Each year we observe the 16th of March with deep solemnity for the horrendous crime against humanity that befell thousands of citizens of Halabja – men, women, and children alike. This year, however, is one of particular significance as it marks the 30th anniversary since that terrible event.
The act of commemoration is not only a sign of the eternal respect that we hold for those who died and those who continue to suffer, but it is also a moment to recognize the commitment of the many who keep their memory alive and strive to ensure such crimes are never repeated.
The gruesome chemical attack perpetrated against Halabja shocked the world and galvanized it into concluding the negotiations for the Chemical Weapons Convention. After more than twenty years of action under the CWC, remarkable progress has been achieved in chemical disarmament.
Nevertheless, continued use of toxic chemicals as weapons has demonstrated that our work is far from over. We must redouble our efforts to realise a chemical weapons free world – the citizens of Halabja would expect nothing less.
As the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, I offer the heartfelt sympathies of the OPCW to the people of Halabja for the pain of their loss of loved ones and their continuing struggles with sickness and disability. We give you assurance of our ongoing support.