Zmnako: “I am alone, my entire family died, except for my mother whom I met 22 years later … I don’t want anyone to feel the same way I did”
Majed: “After treating tens of infected victims, we realized it was beyond us, I cracked in my office and cried”
Qusai: “They thought I was dead, but I survived. My presentation at the security council made them cry”
Amr: “We accuse the German government for turning a blind-eye on those who facilitated chemical warfare for the Syrian regime”
More details in this special coverage on the 100th anniversary of first use of chemical attack, and extra updates about events organized by activists from Iraq, Syria and Europe.
Produced and hosted by: Iyad Kallas.
For the group’s FB page:
For the entire letter:
“It takes a second to drop a bomb, but it takes decades to overcome its impacts”
Today, the world commemorates the first use of chemical agents against humans in Ypern 1915. Now, a century later, the terror of chemical weapons is still not being averted. While we remember the victims of the German gas attack in Ypern, the same agent that was used then is being dropped on civilians in Syria by regime troops. The suffering and extreme terror caused by chemical weapons is no less current now than it was a century ago.
We, survivors of chemical attacks from different countries, ethnicity and belief, know with whom the responsibility lies for the chemical attacks we have witnessed. It primarily lies with the ruthless regimes that drop these bombs on us; the same regimes that taught us for decades that we were enemies. Now we — Arabs and Kurds, people from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Kurdistan — sign this letter together knowing that our only enemies are those who do not hesitate to gas us.
We all have experienced the same tragedy and loss – and we still experience it today. Three decades after chemical agents were shot at Iranians by the Iraqi army, 28 years after the villages and towns of Iraqi Kurdistan were hit by chemical bombs the impacts are still visible. We, our children and grandchildren still bear the consequences: we suffer from miscarriages, malformations and secondary diseases. We suffer from a history that stopped on the day the bomb was dropped. Halabja will never be the city of culture and music again that it was known for in the past, but will remain the city were Saddam gassed the Kurds for ever. It takes a second to drop a bomb, but it takes decades to overcome its impacts.
We are survivors, but we don’t like you to call us “victims”. This term only conceals what we really are: Witnesses. We have witnessed the nightmarish violence of chemical agents. And as witnesses we will always remind you on what happened in Iraq and Iran and what is going on to happen in Syria today. We know that European countries did not gas us. But we are fully aware that neither the Iraqi nor the Syrian regime was capable to build chemical weapons without the generous support of European companies. German companies helped to set up the so called State Enterprise for Pesticide Production in Iraq, provided goods, material, technical infrastructure and knowledge, companies from France and Austria were involved on a smaller level, while Italian and Spanish companies delivered bomb containers and warheads suitable for the use with chemical agents. Only recently it became known that companies from Britain and — again — Germany supplied the Syrian regime with material and goods for the production of chemical warfare. Europe is accomplice to the crime committed against us.
Don’t get us wrong. We don’t ask for apologies. We long since became sick of wreath-laying ceremonies and letters of regret. We don’t need your compassion.
What we need is action:
Urgent action to prevent the further use of chemical agents in Syria and anywhere else.
Urgent action to provide medical aid and support to the people of Ghouta and other places in Syria who were bombed with chemical warfare. Until today, the survivors of the Ghouta attacks in 2013 received no international medical aid.
Urgent action to cope with the long-term impacts of chemical bombings in Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran.
Urgent action to prevent European companies from trading with supply-materials, goods, technology and knowledge for chemical warfare. Trading the chemical death to regimes is more than a breach of foreign trade regulations, it is accessory to murder.
Ameenah Sawwan, Arras Abed Akram, Bakhtyar Latef Abdulqader, Handren Mahad Balesani, Hekmat Faeq Aref, Jalal Husain Wahidi, Kamel Abdulqader Ways, Lukman Abdulqader, Mohammad Doumani, Mohamad Katoub, Mostafa Qader Esmaeel, Osman Mohamad Abdullah, Qusai Zakarya, Samira Youmn, Yazan Khalil, Zmnako Ali Halabjae.