NETHERLANDS : Halabja Seminar on recognition of genocide, a legal and political perspective


ANF – 28.2.2013 – A seminar organised by Hazjah Salah (board member of CHAK), Alina Jabbari and Dana Noor Aldien Cheragwandi, on recognition of genocide from a legal and political perspective. Dutch Socialist Party MP Harry van Bommel and Attorney General Simon Mink of the Court of Justice in The Hague attended as speakers. Simon Mink was the representative of the prosecutor office in the case of the Dutch businessman F. Van Anraat.

A majority of the 100 people at the seminar that focused on the recognition of genocide were law students. It was moderated by a member of the board of directors of CHAK and Vluchtelingen-Organisaties Nederland (VON), D.N.A. Cheragwandi. He conducted the first part of the seminar by speaking on the definition of genocide from a political perspective and discussed the meaning of it by quoting international literature. Furthermore he introduced the case study of the Al-Anfal Campaign and Halabja. The first speaker, Harry Van Bommel, explained that recognition of genocide is mostly a legal call. He emphasized that genocide also took place in the history of the Netherlands. Van Bommel stated that the Netherlands recognized the Armenian Genocide in a political sense, and should recognize the genocide of the Kurds in Halabja too.

Prosecutor Simon Mink, however, assessed the definition of genocide in law. The recognition of genocide is a complex matter that needs to be proven with a legal framework. The definition of genocide does not only concern the killing of people, he said. Genocide has cultural, economic and geographical dimensions, he noted. Prior to the political recognition of genocide, the importance of legally recognizing genocide is more important.


In the second part of the seminar, the Al-Anfal Campaign was the main focus. The chairman Cheragwandi gave a brief introduction of the case of Halabja and the Al-Anfal Campaign. Attorney general Mink took the floor after the presentation and gave the audience the facts in the case Van Anraat. The Dutch businessman F. van Anraat, was sentenced to 16 years and 5 months for his part in supplying chemicals to the Ba’ath regime of Saddam Hussein. Minks stated that after the return in 2003 of Van Anraat in the Netherlands, the businessman attended a TV program and proudly spoke about is relation with the Iraqi government and his roll in providing them raw chemical materials.

Determining genocide in Halabja was necessary in the case of Van Anraat, because the charge of complicity of war crimes depended on it. Mink explained why the Court of Justice in The Hague refused to recognize the case of Halabja as genocide, because of the lack of proof. It should be taken in account, that a lower court in The Hague, firstly confirmed genocide in Halabja. Attorney General Mink said they offered sufficient proof, that Van Anraat sold large amounts of raw material to the Iraqi regime and was aware of the terms of the sale. During the case of Van Anraat, the businessman did not show any regrets or remorse; on the contrary, he defended the move in line with the economic interests as a businessman.

Simon Mink stated that, the genocide in Halabja can only be proven with a more thorough research. MP Van Bommel, who spoke after Mink, explained that political lobby in different countries is necessary for the recognition of the genocide of the Kurds.