On this sad and tragic day seventeen years ago, the government of Saddam Hussein committed one of modern history’s most tragic crimes. The indiscriminant destruction of the town of Halabja with the use of chemical weapons left 5000 men, woman and children slaughtered and more than 10,000 injured.
Seventeen years since the massacre, the people of Halabja still suffer from the effects of the attack, including a much higher prevalence of major medical disorders such as cancers, birth defects and miscarriages not to mention the irreparable damage done to the environment.
Halabja was not the only instance in which the former government of Iraq used chemical weapons. An independent study has revealed that chemical and biological weapons have been
used in attacks on over 255 towns and villages in Iraqi Kurdistan with casualties not less than those in Halabja.
The tragic events of Halabja 1988, gives a clear indication of the threat Weapons of Mass Destruction poses to the international community and world peace at large. Therefore it is the
duty of the International Community to prevent such instances happening again – not to the Kurds – not to any one.
It is fitting that after the momentous elections in Iraq, the country’s newly elected Parliament convened on this day, in commemoration of the attacks. Talks are ongoing among Iraq’s
diverse communities on forming a coalition government which will lead Iraq towards a federal democracy. It will be the duty of this government to bring to justice those that committed these acts of terror, for these same people are responsible for the genocide of the Marsh Arabs and for the brutal oppression of the Shiites.
Bringing to justice the perpetrators of genocide and uprooting their sympathizers will be among the first steps that will lead the terrorized people of Iraq to closure.
In memory of the thousands who died on March 16th 1988, this day should be a day when the world stands against the use and proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
And Rachel Corrie? Oh shyeah, we’ll remember how you embarassed yourself two years ago today. And we’ll also remember how Reuters transformed your accidental death into a homicide.