Top Kurdistan Region officials mark Qaladze bombardment anniversary
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Senior officials of the Kurdistan Region, on Friday, marked the 46th anniversary of the bombardment of Qaladze by the former Iraqi regime, issuing statements which honored and commemorated the victims and survivors of that atrocity.
On April 24, 1974, the Ba’athist regime—led by Saddam Hussein, formally Iraq’s vice-president, but, in fact, the real leader in Baghdad—bombarded the town of Qaladze, in Sulaimani province, razing the town’s Sulaimani University to the ground. The attack killed over 130 people, most of whom were young students.
The assault on Qaladze was one in a series of armed attacks that Baghdad would wage against the Kurdish people, after Saddam violated the provisions of a 1970 agreement which laid out a roadmap for establishing an autonomous Kurdish region in the north of the country.
The 1970 understanding was not honored by Baghdad, and the Kurdish struggle against the Iraqi state continued for two more decades, with repeated atrocities committed by Saddam’s regime. The conflict would culminate in the regime’s genocidal Anfal campaign in the latter part of the 1980s, when it repeatedly used chemical weapons against the Kurds.
However, the situation changed dramatically after Saddam’s August 2, 1990, invasion of Kuwait. A US-led military campaign against Iraq followed. After initial missteps as the fighting ended, which precipitated a Kurdish flight to the mountains, the US switched course and protected the Kurds from further attack from Saddam’s forces, leading to the emergence of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq that exists now.
Related Articles: The 25th Anniversary Series (The Kurdish Uprising, Parts I, II, and III)
“Through the bombing, and the later destruction and displacement of the residents of Qaladze, the enemy [Baath regime] sought to break the spirit of the people of Qaladze,” Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and formerly, the President of the Kurdistan Region, said in his memorial statement.
“But it was the people of Qaladze who defeated the enemy,” he continued. “A salute to the steadfastness and bravery of the honorable people of Qaladze.”
In a tweet, the current President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, said, “Today we honor and remember the victims of another atrocity carried out by the Ba’ath regime against the people of Kurdistan.”
“46 years ago, former Iraqi regime launched barbaric attack against residents and students of Silemani University in Qaladze, murdering dozens of civilians,” the Kurdish President stated, recalling the atrocity.
The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masrour Barzani, honored the victims, saying, “We mourn the martyrs and stand with the survivors of these terrible crimes.”
The prime minister also recalled a second, tragic incident that took place in Qaladze. “On the same day, eight years later, a large number of protesters were shot [by Iraqi forces] in the same town,” he noted.
The 2003 US-led war finally eliminated the threat that Saddam posed to the Kurdish people. He and his senior henchman faced trials in Baghdad, and Saddam was hanged in December 2006.
Editing by Laurie Mylroie