Vienna City Council recognizes Halabja genocide

"It is a historic moment in Austrian political history. For the first time, a mass crime against the Kurdish population is recognized - with the consent of all parties.”
Green politician Berîvan Aslan (Photo: Berivan Aslan/Twitter)
Green politician Berîvan Aslan (Photo: Berivan Aslan/Twitter)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Austria’s Vienna City Council on Friday has recognized the Halabja massacre as a genocide. 

“The motion by the Greens, SPÖ and NEOS to recognize the poison gas attack on Halabja as a genocide was accepted unanimously,” the City Council said in a press statement.

Kurdish-Austrian politician and a member of the Austrian Green Party, Berîvan Aslan, announced on Twitter that it’s a historical moment for the Kurdish community in Austria.

For the first time in Austrian political history, the Vienna Parliament unanimously recognized the massacre committed against the Kurds in Halabja as a genocide, she wrote.

Aslan, also a member of the Vienna City Council (the parliament of the federal province of Vienna), initially introduced the motion in the Council. 

"It is a historic moment in Austrian political history. For the first time, a mass crime against the Kurdish population is recognized - with the consent of all parties,” Aslan told Kurdistan 24.

“This recognition is very important and symbolic; it is an important step towards justice and coming to terms with a [significant] historical event for the Kurds. Broad international recognition is more important than ever."

"The world community has witnessed the atrocities committed  against the Kurdish people. The Kurds do not want to be treated as the stepchildren of this world. Every step towards justice is a recognition of the Kurdish plight. The Viennese parliament also decided to request the Austrian National Council to recognize this crime against humanity as a genocide."

She added that all parties have agreed to this request. “This now carries legitimacy and is only a formality from now on.”

Thomas Schmidinger, an Austrian political scientist, and a visiting professor at the University of Kurdistan Hewlêr, told Kurdistan 24 that Vienna has a large Kurdish diaspora and Kurdish politicians repeatedly speak out about Kurdish issues.

“The joint motion by the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Liberals is a sign of recognition of the victims of Halabja and, hopefully, a sign that Austria will no longer supply weapons to authoritarian regimes like Saddam Hussein's in the future. The "Nimsawi" is still remembered by many Iraqis today.”

As a result of the Halabja genocide, at least 5,000 people, including women and children, were killed by chemical bombs that Saddam Hussein’s regime used during the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war.

On the 35th anniversary on March 16 of the Halabja chemical attack, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani called on the Iraqi government to compensate the victims of the genocidal attack.

The Iraqi government earlier this month recognized Halabja as its 19th province. Previously, the Kurdistan Parliament had recognized the city as a province.