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[casi] Kurds remember chemical attack



http://217.158.86.13/ip/data/ipenglish/8084.htm

London, Iraq Press, July 24, 2002  Representatives of the regional Kurdish
government in northern Iraq organized a symposium in the British capital in
memory of those killed by Iraq's chemical weapons attack in the Kurdish city
of Halabja 14 years ago.

The meeting, attended by human rights organizations and British political
figures, was an occasion to remind the world of the atrocities President
Saddam Hussein committed against his own people.

Iraqi aircraft shelled Halabja with chemical weapons on March 16, 1988 in an
attack which left 5,000 dead and 7,000 injured or with long-term
illnesses.

The mass murder was almost ignored by the international community and Lady
Olga Mittland, a former conservative MP, said the negligence was
of grave consequences.

"It is bound to have far greater dangerous consequences on the humanity at
large if is disregarded," she told the meeting.

"It will be stupid of us to think that the Iraqi president will repent and
apologize for this heinous act when he was at the height of his power," she
added.

The attack on Halabja took place during the Iraq-Iran war when Saddam
enjoyed the support of the west against Iran.

Every year, the nearly 3.5 million Iraqi Kurds living in their
Western-protected enclave remember the event in different ways.

Kurdish TV displays a black band throughout its broadcast on March 16.
Vigils, performances and exhibitions about the tragedy are organized
across the region.

On the road to Halabja, gas masks and shells of the chemical bombs  painted
with question marks  are displayed at the entrance of the city.

Memories of the massacre are still alive in Iraqi Kurdistan. Since the
chemical attacks, the number of various forms of cancer, birth deformities,
still-born babies and miscarriages is reported to have dramatically
increased.

Kurdish officials attending the meeting, held at Westminster, said they
still feared a repetition of the attack on Halabja.

"We have nothing to fend off ourselves against a chemical attack. We hope
the world community will take this fact into consideration," said
Hoshyar Zeibari of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Senior Iraqi opposition figures, among them Ahmed al-Jalabi of the Iraqi
National Congress, and Seamind Banaa representative of the Kurdish regional
Government in UK were also present.

Ian Duncan, leader of the opposition Conservative Party, sent the meeting a
letter in which he said that all parties were called upon "to remove the
danger Saddam Hussein constituted to the region and the world."

The perpetrators of the crime are still ruling in Baghdad, though the United
States has vowed never to let Saddam obtain the means to rebuild his
programs of weapons of mass destruction.

There is increasing speculation that the U.S.-led war on terror could target
Iraq. The Kurdish region would then have a key role to play, as it could
become a base for attacks against Saddam.

But the Kurds are wary of declaring their support for such a war. They say
the world did nothing to punish Saddam for Halabja and there is no
guarantee that he will not unleash another attack against them if they join
forces with the U.S. against him.




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