Tag Archives: Genocide

Will anyone protect the Rohingya?

 

Photo: Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Wikimedia Commons

Vincent A. Auger, Western Illinois University

Since August, the Rohingya, an ethnic minority in Myanmar, has faced what a United Nations official called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Recent reports describe a campaign by Myanmar security forces to drive the Rohingya from the country permanently. Hundreds of thousands have fled to camps in neighboring Bangladesh, creating a new refugee crisis.

This is exactly the type of atrocity that the United Nations vowed to combat in 2005, when it asserted a “responsibility to protect” civilian populations from genocidal violence. Yet, little has been done.

Why has “the responsibility to protect” failed, and can the Rohingya be helped?

Responsibility to protect

The “responsibility to protect” doctrine resulted from the humanitarian catastrophes of the 1990s: Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and especially Rwanda. The world struggled to balance respect for state sovereignty with the imperative to prevent the slaughter of civilians. In 2001, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty issued a report redefining the problem. It stated that states had primary responsibility to protect their populations. But, if they could not or would not, then that duty could be exercised by the international community.

This concept was affirmed by the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit. However, my research on the origins and implementation of the responsibility to protect has demonstrated that this consensus was superficial. Many states, including the United States and China, gave lip service to a “responsibility to protect,” but were unwilling or unable to implement it. The conditions under which the responsibility to protect could be invoked remain deliberately ambiguous.

Words in action: Libya and Cote d’Ivoire

Despite this tepid support, in 2011, the United Nations authorized two operations in countries where civilians were at risk.

In Cote d’Ivoire, United Nations peacekeeping forces intervened to remove the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, who had lost an election and was using the country’s security force to attack civilians in an attempt to remain in power. U.N. forces helped oversee a political transition and maintain security. This intervention was widely seen at the U.N. as a success.

The other intervention was in Libya, after the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi threatened to slaughter those who opposed his regime. The intervention – led by Britain, France and the United States – successfully prevented Gaddafi’s slaughter of civilians. But it also led to the collapse of his regime, his murder by rebel forces and continuing conflict in post-Gaddafi Libya.

Failure to protect

Despite humanitarian crises in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, the responsibility to protect has not been used by the U.N. since 2011 to justify intervention. The Libya case helps to explain this: Once the intervening forces helped overthrow Gaddafi, Russia and China declared that the “responsibility to protect” was merely a pretext for the West to conduct regime change. Those countries have repeatedly vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria.

Implementing the “responsibility to protect” faces other challenges as well. One is that an intervention to protect civilians may encounter armed resistance from those who are committing the atrocities, as would likely be the case in Syria. A larger, more capable international military force would be necessary to defeat them. Many states will be deterred by the greater costs and risks of such an intervention.

Another challenge is that states and international organizations have multiple goals and priorities. They may not wish to jeopardize relations with the offending regime, or risk other national interests, in order to stop violence. They may even help the regime that is committing the atrocities, as the Russian government has done in Syria, to advance those interests.

Finally, a successful intervention may lead to a costly commitment to provide long-term security and relief – a “responsibility to rebuild,” so to speak. For most states, these potential costs of intervention far outweigh their willingness to act to save lives.

What can we do for the Rohingya?

All these challenges to implementing the responsibility to protect are evident in the Rohingya case. Myanmar authorities have resisted any international role in the crisis, raising the cost of potential intervention. In any case, other states have little interest in taking action. China is shielding Myanmar from pressure in the U.N. Security Council and is trying to pull Myanmar into its sphere of influence. President Trump has not made Myanmar a priority for American foreign policy. Russia, India and other states prefer to work with the regime to further their own interests in the region.

What can be done, then?

Economic and political sanctions against the Myanmar military are a possibility. But without Chinese participation, they would have limited effectiveness. Sanctions might also lead the Myanmar military to reverse recent democratic reforms in the country.

An alternative would be for the United States and other countries to sharply increase aid to Bangladesh, which is hosting the fleeing Rohingya civilians. They might also consider accepting some Rohingya as refugees. However, this could be problematic given the current debate on refugees in the United States and many other countries.

The ConversationIn the longer term, diplomatic and financial pressure, as well as the possibility of indictment for crimes against humanity, may convince Myanmar’s military leaders to cease the ethnic cleansing and allow some Rohingya to return. Unfortunately, no international cavalry is likely to ride to the Rohingya’s rescue.

Vincent A. Auger, Professor of Political Science, Western Illinois University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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29 Years After Genocide, Kurds Still Suffer

Occupy World Writes commemorates the anniversary of the Halabja genocide

Written by Carol Benedict

Black Friday.

“Halabja, standing against oppression.
Joy and happiness permeated the air in Halabja.
Smiles never faded from the lips of the ever oppressed people of this town.
The Iraqi fighter planes carried out the chemical bombing of Halabja,
and some hours later the news came that Khormal, too, had suffered chemical bombing.
The sound of laughter died down.
Children sought the shelter of their mothers’ arms.
March 16, was the beginning of the great crime of history.
On Thursday March 17, 1988, and on Friday March 18, there took place one of
the most shameful and fearful inhumane crimes of history in Halabja. The town of
Halabja was bombed with chemical and cluster bombs more than twenty times
by Iraqi fighter planes.
In every street and alley women and children rolled over one another.
The sound of crying and groans rose from every house in the town.
Many families who were sleeping happily in their beds in their liberated town,
were subjected before sunrise to chemical bombing,
and poisonous gases did not even allow them to rise from their beds.
Such was the situation on the bloody Friday of Halabja.”
from Kurdistan Democratic Party – Iraq

Exhumed Shoes of Child Victim of Anfal Genocide - 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq - Erbil - Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Exhumed Shoes of Child Victim of Anfal Genocide – 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq – Erbil – Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

March 16, 1988:  A chemical weapon attack on the civilian population of Halabja killed an estimated 5,000 persons immediately and injured another 7,000 – 10,000. In the aftermath of the attack, thousands more died of complications, disease and birth defects.  The attack was and remains today the largest chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in human history.

According to an account in KurdishPain.com, written by Huner Anwer, “The gas attack took place over a period of approximately five hours.  The attack was preceded by the dropping of conventional weapons and by the dropping of paper in order to determine the direction of the wind.  The dropping of the conventional weapons led the citizens of Halabja to retreat to basements and shelters for protection which made the gas more effective as it settled into low lying areas.”

Photo by Zaxo (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Halabja before the attack. Photo by Zaxo (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“Survivors spoke most often of the gas smelling like sweet apples, but others said it was more like garlic and still some others like the gas used in a kitchen stove. This suggests multiple chemicals were used, including mustard gas, the nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX. Some victims died almost immediately, others were laughing as they died; still others experienced intense burning, blistering and vomiting,” Anwer writes.

Topographical map of Kurdistan - Iraq. Halabja is on the far right, in the mountainous region. Note location in area to trap the chemicals used. Public Domain via Wikimedia.

Topographical map of Kurdistan – Iraq. Halabja is on the far right, in the mountainous region. Note location in area to trap the chemicals used. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The poison gas attack on Halabja was just part of what has become known as the Anfal Campaign. It began unofficially in 1986 and continued until 1989: officially it was conducted between February 23 and September 6, 1988. It was led by a cousin of Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who became known as “Chemical Ali” as a result of the atrocities. The Campaign consisted of:

  • the mass executions and the mass disappearance of tens of thousands of persons;
  • the widespread use of chemical weapons;
  • the destruction of over 4,500 Kurdish and at least 31 Assyrian villages;
  • the death of over 182,000 persons;
  • the displacement of over a million of the country’s estimated 3.5 million Kurdish population.

“(There is legal and convincing proof that) the Kurdish population meets the requirement under the Genocide Conventions as an ethnic group. The court has no other conclusion than that these attacks were committed with the intent to destroy the Kurdish population of Iraq,”  declared The Hague in a court ruling from December of 2005.

Bakhtiar Awmar points to grave where his father, mother and sister are buried - victims of the 1988 Chemical Attack - Halabja, Kurdistan - Iraq. Photo By Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bakhtiar Awmar points to grave where his father, mother and sister are buried – victims of the 1988 Chemical Attack – Halabja, Kurdistan – Iraq. Photo By Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We have talked about this issue in a previous story, Honor and Dignity. The struggles of the Iraqi Kurdish population, like that of all Kurds living in the region, continues to this day. Finding a solution rather than a continued assault on what has become recognized as the largest ethnic group on Planet Earth with no borders, no home, no country and no rights becomes the DUTY of the world. Current estimates place the Kurdish population at 30 – 35 million people.

Since this tragedy, the world has continued to witness the use of chemical weapons to exterminate populations. March 14, 2014 marks the 3rd anniversary of the Syrian crisis, also involving the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish and other populations. These attacks are carried out by government forces. The Ghouta chemical attack occurred on August 21, 2013, during the Syrian civil war, when several opposition-controlled or disputed areas of the Ghouta suburbs around Damascus were struck by rockets containing sarin. Hundreds were killed in the attack, which took place over a short span of time in the early morning. Estimates of the death toll are upwards of 1,729 fatalities.

We wanted to construct a list of genocides since 1988 to demonstrate that no resolution has come. When researching the genocides across the globe that have occurred since this event, we were overwhelmed with the list. Rather than diminish any of these tragedies, we found this summary, which also includes genocides from 1945 forward. World Genocide Since 1945 {PDF}

Genocide is the worst dimension of despicable behavior the human race can sink to. It has no justification in ethics, morals, religions, war, terror or policies. Occupy World Writes joins all those who call for an end to this crime against humanity, and we support a resolution marking this day as International Day Against the Use of Chemical Weapons, so that the world never forgets the injustices that have been administered on innocent victims and brings honor to the victims of Halabja.

Exhumed Clothing of Victims of Anfal Genocide - 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq - Erbil - Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Exhumed Clothing of Victims of Anfal Genocide – 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq – Erbil – Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We call on the international community to recognize the need for an immediate solution to “the Kurdish Problem.” This would help alleviate pressures in Syria, called Rojava by the Kurdish people, or Western Kurdistan,  Northern Kurdistan, the Kurdish area in Turkey; Southern Kurdistan, the Kurdish area in Iraq; and Eastern Kurdistan, the Kurdish area in Iran. We implore the world to find a means to an end of genocide the world over immediately, and those responsible must be brought to justice.

For a completely separate perspective on Iraqi children suffering to this day from the Bush Administration’s policy of “Mission Accomplished,” read Weapons of Mass Destruction.

A video about Halabja from the Rudaw Facebook page :

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

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101 Years Later, Turkey Gets United States to Suppress Truth About Armenian Genocide

“Denial of genocide is the final stage of genocide because it strives to kill the memory of the event; denial seeks to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators; denial creates what the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton has called “a morally counterfeit universe for the survivors and their legacy.”

Peter Balakian

Written by Carol Benedict.

"THOSE WHO FELL BY THE WAYSIDE. Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms---massacre, starvation, exhaustion---destroyed the larger part of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under the guise of deportation." Picture showing Armenians killed during the Armenian Genocide. Image taken from Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, written by Henry Morgenthau, Sr. and published in 1918. Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

“THOSE WHO FELL BY THE WAYSIDE. Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms—massacre, starvation, exhaustion—destroyed the larger part of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under the guise of deportation.” Picture showing Armenians killed during the Armenian Genocide. Image taken from Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, written by Henry Morgenthau, Sr. and published in 1918. Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

President Barack Obama declined Friday to call the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, breaking a key campaign promise as his presidency nears an end, reports now say.

“Armenian-American leaders have urged Obama each year to make good on a pledge he made as a candidate in 2008, when he said the U.S. government had a responsibility to recognize the attacks as genocide and vowed to do so if elected. Obama’s failure to fulfill that pledge in his final annual statement on the massacre infuriated advocates and lawmakers who accused the president of outsourcing America’s moral voice to Turkey, which staunchly opposes the genocide label.

“It’s a Turkish government veto over U.S. policy on the Armenian genocide,” Aram Hamparian, head of the Armenian National Committee of America, said in an interview. “It’s like Erdogan imposing a gag rule very publicly and an American president enforcing that gag rule.” He was referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

In 2015, during remarks observing the 100th anniversary of the event, Pope Francis describes it as “the first genocide of the 20th century.” Turkey responded by recalling their ambassador to the Vatican.

Turkey recalled their ambassador to Austria after the Austrian parliament passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, also in 2015.

One hundred and one years ago this month, the Ottoman Empire began carrying out a systematic plan to exterminate its minority Armenian population. Approximately 1.5 million people were killed or died of starvation. On April 24, 850 intellectuals, doctors and writers of the Armenian community were rounded up in what was then Constantinople and later executed. That was just the beginning.

The spring and summer of 1915 became the bloodiest in Armenian history. Men and older boys were separated from the rest of the population and killed without question. Women, children the elderly and the disabled were forced into long death marches into the Syrian dessert with no food or water given them, and those that survived the march were placed in annihilation camps.

For a documentary that is worth watching, please view the following. We can not write a summary that can do better justice to the Armenian Genocide controversy than this.  The images and descriptions of the methods used to carry out the extermination of the Armenian peoples by the ruling Turkish government presented in this film are the blueprint for the subsequent genocides of the past one hundred years. Warning: Not for the weak of stomach or those who seek “quick videos” to explain things. Running time: 93 minutes.

The man who invented the word “genocide”— Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer of Polish-Jewish origin — was moved to investigate the attempt to eliminate an entire people by accounts of the massacres of Armenians. He did not, however, coin the word until 1943, applying it to Nazi Germany and the Jews in a book published a year later, “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.”

Long before humanity knew about the horrors of Auschwitz, the Turkish government demonstrated the depravity of government force over vulnerable populations. Long before we knew of the term, genocide became a practice so routine that the Turkish government remains in denial of it to this day.

An article by the New York Times dated 15 December 1915 states that one million Armenians had been either deported or executed by the Ottoman government. Image via Wikipedia.

Even the Jewish community has taken pause. In a recent commentary regarding the Armenian genocide, Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin writes, “Why should Jews be talking about this? Because when we look at the Armenians, it is as if we are looking in the mirror.”

Standing on arguments of the numbers of deaths and whether it was intended to eliminate the entire Armenian group, the Turkish government refuses to accept the term “genocide” in reference to the Armenian slaughter. It is not part of their official recognized history; existing laws in Turkey basically prohibit and criminalize mentioning or talking about the Genocide. According to Turkey, “our memory does not support the Armenian narrative on the events of 1915, [but] it is only Turks and Armenians who can effectively address their issues together and work jointly to find ways forward. Turkey is ready to do its part”. They argue there is no “evidence”, no one is demanding the recognition, and that the death count could not possibly be as high as claimed.

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies has compiled figures by province and district that show there were 2,133,190 Armenians in the empire in 1914 and only about 387,800 by 1922. Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.

Entrenched so deeply in denialism, in 2007 the Turkish government threatened the United States with closing bases in their borders if the US were to officially recognize this as a genocide. We also know, “The United States isn’t the only target of this censorship effort. At their government’s prompting, Turkish diasporan organizations in 2009 mounted a campaign to stop the Toronto school board from including the Armenian genocide in a human rights curriculum. In 2010, Ankara succeeded in pressuring the Rwandan government to scrap a presentation on the Armenian genocide at a panel on genocide at the United Nations. In 2012, the Turkish government was successful in demanding that the British government order the Tate Gallery to remove the word “genocide” from the wall text of an Arshile Gorky exhibit.”

This year, the Wall Street Journal published a full page advertisement denying the event as a genocide.

Despite these efforts, currently there are 20 countries that officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.

In the United States, more than 40 states, including California, have passed proclamations recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Additionally, the House of Representatives has passed legislation also recognizing the Genocide, lastly in 1996.

Map of massacre locations and deportation and extermination centers. Image via Wikipedia.

Map of massacre locations and deportation and extermination centers. Image via Wikipedia.

In 1915, the New York Times alone ran 145 articles reporting the Armenian crisis. The world was aware. No one did anything.

Turkey is now doing this to the Kurds in SE Turkey. The main stream media remains silent. Will you?

READ MORE ABOUT IT: Resource Articles
Turkey Rights Groups Demand Apology, Compensation, and Restitution for Genocide
Amal Clooney’s latest case: Why Turkey won’t talk about the Armenian genocide
On Armenian genocide, go ahead and offend Turkey
UN: Slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians is not genocide
Why the Armenian genocide holds a lesson for Jews (COMMENTARY)

Editorial Note: This article is comprised of numerous quotes from the Resource Articles listed above. Review of these articles will provide even broader perspectives than those represented here.

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an independent researcher and human rights activist. She has been studying Kurdish history, culture and politics for over 3 years.

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100 Years Later, Armenian Genocide Remains Center of Controversy

“Denial of genocide is the final stage of genocide because it strives to kill the memory of the event; denial seeks to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators; denial creates what the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton has called “a morally counterfeit universe for the survivors and their legacy.”

Peter Balakian

"THOSE WHO FELL BY THE WAYSIDE. Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms---massacre, starvation, exhaustion---destroyed the larger part of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under the guise of deportation." Picture showing Armenians killed during the Armenian Genocide. Image taken from Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, written by Henry Morgenthau, Sr. and published in 1918.  Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

“THOSE WHO FELL BY THE WAYSIDE. Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms—massacre, starvation, exhaustion—destroyed the larger part of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under the guise of deportation.” Picture showing Armenians killed during the Armenian Genocide. Image taken from Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, written by Henry Morgenthau, Sr. and published in 1918. Image Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Pope Francis describes it as “the first genocide of the 20th century.”

Turkey responded by recalling their ambassador to the Vatican.

One hundred years ago this month, the Ottoman Empire began carrying out a systematic plan to exterminate its minority Armenian population. Between 1 million and 1.5 million people were killed or died of starvation. On April 24, 850 intellectuals, doctors and writers of the Armenian community were rounded up in what was then Constantinople and later executed. That was just the beginning. Continue reading

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International Day Against the Use of Chemical Weapons

Black Friday.

“Halabja, standing against oppression.
Joy and happiness permeated the air in Halabja.
Smiles never faded from the lips of the ever oppressed people of this town.
The Iraqi fighter planes carried out the chemical bombing of Halabja,
and some hours later the news came that Khormal, too, had suffered chemical bombing.
The sound of laughter died down.
Children sought the shelter of their mothers’ arms.
March 16, was the beginning of the great crime of history.
On Thursday March 17, 1988, and on Friday March 18, there took place one of
the most shameful and fearful inhumane crimes of history in Halabja. The town of
Halabja was bombed with chemical and cluster bombs more than twenty times
by Iraqi fighter planes.
In every street and alley women and children rolled over one another.
The sound of crying and groans rose from every house in the town.
Many families who were sleeping happily in their beds in their liberated town,
were subjected before sunrise to chemical bombing,
and poisonous gases did not even allow them to rise from their beds.
Such was the situation on the bloody Friday of Halabja.”
from Kurdistan Democratic Party – Iraq

Exhumed Shoes of Child Victim of Anfal Genocide - 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq - Erbil - Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Exhumed Shoes of Child Victim of Anfal Genocide – 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq – Erbil – Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

March 16, 1988:  A chemical weapon attack on the civilian population of Halabja killed an estimated 5,000 persons immediately and injured another 7,000 – 10,000. In the aftermath of the attack, thousands more died of complications, disease and birth defects.  The attack was and remains today the largest chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in human history.

According to an account in KurdishPain.com, written by Huner Anwer, “The gas attack took place over a period of approximately five hours.  The attack was preceded by the dropping of conventional weapons and by the dropping of paper in order to determine the direction of the wind.  The dropping of the conventional weapons led the citizens of Halabja to retreat to basements and shelters for protection which made the gas more effective as it settled into low lying areas.”

Photo by Zaxo (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Halabja before the attack. Photo by Zaxo (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“Survivors spoke most often of the gas smelling like sweet apples, but others said it was more like garlic and still some others like the gas used in a kitchen stove. This suggests multiple chemicals were used, including mustard gas, the nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX. Some victims died almost immediately, others were laughing as they died; still others experienced intense burning, blistering and vomiting,” Anwer writes.

 

Topographical map of Kurdistan - Iraq. Halabja is on the far right, in the mountainous region. Note location in area to trap the chemicals used. Public Domain via Wikimedia.

Topographical map of Kurdistan – Iraq. Halabja is on the far right, in the mountainous region. Note location in area to trap the chemicals used. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The poison gas attack on Halabja was just part of what has become known as the Anfal Campaign. It began unofficially in 1986 and continued until 1989: officially it was conducted between February 23 and September 6, 1988. It was led by a cousin of Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who became known as “Chemical Ali” as a result of the atrocities. The Campaign consisted of:

  • the mass executions and the mass disappearance of tens of thousands of persons;
  • the widespread use of chemical weapons;
  • the destruction of over 4,500 Kurdish and at least 31 Assyrian villages;
  • the death of over 182,000 persons;
  • the displacement of over a million of the country’s estimated 3.5 million Kurdish population.

“(There is legal and convincing proof that) the Kurdish population meets the requirement under the Genocide Conventions as an ethnic group. The court has no other conclusion than that these attacks were committed with the intent to destroy the Kurdish population of Iraq,”  declared The Hague in a court ruling from December of 2005.

Bakhtiar Awmar points to grave where his father, mother and sister are buried - victims of the 1988 Chemical Attack - Halabja, Kurdistan - Iraq. Photo By Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bakhtiar Awmar points to grave where his father, mother and sister are buried – victims of the 1988 Chemical Attack – Halabja, Kurdistan – Iraq. Photo By Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We have talked about this issue in a previous story, Honor and Dignity. The struggles of the Iraqi Kurdish population, like that of all Kurds living in the region, continues to this day. Finding a solution rather than a continued assault on what has become recognized as the largest ethnic group on Planet Earth with no borders, no home, no country and no rights becomes the DUTY of the world. Current estimates place the Kurdish population at 30 – 35 million people.

Since this tragedy, the world has continued to witness the use of chemical weapons to exterminate populations. March 14, 2014 marks the 3rd anniversary of the Syrian crisis, also involving the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish and other populations. These attacks are carried out by government forces. The Ghouta chemical attack occurred on August 21, 2013, during the Syrian civil war, when several opposition-controlled or disputed areas of the Ghouta suburbs around Damascus were struck by rockets containing sarin. Hundreds were killed in the attack, which took place over a short span of time in the early morning. Estimates of the death toll are upwards of 1,729 fatalities.

We wanted to construct a list of genocides since 1988 to demonstrate that no resolution has come. When researching the genocides across the globe that have occurred since this event, we were overwhelmed with the list. Rather than diminish any of these tragedies, we found this summary, which also includes genocides from 1945 forward. World Genocide Since 1945 {PDF}

Genocide is the worst dimension of despicable behavior the human race can sink to. It has no justification in ethics, morals, religions, war, terror or policies. Occupy World Writes joins all those who call for an end to this crime against humanity, and we support a resolution marking this day as International Day Against the Use of Chemical Weapons, so that the world never forgets the injustices that have been administered on innocent victims and brings honor to the victims of Halabja.

Exhumed Clothing of Victims of Anfal Genocide - 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq - Erbil - Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Exhumed Clothing of Victims of Anfal Genocide – 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq – Erbil – Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We call on the international community to recognize the need for an immediate solution to “the Kurdish Problem.” This would help alleviate pressures in Syria, called Rojava by the Kurdish people, or Western Kurdistan,  Northern Kurdistan, the Kurdish area in Turkey; Southern Kurdistan, the Kurdish area in Iraq; and Eastern Kurdistan, the Kurdish area in Iran. We implore the world to find a means to an end of genocide the world over immediately, and those responsible must be brought to justice.

For a completely separate perspective on Iraqi children suffering to this day from the Bush Administration’s policy of “Mission Accomplished,” read Weapons of Mass Destruction.

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Honor and Dignity

Exhibit Organizer with photos of Anfal genocide survivors. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Exhibit Organizer with photos of Anfal genocide survivors.
Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Iraq Army Day was Monday, January 6. The day was celebrated by the Iraqi military, but a growing murmur filled the air as the people of Kurdistan rejected the holiday and instead honored their own Peshmarga forces by opening a photographic exhibition of anti-Kurdish atrocities committed by the military under Saddam Hussein.

Genocide is the manifestation of hell on earth. Since the 1960’s, the Kurdish people have lived in terror when a systematic and brutal campaign for their extinction began. During the height of Saddam Hussein’s regime, he launched the Anfal campaign, resulting in varied reports of the actual numbers of civilians killed. More than 5,000 civilians were killed in one attack, while hundreds of thousands more are believed to have died throughout the bloody regime of Saddam Hussein. To date, we know over a million people are missing, over 50,000 deaths have been documented by Human Rights Watch and this does not include all of the dead.

Additionally, the Kurdish people have become dispersed when many fled the area as a matter of survival. Of these people, many will not be able or willing to return, taking with them portions of the cultural fabric which has woven the people together. As these people resettle in various parts of the world, they are no longer able to participate in the traditional community appreciated by their ancestors.

Occupy World Writes stands in solidarity with the people of Kurdistan who have suffered beyond measure. Their honor and dignity as a people should remain a lesson to the world that the human spirit will not be defeated.

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