Most of us are too young to remember what happened in Iraq and what atrocities happened during the age of conflict in the region. Many of us for sure may not have even heard of Amna Suraka and what it was. It is however, one of the finer museums in Iraq today.
The place used to be a prison, and its name in Kurdish means red security, or red security house. During the reign of Saddam Hussein, thousands of Kurdish people were imprisoned and tortured here, with crimes ranging from political insubordination to just plain being Kurdish.
The museum is located in the former security complex in the city of Sulaymaniyeh, and has retained its former red color complete with bullet holes received during the war of liberation and uprising in 1991. The courtyard in the Red Security building is replete with machineries and equipment of death. It is full of tanks, mortars, artillery pieces of assorted shapes and sizes. This is a grim reminder of what Iraq was before.
The first area that will greet one when entering the building will be the Hall of Mirrors. This hall contains 182,000 shards of glass comprising one enormous sort of installation art. Each shard represents one life taken from the Kurds under the rule of Saddam. On the ceiling of the same room are twinkling lights numbering 4,500, each light representing one village destroyed during the Anfal campaign.
Going further into the building one will find a replica of a traditional Kurdish village in the next room. Further on, the visitor will see cells used for torture and confinement, complete with gruesome statues to reenact what had happened inside. One such reenactment is a diorama involving the torture of two children by prison guards.
Going down further to the basement, one will be immersed in a photo gallery depicting the chemical attack on Halabja. The way it is presented here is somewhat akin to what one would see in the Holocaust museum in Tel Aviv. It will definitely make one more humanistic and sympathetic to the Kurdish plight.
Definitely this is one of those places wherein one can visit while trudging onwards or backpacking through Kurdistan. It will not only be educational but instrumental as well in keeping one in touch with humanity.
Read my intriguing story about the experience at Amna Suraka Iraq where I faced many challenges along the way. I have written about my backpacking Iraq to Saddam Hussein’s house of horrors. Check out my posts right away by visiting the site.