The Iraqi Secret Police Files: A Documentary Record of the Anfal Genocide

  • Bruce P. Montgomery


In March 1991, after the defeat of the Iraqi armed forces in the Gulf War, Kurdish rebels rose in popular revolt against the Iraqi regime, storming and burning secret police stations, prisons, and torture centres. In the uprising, the Iraqi Kurds seized an enormous cache of secret police files from several cities and towns in the northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan before Saddam Hussein's armed forces returned to crush the revolt after having quelled mass uprisings in the south among the Shiites. The captured documents quickly took on international importance, as they contained direct evidence of crimes against humanity and the Anfal genocide that had been perpetrated against the Kurds by the Iraqi regime during the late 1980s. The extraordinary journey of these documents from northern Iraq to the National Archives in Washington, and then to the University of Colorado at Boulder's Human Rights Initiative has been an odyssey of international political dimensions. The documents have great international significance as they comprise the evidentiary centrepiece of a broad-based international campaign by human rights groups, the United States government, judicial authorities overseas, and others to indict and bring to justice Saddam Hussein and his top leadership before an international tribunal. Whatever occurs in the current effort to prosecute the Iraqi leadership, it is clear that the story surrounding these documents is far from over.

Author Biography

Bruce P. Montgomery
Bruce P. Montgomery is the founder and director of The Human Rights Initiative at the University of Colorado at Boulder, a global archival endeavour to document the international human rights movement and to create a central repository of evidence for human rights prosecution. He is also Associate Professor and Curator and Faculty Director of the University of Colorado’s Historical Collections and University Archives.
How to Cite
Montgomery, Bruce P. 2001. “The Iraqi Secret Police Files: A Documentary Record of the Anfal Genocide”. Archivaria 52 (November), 69-99.