The Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi issued a statement on Tuesday, recalling the occasion of the anniversary of the Halabja tragedy, stressing the need to build a free, democratic Iraq that cherishes its people and citizens.
The text of the statement is as follows:
Today we remember a painful turn in the history of our people's struggle against tyranny and dictatorship, as the 33rd anniversary of the bombing of Halabja in the Kurdistan Region with chemical weapons, passes by us, which claimed the lives of thousands of civilian victims.
The bitterness of that tragedy continues to warn us to this day of what a weapon of mass destruction can wreak when it falls in the hands of a tyrant of the tyrants on earth, and what can be committed in the name of hatred and racism which the brutal regime uses to justify its black night of injustice, terror, and ugliness.
Halabja was a very expensive document and sacrifice given by our Kurdish people in particular, just as our Iraqi people, in general, gave their offerings on the altar of liberation and salvation from the injustice of a mighty and arrogant ruler who wreaked havoc, murder, and vicious and bloody wars.
Today we carry the pain of the memory of the victims in our hearts, but our consolation is that it reminds us, like the rest of the crimes of the era of tyranny, the price of freedom, the value of survival and taking Iraq into the era of democracy and rising the value of the Iraqi human being.
Halabja reminds us of the depth of the wound, the enormity of injustice when it is a tool in the hands of the ruler. Today, however, we are inspired by the sacrifices of the martyrs and the groans of their souls as they struggle to build another Iraq, a free and democratic Iraq that cherishes its people and citizens in every inch of its holy land.
Mercy and eternity for the pure martyrs of Halabja and all the martyrs of Iraq.
Glory and eminence to all who sacrificed on the march for Iraqi freedom.
On March 16, 1988, the city of Halabja was subjected to the most heinous crime against humanity, which is the bombing of the city with chemical weapons by the fallen Iraqi Baath regime. Over 5,000 innocent people were martyred as a result of this crime, including women, the elderly, and children and more than 10,000 were injured.
What this martyred city was subjected to is a crime that humanity condemns. On March 16, 1988, tears have fallen from the most beautiful innocent eyes who had suffocated from the poisonous gas that was poured on the city resulting in the death of thousands of Kurds and the injury of thousands more. The aftermath of the tragedy was even worse than the first day of it, as the incident caused many diseases in the people of the city for many years that followed.
The crime began a few minutes before eleven o'clock in the morning when the innocent people of the city were astonished by a miserable death, and their simple dreams went into the yellow wind when four warplanes spread destruction and death that smelled like apples, for the people to inhale it quickly, as the planes rose by an order from the then commander of the Iraqi armed forces and the president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. The crime was executed by the criminal Ali Hassan al-Majid, know as chemical Ali, who bombed the city with lethal weapons consisting of mustard and cyanide gas to end the lives of thousands of civilians and commit the most terrible humanitarian catastrophe.
Soon after, the city was covered with the bodies of the martyrs. Sprawled on the floor, families embraced each other. The women had their babies in their arms when they were caught by surprise with a terrible death. The children's faces, free of suspicion, were darkened by the poisonous gases.