29 October 2012: This weekend survivors of Iraq’s genocide living in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and London took to the streets of their home cities to ask the public to support their call for the British Government to recognise the mass murder of Iraqi Kurds by Saddam Hussein as genocide.
Supporters on the streets of the four cities were asked to sign an e-petition calling for the British Government to recognise the genocide. Over the course of the weekend over a thousand people signed the petition, meaning that only 2,000 more signatures are needed in order to prompt a response from Government. To trigger a debate in Parliament, 100,000 are needed.
The e-petition can be found here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/31014
Within each city, the names of the Kurdish people who were brutally murdered in Iraq were read out to the public. The event was called ‘The Endless Roll Call’ to reflect the huge volume of men, women and children who were shot en masse, gassed by chemical weapon attacks, starved to death in camps or simply ‘disappeared’.
Thousands of Kurdish people who fled Saddam Hussein’s murderous regime now live in the UK. But hundreds of thousands of men, women and children weren’t able to escape. From 1987 to 1988 alone, an estimated 180,000 Kurdish people were killed during Saddam Hussein’s genocidal campaign; enough people to fill the Olympic stadium in London more than twice.
The mass killing of Kurdish people in Iraq started in the 1960s, long before Saddam Hussein. It was a lengthy campaign, perpetrated over four decades, to systematically wipe out the Kurdish people yet it is currently not recognized by the British Government as genocide. The ‘Justice4genocide’ campaign launched the e-petition calling for this to change.
Dr. Eymen Qadir, 45, survived the genocide. He fled Iraq in 2001 and has lived in Leeds for ten years. As a medical student in Iraq, he witnessed the attacks under Saddam’s regime. Many of the patients he worked with were victims of chemical weapons. He also witnessed hoards of people being driven away by security forces, never to be seen again. Eymen lost several members of extended family under the regime.
He says: “We need to recognise the genocide so it does not happen again, so that people need not suffer the same as we did.”
Commenting on the ‘Justice4genocide’ campaign event, Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, Kurdistan Regional Government High Representative to the UK, says: “We need international recognition of the horror endured. Recognition is the first step towards prosecuting those individuals inside Iraq and out who were responsible for the genocide in Iraqi Kurdistan. As well as mass shootings, the Kurdish people were attacked with chemical weapons. The companies which sold these weapons are still operating and still need to be brought to justice.
“Saddam Hussein was never tried or convicted for the genocide. Justice has not yet been done. The British Government ended the killing when they created the no fly zone over northern Iraq and for that we will always be grateful. Now we ask that they recognize formally the genocide which took place so Kurdish survivors living inthe UK, and in Iraq, get the justice they deserve.”