“My name is Mardin Mahmut Fetah. I am one of the lost children of Halabja. I was in a basement with my family when the chemical attack was carried out on Halabja on 16 March 1988. The Iranian soldiers had found me when they came to the city. I was alive and they took me to Iran. After being treated for three months in a hospital, they give me up for adoption to an Iranian family. I lived with that family for 12 years,” said Mardin Mahmut Fetah telling her story to Yeni Özgür Politika sitting next to her own grave in Halabja.
Unlike other human experiences in this world, she was able to speak next to her own ‘grave’, because the Iraqi government passed a law for all those who were lost in the Halabja massacre and declared them all “dead”. .
Search for her real family
Mardin Mahmut Fetah does not remember anything about her past until one day in a street another older child told her,“You are not a child of that family, you are from Halabja”.
“The person whom I had thought was my biological father asked me to find my real family when he was about to close his eyes to this world,” Fetah said.
When her step-father died, she decided to search for her “real” family, which led her on a quest for the hidden realities of her past. This journey of searching for her identity was not an easy one.
“I went to South Kurdistan first in 1998 and visited Halabja. The media was not very effective like it is today, it was not an easy journey,” she said.
Established an organisation for other lost children
Next to a grave built with her name in the Halabja Cemetery she continues to tell her story, “I am the one who lies here, but I live in reality. This grave that I sit next to, is my grave. The Iraqi government passed a law for those who were lost in the Halabja massacre and declared them all dead, and representative graves were built for them in the Halabja cemetery.”
After eventually finding her biological family, she felt like she was re-born. “I dedicated my life for all those people who were lost when they were children, just like me. I established The Association for Finding the Lost Children, and I am still the chair of it. We continue our search to find all of the lost children,” she said.