I am a 17-year-old Kurdish student/writer residing in Los Angeles. I recently wrote this piece for the children of the Halabcha tragedy.
I awoke far before the sun rays could creep in with their playful hands through the thick colorless curtains of my father’s house and bring the message of dawn to our perhaps dreamless sleeps and silently whisper that she has arrived. I awoke and wore a dress of the bluebell’s and violet’s grace and set out to the fields of my mother’s land. I walked among the grass that grew knee high and the crimson flowers who had not yet unveiled from their gentle moonlight rest. With such childlike innocence I flouted like a butterfly that has come to greet the blooming spring.
Only days before Nowruj and already I felt revived, already I could smell through the passing breeze the New Year, taste in the melted snow of the racing rivers a new beginning, could touch the purity of my land as I plugged a flower from the fields. I stood far from the city and looked down from a hill, admiring every scent, every breeze, every sight, every inch of what stood before me, of the metamorphosis that I was given the privilege to witness.
As the sun was rising and the glorious dawn was withstanding its triumph upon the winter night, an unnatural wind began to blow behind me and my long dark hair and colorful dress moved about violently. My heart began to pound upon my fragile chest as the birth of day was stopped by a monster shaped helicopter, flying right above me towards the city I had first opened my eyes to see. Fear began to entangle itself around me, squeezing my body, making it hard to catch the ever escaping air.
The flying monsters continued to follow and without a sound or trace left as sudden as they had come only to return again and again to pierce the fear through me. I could not move and stood where I had first set eyes upon them and as I could no longer see or hear their terrifying sight, I began to run towards my home, hoping to find comfort in my mother’s embrace. I ran as fast as my small feet permitted and as I began to get closer to my city, I could smell the sweet scent of apples and pears but could no longer take long deep breaths and see clearly.
My feet began to tremble beneath me and shook as I was walking through the streets of my city. I put my hands on my face covering my mouth and nose and absent mindedly walked towards my home. There, in the corner of the street, a boy I had often played with, lied motionless, his eyes still open yet hollow, the only movement upon his face was a stream of blood running down his nose…
My eyes were burning and tears began to run down my cold cheeks, and as I continued to walk, I was faced with the most terrifying scenes of a morbid city. Another boy carrying a cart was standing, his feet in the same position they had been when he had made his last stop. A man lied faced down, on the concrete of his front yard, a woman, frozen, was sitting in the corner of her door and her spilled milk was still running, a young mother, carrying her child upon her back was half way up the stairs of her house but she remained unmoved, her child was fast asleep.
I passed neighbors, classmates, friends, family, no one spoke, no one raised their heads, no one waved or said “hello”, they all lied like statues upon the rocky roads of the streets and the only movement upon the city was the torment of the wind that carried the agonizing sound of shouts, weeping mothers and terrified children who had remained awake.
As I was getting closer to my father’s house, I had become somehow empty as a drum and I knew that I would not find comfort in my mother’s embrace, for although my vision was blurry, I could still see enough of the darkness that had come with sunrise. I ran the last few steps inside to find a lethal silence that tore me apart.
I fell on my knees and screamed as my mother lied by my father on the breakfast spread, the tea cold, the glass still between my father’s fingers. I continued to scream and cry for I could do nothing else, the room was illuminated by the sky’s light but it created a mocking irony upon the depth of misery that had come upon my world. I shook my father’s cold body, asking him to awaken, telling him that it is too late to still be asleep, yet he remained where he had been. I threw objects around thinking that maybe somehow my mother would awaken and scold me for misbehaving, but no one said a word, no one was there to silence me…
The only survivor of my family, I was left to carry them all to their graves, left to pick up the crumbled pieces of life. I was left, like so many others, in a city that was shaken, broken, left to horror and merciless pain, to mourn for those innocent souls whose only crime was being born. I wonder if I would have been set free if I had been buried by their side today.
There was no Nowruj that year or the years that followed. The only ceremonies that we attended were one funeral after another and the only emotion that filled my emptiness was the penetration of pain. So often did I sit before my window and longed to see those crimson flowers once again, but they had all died, on that day when the sun never rose…
This is not just a young girl’s personal story; it is the story of the Kurdish people of Halabcha, of the survivors who were left to carry their loved ones on their bruised knees to mass graves, of the massacre that left the innocent people to clean the bloodshed of the blood thirsty tyrants. It is the story of the Kurdish holocaust and Hiroshima. That Friday morning, on March 16th of 1988, in the city of Halabcha, the city of the strong and brave, the sun did not rise, nor did the winter leave or the spring arrive.
That Friday morning in the city of Halabcha was only the beginning of what continued to be a day of genocide upon humanity and it left thousands of Kurds dead and a never ending chain of people sick, and almost two decades later, still no flowers or sincere joy grow .
Here we stand, remembering the day the sun never rose and attempt to show our sympathy, strength, our pride, our dignity, which has withstood the test of misery. Here we stand, and although we can not mend the wounds of the Kurdish children of Halabcha, we take a moment of silence to remember them, to remind ourselves that no matter what they do to us, we will never bow down and kneel. How can we ever forgive or forget? We stand here today to raise the voice of the silenced orphans left behind by the corpses of their mothers and fathers. We stand to let them know that they will never be forgotten…