Three Decades After Halabja Chemical Attack, What Happened Then?

ERBIL — Kurdish people commemorated the 30th anniversary of the tragic event of Halabja chemical attack, and honoured the victims of the genocide.

Thirty years ago, the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein committed one of modern history's most horrific crime against Kurdish people in Iraq. The chemical weapon indiscriminately bombed the town of Halabja in the Kurdistan Region and killed thousands of innocent men, women and children, and permanently debilitated around 10,000 others. 

The incident was one extended genocidal attack out of many other attacks against the Kurds including the disappearances of thousands of Kurdish Failys in the 1970s-80s, the murder of thousands of Barzanis in 1983, and the blatant campaign of Anfal in 1988. 

The Halabja chemical attack was a genocidal massacre against the Kurdish people prosecuted by the Iraqi Ba’ath regime indiscriminately targeting the Kurdish population of Iraq on March 16, 1988, upon the closing days of the Iran–Iraq War in the Kurdish densely populated town of Halabja in the south of Kurdistan Region. 

Over 5,000 residents, including men, women and children, were instantly killed by the poisonous chemical gas and nearly 10,000 others were injured and have been suffering thus far and frequently dying of the chemical gas effects. 

The attack also caused thousands of people, including children, who were separated from their families to flee the town, heading to Iran over the border because the roads were blocked, and many of those fleeing children went missing and adopted by Iranian families later. 

11 children from an estimated 114 children who lost their families in the aftermath of the chemical attack returned home, and 72 others remain “the lost children of Halabja” who have been deemed dead and have had gravestones erected with their names on inside the city’s memorial to the attack. 

The Kurdish families who lost their offspring, however, have never forgotten them, and continue to hope for a miraculous return.

Halabja chemical attack was the second most horrific crime against humanity after Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks with atomic bombs in World War II.