1844: The Bandiera brothers 1990: Gideon Orkar, for a Nigerian coup

1992: 42 Iraqi merchants

July 26th, 2011 Headsman

On this date in 1992, 42* Baghdad merchants who were among several hundred rounded up over the preceding 48 hours were executed at Saddam Hussein‘s command at Abu Ghraib prison and the Interior Ministry compound.

A year and change on from the close of the Gulf War, Iraq’s economy was groaning under a murderous program of economic sanctions.

The merchants were accused of profiteering by manipulating food prices — a chilling threat to businessmen, but one that had little power to arrest the wreck of Iraq’s economy. Prices for food, and everything else, were spiking under the blockade.

“Hardly any Iraqi trader sent anything to his country from our warehouse” after the executions, according to a Jordanian exporter quoted by Reuters.** “They tell us even if the goods are given to them for free, they are not ready to risk their lives.”

These executions have put some former Iraqi officials at risk of their lives in American-occupied Iraq.

The country’s longtime Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, was tried for his life in 2008-2009 for ordering these executions; Aziz received a 15-year sentence.†

But at the same trial, two of the late dictator’s half-brothers, Watban Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Sabawi Ibrahim al-Tikriti, drew death sentences for the same affair.

Just days ago as of this writing, those two gentlemen were transferred from American to Iraqi custody, where they figure to be put to death very soon — though this is a matter of ongoing political wrangling.

* It’s not completely unambiguous to me that the “42 merchants” at issue in several post-Saddam trials were all executed on July 26 (though Amnesty International seems to think so); the roundup and execution process was less than orderly. But it’s certainly the case that at least many died this date.

Some testimony and trial documents related to the incident are available in pdf form here.

** Chicago Sun-Times, Aug. 3, 1992.

† Aziz has subsequently received a death sentence in a different and politicized case; that sentence was internationally condemned and Iraq’s president has stated that he will never implement it.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Businessmen,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,History,Innocent Bystanders,Iraq,Mass Executions,No Formal Charge,Pelf,Power,Ripped from the Headlines,Shot,Summary Executions,Wartime Executions,Wrongful Executions

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3 thoughts on “1992: 42 Iraqi merchants”

  1. Jay Crawford says:

    “Oil For Food was not in place in 1992”
    NOR WAS THE STUPID LIE OF “HALF A MILLION IRAQI CHILDREN DEAD BECASUSE OF SANCTIONS”. Please check the year 2000 dateline on the naively credulous Guardian article which was attached. (Furthermore, if you remember, it was such obvious propaganda underlain by his self-serving disregard for his county’s people which provided the moral justification for the RESUMPTION of the Gulf War in 2003.)

    Humanitarian aid was available to Iraqis from the UN if Hussein’s government allowed it; it always is.

    Please remember, 1992 was BEFORE the big WMD laboratory shell-game-to-deter-Iran started. There was less frustration with Iraqi armistice-compliance than there would be a decade later. Oil For Food was a response to continued humanitarian frustration with Hussein’s refusal of UN-monitored food distibution in the 1990s (same as N Korea today).

    Please don’t minimize monsters in the cause of some soft-Left anti-Americanism. Iraqi suffering from 1979 until 2003 can virtually ALWAYS be laid at the feet of the sociopathic Hussein and his Corleone-ish family. (I write this since I followed this man’s career for a few years before his ascent to public power through his better-than-he-deserved long-drop hanging. Few people outside of Middle Eastern bureaus had heard of him before he invade seemingly-weak Iran; I already knew him as a murderer…and, as a classic liberal, I LITERALLY prayed for the deliverance of “his” people.)

  2. Headsman says:

    The article’s ignorant statement about UN sanctions completely ignores the oil for food program which was intended to provide food and medicine under UN supervision.

    Oil for Food was not in place in 1992.

  3. Jay Crawford says:

    “A year and change on from the close of the Gulf War, Iraq’s economy was groaning under a murderous program of economic sanctions.”
    You couldn’t be more morally mistaken.

    First, allow me to apply my own value judgement: This blog is generally very well – no, EXTREMELY WELL – written with excellent research.
    Yet here it has a judgement which flies in the face of OBVIOUS historic facts readily apparent to everyone who remembers the aftermath of the first Gulf War. The article’s ignorant statement about UN sanctions completely ignores the oil for food program which was intended to provide food and medicine under UN supervision. More critically, such an ignorance ignores Hussein’s refusal to allow emergency food and medicine distribution (by UN monitors) DIRECTLY to suffering Iraqis. Rather than allow the latter, Hussein refused humanitarian aid and let many Iraqis suffer. That way the Butcher of Bagdad could accuse the West of inhumanity in a propaganda bid to restore his full freedom of arms importation.
    Therefore, it’s the late, unlamented dictator who bears virtually ALL responsibility for the suffering his Baathist Iraqi dictatorship claimed…NOT America and Britain.

    And speaking of Baathist Iraqi claims…
    The afore-mentioned value judgement even more egregiously ignores the source of the “half a million dead children” meme: Sadaam Hussein’s DOCUMENTEDLY wickedly murderous kleptocracy… and the article does so even while citing an example of the regime’s murderousness. What do you think those monsters would say to Westerners in an attempt to gain complete freedom from ALL restrictions?
    An even better question: What do you think a mass-murdering tyrant (whose actions killed an average of over 60,000 of his OWN PEOPLE every year he was in power) would do when all weapons inspections and arms embargos were lifted?

    Iraqis “groaing under murderous sanctions”? Bullshit; Iraqis groaned under a tyrant who murdered them or “merely” let them die in furtherance of his own lust for power.

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