Iraqi Kurdistan: Commemorate Halabja Victims
Iraqi Kurds commemorate the gassing and bombing of 5000 people who perished during of the Halabja massacre, now 20 years ago.
Below is an article written by Daniel Schaerf published by Voice of
Kurdish soldiers stand in the graveyard of the victims of the Halabja massacre, on its 20th anniversary in
Thousands were killed in 1988 when Iraqi forces bombed the city with mustard gas and nerve agents.
Saddam Hussein's government said the attack was needed to put down insurgents hiding in the city during the bloody Iran-Iraq war. But, evidence emerged that almost all the victims were civilians, most of them women and children.
Iraqi national television broadcast live coverage Sunday of a ceremony in Halabja marking the atrocity.
Community leaders spoke of the pain and suffering caused by the attack and the need to compensate victims still suffering from the effects of the poison gas.
The bombing of Halabja was part of a wider campaign of attacks on Iraqi Kurds known as Anfal.
Iraqi Kurdistan Deputy Prime Minister Omar Fatah spoke at the ceremony. He criticized the international community for staying silent at the time of the attack in order to keep their good relations with Saddam Hussein's government.
He says their silence gave the dictator government of
Saneia Sallah, a 42-year-old Kurd who was forced from her
Many Kurds are still suffering respiratory and vision problems from the effects of chemical bombs.
Residents of Halabja complain they have received little support from the government and in 2006 held large-scale demonstrations and set fire to a museum in the city.
Deputy Prime Minister Fatah says the government has pledged millions of dollars for new projects, including a $12 million hospital for treating chemical diseases and a research center on the biological effects of chemical weapons.
A court in
"If you can bring these crimes on the surface," said Fatah. "I think that will bring not only stability for Kurdistan or for