EU: recognise genocide of Kurds

10 July 2008

EU: recognise genocide of Kurds

The Anfal Campaign conducted by the Iraqi government at the end of the 1980s should be considered a case of genocide. With this appeal, the regional government of Kurdistan in northern Iraq is seeking international recognition of this crime against humanity. Will the European Commission react?

Erik MeijerTerrible suffering

The use of the word genocide is extremely controversial. Many Turks dare not utter it, for example. But Kurds in particular are seeking to see it applied in recognition of the terrible suffering inflicted on the the Kurdish people. The Court in the Hague, during the trial of the Dutch citizen Frans van Anraat, who supplied poison gas to the Iraqi government, used the word genocide in its judgement. SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer has put a series of parliamentary questions on the matter to the European Commission. He wants to know whether the Commission is prepared to pass judgement on the Anfal Campaign as having been genocidal, and if not why, and in what words would it describe it? "I want to see an international enquiry into the medical, social and economic consequences of the mass murder of the Kurds," he says. "So I also want to know if the EU will be making efforts to bring this about. There are still children being born with defects which can be blamed on the chemical attacks on Kurdish towns and villages by Saddam Hussein's regime in 1988. In Iraqi Kurdistan there are exceptionally high rates of cancer, including leukaemia, as well as skin diseases, eye diseases and respiratory conditions. This can be traced to the poison gas attacks.'

In a single poison gas attack on the town of Halabja in the Kurdish region of Iraq on 16th March 1988, five thousand people lost their lives. Nevertheless, the use of the term genocide is controversial, because it brings international law relating to the conduct of war into play. .

Folic Acid

'For relatively little cost, the EU could organise the distribution of folic acid, a medicine effective against a number of conditions," says Meijer. "The region has had no money since 2006. Yet this would cost only €100.000 per year. I feel that the victims deserve the best possible treatment, and that research is needed amongst the Iraqi-Kurdish population to gather information about just what is needed." Meijer is asking the European Commission to finance such a programme.

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