Vienna City Council recognizes Halabja massacre as genocide

The Vienna City Council has unanimously recognized the poison gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja in northern Iraq as genocide.

Approving a joint motion submitted by the Greens, the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) and the New Austria and Liberal Forum (NEOS), the Vienna City Council has recognized the poison gas attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja on 16 March 1988 as genocide. In doing so, the Austrian Human Rights City commits to uphold the memory of the victims of Halabja genocide and to prevent any attempts to relativise these atrocities.

"This is a historic moment in Austrian political history," said Berivan Aslan (Greens), a Viennese councillor of Kurdish origin, whose initiative brought about the resolution. For the first time, a massacre of the Kurdish population was recognized - with the agreement of all parties. Now the Austrian National Council must follow suit. The Vienna City Council calls on the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament to also classify the human rights crime of Halabja as genocide.

The attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Husein was the world's largest poison gas attack on a populated area up to that time. More than 5,000 of the 70,000 inhabitants at the time died of agonising suffocation within a few hours, and another 10,000 suffered severe injuries and long-term damage. Even today, the victims and their descendants struggle with late effects: an unusually high number of cases of malignant cancer, skin diseases, respiratory problems, infertility, miscarriages and congenital deformities are just some of them.