[Marxism] Halabja people protest Kurd government thievery, face repression as "Islamists"

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Mar 18 10:11:37 MST 2006


http://www.themilitant.com/2006/7012/701251.html 

-----Original Message-----
From: marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu
[mailto:marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu] On Behalf Of Fred Feldman
Sent: Saturday, March 18, 2006 9:01 AM
To: 'mxmail'; SV-Circle at yahoogroups.com; soli-gjaw at lists.riseup.net
Subject: [Marxism] Halabja people protest Kurd government thievery, face
repression as "Islamists"

It is possible that Islamism is a factor here.  Despite their repression of
Kurds in Iran (despite concessions onlanguage, existence as a province,
etc.), the Islamic Republic long gave support to the Kurds against Saddam
Hussein.
Hussein's gas attack on Halabja (apparently the residents indicate no doubt
that it was Hussein, not the Iranian govt, that carried it out) took place
in the framework of the war with Iran and on the pretext of alleged links
between Halabja.  Given the Kurdish government's corruption and alliance
with Washington, it's not at all excluded that some Kurds are beginning to
see an Islamic republic as preferable to the current "secular" orgy of
greed, collaboration, and indifference to the common people.
Fred Feldman


Counterpunch

"The Government Says We're Martyrs, But Does Nothing For Us"

Kurds Destroy Monument to Victims of Saddams' Poison Gas Massacre

By PATRICK COCKBURN

Halabja, Iraq.

Smoke was still rising from the burnt-out monument on the outskirts of the
Kurdish town of Halabja yesterday where 18 years ago some 5,000 people were
killed in a poison gas attack.

Enraged by what they see as official neglect of the survivors, local people
had set ablaze the museum commemorating the victims of Saddam Hussein's most
infamous atrocity during a demonstration.

"I was hit in the leg by a bullet while I was protesting," said Othman Ali
Gaffur, a 29-year-old-man, his face creased with pain, as he lay in a
hospital bed. "We were demonstrating because the government says we are
martyrs but does nothing for us. We do not even have streets in Halabja but
only laneways of mud."

Mr Gaffur said the riot, which started at 11am, was sparked by anger over
the presence of Kurdish government representatives. The demonstrators had
said earlier in the week that the officials were banned from the memorial
ceremonies on the 18th anniversary of the gas attack because they had
repeatedly failed to do anything for survivors.

It is true that many of the houses in Halabja appear to be little better
than huts with plastic and earth roofs.

Now very little is left of the museum which was opened by the then US
Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in 2003 and which once contained
photographs, clothes and life-sized models of those who died when the Iraqi
army used poison gas on 15 March 1988.

The museum's guards described how the demonstrators, some of whom they said
were Islamic militants, had torn steel bars from the railings to attack them
and had then taken oil and gasoline from the museum generator to burn down
the building. The shooting of the demonstrators took place when the museum
guards were reinforced by a second group of pesh merga (Kurdish soldiers),
who opened fire. A 17-year-old man called Kurda Ahmed was killed by a bullet
in the stomach. At least half a dozen other demonstrators were wounded.

A different account of the riot was given by Shaho Mohammed, the Kurdish
Regional Government representative. He said local people underestimated the
difficulty of rebuilding Halabja and that he had presented their demands to
the government. He also thought Islamic militants were to blame for the
violence.



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