One of the most heinous acts of the Saddam regime’s campaign against the Kurdish population of Iraq was the 16 March 1988 poison gas attack on Halabja. Although technically not part of the Anfal campaign, the Halabja attack forms part of the wider plan of Kurdish genocide in Iraq. More than 5,000 persons were killed during the Halabja attack alone and over 7,000 were severely injured. This attack paved the way for all following stages of the Anfal campaign.
The Halabja poison gas bombings remain the single largest chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in the world. In a 2005 ruling by the District Court of The Hague against Dutch trader Frans van Anraat, the court said that it must consider “legally and convincingly proven that the Kurdish population meets requirement under Genocide Conventions as an ethnic group. The court has no other conclusion than that these attacks were committed with the intent to destroy the Kurdish population of Iraq.”
According to Human Rights Watch, over 250 Kurdish towns and villages were exposed to chemical weapons. Until today, the Halabja poison gas attack remains the single largest chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in the world. Many victims still suffer from diseases, such as leukaemia and other cancers, birth defects, nerve palsy or respiratory ailments as well as psychological trauma resulting from the exposure to poison gas.
Internationally, a number of parliaments have recognized the atrocities of the Saddam regime against Kurds as genocide or crimes against humanity. These include Canada, the UK, Norway, and Sweden. Within Iraq, the Iraqi Presidential Council, the Iraqi Parliament, and the Iraqi Supreme Court have all recognized the regime’s attack against the Kurds as genocide.
28 years later, the Kurdish people are still not safe. Genocide remains a real threat. In 2014, the Yezidis, a Kurdish ethno-religious group, were targeted by the terror militia IS. Approximately 5000 Yezidis were executed, another 6,000 women and children were kidnapped and enslaved, and several Yezidi holy sites were destroyed. Many of the women and children remain captive. Mass graves of Yezidis are being discovered on a daily basis. The atrocities continue.
It is time we took a stand and said: “Enough is enough, End Genocide Now”. In memory of the victims of the Halabja chemical attacks, we ask the international community to share these informational pictures on March 16th to raise awareness about the Halabja victims and survivors. In their own words, the survivors and witnesses describe their experience of the harrowing attack that changed their lives forever. Following this link you may download all the statements along with an avatar ready for social media use, to take a stand and to End Genocide Now.
A personal story about Halabja
Many of the surviving victims and their children suffer until today from diseases such as leukaemia and other cancers, birth defects, nerve palsy or respiratory ailments, skin defects as well as psychological trauma. The vast majority of victims were unable to receive of adequate medical treatment within Iraq.
Kayvan was one of the few survivors who was able to obtain medical treatment abroad. Professor Dr. Gerhard Freilinger, a specialist in plastic reconstructive surgery, treated four victims of the Halabja chemical gas attack in Vienna, including Kayvan. This is the story of Dr. Freilinger and Kayvan.