Candles lit in Stockholm for murdered Iraqi Kurds

Thousands of candles were lit in central Stockholm on Sunday in memory of around 5,000 Iraqi Kurds from Halabja massacred 20 years ago in a chemical attack blamed on Saddam Hussein's forces.

Some 500 people, many dressed in black, gathered in a sunny Stockholm square under banners declaring “Never again Halabja” as hundreds of black balloons were released over the city.

“It is important to remember. Five thousand people were murdered,” 18-year-old Hamid Rahimzadeh told AFP as he and his four-year-old cousin lit one of the candles lining the steps leading down to the Sergels torg square.

“This is not something you can just forget,” agreed Nawroz Zakholy, 15, who has lived in Sweden her entire life but says her Kurdish parents still talk about the massacre “constantly”.

A number of prominent Swedish politicians were also present at the demonstration commemorating the March 16th, 1988 chemical attack on Halabja.

“The massacre in Halabja is one of the worst occurrences that humanity has witnessed in modern time,” opposition Social Democrat Party leader Mona Sahlin was

quoted by the TT news agency as saying.

In neighbouring Norway, around 500 people were expected to take part in a torchlight procession through central Oslo Sunday evening in memory of the massacre, organizers said.