The following article was originally published in Rudaw.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurds are marking the 71st anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Kurdistan.
The short-lived republic, with its capital in Mahabad, northern Iran, was declared on January 22, 1946. It gained support of Kurds from other parts of Kurdistan, mainly Iraq, where former Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani, joined the republic, along with thousands of Kurdish fighters.
It was founded by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) under the leadership of Qazi Muhammad, who became the president.
“The republic was an island of liberty and democracy,” the PDKI said in a statement marking the anniversary, noting that gender equality was prioritized, Kurdish was the official language, and the Peshmerga were the official army.
Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani was born in the fledgling republic on August 16, 1946.
On December 15, 1946, Iranian forces entered Mahabad, bringing an end to the Kurdish state.
“In spite of being short-lived, the Republic of Kurdistan is a millstone in Kurdish history and it is a point of reference for other Kurdish movements in other parts of Kurdistan in pursuit of the Kurdish nation’s legitimate right to self-determination,” the PDKI stated.
Qazi Muhammad was publicly hanged on March 31, 1947. His son, Ali Qazi, was 13 when his father was executed. In a 2014 interview with Rudaw, he said, “the Kurdistan Republic is a golden page in the history of the Kurdish liberation struggle.”
Members of the Kurdistan Regional Government, which is planning to open discussions with Baghdad on independence, have taken the occasion of this anniversary to reaffirm Kurdish independence aspirations.