Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

For victim-turned-guide, Iraq gas attack still vivid  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 08/05/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) For years, Umed Rashid has guided visitors around a monument to victims of a 1988 gas attack in Iraq, but unlike many guides, he learned about his subject first hand.

The 40-year-old vividly recalls the horrifying period more than a quarter century ago when his family was killed by a gas attack launched by the regime of former dictator Saddam Hussein, believed to be the worst ever against civilians.

Now, he walks groups of tourists, visiting civil servants and students around a monument dedicated to the attack in the northern Kurdish town of Halabja, which lies in Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region, a short drive from neighbouring Iran.

"I want to convey the story of Halabja to people both outside and inside Kurdistan," Rashid says. "I want to tell them that Halabja is not a city of one incident or event.

"It is a city of many calamities and disasters."

As Iraq's eight-year war with Iran was coming to an end, Kurdish peshmerga rebels, with Tehran's backing, took over the farming community of Halabja.

The Iraqi military bombed the area, forcing the rebels to retreat into the surrounding hills, leaving their families behind.

Then, at 11:35 am (0835 GMT) on March 16, 1988, Iraqi jets swooped over the town, spraying a cocktail of chemical agents including mustard gas that left residents writhing and coughing up green vomit before dying in agony.

An estimated 5,000 people were killed, three-quarters of them women and children.

Just a teenager at the time, Rashid remembers his family piling into a pick-up truck to try to escape. Apart from him, however, everyone died of suffocation.

He has a photograph of the truck packed with around 25 dead villagers, including members of his family, stopped on the road with the driver slumped over the wheel.

"When we escaped Halabja, we saw many martyrs on the streets, but we could not help them because we had already been affected by the chemical gas," he says.

He himself briefly slipped into a coma, to the point th rescue workers thought he had also died and placed him in a coffin before he awoke again.

- 'Chemical Ali' hanged -

The man who ordered the attack, Saddam's enforcer Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known by his macabre nickname "Chemical Ali," was hanged for the crime in January 2010.

Majid said he took action against the Kurds, who had sided with Iraq's enemy Iran in the war, for the sake of Iraqi security, and refused to express remorse.

Officials marked the anniversary of the attack in 2012 by handing local authorities in Halabja the rope used to hang Majid, and last year commemorated the 25th anniversary of the killings.

Memories of the gas attack flooded back last summer, when the Syrian regime allegedly carried out a chemical weapons attack near Damascus that killed hundreds.

Threatened with military action by Washington over the incident, Syria's government agreed to turn over its chemical arsenal.

"When I was watching the television and saw what happened in Syria, I began to cry," Rashid recalls. "I saw my parents, my sisters my brothers, when they died.

"I felt they went through the same as our suffering, during the dictator's regime."

"I cannot forget that tragedy."

Indeed, rather than try to forget the killings, Halabja's residents have sought to openly commemorate them.

A cemetery bears the names of all those who died on headstones, whether or not their bodies were found, with a small monument at the entrance depicting a woman apparently praying for the victims.

And at the monument where Rashid works, which lies on the edge of the town, visitors are taken through a small hallway where pictures of the attack line the walls, while necklaces, watches and other possessions belonging to the victims are on display.

"It is an honour for me to work here, to tell people about this tragedy for future generations," Rashid says.

"Despite all the pain in this work, I want to work here, to tell the history of what happened in Halabja, and how I lost my family."


 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 Apr 29 2016 - Omani power firm to build vital power facilityMENAFN
(MENAFN) Omani Musandam Power Company SAOC (MPC) will construct the Musandam Independent Power Plant (Musandam IPP) in the Musandam Governorate.As a high level official stated, the firm's strategy ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Saudi, French bilateral trade to reach USD13.6bMENAFN
(MENAFN) The Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum taking place in Saudi Arabia delivers the finest stage to advance parts of mutual collaboration in many new areas.The two countries enjoy great ...

 Apr 29 2016 - KSA continues to prioritize low spendingMENAFN
(MENAFN) Saudi plans to return unspent money which was allocated in this year's budget for the purpose of cutting waste as state revenues weakens due to low oil prices.In the recent past, government ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- El Jaish aim to dethrone LekhwiyaThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Lekhwiya players lift the Qatar Cup trophy in this May 2 2015 file picture. Doha: El Jaish will be looking for a repeat of their 2014 Qatar Cup success when they ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar Cup Trophy Tour stops at OoredooThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Doha: The Qatar Cup tour made its final stop at Ooredoo the official telecom partner of the Qatar Cup 2016. Staff and management took an opportunity to take photos and ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Al Rayyan rally to win Qatar Cup titleThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Al Rayyan SC players and officials celebrate while receiving the Qatar Cup after they beat El Jaish SC 21-25 25-18 25-17 32-34 18-16 in the final played at Ali Bin Hamad Al ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- Emir Cup: Al Kharaitiyat Al Gharafa earn thrilling wins to advanceThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Al Sailiya’s Abdurahman Al Harazi (left) celebrates after scoring the first goal for his team during their Emir Cup third round match against Al Wakrah SC at Al Arabi ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Steinmeier doubts Trump's 'America first' planThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier gestures during a joint press conference with Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva (not seen) after their meeting ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- Met predicts a hot day with some cloudsThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Doha: The weather forecast for Qatar valid until 6pm Thursday inshore will be hot during the day with some clouds offshore will be hazy to misty at places and partly ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar key to boosting Turkey-GCC tiesThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met Turkey’s Prime Minister Dr Ahmet Davutoglu and his delegation at the Emiri Diwan yesterday. They discussed relations ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- Emir welcomes King Mohammed of MoroccoThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani welcomes King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco and his delegation at Hamad International Airport. Doha: Emir H H Sheikh ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar eyes 'best of the best' turf for 2022The Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) A worker tends to grass being grown at a research and development centre in Murakh to find the best playing surface for FIFA 2022 yesterday. Doha: Watching grass grow ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar discusses WTD eventsThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Doha: Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) yesterday held a meeting with UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to discuss Qatar’s preparations to host World Tourism Day 2017. ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- Premier meets EU Counterterrorism CoordinatorThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Doha: Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani yesterday met European Union Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- QU University of Illinois sign dealThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) DOHA: An agreement signed between Qatar University College of Medicine (QU-CMED) and the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has established ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- AZF Ramadan Sports Festival from June 10The Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) DOHA: Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) has added cricket and rugby to its annual Ramadan Sports Festival which starts on June 10. The two-week event will end on June 24 (5-19 ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar- First phase of mapping genetic code of citizens in final stageThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Fazeena Saleem DOHA: The initial phase of an initiative to map the genetic code of citizens for better diagnoses and treatment of diseases in Qatar has reached the ...

 Apr 29 2016 - Qatar and Turkey sign security agreementThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and other officials listen to Turkish Prime Minister Dr Ahmet Davutoglu at a meeting ...

 Apr 28 2016 - Qatar- Benzema suffers hamstring strain doubt for City returnThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Real Madrid's Karim Benzema in action with Manchester City's Jesus Navas.Darren Staples Madrid:Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is a major doubt for the Spanish giants ...

 Apr 28 2016 - Qatar- Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli suspended for violent conductThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula) London: Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli will miss the last three matches of the season after accepting Thursday an FA charge for violent conduct. The FA charged the ...

more...


 






Google

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help