Ethnic Kurds file class action in
Daily Record Assistant Business Editor
April 9, 2009 5:32 PM
Five survivors of the 1988 poison gas attacks of ethnic Kurds in
Filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, the lawsuit says the companies supplied the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with the chemical precursors and compounds needed to make the poison gases used in the six-month long “Operation Anfal.”
One of the companies, Alcolac Inc., was headquartered in
A spokesman for Rhodia, David Klucsik, said Alcolac was not acquired until 1989 - by a predecessor to Rhodia called Rhone-Poulenc. Rhodia, the chemicals arm of Rhone-Poulenc was spun off in 1998.
"Rhodia did not exist until 1998," Klucsik said. "And, Rhone-Poulenc had no awareness of the allegations against Alcolac because the acquisition didn't occur until 1989."
Kenneth McCallion of New York, the lead attorney in the case, told The Associated Press he filed the complaint in
The lawsuit accuses the companies — Alcolac; West Chester, Pa.-based VWR International LLC; and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. of Waltham, Mass. — of selling lab materials and chemicals used in the manufacture of chemical weapons. Valerie Collado, spokeswoman for VWR International, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
The plaintiffs claim the use of mustard and nerve gases during the attacks is a clear violation of the Geneva Convention of 1925.
“The ban on the use of chemical weapons in warfare was respected even during the depths of World War II, when only Nazi
Attempt at genocide
According to New York-based Human Rights Watch, Operation Anfal was an attempt at genocide of part of the Kurdish people in northern
The Nashville-based Kurdish National Congress of
Gundi, president of the Kurdish National Congress, said they never considered giving up, even though more than 20 years have passed since the attacks.
“We’re doing this on the behalf of the tens of thousands of victims of the Anfal attacks,” Gundi said. “We still have wounded people in
“This will remain with our people for decades to come,” he added.
Burying the dead
One of those who lived through the attacks was Meran S. Abdullah, 34, of
On his last day in Ekmole, Abdullah said Iraqi airplanes bombed the village. And, while bombings were not uncommon, it became apparent that this time it was a chemical attack.
As his mother, father and older brother stayed behind to gather personal effects, Abdullah and others headed to higher ground in the mountains nearby.
He said his parents and brother were killed in the attack, their bodies found near a creek with suitcases still in their hands.
After burying the dead, Abdullah and others hiked to a village on the Turkish border. Eventually, the refugees were let into
Abdullah said they did not attempt to go back to Ekmole after that.
“The Iraqi Army was after us, trying to kill us with tanks, planes and chemical bombs,” he said. “It was either stay there, or go back and die.”
He said while he hopes that victims of the attack will be compensated for damages, his main goal is to help raise awareness about the horrors of Operation Anfal and its long-lasting impact on the Kurdish people.
“It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened, or how young I was,” Abdullah said. “Things like this, you can never ever forget.”
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs