November 30th is the Day of Remembrance for all victims of Chemical Warfare and like every year a tribute is made for all victims of chemical warfare, but this year and the past years have been extremely worrying with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and now of Israel upon the State of Palestine. Who would have thought that in this time and age, that we will bear witness to these crimes against humanity where evidently the impact and effect of chemical weapons are passed through generations health-wise and not to mention the trauma and psychological consequences of it.
Some of us have lived through the first use of chemical weapons by the French in World War 1 and then Germany. In the 1930s by Soviet Union in Central Asia, by the Spaniards in Spanish Morocco, by the Italians on Libya and Ethiopia, gas chambers during the Holocaust on Jews by the Nazis throughout 1939 and onwards nuclear bombs in World War II by the United States on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, amateurish gas bombing in the North Yemen Civil War, the use of chemical weapons in the Iraq-Iran war and chemical gasses like sarin, VX and possibly cyanide dropped on Halabja in Kurdistan as instructed by Saddam Hussein in 1986, the Chernobyl accident of 1986 too, the use of nerve gas by the Assad regime over its people in Syria in 2013, the alleged use of chemical agents by Russia on dissenting personalities up to the alleged use of white phosphorous munitions by Israel as pointed out by Human Rights Watch – Israeli Defence Forces have denied the allegation but photos have emerged to contradict this.
The use of chemical and biological weapons in chemical warfare has been contained through international laws and conventions like the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) – a multilateral treaty that bans chemical weapons and requires their destruction within a specified period of time.
The production of chemical weapons by countries is evil and the global community must not allow the proliferation of storing these weapons let alone tolerate and continue to have bilateral relationships with them.
Malaysia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1993 and ratified the Convention in 2000 and the Dewan Rakyat passed the Chemical Weapons Convention Act 2005 and according to the National Authority Chemical Weapons Convention (NACWC) under 14 Ministries and agencies, Malaysia does not own or possess chemical weapons, old chemical weapons, abandoned chemical weapons and chemical weapons production facilities but as a state party to the CWC, but we are duty-bound to monitor and verify our chemical industries and other relating industries which manage or possess certain toxic chemicals, referred to as Scheduled Chemicals. In other words, the Convention regulates the usage of industrial chemicals listed as Scheduled Chemicals and also the Unscheduled Discrete Organic Chemicals (DOC).
Nonetheless, as part of the UN Human Rights Council and signatory to the CWC, we have a moral obligation and duty to pressure the United Nations and to trigger the conversation on countries that are producing chemical and biological weapons in the name of national security – with no guarantee nor assurance that it will be used arbitrarily at any given time to “protect oneself” or worse, trumped-up allegations against opposing parties.
We must never forget and never allow this dark chapter of history on the use of chemical weapons to repeat itself again, not in our Parliaments, not by our Governments, not by our global partners and friends in the name of peace and national security. Any country found to be producing biological and chemical weapons should be on everyone’s radar as a country to watch out.
Malaysia has a moral duty and authority to propose motions at the United Nations and to call for a vote against countries that use or harbour chemical and biological weapons. You may erase memories, but you cannot erase history and the generational trauma and medical complications endured by the human race. There is no justification in using chemical weapons and in the worst-case scenario is when it ends up in the hands of terrorists. What will become of the world then?
The use of chemical weapons stems from an idea, from a point of view, from discrimination, from impunity, from corruption and abuses of power, from hate speech and planting the seeds of hatred, prejudice and hostility manifests itself to a weapon of mass destruction and we as Malaysians must do the impossible to stop this from happening.
This day, we remember victims of chemical warfare and in tribute to them, call for an absolute end to the production and use of chemical and biological weapons, once and for all.
DAP Vice Chairman
DAP MP for Seputeh