This week Iraq upheld the death sentence of Ali Hassan al-Majid, a.k.a "Chemical Ali." This cousin of Saddam Hussein led the al-Anfal ("the Spoils") genocide campaign against the Kurds in 1988. Between February and August 1988, over 100,000 Kurds died and 2,000 villages were destroyed at the hands of Saddam's Baath party. During the campaign, Iraq became the first country to use chemical weapons against its own people.
During Anfal, Kurds that escaped mass executions and burial in mass graves met other miserable fates. Many re-settled further south, facing death if they attempted to return to their homes. The dire settlements had few provisions, and many ultimately starved to death if they did not receive undercover help from nearby towns. Other civilian, non-rebel Kurds were imprisoned, and often perished in brutal custody.
The Kurds, a non-Arabic people who speak a language related to Persian, straddle Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, and Syria. They are predominately Sunni Muslims. Their attempts to set up an independent state have been defeated every time.