Remembrance of Chemical Attack on Balisan and Sheikh Wasan in Iraqi Kurdistan Date in the current year: April 16, 2018

Remembrance of Chemical Attack on Balisan and Sheikh Wasan in Iraqi Kurdistan The Anfal genocide is one of the most tragic pages in Kurdish history. In Iraqi Kurdistan, there are several remembrance days dedicated to the victims of the genocide. One of them is Remembrance of Chemical Attack on Balisan and Sheikh Wasan. It is observed on April 16 every year.

During the Iran—Iraq War, Kurdish insurgents helped Iran carry out offensives in northern Iraq because they hoped that Iran would assist Kurdistan in gaining autonomy. In response, Saddam Hussein initiated the al-Anfal campaign against Kurdistan. Although the official goal of the campaign was to combat insurgents, it resulted in thousands of civilian deaths.

The Anfal campaign included the destruction of Kurdish villages, poisonous gas attacks, transportation of Kurdish people to detention centers that were essentially concentration camps, and mass executions. Another major element of the Anfal genocide was the so-called “arabization”: Kurds were driven from their homes in northern Iraq, and their homes were given to poor Arabs from southern regions.

The first poisonous gas attack during the Anfal genocide occurred on April 16, 1987. The Balisan valley and the village of Sheikh Wasan were hit by chemical weapons, leaving between 225 and 400 civilians dead. The attack on the Balisan valley was the first time in history a sovereign state used chemical weapons on its own citizens.

The memory of the victims of the Balisan and Sheikh Wasan attack is honored on April 16. On this day, solemn remembrance ceremonies are held throughout Iraqi Kurdistan.

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Category

Anniversaries and Memorial Days

Country

Iraq

Tags

Remembrance of Chemical Attack on Balisan and Sheikh Wasan, observances in Iraqi Kurdistan, remembrance day, Anfal genocide