Kurds perform in Japan's 72nd anniversary of atomic bombing

"It looked like the day of the resurrection."

HIROSHIMA, Japan (Kurdistan 24) – Kurds in Japan offered a musical performance at the 72nd commemoration of the Hiroshima atomic bombing.

The Mehrnava band led by Nazli Bakhshaiesh appeared on stage wearing traditional Kurdish clothing and performed at the Peace Memorial Park, near Hiroshima’s ground zero.

The event, marking the US’ bombing of Hiroshima—where an atomic bomb was detonated 600 meters above the city, killing 140,000—was attended by 50,000 people and representatives from 80 nations including the EU, according to The Japan Times.

Alan Faroghi, 12, and Parsa Ahmadzadeh, 15, from the Kurdish-Iranian city of Saqqez, played the tombak and daf (percussion) respectively.

Kurds from Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat) and the Kurdistan Region, like the Japanese, have experienced the deadly effects of bombings firsthand.

On June 28 and 29, 1987, Saddam Hussein’s warplanes unleashed chemical weapons on civilians in the Kurdish city of Sardasht in the province of West Azerbaijan, northwest of Iran, killing over 113 civilians and injuring thousands.

Additionally, the Halabja chemical strike ordered by Hussein against the Kurds occurred during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) on March 16, 1988.

Hossein Mohammadian, a victim of the Sardasht attack and an active member of a Kurdish NGO which supports the Sardasht victims, said Iran failed to ensure the Sardasht chemical attack was nationally or internationally recognized.

“Over 8,000 people were injured, and Iran only registered 100 people,” Mohammadian told Kurdistan 24 over the phone from Japan.

He said it took the Society for Chemical Weapons Victims Support NGO about 12 years to get the Iranian authorities to register some 1,500 more victims.

“No perpetrator has been brought to justice yet. Not much if any compensation has been paid to people who have to deal with ever-lasting physical and psychological scars of a gas attack,” he said. 

Iraqi bombers attacked four crowded parts of Sardasht with chemical bombs and engulfed its residents with fatal gases. (Photo: Archive)
Iraqi bombers attacked four crowded parts of Sardasht with chemical bombs and engulfed its residents with fatal gases. (Photo: Archive)

Speaking about the day which changed his life forever, Mohammadian said when he felt his eyes burning and the foam in his mouth choking him, he wished his mother was not a witness to a death he felt was engulfing him.

“I thought I would crouch in pain and die before my loving mother’s helpless eyes who had to watch this with utter horror and powerlessness,” he said.

“Everyone was affected and confused. No one knew what was happening and how to help. Even the nurse would avoid us for fear of contamination,” he added.

Unable to identify the apocalyptic results of the tasteless, colorless, and odorless gas, the medical staff were concerned what took over the town was contagious.

There weren’t enough beds at the Sardasht hospital, nor were there enough ambulances or other vehicles to transfer the ailing and wailing crowd.

“It looked like the day of the resurrection. Everyone was in pain and shock. Families couldn’t find or identify each other. No one could take care of anyone,” he said.

“We thought we were going to die but did not know if it would be a slow death or a sudden one,” Mohammadian recounted with a crack in his voice.

“Medical science has yet to find a cure for victims of the chemical attack. We have to live with the pain for the rest of our lives,” he said.

A father now, he said it saddens him when he cannot control his anger around his children, due to the mental and physical damages inflicted upon him 30 years ago.

The use of chemical weapons is banned under international treaties but, a then-ally of the US, Hussein used them repeatedly to massacre Kurdish populations in both Iran and Iraq.

Iran protested at the time, but the world’s superpowers had little patience for complaints from the Islamic Republic which supported attacks on US Marines in Lebanon as well as on Soviet troops in Afghanistan.


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany