Speech by Karwan Jamal Tahir, KRG High Representative to Rally marking Halabja and Anfal

On behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government United Kingdom Representation I welcome you all and thank you for your participation at this Rally to mark the 29th anniversary of the chemical bombardment of Halabja and the Anfal campaign.Your participation this evening is a testament to your solidarity and support for the victims of genocides.

Like all other nations and languages, Kurds’ history goes back thousands of years. The colliding interests of major powers resulted in this nation being forcibly integrated against their will within four countries nearly a century ago.

As history betrayed the Kurds and denied its own state, those countries heavily oppressed, denied and discriminated against the Kurds and refused them equality. As far as the Kurdistan Region is concerned, successive regimes in Iraq, especially the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, have treated the Kurds in the cruellest and most savage manner in order to ethnically cleanse our nation.

Of the many crimes committed, Halabja was the single worst atrocity. In March 1988, Saddam chose the month of the Kurdish NEW YEAR – Nawroz – to commit this barbaric crime against our people, with the aim of not just killing thousands but also to turn this happy month into the darkest and saddest time of the year for the Kurds. He hoped that NAWROZ would be consumed ONLY with the sorrow and heartache of losing 5,000 loved ones covered in black.

But that was not the end of his despicable crimes as Halabja was connected to the wider genocidal Anfal (spoils of war) campaign in which over 180,000 Kurds were murdered in the name of the Quran (Sorat ………..).

But because the Kurdish nation is an indigenous and strong people with an ancient history, the dictatorship failed to destroy our nation. On the contrary, we have become an emerging democracy in the Middle East after the uprising of 1991 whose 26th anniversary we celebrated yesterday.

Today as we mark the 29th anniversary of genocidal crimes committed against Kurds in the name of Quran, I am saddened to say, once again, that the people of Iraq of all its parts, especially our valued Yazidis and Christians, have became the target of genocidal campaigns of yet another chauvinist ideology in the form of the barbarous terror organisation Daesh, this time in the name of Islam.

These two approaches, first using the Quran (Sorat) and then the name of Islam to savagely suppress peaceful people, tell us the murderous motives of the fascist Ba’athist and Daesh mindset that still poses great threats to our nation and the future of Kurdistan Region.

That is why it is vital for all political parties in Kurdistan Region to unite in efforts to protect the nation and all minorities. It is also a responsibility for the International Community to state their ethical responsibility and strengthen the notion of “responsibility to protect,” to bring the perpetrators to justice through the ICC, and recognise all crimes committed against our people as Genocide.

Recognition of the crimes committed against the Kurdish people and other minorities by the international community as an act of genocide is not only for our benefit. We want to ensure such inhuman and cruel acts of terror never happen again, and to get international protection for our people, while our brave Peshmergas – fighting on behalf of world civilisation against global terror, are helped by international recognition of the genocides we have faced.

Finally, I thank the APPG on Kurdistan Region for their continuous support. They have been instrumental in so many positive steps between the UK and Kurdistan and one of them was the formal recognition by the Commons of the Anfal genocide in February 2013.

I also thank MPs who unanimously recognised genocide against Yazidis, Christians and other minorities in Iraq and urge the British government to use its status as a permanent member of the Security Council to refer the case to the ICC.

Here at the House of Commons, I echo the positive steps by British MPs and on behalf of the KRG call the British government to follow their example. Formally recognising genocides allows the victims’ souls to rest in peace. And comforts their relatives and the survivors. And underpins the solidarity we still need in rebuilding our society for the benefit of Kurds and the world as a whole.

Once again thank you very much for your participation.

House of Commons, London
6th March 2017

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