Tag Archives: chemical weapons

Netherlands should finance medical project in Halabja

KurdishMedia.com – By Vladimir van Wilgenburg
The Dutch socialistic party SP requested Dutch Minister Van Ardenne (Development cooperation) to finance a medical project for the Kurdish victims of the chemical attack in Halabja. A health project of the KRG [Kurdish Regional Government], Liverpool university and several organizations is about to stop due to the lack of money.
Second Chamber member Krista van Velzen said that Holland has a special responsibility towards the victims, because the chemical ingredients came from the Dutch businessman, Frans van Anraat, who recently was convicted for supplying Saddam’s regime with chemicals used in the attacks on Halabja. “With a moderate contribution we can keep this project alive and show our commitment,” said the Dutch politician, who contributed to Van Anraat’s arrest and trial.
Victims of the Halabja attack have to face several diseases because of the chemicals. A small British project that was focused on battling birth defects and infant deaths is about to stop due a lack of money.
The attacks, which consisted of a cocktail of chemical and biological nerve and mustard agents, caused its victims DNA mutations, physical malformations, cancer, paralysis, birth defects, infant mortality, immediate and long-term neuropsychiatric damage, etc.
This project was successful and gave help and treatment to the victims.
The costs were about 100.000 euro a year. Infant mortality, cancer and birth defects were treated and taken care off, because of this project.
There was also scientific research into the cure for birth diffects.
Van Velzen thought it would be a pity, that there would come an end to this health care and scientific research project, because of insufficient money resources. “Health care in the Kurdish area is problematic.
Therefore health care for the victims of the chemical attacks isn’t sufficient. The Netherlands could make a good gesture towards the Kurdish people, by giving this support”
“The people of Kurdistan are still suffering because of the chemical attacks. Holland is morally obligated to contribute to medical research and medical care for the victims. I urge everyone to come to the memorial [Sunday Amsterdam] to show our solidarity with the victims. Let’s condemn this crime, what happened in Halabja, may never happen again,” said Van Velzen.
Recently angry protesters in Halabja destroyed the Halabja memorial museum. They asked for better public health services. According to the protestors, the Kurdish government isn’t doing enough to help the residents of Halabja.


Kurds destroy Halabja memorial in protest

16 Mar 2006 15:37:14 GMT Source: Reuters
By Marwan Mohammed
HALABJA, Iraq, March 16 (Reuters) – Hundreds of Kurdish protesters destroyed a memorial to the 1988 gas attack in the Iraqi town of Halabja on Thursday, setting the museum ablaze on the 18th anniversary of the deaths of 5,000 local people.
A hospital official said one man was shot dead when a gathering to commemorate the attack turned into a protest over poor local services.
A local journalist working for Reuters said he saw police and Kurdish Peshmerga militiamen fire shots to disperse the protesters after they rampaged through the one-storey, circular museum that serves as a potent reminder of the 1988 attack.
The violence is likely to embarrass Kurdish leaders, who have managed to keep the Kurdish north stable while sectarian killings and an insurgency have swept the rest of the country.
Immediately after the riot, Kurdish security forces sealed off the town and confiscated video tapes from some journalists.
“It’s extremely painful that this is happening on the anniversary of the gassing, which is a symbol of the suffering of the Kurdish people,” senior Kurdish politician Barham Salih told Reuters.
Halabja — synonymous around the world with atrocities against civilians that are blamed on Saddam Hussein — is near the Iranian border in Kurdistan, Iraq’s largely autonomous region which has its own government.
As the protest turned violent, Kurdish leaders were in Baghdad for the opening of parliament, which was elected in December. Hajem al-Hassani, the outgoing speaker of parliament, called for a moment’s silence to commemorate the Halabja attack.
“The Kurdish government exploited Halabja to draw world attention to the plight of the Kurds and get donations that have never reached us,” one angry protester said.
Witnesses said residents had gathered outside the museum to mark the attack but began shouting angrily when Shahu Mohammad Saed, a representative of the Kurdish government, appeared.
Residents complain many buildings in Halabja are dilapidated and that electricity and water supplies are poor. They said the museum was the only new building to have been constructed in the town by the regional government in more than a decade.
People stormed into the museum, pulling down ceilings and smashing displays reconstructing the gas attack. One rioter used a metal chair to smash the polished black stone memorial bearing the names of each of the 5,000 victims.
As flames licked through the building, sending huge clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky, security forces fired shots to disperse the crowd.
“We have received one body, a 19-year-old man, and eight wounded people,” said a doctor in Halabja’s Malabar hospital.
Kurdish official Saed blamed the riot on “neighbouring states”, an apparent reference to Iran or Turkey, while Salih said there might be “some elements trying to destabilise the situation”.
The Halabja gas attack is one of the criminal cases for which Saddam, now on trial for the killing of 148 Shi’ites in the 1980s, may be tried.
His cousin, General Ali Hassan al-Majid, is accused of launching the attack on Halabja. He has said the crackdown was to punish the town for its failure to resist Iranian incursions during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. (Additional reporting by Sherku Abdullah and Rasheed Salahaddin in Halabja, Twana Osman in Sulaimaniya and Ahmed Rasheed and Mariam Karouny in Baghdad)
AlertNet news is provided by Reuters


1988: Thousands die in Halabja gas attack

Thousands of people are reported to have been killed and many others injured in a poison gas attack on a Kurdish city in northern Iraq.
Up to 20 aircraft, said to include Iraqi Migs and Mirages, were seen overhead at around 1100 local time in Halabja.
According to experts, the chemicals dropped by the planes may have included mustard gas, the nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX and possibly cyanide.
The attack on Halabja, which is about 150 miles (241km) north-east of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, is the latest in the Iran-Iraq war and follows its occupation by Iranian forces.
Iraq was said to be keen to avenge the fall of Halabja, which is seen as an important centre for Kurdish resistance in their struggle for autonomy.
The assault came after two days of conventional mortars, artillery and rockets from nearby mountains.
According to pro-Iranian Kurdish commanders in Halabja, there were up to 14 aircraft sorties, with seven to eight planes in each group.
The planes were believed to have concentrated their attacks on the city and all the roads leading out of it.
Eyewitnesses have told of clouds of smoke billowing upward “white, black and then yellow”‘, rising as a column about 150 feet (46 metres)in the air.
Most of the wounded, who were taken to hospital in the Iranian capital Tehran, were suffering from mustard gas exposure.
Those who escaped death have developed respiratory or visual problems from the cocktail of chemicals dropped on the city.
According to some reports, up to 75% of the victims were women and children.
The injured survivors seen by reporters showed the classic symptoms of mustard gas poisoning – ugly skin lesions and breathing difficulties.
Some residents survived by covering their faces with damp cloths and taking to the mountains around Halabja.
One resident, Abdul Rahman, 60, an employee at the city’s mosque, said: “I do not know where my children are.”