|The 22nd Anniversary of the chemical bombardment of the City of Halabja on 16th March 1988|
|United Kurdish Association of NSW- Australia|
|We would like to inform you about a tragic event that occurred twenty-two years ago to the Kurds in our homeland, in southern Kurdistan (Kurdistan of Iraq). |
The city of Halabja, with a population of approximately 105,000 is located in the province of Sulaimaniyah. This city was subjected to the most severe attacks of the late 20th century, with the mass use of chemical and biological weapons on unarmed Kurdish civilians on 16th March 1988.
This horrendous crime was recognised only a few weeks ago by the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal as an act of Genocide against the Kurdish nation.
The people of Halabja were attacked by aircrafts that dropped bombs filled with tonnes of chemical and biological weapons. These attacks form one of the most ghastly human rights violations in modern history. Throughout the planned and calculated assaults in 1988, victims were exposed to the highest levels of the extremely strong mixture of chemical and biological nerve and mustard agents which, until that time had never been used against civilians. This dangerous cocktail of chemicals caused malformations and cancer, paralysed and caused immediate and lasting neuropsychiatric damage. They were also able to kill babies in the uteri and caused the development of fast growing, untreatable and deadly cancers in both children and adults. The chemicals had an instant effect, with five thousand civilians dying immediately. However, many of the survivors, over 50,000 of them suffered long-term illnesses and died many years later. Conditions such as Cancer, Heart Failure and Congenital Malformations developed giving the bombings a lasting effect on our community. Twenty two years after the attacks, nobody seems to have taken this situation with the seriousness it deserves. The soil and water in these towns have not been tested, to ensure no lasting remnants of the chemicals remain. I believe the international community has failed to support the people of Halabja.
These attacks, led by the Iraqi Government of the time discriminated against all Kurds, be they Women, Children and the elderly. As the Iraqi aircrafts continually bombarded the cities of Halabja and Khormal, they were becoming part of history’s greatest atrocities, a crime against all humanity, one which was designed to eradicate the Kurdish population. Civilians had no warning of what was to come, some still slept peacefully in their beds. This act of genocide took all by surprise, and was committed against a defenceless and innocent population. As the attacks begun, children would seek refuge in their mother’s arms. The aircrafts released poison which would become a lasting memory for all Kurds of the brutal regime Saddam Hussein governed. Long after the aircraft had flown out of the sky the streets were left with the sounds of weeping, no one was spared in this deadly attack.
As the poisonous gases settled, Kurds rose proudly defiant. We have been fighting and struggling against oppression for so long, and this gruesome attack was against all Kurds, not just those in Halabja and Khormal.
Ali Hassan al Majid or ‘Chemical Ali’ as he became known was the callous person who ordered these attacks. A cousin of the former Iraqi Dictator, Saddam Hussein, Ali was executed for his role in the attacks on Tuesday 26th January 2010. His execution will stand as a lesson that all acts of genocide against defenceless Kurds in their occupied homeland will not be tolerated or accepted.
With all my best wishes