August 19, 2015

KRG welcomes move by US Congressmen to recognize Kurdish Genocide

Washington DC, USA (www.us.gov.krd) – Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to the United States, this week welcomed the introduction of a resolution by two members of Congress to recognize the Kurdish Genocide.

Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn introduced House Resolution 403, Recognizing the campaign of genocide against the Kurdish people in Iraq, into the House Committee on Foreign Affairs of the 114th Congress. The resolution defines the actions of the Iraqi regimes from the 1960s until the late 1980s as acts of genocide. House Resolution 403 is a reintroduction of a similar resolution which had not been brought to a vote for procedural reasons in the previous session of the United States Congress.

Should the United States Congress vote in favor of this resolution, it would be following in the footsteps of the British Parliament which in 2013 unanimously recognized the Kurdish Genocide and called on the British government and international organizations to do the same. Other legislative bodies, including Iraq, Sweden, Norway and South Korea, have issued resolutions.

KRG Representative Abdul Rahman said, ‘We thank our friends in Congress for their support to the people of Kurdistan and their initiative in recognizing the genocide that befell our people. Recognition means a great deal to the victims, survivors and their families. It also sends out a clear message that the world, especially the United States, will not stand by and allow genocides to take place.’

Ms Abdul Rahman added, ‘Ms Blackburn and Mr Van Hollen have long been friends of Kurdistan and we very much appreciate their initiative to reintroduce this resolution. It is especially fitting that Mr Van Hollen is jointly leading this effort since he and Peter Galbraith, who were then Senate staffers, worked actively towards the US Senate passing the Prevention of Genocide Act in 1988. ‘ The Act aimed to punish the Iraqi regime for the chemical attacks on the city of Halabja in which 5,000 civilians were killed.’

Representative Van Hollen said, ‘Beginning the late 1960s, Saddam Hussein led a decades-long campaign of genocide against the Kurdish minority in Iraq. Thousands of people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands lost their homes. Today, Kurds around the world are still dealing with the consequences of that tragedy. This resolution is a message to the world, and especially the survivors and families of those touched by this calamity – we have not forgotten, our hearts go out to those affected, and we will not let the memory of this crime fade away.’

The current resolution cites these attacks, as well as the disappearances of Barzani and Faily Kurds, the destruction of 4,500 villages from 1976 to 1988, and the Anfal Campaign as significant crimes in a larger campaign of genocide.

Representative Blackburn said, ‘It is past time that the United States government recognizes the horrible human rights violations that have befallen the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq.’ She added ‘These crimes are the reason that many escaped and sought refuge in the United States. Shining a light on events, like those that happened at Halabja, will help create a world in which genocide and human rights violations will no longer be tolerated.’

Representative Abdul Rahman also said that she welcomes steps by other members of Congress in investigating the atrocities committed on the Yezidis, Christians, Turkmen, and other minorities by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). In May 2015, the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) called these actions ‘war crimes’ and ‘possible genocide’.

The Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in the United States thanks Representatives Van Hollen and Blackburn for their commitment to the pursuit of justice for victims of genocide and their long-standing for the people of Kurdistan.

Both Representatives are active members of the Kurdish American Congressional Caucus.

The resolution will be put forward for discussion among members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Should it gain enough support, it would then be proposed for debate on the House floor.

Read the full text of HRes 403 here.

Track the progress of HRes 403 here.

Sign a petition to Congress urging support for HRes 403.

Read the full text of a similar resolution passed by British Parliament here.

Read the UNOHCHR report here.

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