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Iranian Victims Of Saddam Hussein’s Chemical Attacks Sue Dutch Companies

Above Photo: Marina Riera/Human Rights Watch.

Two Dutch chemical companies stand accused of delivering the ingredients to produce mustard gas to Iraq during the 1980-1988 war against Iran.

NOTE: In 2019, while on a peace delegation to Iran, we visited the Peace Museum in Tehran, which is close to the former US Embassy, now called the ‘Den of Espionage.’ We met victims of chemical weapons attacks during the Eight Year War. They spoke about US support for that war as retaliation for the 1979 Revolution that overthrew the US-backed Shah, similar to the Contra War in Nicaragua after the Sandinista Revolution. They also noted that US pharmaceutical companies were profiting from the aftermath of the war as they manufactured many of the medicines used to treat the chronic conditions caused by chemical weapons, such as inhalers and eye drops. My hope is that this case will play a role in exposing US war crimes in Iran.  – Margaret Flowers

Five victims of chemical attacks launched by the late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war are suing two Dutch companies for providing chemical materials that allowed Baghdad to manufacture mustard gas.

The two companies — Otjiaha and Forafina Beleggingen — provided Iraq with chemicals between 1982 and 1984 during the Iraqi invasion of Iran.

According to the lawsuit filed at The Hague, the Dutch companies were aware at the time that their products were being used to produce chemical weapons used against civilians.

However, Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant says the corporations dispute the accusations and maintain that the chemicals were meant for use as agricultural pesticides.

Billionaire Hans Melchers, the former owner of Otjiaha, then known as Melchemie, appeared in court on 22 June, where he rejected all charges.

He is charged with taking part in the delivery of 1,850 tons of thionyl chloride, a component of mustard gas, to Iraq.

In 1987, his company was fined and shut down temporarily for  “intentionally” ignoring a Dutch government embargo intended to stop the transfer of materials to Iraq that could be used to make weapons.

For its part, Forafina Beleggingen — known as KBS Holland at the time — is sued for providing TDG to Iraq, another element required to make mustard gas.

Iraq’s use of mustard gas caused long-lasting damage to the five complainants, who suffer from respiratory problems and damage to their lungs, eyes, and skin.

“These people’s lives were destroyed at the time … [the] Dutch companies share a part of the responsibility for that,” lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld told reporters on 23 June.

As a result of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons during the war between 1980 and 1988, hundreds of Iranian soldiers and civilians died instantly, while many more have endured long-lasting ailments.

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