Published on Apr 1, 2014

Sara Thomsen’s song “Halabja” was inspired by the poem “Address” by Kurdish poet Hamid Qaladzaye, translated to English by Sherzad Hassan.

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The video was produced by Iranian film director Rahimi Zabihi. The song and poem are about the poison gas attack on the city Halabja, in Iraqi Kurdistan, March 16, 1988 by the Baath Regime. Thomsen met poet Hamid Qaladzaye during an Echoes of Peace Singing Delegation to Iraq in March of 2013 (25th anniversary of the attacks). The delegation was there as part of the developing sister city relationship between Duluth (Minnesota) and Rania (Iraqi Kurdistan).

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Halabja by Sara Thomsen

Inspired by the poem “Address” by Hamid Qaladzaye (see further below for the English translation of the poem by Sherzad Hassan)

Butterflies falling all around
Flying birds drop dead to the ground
The breeze hears the sound
And the breeze whispers word to the wind
And the wind calls out to the storm
And the wind and the storm and the breeze
Run over the hills, rush through the trees
Run ’til they fall on their knees
And find you

Halabja! Halabja! Halabja! Halabja!

The storm chokes on his breath
Falls lifeless and limp like the rest
The breeze with a tear in her eye
Drops dead on the sparrow
Dead as the butterfly
And the wind stands alone
Oh, the wind
The wind cries:

Halabja! Halabja! Halabja! Halabja!

All is stone silent for miles
The wind weeps by the mother and child
Curls close to the families in piles
And the wind dies
It was the day
The wind died, blew no more
Even the wind, even the wind died at your door

Halabja! Halabja! Halabja! Halabja!

by Hamid Qaladzaye, Kurdish poet. Read by the author.
Translation from the Kurdish language by Sherzad Hassan.

Before the suffocation of Halabja
The wind didn’t know
That its agony was so painful
On that day…it held the hands of the breeze and a gush of storm (1)
Hurrying towards Kani-Ashqan (2)
That day…
Late in the morning… the 16th of March (3)
It saw flocks of autumn butterflies
In the entrance of the city
All of them were fallen dead
Murmuring softly: Oh my offspring
I have been traveling so much…
Everywhere… here and there
From plains…mounds to hills
I remember so many times… in hidden places
Listening to “Habeeba and Nali” (4)
Trilling their lovely desires and intentions
While not knowing what a hell was there
To the right side… the storm dropped dead
It’s face to the ground
On the left side… the breeze dropped dead
Upon the corpse of a sparrow
From that day on the wind became the mother’s martyr
And Halabja was the address

1 In the poem, Wind has two children, Shna and Bagzha (Breeze and Storm)
2 Kani-Ashqan is one of the beautiful quarters in Halabja
3 March 16, 1988 is the date of the chemical bombing of Halabja, in Iraqi Kurdistan, killing 5,000+ Kurds
4 Nali is one of the greatest Kurdish poets in history and Habeeba was his lover

Poem by Hamid Qaladzaye, Kurdish poet. Read by the author.
Translation from the Kurdish language by Sherzad Hassan.

<a href="/channel/UCpAA6dARr0vAFAIzIu72_kQ" class=" yt-uix-sessionlink     spf-link  g-hovercard" data-sessionlink="ei=yn99VLTuJIqfqwO-oIHICA" data-ytid="UCpAA6dARr0vAFAIzIu72_kQ" data-name="">Sara Thomsen</a>

By Published On: December 24th, 20141 Comment

One Comment

  1. carollmasters December 25, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    beautiful … harrowing

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