Iraq: chemical attack survivors sue corporations

Survivors of the 1988 chemical weapons attack on northern Iraq's Kurdish city of Halabja, which left up to 5,000 dead, announced this month that they will bring suit against companies that supplied chemical agents to the Saddam Hussein dictatorship. The head of the Association of Halabja Martyrs and Victims, Lokman Abdulkadir, said the group has identified 27 companies as complicit in the attack, and will appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to open a case against them. "The verdict of the ICC will be of utmost impoorrtance in terms of recognition of the Halabja massacre as a genocide," Abdulkadir said. "We want the companies selling those chemical weapons to the Baath regime to be called to account, be judged and pay compensation to the victims and their families." The companies are of US, German and French origin.

The Halabja massacre, known as "Bloody Friday," took place March 16, 1988, in the closing days of the Iran–Iraq War. Launched as part of the Operation Anfal, a counterinsurgency campaign against the Kurdish rebellion, the attack claimed the lives of some 5,000, and left nearly twice as many injured—overwhelmingly civilians. In the years after the attack, many of the survivors died of complications. It is held to be the largest chemical weapon attack on a civilian population in history. The Iraqi High Criminal Court recognized the Halabja massacre as an act of genocide in March 2010. It has also been condemned as a crime against humanity by the Canadian parliament. (World Bulletin, Turkey, Aug. 5)

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