Halabja Massacre (C) Avistu
If there is nothing more innocent than a child's gaze, that of a dead child is perhaps the most horrible thing you can contemplate, even if it is in a photograph. When the body is also the product of a chemical weapons attackDo not expect a beatific smile, as if you were asleep, but a stroke of agony surrounded by traces of green vomit that will give you goosebumps.
Multiply that image by ten, by one hundred, by one thousand, add women, old men and young men, mostly civilians and maybe, perhaps, the reader will get to the idea of what I found when visiting inside the Monument to the Martyrs of Halabjain Iraq. Videos, dioramas, sounds, photographs and names that reflect the indiscriminate horror that fell from the sky against a defenseless Kurdish population on a March afternoon in 1988.
The year had begun with a Mikhail Gorbachev who believed that the deficient Soviet system could be reformed through the perestroika. The winds of democratic change were approaching Moscow and Eastern Europe but only shots were heard in the Middle East: war between Iraq and Iran It reached its eighth year and had become the longest conventional conflict of the twentieth century.
Caught up in that conflict, the cursed Kurdish people (an ethnic minority that spreads between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey), is not to take up arms against Saddam Hussein but decades ago he waged a silent war, dotted with genocidal reprisals, against whoever held power in Baghdad.
The spine of the Kurdish north was stuck in Arab Iraq with the support of Iran, because in war the enemy of my enemy is my ally of convenience. Saddam Hussein ordered his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid to solve once and for all the Kurdish problem with all the means at his disposal, conventional - including mass shootings and destruction of villages - or less common. One of those unconventional means used during the campaign was the one that gave the cousin of the bloodthirsty dictator the nickname that followed him until his execution in 2010: Ali Kimyaw (Ali "the chemist")
Martyrs Halabja Museum (C) Avistu
Photographs Halabja Massacre (C) Avistu