OPCW Observes Annual Remembrance Day for Victims of Chemical Warfare

29 April 2014
A monument in memory of the victims of the gas attack on the Iraqi town of Halabja in March 1988 was unveiled in the OPCW compound. The monument was donated by the Government of Iraq and is a replica of an original version that stands in Halabja.

A monument in memory of the victims of the gas attack on the Iraqi town of Halabja in March 1988 was unveiled in the OPCW compound. The monument was donated by the Government of Iraq and is a replica of an original version that stands in Halabja.

The annual Remembrance Day for the victims of chemical warfare was observed at a ceremony today in the Ieper Room of the OPCW headquarters, so named after the site of the first attack with modern chemical weapons in April 1915 in Belgium.

The programme featured brief addresses by H.E. Mr Sa’ad Abdul Majeed Al-Ali, the Chairperson of the Conference of the States Parties and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Iraq to the OPCW; H.E. Mr Ahmet Üzümcü, the OPCW Director-General; H.E. Mrs Renée Jones-Bos, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands; Mr Jozias van Aartsen, Mayor of The Hague; and H.E. Mr Hoshyar Zebari, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq. The dignitaries also laid wreaths to pay homage to victims of chemical warfare.

In his prepared remarks to the ceremony the Director-General said: “The inhumanity of chemical weapons is an affront to our common humanity. It compels us to empathise with those who have suffered pain and death as a result of being exposed to such weapons. For we can all understand the fear of being poisoned, it is a fear we all share.

“This is a message I made clear at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony last December (where) in accepting the prize on behalf of the OPCW I paid homage to the victims,” he added. “Only through our common commitment to building a future that does not forget the past can we prove ourselves truly worthy of the values which bind our common humanity.”

During the Remembrance Day ceremony a monument in memory of the victims of the gas attack on the Iraqi town of Halabja in March 1988 was unveiled in the OPCW compound. The monument was donated by the Government of Iraq and is a replica of an original version that stands in Halabja.

“The very name of Halabja has become an incantation against allowing such an atrocity to ever happen again, anywhere in the world,” the Director-General said at the unveiling.  

The latest episode of the OPCW’s ‘Fires’ series of video documentaries, which just premiered, tells the powerful story of a survivor of the Halabja attack, Kayman Mohamed, and the Austrian plastic surgeon who saved his life after Kayman’s evacuation to Vienna for emergency medical treatment. The film can be viewed at http://www.thefiresproject.com

Help us improve OPCW.org