ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Volunteers managing the Halabja Heritage Museum have publicly asked for assistance from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the face of serious threats to their efforts to preserve archaeological artifacts housed there as a result of insufficient conditions and resources.
The museum was opened in late 2017 by a group of volunteers in Halabja who have a strong passion for the upkeep of local historical treasures and for making them available to the general public.
“We need a building. We need a public place to keep all these artifacts,” Samir Salih, the Manager of the Halabja Heritage Museum, told Kurdistan 24 on Friday.
“We are five volunteers who have been managing the museum since a year and five months ago. We need support as a motivation to continue and to serve those who visit,” she added.
”No budget had been allocated or given for this museum so that we can improve the facility and do a better job of protecting these artifacts.”
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 autonomous Kurdistan Region and Iraq at the end of 2013.
Parwez Niyazi, the KRG’s Director of Culture in Halabja, told Kurdistan 24 that the museum had not yet received funding because of the financial crisis that the Kurdistan Region has found itself mired in since 2014.
“It’s not only the Ministry of Culture, but all other ministries are also having budget issues. We have plans, after the financial situation improves, to provide support to the museum and all other local centers in the province,” Niyazi said.
Halabja is best known for a massacre that took place there on March 16, 1988, when Iraqi aircraft launched a chemical attack on the city that killed some 5,000 people and injured 10,000 more. It was one of many horrific crimes committed against the people of Kurdistan by the former Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship as part of its genocidal Anfal campaign.
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Additional reporting by Avin Atta)