Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Halabja, Kurdistan Iraq- 28 years after the Genocide.

Dana Omar Ali was only 6 years old  (Born 1982) in 1988. He lived in Halabja, a city in Iraq, close to the boarder of Iran. Saddam Hussein was the totalitarian Dictator who ruled the country. In 1988, he ordered a chemical attack on Halabja. Dana Omar Ali survived. He became  a university educated teacher. Since the attack, he had developed a small 'cough' but did not think it was anything serious. 4 years ago (as of June 2016), his lung capacity collapsed and he is now destined to stay in bed and needs a breathing machine to survive.
Dana Omar Ali at his home in Halabja (June 2016)
This is a fairly common story in the city where over 5000 people were killed and over 7000 people injured. Many of the survivors today have developed problems, like Dana Omar Ali, after the attack.

Kamel Abdel Kader was born 1973 and was 15 years old during the  chemical attack. He survived continued to live relatively normally. He got ill 8 years ago and is now, just like Dana Omar Ali, living with a breathing machine.
Kamel Abdel Kaderat his home in Halabja (June 2016) 
Friends, including the Mayor of Halabja, Khder Kareem, (second from the left) are visiting Kamel Abdel Kader.
Today, Halabja is a small city of about 117000 mostly Kurdish people. ‘The chemical attack happened towards the end of the Iran Iraq war- the Kurds in the Halabja region was supported by Iran. On March 16th 1988, after two days of ordinary artillery attacks, Iraqi planes dropped gas canisters on the town. The town and surrounding district were attacked with bombs, artillery fire, and chemical weapons, the last of which proved most devastating. At least 5,000 people died as an immediate result of the chemical attack and it is estimated that a further 7,000 people were injured or suffered long term illness. Most of the victims of the attack on the town of Halabja were Kurdish civilians’. (Wikipedia). 
Girl on bike in the Jewish quarter in the city of Halabja, Iraq in June 2016.
Two women walking in the Jewish quarter in the city of Halabja, Iraq in June 2016 
Street Marked in Halabja, June 2016.

No one knows exactly what was used, but it is believed that nerve agents Tabun, Sarin, VX as well as Mustard gas was used. Some argues that cyanid also was used.
The memorial cemetery in Halabja where victims of Saddam Husseins chemical attack of 1988 are buried. Baath's party members are not allowed to enter.
The memorial cemetary in Habaja is located in the outskirts of the town.
The memorial cemetery in Halbja, Iraq, a sculpture symbolises the victims of the attack in 1988. Some young people use the place to relax.
I visited Halabja in June 2016 with journalist Vicken Cheterian. 

#photography #documentary #photojournalism #reportage #webster #nikonpro #iraq #keystone #halabja #refugee #chemical #genocide

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