Echo of Silence, re. Iranian Chemical Weapons Victims

The film below was recently posted on the Fellowship of Reconciliation Blog by Leila Zand.   It appears to have been recently distributed, though the Chemical Weapons attacks visited on Iran and her people are now nearly 30 years in the past.   Perhaps the event was triggered by the global discussion around Chemical Weapons attacks in Syria,   As an ally of the Syrian Government, Iran might feel some bitterness over the exchanges of blame around these events, and the one sided insistence by certain countries, without proof, that it was the Assad Government that perpetrated these attacks.    Iranian people  might feel some bitterness on hearing  the  outcry against the use of these weapons in Syria, unlike the silence that greeted their own cries for justice.   Sadly, Iran’s wounds have yet to heal.  

Dr. Shahriar Khateri anchors this film with his presence.   Dr. Khateri has dedicated his career to relieving the suffering of Chemical Weapons victims from the Iran/Iraq War, and researching treatments for the long term suffering of victims of Mustard Gas attacks from  Iran and Iraq.   I have met with Dr. Khateri and his staff twice in the Tehran Peace Museum. The organization he heads is the Society for Chemical Weapons Victims (SCWVS),   Many of the volunteers with SCWVS and the Peace Museum are Victims of Chemical Weapons Victims from the devastating war in the 80s.  The Tehran Peace Museum is part of an International network of Peace Museums and has close connections with a Peace Museum in Hiroshima, Japan.   We are beginning to hear the litany of reasons for Iran’s discomfiture with U.S. foreign policy over the years, but this is one we have not heard.

Echo of Silence

Some significant points made in the film:

  1. Chemical Weapons attacks on Iran during the Iran/Iraq war resulted  in  terrible suffering, which in many cases, continues to this day. One third of the population of Sardasht was affected by 4 bombs dropped on the city and a few more in the neighboring villages.
  2. While the Chemical Weapons attack on the Kurds in Halabja received broad coverage, equally horrible Chemical Weapons attacks on Iran were not covered by Western News at all, and no effort was made by the international community to restrain Saddam..
  3. At the time,  the United States used it’s Veto power to negotiate a deal in the  Security Council. that the Chemical Weapons attacks  would only be condemned if no specific perpetrator of Chemical Weapons attacks was named despite the fact that only Saddam was using Chemical Weapons
  4. During the Iran/ Iraq war, the West sold weapons to Saddam while Military Sanctions against Iran were enforced
  5. The Iran/Iraq war was a good opportunity for arms dealers, and in fact, the United States violated the sanctions against Iran in exchange for the freeing of hostages, and timing that event to support the election of Ronald Reagan and George H.W, Bush
  6. Meanwhile, Saddam was directly supported by a large number of western countries who helped build his gas factories, sold him the precursor chemicals, and provided logistical intelligence for his army. Russia provided Iraq with weapons and military consultants on the ground in Iraq
  7. The Gulf Monarchies and Saudi Arabia supported Saddam’s assault on Iran.
  8. After the Iran/Iraq war, heavy sanctions continued to be enforced against Iran, which impeded their ability to rebuild.
  9. The Chemical Weapons Convention was written and passed in 1993 in response to Saddam’s use of Chemical Weapons against Iran
  10. In the 90s Saddam was pressured to reveal all of his WMD (nuclear and chemical). The report was given only to members of the Security Council.  Only a heavily redacted version was released. A few years later, the names of the companies from around the globe who facilitated Iraq to attain WMD were leaked.
  11. Near the end of the film we see a White House spokesman saying “The opening stages of the disarming of the Iraqi Regime have begun . . . .”  as the Iraq War began in 2003,    He didn’t say ‘deposing Saddam Hussein’ or ‘destroying Iraq’s infrastructure’ though those were the actual goal and the  results of the war.
  12. The film shows clips from the battlefields, civilian attack zones and hospitals,and interviews with  international human rights workers as well as Iranian victims and members of SCWVS.
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