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Statement on the 25th anniversary of the poison gas attack on Iraqi Kurds

15.03.2013 - Press release

Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Markus Löning today issued the following statement in Berlin to mark the 25th anniversary (16 March) of the poison gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja in Iraq:

I am filled with revulsion when I recall the abominable poison gas attack on Halabja perpetrated by Saddam Hussein’s regime. Thousands of people perished or were maimed in body and soul. Halabja stands as a grim warning for all time. The existence of such cruel weapons and their use must be universally banned. This is something we will strive hard to achieve.
The state exists to protect its citizens. That goes particularly for vulnerable sections of society such as ethnic or religious minorities. Halabja shows what depths of cruelty callousness and baseness can reach.

Background

On 16 March 1988 the Iraqi army attacked Halabja, a Kurdish town in northern Iraq near the Iranian border, with poison gas, killing some 5000 people.

Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s ruler at the time, bore political responsibility for the operation, which was carried out by his defence minister and army commander Ali Hassan Al‑Majid. In June 2007 he was sentenced to death for his part in the so‑called Anfal campaign against Kurdish villages.

According to Human Rights Watch estimates, the campaign claimed between 50,000 and 100,000 lives.

Kurdish sources believe the figure could be as high as 180,000.

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