16 March, 2011

In Memoriam - Halabja - 16th March 1988

Halabja Memorial

Never Forget Halabja
As Sulaymānīyah - Iraq

In March 1988 Halabja was subjected to an horrific gas attack which killed some 5000 people and caused severe injury to many more.  On 25th January 2010 the man who ordered this attack - Ali Hassan Al Majid (a cousin of Saddam Hussein) - was executed in Baghdad.  The full horror is well recorded by the Gallery of Muslim Massacres website.  The City of Manchester, in Northern England, has a modest memorial to Halabja 16th March 1988.  It is a tree - (pictured) - and a small memorial stone.  They are located in a busy part of the city centre.  Today, 16th March 2011, a small group of people met there and placed flowers in remembrance of those who had died.

The Halabja massacre took place toward the end of the Iraq-Iran War (September 1980-August 1988).  Of course, much was to unfold before the Saddam Hussein regime was finally brought to an end as a result of military action against Iraq.   There was the action (under United Nations mandate) to remove Iraqi Forces from Kuwait - (August 1990 to February 1991).  Later there was the 2003 military invasion of Iraq by Coalition Forces.  This action remains highly controversial and, in the U.K., has been the subject of a number of inquiries the latest of which is the Chilcot Inquiry which has been referred to in several posts on this blog.  The coalition action against Iraq raised numerous issues in international law and the justification for military action by the U.K. remains the subject of intense debate.  Nevertheless, Halabja is a constant reminder of the abysmal regime headed by Saddam Hussein.

The Responsibility to Protect (UN Security Council Resolution 1674/2006) emerged as one outcome of these and other atrocious events.
An "Inconvenient Atrocity": The Chemical Weapons Attack on the Kurds of Halabja, Iraq