News


DATE=        MARCH 28, 1998
TYPE=        EDITORIAL
NUMBER=      0-07712
TITLE=       EDITORIAL:  HALABJA GASSING ANNIVERSARY

CONTENT=THIS IS THE ONLY EDITORIAL BEING RELEASED FOR BROADCAST 
MARCH 28, 1998.

ANNCR:
THE VOICE OF AMERICA PRESENTS DIFFERING POINTS OF VIEW ON A WIDE 
VARIETY OF ISSUES.  NEXT, AN EDITORIAL EXPRESSING THE POLICIES OF
THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT.

VOICE:

    THIS MONTH MARKED THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF A GHASTLY WAR 
CRIME.  ON MARCH 16TH, 1988, IRAQI FORCES CONDUCTED A CHEMICAL 
WEAPONS ATTACK AGAINST CIVILIANS IN HALABJA [HAH-'LAHB-JAH], A 
KURDISH TOWN IN NORTHERN IRAQ.  TELEVISION PICTURES SHOWED SOME 
OF THE ESTIMATED FIVE-THOUSAND PEOPLE KILLED.  SOME OF THE DEAD 
WERE LOCKED IN SILENT EMBRACES, MOTHERS CRADLING BABIES, FATHERS 
TRYING IN VAIN TO SHIELD SMALL CHILDREN.

    THE PERPETRATOR OF THIS GROSS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW 
WAS IRAQI DICTATOR SADDAM HUSSEIN.  AFTER THE HORRORS WREAKED BY 
POISON GAS IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR, MOST NATIONS AGREED NEVER 
AGAIN TO BE THE FIRST TO USE CHEMICAL WEAPONS.  AS A RESULT, 
CHEMICAL WEAPONS WERE NOT USED ON THE BATTLEFIELD ON A LARGE 
SCALE UNTIL IRAQ BEGAN USING THEM IN THE MID-1980S IN ITS WAR 
AGAINST IRAN.  THOUSANDS OF IRANIAN SOLDIERS WERE KILLED BY IRAQI
MUSTARD GAS OR NERVE AGENTS.  THEN, AS THE WAR WITH IRAN WAS 
WINDING DOWN IN 1988, SADDAM BEGAN USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST
IRAQI KURDS.  HE USED THEM AT HALABJA AND LATER IN OTHER AREAS OF
NORTHERN IRAQ, SENDING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF REFUGEES FLEEING INTO
NEIGHBORING TURKEY.

    IN ADDITION TO KILLING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE THAT TERRIBLE DAY 
IN MARCH 1988, THE IRAQI CHEMICAL WEAPONS ATTACK HAS LEFT A 
GRUESOME LEGACY IN HALABJA.  AS DOCTORS HAVE REPORTED, LARGE 
NUMBERS OF SURVIVORS SUFFER FROM RESPIRATORY AND NEUROLOGICAL 
DISORDERS.  MANY PEOPLE HAVE BECOME BLIND.  SKIN DISORDERS WITH 
SEVERE SCARRING ARE COMMON, AND MANY HAVE LED TO SKIN CANCER.  
HOSPITALS REPORT AN ABNORMALLY HIGH INCIDENCE OF PREGNANCIES 
RESULTING IN MISCARRIAGES OR CHILDREN WITH BIRTH DEFECTS.  AND 
MANY CHILDREN ARE DYING EACH YEAR OF LEUKEMIA OR OTHER FORMS OF 
CANCER.

    THIS IS WHAT SADDAM HUSSEIN BROUGHT TO HALABJA.  THIS IS WHAT
HIS REGIME COULD BRING TO PEOPLE ELSEWHERE IF IRAQ IS ALLOWED TO 
MAINTAIN AN ARSENAL OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS -- OR THE CAPACITY TO 
PRODUCE THEM AGAIN.  THAT IS WHY, AS PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON SAID,
"IRAQ MUST FULFILL -- WITHOUT OBSTRUCTION OR DELAY -- ITS 
COMMITMENT TO OPEN ALL OF THE NATION TO THE [UNITED NATIONS] 
WEAPONS INSPECTORS -- ANYPLACE, ANYTIME, WITHOUT ANY CONDITIONS, 
DEADLINES, EXCUSES."

ANNCR:

    THAT WAS AN EDITORIAL EXPRESSING THE POLICIES OF THE U.S. 
GOVERNMENT.  IF YOU HAVE A COMMENT, PLEASE WRITE TO EDITORIALS, 
V-O-A, WASHINGTON, D-C, 20547, U-S-A.  YOU MAY ALSO COMMENT AT 
WWW-DOT-VOA-DOT-GOV-SLASH-EDITORIALS, OR  FAX US AT (202) 
619-1043.

27-Mar-98 2:13 PM EST (1913 UTC)
NNNN

Source: Voice of America
.