The Kurdistan Regional Government is very saddened to learn of the death of Richard Beeston, an outstanding journalist and loyal friend of the Kurdish people.
A foreign correspondent and editor of 30 years, Richard was one of the first reporters to witness the chemical attack against the people of Halabja in 1988. His reporting helped to expose the massacre to the international community and to the public, at a time when Iraqi Kurdistan was little known, oppressed and isolated from the world.
Richard spoke about what he saw in Halabja many times over the years because he wanted to stand up for the victims and raise the alarm about the use of chemical weapons elsewhere, for example, in Syria. He spoke powerfully and movingly about the tragedy that he witnessed, even though it cost him emotionally to do so. The last time he did this publicly was in March 2013 at Chatham House, to mark the 25th anniversary of the attack on Halabja.
Richard supported the campaign for international recognition of the genocide against the Kurds in Iraq, speaking in the British parliament and at international conferences, and he reminded Times readers of the tragedy in Halabja, 25 years after the end of the Iran-Iraq war. Richard supported a UK petition campaign, which led to the UK parliament unanimously recognising the genocide against the Kurds in Iraq in March this year.
At a rally supporting the petition, Richard said, “I went on to cover many wars but the memories of Halabja are fresh in my mind. I went back to Halabja many years later, in the spring, and in the hills there were young people picnicking, happy. It was a very emotional moment. It reminded me of the power of humanity to overcome the worst of war. ”
The people of Kurdistan have lost a loyal friend, and the world has lost a great journalist and foreign editor. Our thoughts are with Richard’s family and friends, we send our sincere condolences to them.
Kurdistan Regional Government
Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq