Mishkat Al Moumin, Mesopotamian Marshlands: An Ecocide Case, 20 Geo. Int’l Envtl. L. Rev. 499–519 (2008)

In this essay, Al Moumin exemplifies the destruction of Mesopotamian marshlands by Saddam Hussein’s regime to kill the indigenous Marsh Arabs as a case of ecocide. She defines ecocide as “taking a deliberate action [with the intent] to kill a group of people based on their race, religion, or culture by destroying the ecosystem on which they depend.” Writing in the late 2000s, Al Moumin discusses the economic, political and environmental impacts of the drainage channel, the “Third River” project, that Hussein’s regime completed in 1992. She shows that Sunni-ruling Iraq’s drying of the Marshlands deprived the largely Shiite Marsh Arabs, who had been there for more than 5,000 years fishing and herding water buffalo, “of their homes and livelihood, damaged the ecosystem, and destroyed the Marsh Arab culture.” This drove nearly 40,000 Marsh Arabs to refugee camps in Iran, while displacing over 100,000 in Iraq. Al Moumin concludes by recommending ways to effectively rehabilitate the Marshlands, including direct participation of Marsh Arabs in the process.

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