A campaign of forced expulsion of Shi’ite families got under way in the seventies, when thousands of Shi’ite merchants were accused of being of Iranian descent despite their Iraqi citizenship. The government confiscated their businesses, assets, and properties; stripped them of their citizenship, and dumped them and their families at the Iranian border. Frequently, security forces took away young sons between the ages of 15 and 25 and held them in detention centers while their families were forced to leave. These young men were rarely seen again by their families. In all, the Ba’ath government is conservatively estimated to have deported 150,000 people from 1970 to 1981. In 1977, a religious procession 30,000 strong traveling between Najaf and Karbala and chanting religious as well as anti-Ba’ath slogans, was attacked by the army on the ground and military helicopters from the air. It took two days of killing and arrests to crush this popular defiance.

The Arab Shi’a: The Shi’a of Iraq p. 101 (via shiaislam)

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