Friday, March 17, 2006

Why Did They Attack The Monument ?

Yesterday, marked the 18th anniversary of the Halabja's chemical attack by Saddam's government in 1988. Sadly, the anniversary ended in violence and destruction. The New York Times reports:

For nearly two decades, Kurds have gathered peacefully in this mountainous corner of northern Iraq to commemorate one of the blackest days in their history. It was here that Saddam Hussein's government launched a poison gas attack that killed more than 5,000 people on March 16, 1988.
Many Kurds have grown angry at what they view as the corruption and tyranny of the two dominant political parties here. They accuse their regional government of stealing donations gathered to help survivors of the poison gas attack. The town's residents chose Thursday to close off the town's main road and rally against government corruption. When government guards fired weapons over the protesters' heads, the crowd went wild and attacked the monument.


I'm not surprised the Kurds aren't satisfied with their government. Kurdo talked about it before he stopped blogging. Other Iraqi bloggers who visited Kurdistan lately told me the same thing. But, I'm surprised that people would destroy this monument because of their anger at the government. I'm not sure what message they're trying to send to their government

A Kurd explains in the same report:

"That monument over there has become the main problem for Halabja," said Bakhtiar Ahmad, nodding at the museum, with its distinctive yellow crown-shaped roof. "All the foreign guests are taken there, not to the city."

I'm not going to defend the local Kurdish government as I don't live in Kurdistan and I have no doubt it's corrupted. But, I've been around the world and whenever I visit a new city, I look for its monuments and museums. Why? Because those places almost always tell the history of that town. I think it's nice to have a monument for the people who lost their lives in Halabja as a result of the poisonous gas attack. Now, that's gone too.

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