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!