Kurds remember Halabja chemical weapons attack
Kurds visit a grave site in Halabja near the monument for victims of the Halabja gas massacre that killed some 5,000 people, March 16, 2021. Photo by Hoshmand Falah/Zhyan News Network
Zhyan News Network
SULAIMANI – Today (March 16) marks the 33 anniversary of the brutal massacre in Halabja, when the regime of Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons to kill thousands of innocent civilians in the span of just twenty minutes, severely injuring thousands more.
Kurds commemorate the massacre annually with special ceremonies to honor the victims.
“The world must unite to eliminate WMDs [Weapons of Mass Destruction] and prevent another genocide,” the President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani said.
The use of chemical gas by Saddam Hussein’s Baath regime in Halabja alone on March 16th, 1988 killed over 5000 civilians, including children, women and men and wounding over 10,000 more.
Co-President of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Lahur Talabany encouraged the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to listen to the families of the victims.
“On this somber anniversary, we state that providing services to the city and compensating the honorable families of the martyrs will not heal the wounds of the residents of Halabja, but it is the duty of the government to provide the most services to Halabja and its residents.”
The Ba’ath Regime attacked the city of Halabja using mustard gas, the nerve agents’ sarin, tabun, VX and possibly cyanide, which have the capability to suffocate and kill people in less than a minute.
Poisonous fumes spread across the city. The victims were mostly civilians with children, women and men together falling to their deaths. Many others managed to survive and escaped into Iran.
Referring to contentious issues in the draft-budget law between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Region, the Leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masoud Barzani said even after the Halabja massacre and genocide against the people of Kurdistan “chauvinistic thinking remains dominant in Iraq, and that the rights of the people of Kurdistan continue to be denied.”
Victims of the chemical attack suffer the effects to this day, both psychologically and medically.
In 2103, sixteen victims of Halabja chemical attack were each compensated by $32,000 after they sued an European company over the same charges assisting Baath region in producing chemical weapons during 1980s.
Marking the 33-anniversary of the Halabja massacre, Iraq’s President Barham Salih called the chemical weapons attack “a deep wound on our conscience.”
Iraq's Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi said the chemical weapons attack led a "painful turn in the history of our people's struggle against tyranny and dictatorship."
During a session late on Tuesday, Iraq’s Council of Representatives voted to oblige the federal government to complete the procedures to pronounce Halabja as the ninetieth governorate in Iraq.
*This story was updated at 11:01 pm EBL to add the Iraqi parliament's vote