March 23, 2009

Genocide in Kurdistan Recognized and Commemorated - By Karim Hasan

On 16 March, 2009 the United Nations[i], the House of Representatives and the Senate[ii] of the United States of America commemorated and recognized the chemical weapons bombardment of the town of Halabja in Kurdistan Region of/in Iraq as ‘clear act of genocide’.  

This commemoration is well respected - acknowledged among the Kurds and the international community. 21 years ago, on 16 March 1988 Iraqi army began a three day chemical weapons bombardment of the Kurdish town of Halabja. It resulted in the killing of close to 8, 000 and the injury of over 10, 000 civilians.

A number of distinguished Kurdish and non-Kurdish researchers, human rights advocates and government organizations have documented ‘genocide in Kurdistan’.  In late 1980s and in early 1990s Ambassador Peter Galbraith led one of the first United States’ Foreign Relations Committee investigative team to document genocide in Kurdistan.

Genocide in Kurdistan is much ‘heavier in scale’ and ‘broader in scope’ than it has been documented.  It began with ‘social re-engineering: social reconstitution’, ‘mass deportation of Kurdish population’ and ‘evacuation of border villages’ in 1970s in the Kurdistan Region of/in Iraq. In the 1980s, this ‘re-engineering project of Kurdistan Region’ extended to ‘Al-Anfal campaign’, annihilation of hundreds of thousands, then the destruction of Kurdistan’s natural habitat.

There is need for more precise research to document the ‘genealogy of genocide in Kurdistan’ the ‘scale’, ‘scope’ of these human rights violations of a 16 year period: 1974 – 1990.  In this period, ‘clear and planned acts of genocide’ of Kurds and the destruction of certain parts of Kurdistan’s natural habitat were conducted by Iraqi government. A comprehensive research of policy and application of Iraqi government’s plan for Kurdistan between 1974 and 1990 may reveal more accurate knowledge about Iraqi government’s design for Kurdistan Region.

Similar planned acts of genocide have occurred in other parts of Kurdistan, particularly in Turkey and in Iran, on smaller scale and lesser scope.  An important question is: if the Kurds and the people of Kurdistan had a state of their own, would they have faced genocide and centuries of exploitation, denial, peripheralization and repression.

Current Canadian Liberal Party Leader and former Harvard University professor Michael Ignatieff, in the section his documentary “Blood and Belonging Journeys into the New Nationalism”, which addresses the Kurdish Question/Case; he said, for the Kurds “only a state will do”. 

Karim Hasan is an independent scholar working on his PhD.

[i] “First United Nations Commemoration of Halabja Genocide”,

[ii] United States Congressional Record “Remembrance of Halabja Massacre Speeches by Senator Joe Lieberman and Representative Howard Berman in the Senate and House of Representatives”  See:


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