Wiesenthal Centre Pays Tribute to Kurdish Victims of Saddam Hussein Poison Gas

"Supplier Companies Must be Held Accountable for Genocidal Complicity"

Erbil, Iraq (Kurdistan), 25 January 2012

On a field-mission to the newly-elected Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels - pictured addressing the conference, and the founder of human rights MM law agency, Chicago based Gavriel Maironne, met with Foreign Minister, Falah Mustafa Bakir, and Martyrs Minister, Aram Ahmed Muhammad.

Proceeding to Halabja - an Iranian border town and the scene of Saddam Hussein's 1988 poison gas attack - Samuels and Maironne paid tribute to the 5,000 dead and 27,000 wounded, at the monument to their memory.

Halabja Mayor, Khder Karim, offered his full backing to Kurdistan ministerial cooperation with the delegation, in seeking justice and compensation for the survivors and families of the victims.

The delegation also included Sami Jalal,Director of the Global Justice Group (GTC), which announced the launch of its offices in Erbil and Halabja, to document the mass murder and work with Maironne and the Centre to achieve closure for the claimants. With the blessing of KRG President, Mustafa Barazani, the initiative will also partner with the Halabja Chemical Victims Society.

At the ceremony, wreaths were laid at the Memorial, where Advocate Maironne explained to an assembly of survivors how "the supply and use of chemical weapons is a crime against humanity."

Samuels noted that, already in 1991, the Wiesenthal Centre had commissioned a report - "The Poison Gas Connection"- identifying the corporate suppliers of chemical precursors used in the atrocity. Together with KRG advisors, the Centre had also produced an exhibition on Halabja, a copy of which was presented to the Mayor.

Samuels expressed the Centre's sympathy with the Kurdish people, drawing lessons from the Holocaust to their suffering during the "Anfal" ("Spoils" - an Iraqi euphemism for genocide).

Noting that the Babylonian Talmud was compiled 2,500 years ago, not far from Halabja, during the Jewish exile from the land of Israel, he quoted the maxim :
-"If I am only for myself, what am I?"

"Poison gas, so redolent of the Nazi Holocaust, was used here on innocents with devastating effect. Whether Armenians, Jews, Rwandans, Kurds or other victims, we are inextricably linked. May Halabja serve for a warning and not a precedent," concluded Samuels.

For further information contact Shimon Samuels at 0033609770158 or Gavriel Maironne at ctlaw@mm-law.com, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400.000 members. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS and the Latin American Parliament.