TORONTO (Kurdistan 24) – In a historic move, the Canadian city of Toronto will raise the Kurdistan flag in a tribute to the thousands of victims of the Halabja genocide.
The Kurdistan flag will be raised on March 16 at Toronto City Hall to remember the thousands of lives lost at the hands of the former Iraqi dictatorship during the brutal Anfal campaign.
Sartip Kakayee, the former president of the Greater Toronto Kurdish House (GTKH), who now serves as an executive member, and Toronto City Councillor Jim Karygiannis worked closely to bring the motion forward to the Toronto City Council. With their efforts and those of the Kurdish community in Toronto, the proposal was approved on Friday.
Chato Wany, the current president of the GTKH, told Kurdistan 24 the flag raising event “is very important to all members of the Kurdish community,” adding Kurds and Canadians alike have a “moral duty” to raise awareness about the genocide.
It is an opportunity “to raise awareness and engage Canadian public opinion in the Canadian government about the Kurdish tragedies,” he said.
“Halabja is one of the most well-known and one of the largest tragedies in Kurdish people’s history,” Wany explained. “It is the moral duty of all of us here in Canada to bring that to the government’s and public opinion’s attention.”
March is a significant month for Kurds in the homeland and abroad, as it marks an important time in Kurdish history.
Kurds commemorate positive achievements during this month as well as unforgettable injustice and genocide.
The former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein conducted the Anfal campaign over a three-year period: from 1986 to 1989. It was a military operation that aimed to exterminate the Kurdish population in Iraq and resulted in the killing and forced disappearance of at least 180,000 people.
On March 16, 1988, during the Anfal campaign, Iraqi aircraft attacked the city of Halabja with chemical weapons, killing 5,000 people and injuring thousands more.
Rojen Rahmani, a former Progressive Conservative party candidate and current Kurdish advocate, said the event is “a sign of how well-respected the Kurdish people have become in the eyes of others.”
“This [the flag raising] demonstrates to all individuals that the Kurds can no longer be ignored,” she told Kurdistan 24, “and that Canada and Canadians recognize deplorable situations the Kurds have endured, and are willing to stand with us in commemorating these tragic points in history.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report incorrectly labeled Chato Wany as an executive member of the Greater Toronto Kurdish House (GTKH). Wany is the president of the GTKH.