Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Thursday, March 16, 2006

18 years later, Halabja still bears scars from Saddam's gas attacks

March 16, 2006

Halabja – Eighteen years ago today, Saddam Hussein’s army launched a genocidal chemical attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja, killing 5,000 and injuring 10,000. Thousands of Kurds still suffer from cancer, respiratory illnesses and other diseases as a result of the attack.

Halabja has become a symbol of Kurdish suffering under Hussein’s regime, but some residents of the devastated town say that even today little has been done to repair the decades old damage.

At a Halabja commemoration ceremony held today, Kurds protested the ongoing poor conditions there, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting and Radio Free Iraq reported. According to IWPR, 500 Kurds had planned a sit-in during the ceremony to protest a lack of services and compensation on the part of the Kurdistan government. The protest turned violent, though, and at least one person has died as a result, according to RFI.

IWPR reported that Halabja residents planned the protest to “complain about poor healthcare and roads, as well as houses that remain damaged.”

The report continued:

“Politicians from the two leading parties in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, have honoured Halabja’s victims and promised to help rebuild the town at its annual memorials.”

The Leadership Council for Human Rights stands in solidarity with the international human rights community as victims of the Halabja chemical attack are remembered today. In light of the deadly protest, LCHR condemns this kind of violence, while recognizing the urgent need for increased humanitarian assistance in Halabja. The international community, including the United States, bears responsibility for the remediation of this situation.


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