2013 YEAR OF INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION OF HALABJA / ANFAL
The White House, Statement by US National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on the 25th Anniversary of the Halabja Massacre
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the horrific massacre by Saddam Hussein’s regime of over 5,000 innocent civilians in a chemical weapons attack on the city of Halabja, in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. At least 10,000 people were blinded and maimed. This terrible crime was but one of many in Hussein’s Anfal Campaign, in which tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis were slaughtered. On this solemn occasion, we honor the memories of the husbands, wives, sons, and daughters who perished at Halabja and throughout the Anfal, as we continue our efforts to prevent future atrocities, and help ensure that perpetrators of such crimes are held accountable.
Minister Alistair Burt, UK Minister for Middle East and North Africa
UK Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
I am humbly honoured to send this message on behalf of the British Government to today’s ceremony, the Day of Hope in Halabja. Our thoughts are with you as we remember those who were killed, injured, or who mourn for loved ones lost during the Anfal. Today we remember in particular the atrocity of the attack on Halabja, which will remain in our hearts and memories as a terrible symbol of inhumanity. We also join with you, on this Day of Hope, in looking forward to a future, ever more peaceful and prosperous.
Ian Lucas MP, UK Shadow (opposition party) Minister for Middle East and Africa
The attack at Halabja was an appalling act. It made many aware of the true horror of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the dreadful suffering of Iraqi Kurds. We must remember always the attack and respect the loss of its victims which must remain a continuing lesson for us all.
Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
I would like to salute the KRG authorities who organised this conference and all the participants and guests on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Anfal Operation and the Halabja massacre which were conducted by Saddam Hussein’s regime in 1988 in Iraq. Marking a black stain on the history of humanity, thousands of innocent people were atrociously massacred by chemical weapons at Halabja. This conference, organised today in Erbil and Halabja, is a testimony to the deep wound opened in the conscience of humanity that is still bleeding even after 25 years.
Our country, which has always stood with the persecuted and welcomed those who sought refuge on its soil, also received our Iraqi Kurdish brothers fleeing from the Halabja massacre with open arms, mobilising every resource at its disposal.
We will maintain our efforts so that all the necessary measures are taken to ensure that crimes against humanity, such as the one committed in Halabja, never occur again in our region, or any other place in the world for that matter. Our country will continue to work with utmost determination so that tragedies such as the one in Halabja never happen again, and so that peace and brotherhood prevail in our region.
Today, innocent people in neighbouring Syria are being subjected to massacres and bombardments by a murderous regime, and hence are forced to stage a struggle of existence and freedom. Turkey, having always objected loudly against any form of cruelty and tyranny, has today opened its doors to the aggrieved Syrian people and embraced our Syrian brothers in its arms, as we did 25 years ago for our Kurdish brothers struggling for their lives under the oppression of Saddam.
We hope that the bloodshed in our region ends, the peoples of the region are ruled by leaders who will not resort to cruelty or point guns at them, and that a culture of harmony, tolerance, coexistence and cooperation among different ethnic and sectarian groups prevails.
The Halabja attack clearly showed the importance of elimination of weapons of mass destruction in our region. In this regard, our country demands the elimination of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction and actively contributes to international endeavors to this end. On this occasion, I bow respectfully to the memory of the victims of Halabja, who were mercilessly slaughtered by the chemical weapons of Saddam’s regime, and I wish God’s mercy and grace be upon them.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
Please accept my very best wishes for your International Conference on recognising the Kurdish Genocide. Halabja was one of the world’s greatest crimes, the first time a Government used chemical weapons against a civilian population. It should always be remembered and marked. May I give you my warm and full support in your efforts.