First Person: Today we will mark 25 years since massacre
Twenty-five years ago, 5,000 people were murdered by poison gas in a matter of minutes. As a young man, I was in the region where this atrocity happened – in Kurdistan-Iraq, in a town called Halabja. All the victims were Kurds and were murdered by the forces of Saddam Hussein.
Kurds do not follow a different religion – we are Muslims – but we were marked by Saddam as "unbelievers" ("kufar") simply because they did not obey his orders.
The label kufar, or apostate, has often been applied to certain Muslim communities throughout history in order to justify atrocities done to them.
Today, we are gathering at the University of Leicester to remember the Halabja massacre.
It is time to reflect on our own past ignorance and those who have become victims, in part, of our indifference. Thirty-five years ago, the world looked on silently as a new Hitler was created in Iraq, named Saddam Hussein. He was ignored until he became a threat, not merely to his own people but to the rest of the world.
The resistance of the Kurdish nation, the oldest nation without an independent state in the Middle East, caused Saddam to declare a jihad against them and attempt to wipe them from the face of the Earth under what was known as "Anfal Operation" – meaning "kill all the men and their belongings are yours".
In total, more than 150,000 Kurdish men, women and children were murdered in five years.
Of the chemical attack, one witness said: "It was life frozen. Life had stopped, like watching a film and suddenly it hangs on one frame.
"It was a new kind of death to me. You went into a kitchen and you saw the body of a woman holding a knife where she had been cutting a carrot."
After the attack, a higher rate of medical disorders – miscarriages (14 times higher) and colon cancer (10 times higher) – was found in Halabja than the rest of Kurdistan.
It is time to commemorate this suffering and pay respect to the nation which was ignored by all and deserves to be valued like other nations.
We are here to call for the prevention of mass murders – to make sure such things never happen again in the world.
Let us join our voices and bring all who supported Saddam and provided him with chemical weapons to justice, including politicians, scientists, governments, companies and all others involved in such trade with him.
Karzan Karim is a doctoral student at the University of Leicester and vice-chairman of the Kurdish Community Organisation, Leicester.