THE BLOG

British MPs Officially Recognise Halabja Genocide

03/03/2013 08:46 | Updated 01 May 2013

Nadhim Zahawi, Conservative MP was born to Kurdish parents in Iraq. He told the House of Commons on Thursday, "As the horrors of holocaust pass beyond living memory, there is a danger that we dropped our guard, that we believed such terrible events are safely sealed in the history books, that they could never happen again". He went to explain that between 1987 and 1988, the horrors of genocide and mass-murder were committed by Saddam Hussein's regime against Kurdish people.

The Parliamentary debate was scheduled on March because during this month the genocide is commemorated. British MPs adopted a 'symbolic motion' that called on the British government to recognise the mass-murder. The Halabja poisonous gas attack is known by several names, namely 'bloody friday', which took place on March 16, 1988. Chemicals weapons were used against civilians indiscriminately by the Iraqi government. The attack killed thousands of people, and injured more than 10,000.

Thousands of Kurdish civilians died of complications caused by the poisonous gas, and birth defects were reported years after the attack. The attack has been recognised as an genocidal attack against Kurdish people, and remains to be the largest chemical weapons attack by a government against its own civilians.

It is crucial to note that the Halabja genocide is different from the Anfal campaign, where Saddam Hussein and his ilk attempted to wipe Southern Kurdistan of Kurds, and Arabize it. According to Human Rights Watch, some 4,000 villages out of 4,655 were wiped out. More than 250 of these villages were attacked with chemical weapons. This includes 1,700 schools, 2,450 mosques and 27 churches during the Anfal campaign.

On March 1st of 2010, the Iraqi High Criminal Court recognised the Halabja massacre as an act of genocide. The decision was welcomed by Kurdistan Regional Government, and since then the attack has been condemned as a crime against humanity by the Parliament of Canada.

The attack lasted for nearly five hours. Photos show local children with their faces burned. Some survivors have explained that the gas smelled of sweet apples at first, and that in some instances it caused immediate death, while others coughed continuously until they died from 'burning and blistering'.

The speakers included Meg Munn, Robert Halfon, David Anderson, Ann Clwyd, Jeremy Corbyn, Mike Gapes, David Lammy, Stephen Metcalfe and Bob Stewart.

Since the Parliamentary debate, some websites have mistakenly claimed that the British Parliament has recognised the Genocide against Kurdish people. The confusion is partially due to the lack of understanding of the nature of such debates, and authority of the debates, as well as the lack of coverage given to the debate by mainstream media outlets explaining its significance.