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 "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.