As an example of ignorance of the high ranks Baathists, there was a story recited by the Iraqis as a joke. It shows the kind of people was leading the state and their ignorance. Hussein Kamil was Saddam’s cousin & son in law. The man was of elementary school education; Saddam granted him the rank of five stars general and assigned him the minister of defense & the supervisor of military industrialization ministry. On visiting a military research institution he came across a machine which had been facing a problem. He asked the researcher about the problem. The answer was ‘It needs steam. I need lot of steam to make it work, sir’. The researcher with complete unawareness used the English word ‘steam’. Kamil immediately issued an order to collect all the ‘steam’ available in the markets to solve the problem. The attendants were about to burst into laughing, which they couldn’t because it might cause them death.
Speaking of death, let’s take a look at some resolutions issued by the Revolution Command Council (RCC) impose the death penalty. These resolutions had the force of law. By the way, the RCC was consisting of 10-20 members, mainly of the Baath central leadership. It represented the legislative & executive branches in Iraq.
1- The Revolution Command Council Resolution (RCCR) No. 865 dated August 12, 1974 states: Any individual joins the Baath party without revealing his/her ex-relations with any other political parties or maintaining such relations, will be executed.
2- RCCR No. 1244 dated November 20, 1976 states: Any individual quits the Baath party and joins another or champions another party (even after quitting the Baath), will be executed.
3- RCCR No. 1357 dated November 10, 1971 bans any political activity inside the armed forces; amended in 1976 stating that any person who would be politically active inside the armed forces, except for the Baath party, will be executed.
4- RCCR No. 734 on May 30, 1978 imposes death penalty on any Iraqi or foreigner lives in Iraq, if it became obvious that he/she has any kind of relation with non-Iraqi intelligence services (inside or outside Iraq) without the permission of the Iraqi authorities.
5- RCCR No. 784 on June 7, 1978 imposes death penalty on any individual who tries to organize a person, who had relation with the Baath party, to work for another political party or group.
6- RCCR No. 884 on July 3, 1978 states: any individual who was a member of the army or police will be executed if he/she joins or works for a political party or group (except the Baath) after being discharged from the service or retired.
7- RCCR No. 1447 on October 30, 1979 imposes death on any person reverts to Baha’eia (a minority Muslim sect in Iraq).
8- RCCR No. 461 on March 31, 1980 imposes death on any individual joins Al-Da’waa Islamic Party or was a member of it and quit the party before issuing this resolution (retroactive law).
9- RCCR No. 1140 dated August 26, 1981 which imposes death on deserter; amended by RCCR No. 1540 on November 17, 1981 to include deserters of the Public Army (the Baath Party militia) and the Border Guards.
10- RCCR No. 877 on July 7, 1982 imposes death on any absentee soldier from his military unit for more than five days.
11- RCCR No. 1133 on September 2, 1982 imposes death penalty on any individual who commits robbery during war.
12- RCCR No. 1370 in 1983 imposes death on any individual of an age more than 18, who might escape to the enemy’s lines, conspire against the state security, join Al-Da’waa party, or be a deserter.
13- RCCR No. 313 on March 13, 1984 imposes death on any person smuggles currency, gold or uses them to deal with the ‘persian’ enemy.
14- RCCR No. 384 on March 31, 1984 issued the law No. 32/1984 of the penal code in the Public Army (the Baath militia). It stated in some of its articles that persons who show cowardice & defeatism will be executed. The law did not define what is meant by ‘cowardice’ & ‘defeatism’ or which side is to set the standards to be followed of these terms.
15- RCCR No. 458 dated April 21, 1984 imposes death on any person joins a party, group, or association works to change the Baath government by armed force or by collaboration with foreign party.
16- RCCR No. 960 on August 23, 1984 imposes death penalty on any person works for the interests of a foreign country or collaborates with someone who works for the interests of that country.
17- RCCR No. 120 on January 29, 1986 imposes death on any body forges a passport issued from any country, or forges Iraqi documents.
18- RCCR No. 840 on November 4, 1986 imposes life imprisonment and confiscation of movable & immovable properties on any person insults the president, vice president, RCC, the Baath party, the national assembly, or the government. The punishment will be execution if the insult was clear and intends to provoke the public opinion against the authorities.
It seemed that all these resolutions were useless; especially of punishing the deserters. In the 1990s the punishment for a deserter became cutting his ear & branding his forehead with heated metal.
Many other resolutions were issued which I do not recall now, but one of them, in the mid 1990s, issued a law called “Anger Martyr” which gives the right to Saddam to kill any person in case of anger. The deceased might come out that he/she did not deserve death then Saddam compensates his/her family.
The punishment for telling a joke about Saddam or his family was cutting one’s tongue.
Special courts were normal practice by the Baath regime. A special court was to be formed for special incident. The judgment of such court was executing all those on trial. For example, in 1977 a bunch of protesters in Kerbala & Najaf were sentenced to death within four hours session.