For those of you not familiar with the past Iraqi War or with Persian geography, you may not have heard of a couple of places that have played a part in its history. You may not have heard of Amna Suraka. This place is located in Iraq and is considered as one of the more impressive museums in Iraq. It has however, a fairly dark and horrible past.
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 former prison itself is located within a security compound in the city of Sulaymaniyeh. It still is colored red as its namesake implies, and also people have retained the bullet holes that are reminiscent of the 1991 uprising. The courtyard is still full of weapons of war like tanks, artillery pieces, mortars and what not. Retained by the people, it stands as a reminder of what used to be and what should not be again.
The Hall of Mirrors is the first room or area that the tourist and visitor will see upon entrance to the museum. One form of installation art that contains 182,000 shards of glass is most fascinating. Each shard represents one loss of life taken from the Kurdish nation during the rule of Iraq under Saddam. The ceiling also has art that pays homage to the villages destroyed by Saddam, represented by twinkling lights each representing one village, numbering 4,500 in all.
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.
Thus on the trip that involve Kurdistan, whether one is just backpacking through or riding through, it would be recommended to visit this place. Not only will it be educational, but a somewhat humanizing experience as well.
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 blog right away by reviewing the homepage.