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16 May 2021

Sardasht Forgotten, Halabja Remembered: Victims ask ‘Why?

2014 June 30

By: Deniz Serinci

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Lending support to victims who feel forgotten, two Kurdish associations are commemorating the 1987 poison gas attack on the Iranian city of Sardasht by Saddam Hussein’s forces.

On Friday, in the Kurdistan Region capital of Erbil, the Kurdistan Without Genocide Association (KWG) and Kurdocide Watch mark the two-day attack. Kurds in Europe also are remembering the bombing.

On June 28 and 29 in 1987, the Iraqi air force bombed four crowded parts of Sardasht, killing more than 100 civilians and wounding thousands more.

The city was caught in the fighting of the 1980-88 war between Iran and Iraq.  It was not until Saddam’s attack on the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja killed 5,000 men, women and children in the closing weeks of the war that the world took notice of the former dictator’s atrocities.

Sardasht, in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province, is home to the largest number of chemically-injured victims in Iran. Many died years later due to collapsed lungs.


Rauf Hosseini, who fled to Finland after the attack on his home city, still suffers from his injuries, nearly three decades later. His father was hit even harder.

“My father was wounded. He was never normal again, and died from the after-effects,” Hosseini told Rudaw.

Nadr Amin, 46, fled to Norway. His brother and father were killed in the attack, while his sister was injured. “I was also hit by the gas in several parts of my body,” he said.

Today he feels that Sardasht is a forgotten footnote in a war that killed an estimated one million people on both sides, and wants the world to recognize what happened, just has Sweden has recognized Saddam’s gassing of Halabja in March 1988.

“Why do they talk about all other attacks, but not Sardasht?” Amin questioned, adding that Western firms that sold arms to Saddam must be held accountable.

Najibeh Alipoor fled after the chemical attack to Denmark. Her family was very politically active and her husband was a Peshmerga partisan fighting the Iranian regime. The poison gas attack hit them hard.

“Three of my brothers were killed in the rain of bombs in Sardasht, while my father was wounded,” she recalled.

Alipoor is disappointed that the attack on her city remains unrecognized.

“No one mentions Sardasht, though many died. The global community should recognize our grief. It will not bring back my brothers, but it will give me moral support and a signal that such attacks cannot be tolerated,” she told Rudaw.


For years Kurdocide Watch, which has branches in many countries, has been fighting to get Saddam genocide against the Kurds recognized. It also started a campaign to raise awareness of the attack on Sardasht, said Newzad Alani, a member of Kurdocide Watch.

“We demand that the world recognize the terrible attack on Sardasht and we also require compensation for the victims and their relatives,” said Alani, who also wants the United States punished.

“The United States was involved, they supported Iraq, so we also demand that they stand by their responsibility,” he said.

In 2004, the Tehran Public Court passed a verdict ordering the American government to pay compensation to the victims of the attack on Sardasht.

During the war with Iran, Washington backed Saddam against its own arch-enemy, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

According to Philip G. Kreyenbroek, professor and director of Iranian Studies at the University of Gottingen in Germany, the attack on Halabja is better known because of the much greater number of victims, and also because it highlighted Saddam’s willingness to murder his own people.

“An attack on enemy territory did not shock the Western public as much as near-genocide in one’s own territory,” Kreyenbroek said.

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, chair of the Centre for Iranian Studies at London’s Middle East Institute, said Western companies enabled Saddam to commit his atrocities against Iranians and Iraqi Kurds.

“Halabja and Sardasht were atrocities that were only possible due to the dual-use equipment made available to Saddam Hussein by Western companies,“ he said.

«نوشته فوق می تواند نظر نویسنده باشد و الزامن نظر رادیو کوچه نیست»


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