In the 1980s Kulajo gave unstinting support to the Kurdish resistance and for this its people were punished by Saddam Hussein. Villagers were transported to prison camps and many were later executed. Yet some lived to tell extraordinary stories of survival.
‘My Kurdish family were the original inhabitants of Mama village, not Arabs’
In the 1960s Arab militia drove Kurdish farmers from their homes near Kirkuk and established control over this oil rich territory. ABDUL QADIR ABDULRAHMAN describes how the Ba'ath Party made his family suffer.
‘The Iraqis tortured, looted and killed so the people of Qara Dara rose up’
Iraq's ruling Ba’ath Party used brutal tactics to "arabise" oil-rich Kurdish lands near Kirkuk in the 1960s. HADI HAMA MUSTAFA, a child at the time, witnessed a Kurdish smuggler being shot dead at an Iraqi checkpoint.
‘The Arab militia were firing at us from our village graveyard’
Arab militia groups supporting the ruling Ba’ath Party drove Kurdish villagers from their homes near Kirkuk and replaced them with Arab settlers from the south. ARRAS ABDULLAH MOHAMMED remembers how his neighbours resisted for two days before they were forced to flee.
‘The Iraqis razed 24 villages and drove people from their lands’
The 1963 Ba’athist coup against the Iraqi leader Abdul Karim Qasim led to a worsening of relations between Arabs and Kurds. Arab farmer SHAHAB AHMAD AWAD witnessed the expulsion of Kurdish farmers from the Kirkuk region by Ba’aathist National Guards.