Thousands of Iraqis Rally to Renounce Violence, Baath Party
American Forces Press Service
MOSUL, Iraq, Jan. 27, 2004 More than 2,000 former members of the Baath Party turned out at the Mosul Public Safety Academy to renounce their membership in the party, to denounce violence and to pledge support to a new, free and democratic Iraq.
The ceremony is the largest held in the Nineveh province to date, officials said. The Baath Party is the party of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Former officers in Saddam's Iraqi army who also were Baath Party members filed into the academy and signed an agreement that disavowed their party affiliation and pledged to cooperate fully with the Coalition Provisional Authority in serving the people of Iraq.
Army Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commanding general, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), spoke to the former soldiers and praised them for stepping forward to forge a united Iraq.
Retired Brig. Gen. Safawi Mumtiz of the former Iraqi army, one of the event's organizers, said those in attendance want to reject violence and terrorism and work toward the future of Iraq. "We hope that this will be a good reflection to other Baathists to participate in the process," said Mumtiz.
Mumtiz said the only difficulty in organizing the event was in finding a facility big enough for their projected attendance.
Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division worked to gain the trust of retired officers who reside in and around Mosul to show their willingness to form a new Iraq that provides opportunities to everyone, according to 1st Lt. Strauss Scantlin, 431st Civil Affairs Battalion.
The 101st facilitated the events to support reconciliation by former regime elements to ensure the democratic process includes all Iraqis who are willing to support a free, safe and democratic environment, officials said.
The ceremony is the first of two to be held in Mosul. Noncommissioned officers who served in the former Iraqi army were scheduled to come to the academy today to renounce their membership and show their support for a new Iraq.
(Courtesy of Combined Joint Task Force 7.)