WKI Press Release
March 16, 2009
Washington, D.C. – The President of Washington Kurdish Institute, Dr. Najmaldin Karim, addressed the anniversary of the chemical attack on the people of Halabja on March 16, 1988, as an act of genocide against the Kurdish people which has yet to receive adequate response and reparation. The attack on Halabja was the most devastating instance of the Baathist regime’s use of chemical weapons during a genocidal campaign—titled by Saddam Hussein as the ‘Anfal’—that killed at least 180,000 people, destroyed 4,000 villages, and wounded thousands more.
“The use of chemical weapons upon civilians, in a mixture of mustard gas and nerve agents prohibited by international law, by aerial and artillery bombardment was completely unprecedented. This event also displayed the final intent of Saddam’s regime: an ‘Arabization’ project to destroy Iraqi Kurdistan by all means possible. There was no meaningful response to this campaign from the international community. Twenty-one years on, there must be international recognition of this massacre as one of the major genocides of the twentieth century.
“In addition to the 5,000 killed in Halabja and chronic medical problems and disabilities for those who were exposed to the various chemical agents used, these attacks caused massive displacement. The victims remain in waiting for justice from the Iraqi government.”
Dr. Karim concluded, “Halabja has yet to recover from the enormity of the attack and its citizens are owed reparation. I suggest that the federal Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government devote more resources and fully reconstruct the city of Halabja with attention to the widespread medical problems that remain from the chemical attack. Finally, the Baathist regime’s campaign of genocide needs to be fully documented, so that further generations can study these horrific events and the historical record of successive Iraqi governments that brutalized the Kurdish people.”