ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – People of the Kurdistan Region marked the 31st anniversary of the Halabja Massacre on Saturday, commemorating the tragic event by calling for the prevention of similar atrocities around the world.
On March 16, 1988, Iraqi aircrafts launched a chemical attack on the city of Halabja, killing some 5,000 people and injuring 10,000 more.
Halabja is a Kurdish city located 215 kilometers southeast of Erbil, and 10 kilometers from Iran’s border. The town was officially recognized as the newest province in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq at the end of 2013.
The Iraqi High Criminal Court recognized the Halabja massacre as an act of genocide on March 1, 2010
The bombing was one of many horrific crimes committed against the people of Kurdistan by the former Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship.
Kurds observe the event every year by holding special ceremonies and standing in silence for five minutes on the street to pay their respects to the victims.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] reaffirms its serious efforts in providing more and better provision of services to the province of Halabja and its proud population as part of its duty,” read the statement issued by the KRG Council of Ministers.
They KRG stated that they “expect the Iraqi government to carry out its legal and moral duty towards this province and its inhabitants and give them all the attention, in addition to material and moral compensation for its population and environment, as a victim of the Iraqi state.”
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) head Masoud Barzani commemorated the date in a tweet in which he called the attack ”monstrous.”
Participated in a moment of silence at the Barzani Headquarters in honor of the martyrs of Halabja who were subjected to the monstrous chemical attack by the Saddam Hussein regime on March 16, 1988 pic.twitter.com/gF6jlYT7xd— Masoud Barzani (@masoud_barzani) March 16, 2019
The Prime Minister of Iraq, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, also marked the tragedy in a statement, saying, “The barbarism of the [Iraqi] dictatorship when it decided to attack the innocent with chemical and toxic gases, commit genocide, shocked all humanity and shook the conscience of the world.”
He called it “another black day” in the record of the crimes committed by former Iraqi Ba’ath regime led by Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi Premier noted that the Kurdish people have been subjected to murder and genocide with their land having faced destruction.
“Halabja was and will remain a symbol of redemption and a witness to the ugliness of dictatorship,” Mahdi added. “And to our Kurdish people, my sincere condolences on this painful anniversary.”
Editing by John J. Catherine