In­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion of Geno­cide against Kur­dish peo­ple

The Kurdish Globe - - EDITORIAL -

Former French For­eign Min­is­ter Dr Bernard Kouch­ner sup­ports the cam­paign for recog­ni­tion of Kur­dish geno­cide in Iraq. Dr Bernard Kouch­ner, the former French For­eign Min­is­ter, in Lon­don joined eye-wit­nesses, sur­vivors, min­is­ters, MPs and ex­perts from sev­eral coun­tries in call­ing for the in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion of the Kur­dish geno­cide in Iraq.

Speak­ing at a ma­jor con­fer­ence in Lon­don on the Kur­dish geno­cide in Iraq held on Jan­uary 17, Dr Kouch­ner said, “We were a wit­ness of mass mur­der in Hal­abja, it’s time to have an ex­am­i­na­tion of the facts. Of course it was geno­cide. In Iraq, who was sup­posed to pro­tect the Kurds? The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.”

Dr Kouch­ner, the co­founder of the in­ter­na­tional NGO Médecins Sans Fron­tières, said, “I am not a spe­cial guest here to­day, I am a spe­cial friend of the Kur­dish peo­ple.” The con­fer­ence was sup­ported by Pres­i­dent Ma­soud Barzani, Prime Min­is­ter Nechir­van Barzani and Bri­tain's Min­is­ter for the Mid­dle East Alis­tair Burt, all of whom wrote mes­sages in the con­fer­ence pro­gram.

The Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government’s (KRG) Min­is­ter of Mar­tyrs and An­fal Af­fairs, Aram Ahmed Mo­hamed, spoke about why recog­ni­tion of the geno­cide is so im­por­tant to the peo­ple of Kur­dis­tan: to pre­vent more geno­cides, to honor and com­pen­sate the vic­tims, to send sig­nals to po­ten­tial per­pe­tra­tors and to work for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

The KRG’s Head of For­eign Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Falah Mustafa Bakir paid trib­ute to the Kur­dish Di­as­pora for high­light­ing the geno­cide to for­eign gov­ern­ments and the pub­lic. He said. “Our tragic past took place be­fore the rise of the in­ter­net, so­cial me­dia, mo­bile phones and satel­lite tele­vi­sion…The chal­lenge fell to the Kurds abroad, par­tic­u­larly those in Europe, to bring the plight of their fel­low coun­try­men to the world's at­ten­tion. They didn’t give up. They were driven by the in­jus­tices car­ried out against what most of the world knows now as the largest na­tion with­out a state.”

The Deputy Speaker of the Nor­we­gian Par­lia­ment, Akhtar Chaudhry, and Swedish MP Fredrik Malm spoke about how recog­ni­tion of the Kur­dish geno­cide was achieved in their coun­tries’ par­lia­ments. Bri­tish par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, many of whom were at the con­fer­ence, are sup­port­ing a cam­paign to achieve recog­ni­tion in the UK as well through an on­line pe­ti­tion.

Baroness Mor­ris, chair­man of the Con­ser­va­tive Mid­dle East Coun­cil and the UK's trade en­voy to Kuwait, Jor­dan and the Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries, at­tended the con­fer­ence to pub­licly sign the pe­ti­tion call­ing on the UK to rec­og­nize the Kur­dish geno­cide.

Bayan Sami Ab­dul Rah­man, the KRG’s High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the UK, and her team or­ga­nized the in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence. She said, "This year, 2013, is not only the 25th an­niver­sary of the poi­son gas at­tack on Hal­abja and the An­fal geno­cide cam­paign, it is also the 30th an­niver­sary of the ab­duc­tion and killing of men and boys from the Barzani clan and the 10th an­niver­sary of the West’s in­ter­ven­tion in Iraq, which we Kurds re­fer to as the lib­er­a­tion. Apart from not­ing this un­usual coming to­gether of mem­o­rable dates, we see this con­fer­ence as an op­por­tu­nity to re­veal the hor­rific crimes that the Kur­dish peo­ple have fallen vic­tim to since the 1960s, to tell the se­cret story of life un­der Sad­dam Hus­sein’s bru­tal dic­ta­tor­ship, to give the vic­tims and sur­vivors a voice and to have a de­bate on the is­sues that sur­round geno­cide."

The con­fer­ence heard from sur­vivors Ka­ma­ran Nawrooz Haider, the UK Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Hal­abja Chem­i­cal Vic­tims So­ci­ety, and Thana Al-Bas­sam, a Faylee-Kurd, who re­counted their ex­pe­ri­ences of the atroc­i­ties they and their fam­i­lies suf­fered. Richard Bee­ston, for­eign ed­i­tor at The Times news­pa­per, re­counted the hor­ror that he saw on ar­riv­ing in Hal­abja im­me­di­ately af­ter it was at­tacked with poi­son gas and Tom Hardie-Forsyth, who was in the Bri­tish army, de­scribed how he and his col­leagues worked to es­tab­lish the safe haven for Kur­dish refugees who had fled in fear of chem­i­cal at­tacks in 1991. Dr Zryan Yones, former KRG Health Min­is­ter, tes­ti­fied in Sad­dam Hus­sein's trial af­ter treat­ing peo­ple who had chem­i­cal wounds. Dr Mah­moud Os­man, an MP in the Iraqi Par­lia­ment and long­time Kur­dish politi­cian, said he would speak ‘as a vic­tim of the regime and a wit­ness of the geno­cide’. As a po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent of Sad­dam Hus­sein, he was poi­soned with thal­lium (rat poi­son), only sur­viv­ing with the help of smug­gled medicine from abroad. Of his time with the Pesh­marga, he re­called watch­ing the mus­tard gas bombs be­ing dropped on vil­lages and his at­tempts to help the doc­tors treat the civil­ians, wear­ing a rudi­men­tary gas mask made of coal and wet cloth.

Peter Gal­braith, former United States diplo­mat, wit­nessed the geno­cide as it un­folded when work­ing for the US Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee. He said: “The US government ac­knowl­edged that chem­i­cal weapons had been used against the Kurds but de­cided against im­pos­ing sanc­tions.”

The con­fer­ence was also ad­dressed by numer­ous Bri­tish Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, in­ter­na­tional geno­cide and le­gal ex­perts and eye­wit­nesses. To­gether they high­lighted how, dur­ing Sad­dam’s Hus­sein’s regime, thou­sands of or­di­nary Kur­dish peo­ple suf­fered un­speak­able cru­elty and vi­o­lence with many end­ing up in mass graves or dy­ing from chem­i­cal weapons at­tacks, while the world re­mained largely silent.

Many speak­ers called for for­mal recog­ni­tion of the geno­cide and com­pen­sa­tion for the vic­tims.

The con­fer­ence was at­tended by 300 peo­ple in­clud­ing 40 jour­nal­ists, and sev­eral hun­dred watched it live via the in­ter­net.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iraq

© PressReader. All rights reserved.