The Halabja Genocide

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1 The Halabja Genocide An Imani Lee Case Study I. The Project In August 2013, after many years of relationship building, Imani Lee Language Services entered into a multi-year and multi-phased agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), an autonomous state within the borders of Iraq, regarding an important project of historical significance. The first phase of the project concerned the translation of historical documents related to the events that happened in Halabja, Iraq within Kurdistan on March 16, 1988, when Saddam Hussein s regime bombed the entire district with chemical weapons in the closing days of the Iran-Iraq War, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 5,000 Kurds. The attack on Halabja has been well-documented as being the single most brutal attack of Saddam Hussein s reign, as well as the deadliest chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in the history of the world. Today, many of the living Kurdish civilians affected by the chemical attack still suffer from various illnesses both psychological and physical, in addition to the birth defects of their progeny. For years, the victims of the attack and the KRG have tried to tell their story to the rest of the world, an effort which has included petitioning international countries to recognize the attack as an official act of genocide. Some of the countries that have done so include Canada, Norway, and the Netherlands; however, the United States is noticeably missing from that list. The Halabja Monument - Kurdistan, Iraq

2 The United States has officially recognized other historical international atrocities as genocide, such as the Armenian Genocide of 1915, which according to the official summary of the congressional bill, calls upon the President to ensure that U.S. foreign policy reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the U.S. record and the consequences of the failure to realize a just resolution Not only is the recognition of genocide a step forward in the process of healing for the victims of the atrocity, but a call to real action against ignoring or failing to intercede in similar crimes against humanity in the future. The primary impediment to recognition from the United States (and by extension its Western allies) was tangible and concrete evidence that could be read and understood by the very people that had the power to make that decision, the United States Congress. Thus, the KRG and the Dialogue Institute at Temple University sought out Imani Lee to translate, edit, harmonize, certify, and notarize 108 documents, previously classified as Secret and Top Secret by the Iraqi government, that could be presented to the US Congress for an official vote to declare the attack on Halabja a genocide. II. The Challenge A few minutes of research on the internet will reveal that there are indeed original Halabja documents and English translations of these documents available for review. However, these translations are not official in any capacity, calling into question their accuracy, and the motivations of the individuals that completed the translations. The KRG had previously tried to have some documents translated into English in the past; however, the translation was poorly completed, in many cases inaccurate, and unfit for official presentation. The KRG s previous experience with this translation effort made them wary of working with another translation company. The KRG, working in conjunction with the Dialogue Institute at Temple University, determined that Imani Lee had superior qualifications and a proven record, such as with their work on the translation, editing, and finalizing of the Kurdistan Constitution from English into Kurdish for the US State Department. The documents presented to Imani Lee for translation were a difficult challenge for a number of reasons: 1) The actual project totaled 108 pages of documents, which were discovered in various places around Iraq in various states of legibility. Some of the documents were scanned copies, and therefore very difficult to read. Machine related translation, which is used by many independent translators and translation companies alike, was certainly not a solution for this translation project. 2) Chronologically, the documents were out of order and some were missing pages. Imani Lee needed to not only translate the documents, but organize them in a logical way to contribute to the client s goal of proving that the Halabja attack does indeed meet the requirements for the definition of genocide, as o utlined by international organizations and countries.

3 3) The majority of the documents were military or governmental in nature, with specific vocabulary difficult to understand by linguists without relevant backgrounds. In addition, many of the documents referenced people and places not easily found by simple internet research, requiring linguists with some familiarity of the geography and history of Iraq and Kurdistan. III. Imani Lee s Solutions In order to meet the client s needs, Imani Lee first moved to put the client at ease, by inviting them to visit their office in San Diego, California and meet their staff in person. The KRG sent a delegation of prominent Kurdish figures, including members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, a judge and member of the Appeals Court of Sulaymaniyah, and a member of the Kurdistan Judges Union. They were escorted by a Kurdish native and senior member of the Dialogue Institute at Temple University. All of the gentlemen were victims or had family members who were direct victims of the Halabja attack, personally connecting them to the KRG s efforts. The visit took place over three days, the first of which was a full day of meetings between the delegation and the Imani Lee team to get to know each other, and for the delegation to explain the importance of this historic project. It was also an opportunity for the delegation to learn about Imani Lee s multistep process of translation, a process designed to effectively harmonize translations. The Imani Lee team meets with the Kurdish Delegation to discuss the project On the second day, the delegation was able to speak to local press outlets at the Imani Lee office, which were scheduled by the Imani Lee staff to publicize their efforts in the U.S. Afterward, the Imani Lee staff met with the delegation to pour over the documents, ask questions, and further discuss the process of translation with the delegation to ensure that both parties were completely comfortable with moving forward. In order to address the challenges outlined previously in Section II, Imani Lee quickly came up with a unique system to deliver an excellent translation quickly.

4 1) Imani Lee assembled a team of Arabic linguists with military backgrounds. The project manager and the project s three primary Arabic linguists had previously served in the Iraqi military, and also worked as translators and interpreters for the Coalition Forces in Iraq. 2) Imani Lee assembled a team of senior English language editors with previous experience working with Arabic to English and Kurdish to English projects. 3) The Arabic editing team kept in constant communication with the KRG and the members of the delegation to ask questions about specific events or vocabulary, as well as keep them updated on the project s progress. 4) The English and Arabic editing teams had several in-person meetings to compare the original documents to the English translations, perform joint harmonization and make real-time corrections, adjustments, and glossary expansions where necessary. Working with its wide network of resources, Imani Lee was able to assemble an elite team of Arabic linguists and English editors 5) The Arabic editing team created a Trados Termbase system for the client s use, as well as for the additional four project phases with the KRG concerning historical documents within its possession. 6) The Arabic and English editing teams worked harmoniously together to assemble the original Arabic and translated documents into binders, and create section summaries explaining how the documents within each section prove that the Halabja atrocity was indeed a genocide. 7) During the final quality control process, the Imani Lee team also ensured that the English translations included any signatures and logos present on the original documents, with the use of graphic design and desktop publishing software. 8) Imani Lee certified and notarized the final project documents and deliverables according to the requirements of the American Translators Association and the State of California. The Imani Lee staff also scheduled additional press interviews to publicize the completion of the project, and alert the media to the upcoming vote in Congress.

5 IV. Tangible Results and Summary From the onset of the project, the KRG had a single goal in mind: to obtain the most accurate translation of their historical documents in order to give legitimacy to their cause of having the Halabja attack recognized by the United States, and by extension, other international countries in the West. Imani Lee s successful completion of the project resulted in an officially certified, notarized, and organized translation of historical evidence concerning an event that more than deserves to be officially recognized by the international community, and especially the United States of America. Because of this, the KRG was able to not only present the evidence to the US Congress for an official vote to declare the Halabja attack a genocide, but also provide copies of the translation for display in the United States Library of Congress and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. But beyond that, the KRG and Imani Lee were able to cement a relationship built on trust in Imani Lee s ability to deliver timely, accurate translations, as well as additional services and efforts to help clients achieve their stated goals. This trust has manifested itself in a continued multi-year, multi-phased relationship with the KRG, which has assigned additional work translating historical documents to Imani Lee, which the entire Imani Lee team looks forward to completing just as successfully. From left to right: Lee Martin - CEO of Imani Lee Inc., Bahar Martin - VP of Imani Lee Inc., Bakr Hama Sidiq - Representative in the Iraqi Parliament, Huner Anwer - Project Director, Dialogue Institue at Temple University, and Judge Khder Hassan Muhammed of the Kurdish Appeals Court of Sulaymaniyah

6 V. About Imani Lee The Big Linguistics Company Since 2002, Imani Lee, Inc. and Imani Lee Language Services have been trusted by some of the fastest growing companies and governments around the world. Imani Lee has worked with these institutions and companies to develop a suite of international expansion services and products. Imani Lee is a leading provider of: Language services to include translation, interpretation, transcription, training, role-playing, multilingual content and desktop publishing. Imani Lee possesses in-house language experts in Kurdish, Arabic, Farsi, Dari, Pashto, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Russian, Hebrew, Somali and English. In conjunction with our database of over 3,500 linguists, we can provide translation services in 150+ languages and dialects. International strategic alliance and partnership consulting services International sales rollout and distribution of new or existing products and services Market entry strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) assessments which measure and formulate a strategy for your organization to successfully enter new markets or business verticals Federal and civilian government distribution, master agreement product and services inclusion, sales and partnership services Imani Lee s distribution methods, alliance strategies, sales strategies, translation specialists, partner relationships, and overall business services and solutions are available worldwide. Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H. Res. 106, 110th Congress (2007) Imani Lee Sales, Partnering, Language & International Services Senda Luna Llena, Bldg. B San Diego, California (858)

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