Iraqi Torture Museum Seals Recent History in the Minds of Visitors
When you have control over a building that once housed prisoners that Saddam Hussein’s regime tortured and killed, you can either erase the memories or make them last as a reminder of what can happen when evil wears the hat of a dictator. Amna Suraka was turned into the latter and is being called “the most depressing museum on earth“.
The remnants of the past are still in place. Shells, tanks, and bullet damage to the building were not removed. Much of the furnishings and “tools” for the task are still in place. The guards, administrators, and prisoners are gone, though many are immortalized symbolically in the positions that they may have been in during the darker days of Hussein’s reign.
The museum is open to the public and there is no admission fee. Making money off the suffering of the past is less important than keeping a stark reminder of those who lost their lives and suffered permanent damage for the sake of their people. That’s not to say that everyone who was in the prison were there because they fought oppression, but the fact that they were tortured and killed may have inspired loved ones to join the fight.
The tales that the guide told Vice are horrific. May the suffering that took place there never be forgotten.
Most cities have monuments to the past, so it seems appropriate, given the bloody history of Iraqi Kurdistan, that Sulaymaniyah’s main tourist attraction is a torture museum. Tucked away in a now relatively quiet and leafy suburb, Amna Suraka is the former headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Saddam Hussein’s intelligence agency, and a building known to all Iraqi Kurds.
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