About

Sherko Bekes

Poet

Sherko Bekes’s book length poem, The Valley of Butterfly, was written in the late eighties, in the wake of Anfal and Halabja. During the Anfal campaign in1988 three thousand Kurdish villages were destroyed, over forty chemical attacks were launched, 100,000 civilians ended up in mass graves and hundreds more died as a result of exposure to chemical weapons. The attack on Halabja, which was not part of the Anfal campaign, remains the best-known chemical attack on civilians in Kurdistan, partly because it was a town, not a village, where over 5000 people died instantly. Thousands more people who, during Halabja and Anfal, were mildly affected by the gas, later died from cancer and other diseases. In this poem Sherko Bekes, who was in exile at the time, is stunned by the world’s silence towards these atrocities, he longs to go home and mourn the victims, laments the repetitive cycles of Kurdish history (continuous oppression and suppressed revolutions) and remembers and talks to other exiled Kurdish poets from the sixteenth century to the present day (especially Nali, Haji, Mawlawi). The book was printed in Sweden in January 1991, around the time of the first gulf war. Following the uprisings in the Kurdish and the Shiite regions in March '91, Sherko Bekes was able to return to Iraqi Kurdistan a few months after his book was printed. '

- from Choman Hardi's introduction in MPT Series 3/4 Between the Languages

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