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Commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of the Speicher Massacre

June 10, 2024

BAGHDAD, Iraq — On June 9th, the Speicher NGO held a heartfelt memorial event in Baghdad’s Babylon Hotel to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Speicher massacre. This tragic event, which occurred on June 12, 2014, saw the brutal murder of over 1,700 Iraqi cadets by ISIL in Tikrit. The ceremony served as a poignant reminder of the immense loss and enduring grief experienced by the victims‘ families and the broader Iraqi community. The families of the martyrs will travel to the site of the massacre, in Tikrit, on June 12th, with transportation, logistics and protection provided by the Iraqi government.

United for Justice

In a spirit of solidarity, Yazidis and Iraqi Shia communities and others have come together to seek justice for the victims of ISIL, under the Coalition for Just Reparations (C4JR); an alliance of Iraqi NGOs calling for comprehensive reparations for survivors of atrocity crimes perpetrated during the ISIL conflict in Iraq. Members of C4JR demand justice and accountability, pushing for a unified approach to ensure that such atrocities never happen again. Speicher NGO is the most recent member of C4JR, represented at the June 9th conference by Mairéad Smith, a consultant with C4JR, and Mr. Ghazi from Yazda. Speicher NGO thanks them for their attendance and for taking the trouble to travel to the event.

Photo Credit: Sadiq Al-Rubaie, Speicher NGO

Conversation with Sadiq Al-Rubaie, Speicher NGO (Member of C4JR)

“As the tenth anniversary of the Speicher massacre approaches, we are filled with renewed sadness and sorrow for the tragic events that our country, Iraq, has witnessed. We feel deep pain and longing for the souls of the victims we lost in this great tragedy. Our message to the Iraqi community is the need for solidarity and unity in the face of such harsh events, and to encourage courage and steadfastness in the face of challenges and overcoming pain and suffering. We call on the Iraqi community to stand together in a spirit of brotherhood and solidarity, to provide support and assistance to the families of the victims and survivors, and to ensure justice and accountability for those responsible for this heinous crime. We must work hard to prevent the recurrence of such events in the future, by promoting the values of dialogue and peace and rejecting violence and extremism. Let us be one hand in building a better future for Iraq, where justice, peace, and prosperity prevail for all members of society.”

Primary Challenges in Seeking Justice for the Victims and Their Families

“In our arduous journey towards achieving justice for the victims of the Speicher massacre and their families, we faced great challenges and strong waves that almost sank our ship of hopes, but we held on to hope and stood firm in the face of the strong winds. The first of these challenges was the wall of silence that surrounded the case, as we faced neglect and oblivion by some, as if the voice of truth had faded into the corners of oblivion. We were screaming in a dark valley, trying to make our voice heard amid the muffled cries of pain.

The second challenge was the exhausting slowness of the judicial procedures. It was as if justice was dragging its tails slowly in a field full of obstacles, as transactions were swinging between offices, and procrastinations were repeated, as if we were in a race against time to prove that the truth does not die, even if it was delayed.

The third challenge was fear and threats. Some of us were subjected to intimidation, and we were walking on paths mined with fear, fearing that the hand of treachery would strike us as we sought to reveal the truth and condemn injustice. Despite this, we did not back down or hesitate to demand, believing that the blood of the martyrs will remain a beacon for us.

As for the fourth challenge, it was the ongoing pain of losing loved ones. We carried bleeding wounds in our hearts, trying to gather our strength and continue on the path, but every memory and every moment that passed us added new pain, bringing back to us the scene of loss.

With all these challenges, hope remained our companion. We could see in the faces of the victims‘ children the flame of hope and innocence, which motivated us to continue despite all the difficulties. We carried in our hearts a deep faith that justice, even if it was long awaited, would be achieved one day, and the memory of Speicher would remain a lesson for generations, that truth does not die and that steadfastness works miracles.”

Photo Credit: Sadiq Al-Rubaie, Speicher NGO

Significant Milestones in Memorialising the Victims of the Speicher Massacre

“First, we are keen to commemorate the anniversary of the Speicher massacre, where we gather every year on June 12 to remember those pure souls who were lost, and renew the pledge that they will never be forgotten. These annual ceremonies are not just rituals, but a constant reminder of our duty towards our martyrs, and a renewal of the pledge that justice will one day be achieved.

Second, a memorial was erected in Wasit to honor the victims of the massacre. This memorial is not just a stone or a piece of art, but a living witness to the horror of what happened, and a monument that tells the story of steadfastness and sacrifice to future generations. It is a place where family and friends come together to pray for the martyrs, and draw strength from their memory to continue the struggle for justice.

These landmarks represent small steps on a long journey, but they carry within them a lot of hope and determination. The commemoration and the memorial are a symbol of the pledge we have made to ourselves, to continue striving for justice and acknowledging the great sacrifices made by our martyrs. Our hearts are still bleeding, but our hope is not extinguished, and our belief that justice will prevail keeps us steadfast and persevering. Let us remain united, and let this covenant be engraved in our hearts: We will not forget, and we will not stop until justice is served.”

Cooperation with Other Organisations and the Government

“Speicher seeks to enhance effective cooperation and coordination with other organisations and the government through initiatives that focus on providing comprehensive support to victims’ families. The organisation works to establish strong networks of community partnerships and continuous cooperation with relevant authorities, with the aim of providing services and assistance to affected families, including psychological, social and guidance support. The organisation also seeks to organise awareness and educational events and programs for the community, with the aim of raising awareness of victims’ issues and promoting solidarity and social cohesion. At the same time, the organisation also works to follow up on the transactions of victims’ families and their compensation, and to achieve justice by strengthening its role in following up on legal cases, such as filing lawsuits and following up on the entry of defendants into prison, with a focus on providing self-support and guidance without the need to address specific financial support.”

Photo Credit: Sadiq Al-Rubaie, Speicher NGO

Main Obstacles to Achieving Full Accountability

“One of the main obstacles to achieving full accountability for the atrocities committed during the Speicher massacre is the delay in implementing the penalties. This makes it easier for the accused to remain outside the reach of justice and reinforces the lack of trust in the justice system, leading to the failure of investigations and trials and hindering the pursuit of full justice.”

Public Perception of the Speicher Massacre Over the Last Decade

“Over the past decade, the public perception of the Speicher massacre in Iraq has gradually evolved. Initially, the massacre was considered one of the most heinous crimes committed by an armed group in Iraq’s history. The massacre elicited strong reactions from the Iraqi people and the international community, sparking deep anger and grief. Over time, and as efforts to prosecute the accused and achieve justice continued, the public perception in Iraq began to change. Some sectors of society began to question the viability and effectiveness of the judicial process, and soon some voices began to question the possibility of achieving full justice. Nevertheless, the Speicher massacre is still consistently remembered as a significant turning point in the history of violence in Iraq, and serves as a reminder of the importance of promoting peace and national reconciliation.”

Contributions to the Healing and Reconciliation Process

“With professionalism and modesty, Speicher NGO works to promote healing and reconciliation among affected communities. The organisation provides tangible psychosocial support, aiming to alleviate psychological pain and build self-confidence among victims, by organising interactive sessions and specialised psychological support programs. It also works to enhance communication and understanding between affected parties, by organising workshops and educational activities that promote the values of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. In addition, the organisation provides economic support and employment opportunities to affected families, which contributes to achieving economic stability and supporting the process of rebuilding affected communities. The organisation’s efforts are embodied in modesty and dedication, which contributes to enhancing the spirit of harmony and solidarity among affected individuals and achieving balanced and modest healing and reconciliation.”

Lessons Learned to Prevent Future Tragedies

“From the Speicher massacre, valuable lessons can be learned that can be applied to prevent similar tragedies in the future. These lessons include strengthening the justice system and applying the law with strictness and fairness, promoting a culture of peace and tolerance, and strengthening dialogue between all stakeholders. Attention must also be paid to improving the living conditions of affected communities, providing employment and educational opportunities, and strengthening the role of non-governmental organisations in supporting and rehabilitating victims and promoting social solidarity. In addition, transparency and accountability must be enhanced in all government institutions, and a culture of human rights and social justice must be promoted to ensure that incidents of injustice and tyranny are not repeated. These valuable lessons should serve as a motivation to promote peace and stability in societies, and achieve sustainable development and social justice around the world.”

Plans for the Tenth Anniversary

“Speicher NGO plans to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Speicher massacre in various ways, in line with the importance of this anniversary and the need to shed light on the history and impact of the incident. Among the plans, we intend to organise an annual commemoration conference in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with the attendance of high-level figures and families of the victims, with the aim of shedding light on the humanitarian and social aspects of the incident and exchanging experiences and expertise. We will also continue to expand our work in previous years by coordinating and managing the transportation of families to the site of the presidential palaces in Tikrit, with the aim of providing an appropriate environment for compassion and solidarity. In addition, we will work to expand coordination with government agencies to provide transportation and rest areas, to facilitate the victims’ families’ access to the site of the massacre and provide them with support and care during this special and moving visit.”

Photo Credit: Sadiq Al-Rubaie, Speicher NGO

Current Needs of Survivors and Families of the Victims

“The current circumstances of survivors and victims‘ families require immediate attention and care, as they are exposed to diverse needs that require comprehensive and integrated intervention. Our organisation works to address these needs in multiple and effective ways, by providing psychological support programs for victims‘ and survivors’ families, with the aim of providing them with emotional and psychological assistance and support in coping with what they have been through. We also pay special attention to training and developing expertise to deal effectively with victims‘ and survivors’ families, by organising training courses and workshops to raise awareness and exchange experiences among those working in this field. In addition, global cooperation is essential in confronting this tragic phenomenon and working to prevent its recurrence in the future, so we work to build strong international partnerships and promote international dialogue on the urgent need to take effective measures to prevent similar massacres from occurring in the future.”

Reflections from Farhad Ali, Yazidi Activist and Member of C4JR

“As a Yazidi, activist, and member of the Coalition for Just Reparations (C4JR), the tenth anniversary of the Speicher massacre holds deep significance for me and the Yazidi community. The Speicher massacre, where ISIL brutally murdered over 1,700 Shia cadets in Tikrit, shares haunting similarities with the atrocities committed against Yazidis in Sinjar. Both tragedies were driven by the same extremist ideology that sought to annihilate our communities, targeting us based on our identities and beliefs.

Reflecting on the Speicher massacre brings a profound sense of sorrow and empathy. It reminds me of the shared suffering and resilience of our communities. As we approach this sombre anniversary, my thoughts and feelings are filled with a mix of grief for the lives lost and hope for a future where justice prevails. The pain of losing loved ones, the trauma endured by survivors, and the ongoing struggle for recognition and justice are experiences that bind us together.

To the Shia community and victims of the Speicher massacre, I extend my deepest condolences and solidarity. Your pain is our pain, and your fight for justice is our fight. We understand the profound loss you have endured, and we stand with you in seeking accountability for those responsible for these heinous crimes. Your resilience in the face of such tragedy inspires us all.

Communities can work together and support each other by fostering dialogue, understanding, and collaboration. We must amplify each other’s voices, share our stories, and advocate for comprehensive justice and reparations for all victims of ISIL. By standing united, we can ensure that such atrocities never happen again and that future generations inherit a world where peace and justice prevail.”

Photo Credit: Sadiq Al-Rubaie, Speicher NGO

The anniversary serves as a reminder of the profound impact of the Speicher massacre on the Iraqi community and the ongoing efforts to achieve justice and reconciliation. It highlights the importance of solidarity, remembrance, and the continued struggle for justice for all victims of violence and extremism.

C4JR member organisations:

  1. ASUDA
  2. Better World Organization for Community Development (BWOCD)
  3. CAPNI for Humanitarian Aid in Iraq
  4. Civil Development Organization (CDO)
  5. Dak Organization
  6. Emma
  7. Eyzidi Organization for Documentation
  8. Farida Global Organization
  9. Ghasin Alzaiton
  10. Hammurabi Human Rights Organization (HHRO)
  11. Harikar
  12. HÁWAR.Help
  13. Iraqi Educational Association AL Basra
  14. The Iraqi Educators League
  15. Iraqi Institution for Development (IID)
  16. Jinda Organization
  17. Justice Organization for Minority Rights (JOMR)
  18. Methra Organization
  19. Nadia’s Initiative (NI)
  20. National Centre for Human Rights (NHCR)
  21. Nisha Organization
  22. Peace and Freedom Organization
  23. SEED Foundation
  24. Speicher NGO
  25. Sustainable Peace Foundation (SPF)
  26. TAJDID Iraq
  27. The Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF)
  28. The Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights
  29. The Lotus Flower
  30. The Observer Human Rights Center (OHRC)
  31. To Reconcile Organization (TRO)
  32. Turkmen Rescue Foundation
  33. Women Leadership Institute (WLI)
  34. Women Legal Assistance Organization (WOLA)
  35. Yazda

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