Meer Basri addressing the meeting
In July 1968, the Ba'ath Party seized power in Iraq, headed by Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr who became President and his henchman Saddam Hussein. They proclaimed they will crush spying for the USA and Britain. Before long, they arrested Jews, Christians and Moslems, and even a wealthy Pakistani, and accused them of espionage. The only ones who defended the innocent Jewish detainees were Rabbi Sasson Khedhouri, President of the Community, and myself the Chairman of the Jewish Council. Rabbi Khedhouri was eighty years old. The Authorities imprisoned his son, Shaoul, in the infamous Qasr al-Nehayah prison where he was tortured and kept for several months. As for me, I was detained on the 1st January 1969 at the Security Police Headquarters in order to silence me. After the hangings of January 27th I was released.
Allow me to read a short poem I composed for today's solemn meeting:
Thirty years ago in a day of woe,
Innocent Jews met their death.
A world of hate sealed their fate,
And blotted their last breath.
Can the shores of the Twin Rivers,
The Jewish exiles their harps did hang.
For centuries they lived in peace,
Prospered and to their faith they clang.
When in Europe dark clouds,
Covered the sky of dismal oppression.
The Jews thrived in a glorious land,
Humane and of good disposition.
But times changed in a new age,
Of dissension, war and rancour.
Friends became sworn enemies,
And the meek lost their anchor.
We still hope for a golden future,
Of peace and love among the nations.
God will bless this earthly nature,
And grant grace to his creations.
Other articles relating to the Baghdad Hangings :
30th Anniversary of Iraqi Jews executed in Baghdad in 1969
Iraqi Jewish Martyrs 30th Anniversary - Speech by Percy Gourgey, MBE
Abu Zuhair Speaks oot of his experience of Imprinsonment and Torture