot remain as part of Iraq.

The result was that Kak Mohammed only recovered some 500 bodies. 7500 are still missing.

jams o donnell said...

I know what you mean about the way the ousting of Saddam was presented, especially when you view the cynical way the USA, EU nations and Russia could not do enough trade with his regime in the past. This at a time when he was commiting appalling atrocities against his own people, especially the Kurds.

While I have deep reservations about the the invasion of Iraq (at the very, very best it was right for the all the wrong reasons)I am not sorry to see Saddam's passing. I wish him a very long and miserable life to come. I certainly wish the same of Joseph Kony a disgusting piece of work. If the west had given a fraction of the regard they gave Saddam, Uganda would have not faced teh atrocities meted out by the Lords Resistance Army.

jams o donnell said...

Elasticwaistbandlady, being a leftist should not mean that one's critical faculties should be blinkered. Sadly all too many on the left, and the right for that matter, are unwilling to see things in any other way but in accordance with their prejudices and dogma. Hmm I suppose that problem is pretty well nigh universal, sadly

jams o donnell said...

I did not realise the the Pelletiere take on Halabja was so widespread in the Arab world. Is this to do with Sunnis wanting to pin the blame on Shi'ite Iranians for this evil act?

I cannot imagine the things you have seen, Mizgin, and I can certainlly understand why the kurdish people have no desire to remain part of Iraq. The only question I have is whether Turkey would ever permit an independent kurdish state on its borders. Turkey's treatment of its own Kurdish population makes me fear it would do everything in its power to desatroy it.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I do appreciate your comments.

Anonymous said...

Compliments on this blog, sane, balanced and, especially, unhystierical.

What is also worrying is how events can’t get into the news ‘forefront’ unless the press can get visual footage of them. Yes, most people are sort of aware of Saddam’s crimes but since they were not on our screens they’re somehow less real than what the Americans perpetrated in Abu Ghraib. In fact most people are probably not even aware what went on under Saddam in Abu Ghraib cos we don’t have the photo souvenirs.
I tried googling ‘Nagra Salman’ the unspeakable desert killing-prison mentioned in the film – and there were just two hits, one in fact from a review of the film. Try googling ‘Abu Ghraib’.
It’s hard to get cameras into Syria, Iran and above all Sudan so we hear a hundred times more of the evils of America, the UK or Israel than of the above trio.

On Sudan / Darfur and the UN. The parallels with the pre-Iraq situation are not hard to find – many people, me included, thought it was worth risking almost anything to stop Saddam butchering Iraqis. Now we’re forever hearing (Sunni) Muslims are ‘angry’ about the overthrow of a Sunni regime which was tyrannizing the neighbouring populations, and a myriad of apologists like Galloway giving them credence. If the UN does send troops in to try to ward off genocide, as it surely must, how long before we hear of the West again targeting Muslims?

jams o donnell said...

Thanks for your comments grady. I am glad you like this blog.

What can one say about this? While it was perfectly right to criticise Abu Ghraib but the lack of coverage of Saddam's crimes is a disgrace. But you are right those atrocities are harder to depict but it doesnt mean they should not be made better known to the world.

I shudder to think how Darfur will pan out.. not wll I fear