Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, November 19 2003

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For IMMEDIATE Release

Saddam Hussein & Human Rights Abuses
T
hursday hearing details crimes of psychopathic ex-Iraqi leader,
Baathist allies during 25-year rule

BACKGROUND: Although Iraqi political culture became excessively violent in the years following the downfall of the monarchy in 1958, President Saddam Hussein’s rule was exceptional in its use of murder, torture, and weapons of mass destruction against separatist Kurds, disenfranchised Shiites, high-ranking officials in his own party, and even members of Hussein’s extended family. Some historians have attributed Saddam’s excesses to his psychological makeup, his paranoia, and his affinity for the ruling style of previous dictators such as Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. However, most intelligence analysts have speculated that, above all else, Saddam Hussein coveted power and was willing to do anything to maintain his grip on Iraq, a diverse country and nascent nation state without a long history of centralized rule. Since the regime fell in April 2003, U.S. and international forensics teams have searched for evidence of the scale and scope of the Baathist regime’s human rights abuses. As of this date, there are more than 200 mass grave sites in Iraq. Some estimates place the number of victims of the regime at 300,000 to one million. Most grave sites are believed to contain the bodies of Shiite Muslims, as well as Kurds killed in the post-1991 war uprisings against Saddam Hussein.

WHAT: Oversight hearing: Human Rights Violations Under Saddam Hussein: Victims Speak Out
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair, Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia

WHEN: 2 p.m., Thursday, November 20, 2003

WHERE: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES: U.S. Reps. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) and Darlene Hooley (D-OR), both recently returned from Iraq; Sandy Hodgkinson, Forensics Unit, Coalition Provisional Authority (invited); Joe Collins, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations; Major Alvin Schmidt, USMC; Susannah Sirkin, Deputy Director, Physicians for Human Rights; Maha Alattar, M.D., neurosurgeon, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Athir Morad, M.D., Inova Fairfax Hospital, Falls Church, Virginia.

Among the questions/issues expected to be addressed during the hearing:

Among Iraqis, how widespread was the knowledge of atrocities committed by the Hussein regime?

Describe how fear of the regime was utilized to fragment the opposition.

What is your personal experience with human rights violations committed by Hussein’s allies?

Do we have a clear idea of how many of Saddam’s victims we might eventually find?

Have records been found to indicate the policy initiatives of Saddam’s regime that called for these slaughters, and do these records substantiate a legal case against captured officials in order to try them for war crimes?

How do Saddam’s crimes compare with those you have seen in Yugoslavia and Rwanda?

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