DOWN BELOW: SIGN THE CANADIAN PETITION !   : Push for Kurdish Genocide Recognition in Canada

17/02/2013 RUDAW –  By ROJ ELI ZALLA – TENNESSEE, USA — Canada’s parliament will be asked next month to recognize the killing of thousands of Kurds by Saddam Hussein’s ousted regime as genocide, according to an Internet petition launched by a group of Canadian Kurdish organizations and supported by a Liberal Party MP.

In March 1988, some 5,000 Kurds were killed by poison gas in the closing weeks of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war in the Kurdish town of Halabja, part of Saddam’s 1986-1989 Anfal Campaign, in which between 50,000 and 100,000 Kurdish civilians were murdered. “On 16 March 2013 when we will remember these atrocities on the 25th anniversary; a new motion will be submitted to the Canadian Parliament asking for the recognition of this event and the Anfal campaign as genocide against Kurds of Iraq,” said the Internet petition, or e-petition.

The campaigners note on the petition that Canada was the first nation in the world to recognize the atrocities committed against the Kurds as crimes against humanity.

“The time has come for us to ask that these actions … be recognized as genocide,” Liberal Party MP Jim Karygiannis, one of the major supporters of the campaign, wrote on his website. The campaigners urge the Canadian government to encourage the US government and the UN to formally recognize the sufferings of the Iraqi Kurds as genocide.

Canada should “recognize the genocide because first it is genocide, and by recognizing the genocide Canada will not offend anyone,” Karygiannis told Rudaw by telephone. The Canadian campaign coincides with the winning of a parliamentary debate by UK campaigners, on February 13, to have the British parliament discuss the matter.  Campaigners in the UK collected more than 27,000 signatures on an e-petition, compelling the parliament to  discuss the issue. But the British government still remains reluctant to label the killings as genocide.

The Swedish parliament officially recognized the killings as genocide in December last year. Unlike the UK campaign, which was supported by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) UK representation, Kurdish organizations and a British MP of Kurdish origin, the campaign in Canada appears to be more of a grassroots movement, mainly run by Kurdish community organizations.

“All the Kurdish community organizations are involved,” said Beritan Rojhelat,  secretary of the Toronto Kurdish Community Center.

“The commission met twice last month. I did not see official representatives of the KRG, but some political parties from Iraqi Kurdistan officially attended the meetings,” Rojhelat said.  “Unfortunately, we do not have the backing of any Canadian political parties.” “My party supports the campaign. Our party leader has been to Kurdistan and sympathizes with the cause,” Karygiannis said.  “We have a large number of Kurdish citizens; we have to consider their needs.”

The Canadian petition can be viewed at: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/recognition-of-genocide-against-the-kurds-in-iraq.html