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Remarks for Al-Hurrah Television on the 16th Anniversary of the Halabja Massacre

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
March 16, 2004

Sixteen years ago, Saddam Hussein massacred the innocent people of Halabja as part of his systemic campaign of pillage and murder against the people of northern Iraq. In just a few short hours, more than 5,000 Kurdish men, women and children were slaughtered with poison gas. Afterwards, they lay where they fell, babies still folded in the loving arms of their mothers. As President Bush said of the Halabja massacre, "If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning."

What happened in Halabja was but a particularly gruesome case of the crimes of Saddam Hussein against the Iraqi people. Those crimes were perpetrated against Arabs and Turkomen as well as Kurds, Christians as well as Muslims, Sunni as well as Shi'a. As we remember the victims of Halabja, let us not forget the uncounted thousands of innocent citizens who died by the brutal hand of this terrible dictator. On this day of remembrance, the American people send their deepest condolences to the people of Halabja, and to all Iraqis who suffered under Saddam Hussein's repression.

For 15 years we have stood witness on this day to the victims of Halabja, that their deaths not be forgotten. But this year is different. This year the dreams of the Iraqi people to be free from the terror of the Saddam Hussein regime have come true. This year our bereavement has finally been lightened. This year a new light shines on Iraq, a light of freedom, a light of hope, and a light of justice.

The people of Halabja have built a memorial to the victims of Saddam Hussein's evil, a moving testament to those who died. I visited that memorial last September and met with some of the families who had lost loved ones during those terrible times. I resolved then, as we are all resolved now, that the building of Iraq must continue. Iraqis will redeem the loss of those who have gone down to the grave, at Halabja and elsewhere. They'll do it by building a free and prosperous nation, a nation whose government respects the human rights of all its people.

The United States is proud to have helped make such an Iraq possible. And now the people of the United States stand ready to assist the people of Iraq as they take their rightful place among the community of nations. We pray that this springtime will bring the sweetness of consolation to those who mourn, and that justice and peace be the inheritance of every Iraqi family.

2004/265


Released on March 15, 2004

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