01 January 1999 :
Saddam´s survival for a quarter of a century has depended on a ruthless response to any hint of dissent.All traces of at least 200, 000 people, the overwhelming majority, of people arrested by his regime have been lost. Many are believed to have been executed and buried in secret places. In cases where the bodies are returned to the families, all funeral rites are forbidden. Saddam is believed to have killed scores of army commanders after his spies in their ranks reported signs of disloyalty. Numerous executions of political opponents and so-called conspirators took place even in 2002. The families of 18 people executed in July were asked to pay 75,000 dinars, and told that the money was for those who carried out the executions. Criticizing President Hussein is an offence in Iraq. Offenders are sometimes executed. But there are other cruel penalties the regime imposes to terrorize its citizens. Some of them like the branding of foreheads and amputations of ears, hands and tongues are prescribed by law or arbitrarily carried out by the militia force know as Saddam´s Commandos. The government has never acknowledged reports of tongue amputations but previously the state-run media carried stories with pictures of army deserters who had their ears chopped off and foreheads branded. Cases of people who had their tongues amputated for criticising Saddam took place also in 2002.