The Sami Abdul-Rahman Park in Erbil has been built on the former base of Saddam Hussein’s feared Fifth Corps Army, a place of imprisonment and torture. The Kurds vowed that, after liberation, places such as this would be reclaimed as public amenities.
It is now a large park with lakes and gardens, and trees planted to commemorate those who lost their lives here. In the centre rises the Zaytun Library, opened in 2008 with funding from South Korea, whose army was based in Erbil from 2004 to 2008 carrying out peacekeeping and reconstruction tasks.
In Erbil’s former library, Iraqi soldiers destroyed all the books on Kurdish history and culture, replacing them with books on Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath party. After the Kurd’s liberation, it was decided that those books would be preserved alongside the re-instated Kurdish books. As Zaytun’s librarian explained “We don’t destroy history”.