A TAXI driver has inspired a town to dedicate a memorial stone to victims of one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.

Two trees have been planted at Albert Park and a memorial stone unveiled in Middlesbrough to commemorate those killed and exiled from Kurdistan in the Middle East.

The tribute was the idea of Kurdish exile, Ahmed Jaff, who has lived in the town for 11 years.

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He said his homeland had experienced unnecessary suffering and death since it was partitioned between Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran in 1918.

He said: “Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath regime was a devastatingly brutal and murderous time, and many Kurds lived in fear of their lives and still do.”

“There have been mass executions and killings, including the Halabja massacre in which 5,000 innocent people were killed by Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons.”

According to a 1993 Human Rights Watch report 100,000 people were killed at the hands of the Ba’ath regime, with the Anfal campaign of genocide against the Kurds formally recognised by the House of Commons in February this year.

During the Anfal atrocity, men and boys were rounded up, shot and buried in mass graves, with women and children sent to internment camps where many were executed or died of starvation.

Mr Jaff added: “I went back to Kurdistan in 2012 and saw many monuments to these horrors, and witnessed families searching for their loved ones.

“I was determined that I would try to get some sort of memorial in my new home town of Middlesbrough to remember the victims of such appalling brutality - my fellow countrymen, women and children.”