Halabja Is Our Present And Our Future


I wanted to write a moving piece. I wanted to write in commemoration of the Halabja Massacre that claimed the lives of more than 5,000 Kurdish civilians in a poison gas attack in 1988 carried out on the orders of Saddam Hussein, then president of Iraq. I wanted to write about it in a way that honoured the innocent lives taken and made readers visualize the fatal moments and the destruction left in the wake of the butchery.

Because just like any other Kurd I have an urgency to tell the world about Halabja though I have never been there. I have a need to explain what happened during the Halabja Massacre though I was not there. I feel obligated to emphasize on its relevance in today’s world though I have never experienced a massacre.

But I cannot find the words to write about it. Words are insufficient.

Halabja is not a mythical story that drives the Kurdish people to claim their independence. It is not our past but our present and our future because it shapes our resistance against oppressive regimes and discriminating propaganda, it molds our youth and it prepares us for yet another massacre like Roboski.

Halabja is our present and our future because every Kurd who was killed by an oppressor in Iraq, Iran, Syria or Turkey remains alive in the Kurdish land and mountains. No one has said it better than Kurdish poet Şerko Bêkes:

What is Tigris and Euphrates made of?
Water, naturally,
but even though water is without colour they are always crimson.
Water has no taste but their lingering taste
is that of the fires of history.
Water has no smell, yet there is this scent
from the hair of our murdered daughters and sons.