Hal­abja mon­u­ment place­ment in the Hague

A me­mo­rial ded­i­cated to the vic­tims of the 1988 chemical at­tack on Kurds of Hal­abja was placed in Hague on Tues­day

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

The "Mon­u­ment of Hal­abja Mas­sacre" was placed in the gar­den of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chemical Weapons Head­quar­ters in a cer­e­mony at­tended by Iraq's For­eign Min­is­ter Hosh­yar Ze­bari, the head of the chemical weapons watch­dog Ah­met Uzumcu and the mayor of the Hague Jozias Johannes van Aart­sen along with many Iraqi Kur­dish of­fi­cials.

Twenty-five years ago, Sad­dam Hus­sein or­ches­trated one of the worst mas­sacres of the 20th century. Dur­ing the IranIraq war (1980-1988), the Bagh­dad regime ac­cused the Kurds of trea­son and col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Ira­nian army. In re­tal­i­a­tion, on 16th March, 1988, the town of Hal­abja, in Iraqi Kur­dis­tan, was bom­barded with chemical weapons. In just a few hours, 5,000 people were killed. To­day, the wounds of this mas­sacre still have not healed. Our re­porters went to Hal­abja.

Oper­a­tion An­fal, led by Sad­dam Hus­sein’s cousin Ali Has­san al-Ma­jid (nick­named “Chemical Ali”), de­stroyed the city of Hal­abja and wiped out a large part of its pop­u­la­tion.

On 16 March, 1988, from 10.45am, the Iraqi army MiG and Mi­rage fighter jets flew over the area for five hours and dropped chemical bombs con­tain­ing a mix­ture of mus­tard gas and Tabun, Sarin and VX nerve gases. A thick white, then yel­low, cloud rose. A sick­en­ing smell of ap­ple filled the air. The in­hab­i­tants, trapped, col­lapsed one af­ter the other. The at­tack killed up to 5,000 people in­stantly, mostly women and chil­dren, and in­jured thou­sands more.

The mon­u­ment was in­spired by a pho­to­graph named "Silent Wit­ness," taken by prom­i­nent Turk­ish war jour­nal­ist Ra­mazan Oz­turk, who also at­tended the cer­e­mony as a spe­cial guest.

Oz­turk said open­ing of the mon­u­ment would con­trib­ute to the world­wide recog­ni­tion of the mas­sacre and ex­pressed hopes that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity would con­sider it as geno­cide.

Mean­while, a group of Kur­dish ac­tivists staged a protest in front of the Head­quar­ters, chant­ing slo­gans and walk­ing to­wards Iraq's em­bassy in The Hague.

The Kurds now want the Hal­abja mas­sacre to be recog­nised as a “geno­cide". The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity re­mains silent. Be­cause it sup­ported Iraq against Iran at the time, it looked the other way. Only the Iraqi High Crim­i­nal Court and the Court of Ap­peal of The Hague em­ployed the term "geno­cide" in 2007.

Mean­while, some Western com­pa­nies are ac­cused of pro­vid­ing un­con­ven­tional weapons to Sad­dam Hus­sein. Last year, on 10 June, 2013, twenty Iraqi Kurds filed a law­suit in Paris against "com­plic­ity in crimes against hu­man­ity". They were ask­ing for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the role of sev­eral French com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als who may have made the chemical weapons mas­sacre pos­si­ble. Apart from the con­vic­tion of pos­si­ble ac­com­plices, the vic­tims of Hal­abja also want the courts to grant them med­i­cal and fi­nan­cial aid.

In­spired by a pho­to­graph by a Turk­ish war jour­nal­ist, mon­u­ment pays trib­ute to vic­tims of a 1988 chemical at­tack on Kurds.

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