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Search for Human Remains Continues in Iraqi Graves - 2003-05-05

Iraqis are digging up mass graves in search of relatives who disappeared under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Carol Pearson reports that human remains are being unearthed from two mass graves near the town of Najaf and the ancient city of Babylon.

Relatives picked and clawed through the dirt, looking for anything to identify their loved ones who disappeared; clothing, identification cards, anything that could tell them the fate of a son, a husband, a wife or a child.

Some of the bodies were found with blindfolds and hands tied.

Tens of thousands of people are thought to have been killed after the 1991 Gulf War when Shi’ite and Kurdish uprisings were crushed by Saddam’s forces.

This woman came to look for the remains of her son.

“My son was in the military. They took him to Kuwait.”

Human Rights Watch, an international organization, says Saddam Hussein left scores of mass graves during his 24 years in power and that it knows of a number of other probable sites.

But it is waiting until forensic teams are organized before it discloses the information.

The organization has called on U.S. forces to protect the graves so crimes committed by Saddam’s regime can be documented and the dead can be identified.

Relatives, however, are anxious that their loved ones receive a proper burial, not one in a mass grave.