Chanting that Iraqi leader "Saddam Hussein must be hanged," about 50 Iranians living in Utah spent Friday afternoon calling for people of the world to stop Iraq's use of chemical arms in the Iran-Iraq war.
They rallied at the Federal Building in downtown Salt Lake City and marched up and down State Street chanting and passing out fliers with gruesome pictures of victims killed or burned by chemical agents.On March 16 and 17, Iraq attacked a Kurdish city within Iraq but near the Iranian border, killing 5,000 civilians. Iran claims the civilians were punished because Kurdish rebels there had helped Iran take and occupy the area.
Mohammad Baghber, a Brigham Young University student, said, "Iraq used chemicals on its own citizens. That shows how barbaric it is."
He added that the attack likely would not have occurred if the world had more strongly protested Iraq's earlier use of chemical arms. He claims that country has launched at least 100 other chemical arms attacks since 1984 even though international treaties ban the use of such weapons.
Ali Sofa, a student at Weber State College, said a United Nations official was even wounded in one early chemical attack. But he said the United Nations still would not condemn Iraq, and it soft-pedaled chemical arms use in reports.
The March 16 attack attracted international attention because of television pictures of victims, and brought condemnation from the United States, Red Cross and the United Nations. But Sofa still fears that Iraq will soon use chemical arms on Iranian citizens unless the world more strongly protests.
For example, the protesters claim Iraq used chemical arms again as late as last week.
Michael Solaimanian, a University of Utah graduate, said, "The Soviet Union and the United States could stop this. They are superpowers, and can do anything they want."
Mohsen Fargan, a Westminster College student, said he thinks the Soviet Union and United States even supplied the chemical agents to Iraq. "They had a hand in it."
Some of the protesters' other chants show how strongly they feel about the situation and Saddam's role in it: "Saddam is killing Iraqi nation," "Down with the butcher of Halabcheh (the city attacked with chemical weapons)," "Saddam is a murderer," and "Stop the support of Hitler of Iraq."
The literature they passed out said, "If we all had acted based on our conscience, the world would not have (had) to witness atrocities committed by Hitler's Nazi Party, Stalin's Communist Party and now Saddam's Socialist Baath Party."