Halabja monument opens in the Hague

Inspired by a photograph by a Turkish war journalist, monument pays tribute to victims of a 1988 chemical attack on Kurds

Inspired by a photograph by a Turkish war journalist, monument pays tribute to victims of a 1988 chemical attack on Kurds

THE HAGUE - A memorial dedicated to the victims of a 1988 chemical attack on Kurds of Iraq's Halabja was opened in the Hague on Tuesday.

The "Monument of Halabja Massacre" was placed in the garden of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons headquarters in a ceremony attended by Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the head of the chemical weapons watchdog Ahmet Uzumcu and the mayor of the Hague, Jozias Johannes van Aartsen, along with Iraqi Kurdish officials. 

Between 5,000 and 7,000 Kurds are estimated to have been killed during the Iran-Iraq war when forces loyal to Saddam Hussein dropped toxic Mustard and Sarin gases on Halabja. Thousands of others died of complications, illnesses and birth defects in the following years. Many Halabja residents still suffer the physical effects of the attacks

The monument was inspired by a photoghraph named "Silent Witness," taken by prominent Turkish war journalist Ramazan Ozturk, who also attended the ceremony as a special guest. 

Ozturk said opening of the monument would contribute to the worldwide recognition of the massacre and expressed hopes that the international community would consider it as a genocide.

Meanwhile, a group of Kurdish activists staged a protest in front of the the headquarters, chanting slogans and walking towards Iraq's embassy in The Hague.

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