From the 22nd to 24th April, 2015, a number of delegates from the Tehran Peace Museum (TPM) travelled to Ieper in Belgium to participate in the centenary of the first gas attacks there during World War I. The TPM representatives took part in the three-day conference hosted by the city of Ieper called: “A Century of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Enough!”
Mr. Hassan Hassani Sa’di, Iran-Iraq war veteran, chemical weapons survivor and TPM guide, was invited to speak about his personal experiences of exposure to chemical weapons to the many gathered dignitaries, ambassadors, mayors and representatives of disarmament organizations.
Mr. Sa’di, who was a reconnaissance scuba diver during the war, shared the painful memories of the gas attack in 1986 when he was stationed on the Arvand Rud River across from the Iraqi port of Faw. Mr. Sa’di discussed the consequences, the treatment and how he, and other survivors like him, still suffer from the debilitating effects of sulphur mustard gas today.
The audience, visibly moved by Mr. Sa’di’s constant coughing and resilience to speak out against the atrocities of chemical warfare, listened as he spoke of the survivors’ role in educating current and future generations.
“We feel it is our responsibility to educate people about the atrocities of chemical weapons,” said Mr. Sa’di. “We talk about how war has scarred our generation, but we also share the responsibility in building peace for the future.”
Mr. Sa’di concluded his address by sharing the peace education activities at the TPM and the many cooperative partnerships being built with the United Nations in Iran, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Mayors for Peace and other non-governmental entities. And, referring to the chemical attacks against the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Sa’di asked the members of the international community to ban the production, proliferation and use of chemical weapons.
During the three-day conference, separate meetings were held with Iranian representatives in order to find ways of cooperating against violence and to promote peace.