Written by Reem Saleh, New Media, DFI
Film: Halabja, the Lost Children
Director: Akram Hidou
Duration: 72 mins
16 March 1988, also known as Bloody Friday, marked one of the biggest crimes against humanity during the Iran-Iraq war. More than 4,000 people died of poisonous gas attack by Saddam in the Kurdish town of Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan. Also more than 400 children went missing. Their families are still hoping to find their precious family members.
“Halabja, the Lost Children” opens with bitter and powerful reminiscence of this act of genocide. Thousands of names cover a memorial wall still imprinted with tears in the memory of those who witnessed it. Some wish they hadn’t survived. What is there to live for when most people lost their all family members?
Through the eyes of Ali, a young man who went missing when he was only 3 months old, we return, 21 years later to Halabja and open a file long forgotten by the world. He was adopted by a family in Iran and never met his birth parents. He walks through a grave yard, only to find his name on a tombstone. He looks at it in silence. He becomes the hope of families to be their missing child.
His search begins with history and the details of that doomed day that separated him from his hometown. He looks at heartbreaking photographs of the victims consisting of mainly women and children. His family could be amongst them.
Five families are claiming Ali to be their own, and the Kurdish government has adopted the case. But what’s more important is that Ali is a child who’s back, regardless to which family. He brings with him the hope of finding other children disappeared but never forgotten.
They all still keep the pictures of their little ones, bitterly recounting the last time they saw their babies and still dreaming they’ll come back knocking at their doors.
Will Ali reunite with his family again? If he does, will it bring more optimism or just a flashback of pain?
The documentary opens up a debate on the fate of those long absent and the governmental efforts on locating “The Lost Children”.