Dec 12, 2012

Iraqi Kurdistan: Halabja Genocide Monument In The Hague

The Hague City Council has approved construction of a monument commemorating the victims of the Halabja genocide, in which 5,000 Iraqi Kurds were killed by a chemical attack on 16 March 1988.

Below is an article published by Rudaw:




The Hague city council on Wednesday [5 December 2012] unanimously approved a plan to build a monument in the Dutch city for the victims of the Halabja genocide, in which thousands of Kurds were killed in an Iraqi chemical attack.


“Mayor [Jozias] van Aartsen has suggested to place the monument or memorial near the building of the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) in a space accessible to the public,” Harry van Bommel, an MP from the Socialist Party and one of the supporters of the initiative by the Halabja Memorial Committee, told Rudaw. “The mayor will discuss this with the director of the OPCW.”


However, the mayor did not expect the monument to be ready for the 25th anniversary of the Halabja Massacre on March 16 [2013].


In 1988, Iraqi warplanes attacked the Kurdish town of Halabja with chemical bombs, killing 5,000 people and leaving many more with chronic diseases. Kurds around the world commemorate the tragedy on March 16 every year.


“All the parties voted ‘yes,’” Bakhtiar Bakr, the representative of the Patriotic Union of Kurdista (PUK),

told Rudaw. “The question is whether we will make it before March 2013.”


The Hague city’s approval of this proposal, initiated last year [in 2011] by Ferdows Kazemi who also managed to collect 2,500 signatures, is considered a great success for the Halabja Memorial Committee.


“For many years [since 2008] there were attempts to create a monument for a respectable memorial of the victims of the horrible poison attacks by Saddam Hussein,” Bommel said. “Now, it finally is here, there is every reason to celebrate. I want to thank everyone for their efforts.”


The debate about the initiative at the Hague city council was attended by more than 100 people, including journalists, and the Kurdistan Region's Minister of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs Aram Ahmed, who is working on achieving international recognition for Saddam’s inhumane 1980s Anfal campaign against the Kurds as genocide.


Ahmed told Rudaw that his ministry approaches countries that have large Kurdish communities to lobby for more recognition such as in Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. “We need to raise awareness and get public support,” he said.


The initiative in the Netherlands was the work of independent civil rights organizations, but both the Iraqi ambassador and the Kurdistan Regional Government have expressed support for building the monument.


Also on Wednesday [5 December 2012], the Swedish Parliament officially recognized the Anfal campaign as genocide.


“Pleased to hear that the Swedish Parliament has recognized the Anfal campaign against Kurdish people as genocide. Hope other countries follow suit,” Falah Mustafa, the head of the Kurdistan Region’s Department of Foreign Relations, posted on Twitter.


According to Bakr, Kurds in the Netherlands will try to get the same recognition. “Ready for the next step – Anfal -- like in Sweden,” he said.