Qazi Muhammad (Ghazi Muhammad, Qazí Mihemed, قاضی محمد، قازی محەممەد) a Kurdish political and spiritual figure, was born on May 1, 1900, in the city of Mehabad (also known as Sablax), situated in the Mukríyan region of Kurdistan. He held a prominent and revered position in Kurdish history. Coming from a privileged background, his father being Qazi Ali bin Qasim bin Mirza Ahmed and his mother belonging to the esteemed ‘Faidhullah Bagi’ clan in Mukriyan, Qazi Muhammad grew up surrounded by a rich Kurdish heritage. This upbringing instilled in him a deep sense of identity and a profound appreciation for his cultural roots. He received a traditional Kurdish education encompassing religious and secular subjects, laying the groundwork for his future as a leader and advocate for Kurdish rights. Despite his privileged upbringing, Qazi Muhammad remained connected to the struggles of his people, both in religious and secular matters. His empathy for the Kurdish masses allowed him to understand their hardships and the pervasive sense of alienation that plagued the Kurdish cause. As a result, he dedicated his time and energy to serving the interests of Kurds, not only in the Mehabad region but in all areas where Kurdish communities resided.
Qazi Muhammad possessed a diverse and extensive knowledge base, contributing to his esteemed reputation. He excelled in religious studies, acquiring a profound understanding of Sharia law, Islamic jurisprudence, and the principles of his faith. Additionally, he was multilingual, proficient in Arabic, Turkish, Persian, basic English, and basic Russian, in addition to his mother tongue, Kurdish. His charming personality endeared him to those he encountered, and his unwavering commitment to Kurdish rights fuelled his determination to fight for their cause.
During the 1930s, Qazi Muhammad’s contacts with the ‘Khyoboun’ party in Syria not only expanded his understanding of the Kurdish question, but also deepened his sense of responsibility towards the broader Kurdish community. This experience laid the foundation for his future political engagements and positioned him as a prominent figure in the ongoing struggle for Kurdish rights and self-determination in greater Kurdistan.
In 1944, Qazi Muhammad’s involvement in the Kurdish political landscape took a significant turn when he became a member of the Komelley Jhyani Kurd, or the Kurdish Life Association. This clandestine organization, founded in Mehabad in 1942, aimed to unite Kurdish figures from across Kurdistan under a common cause. Qazi Muhammad’s arrival injected fresh ideas and perspectives into the organization, eventually leading to its transformation into the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in 1945.
As the main founder of the KDP, Qazi Muhammad played a pivotal role in shaping its vision and objectives. The party set forth ambitious goals, including seeking freedom within the Iranian context and establishing autonomy for Kurdistan within the nation’s borders. It also emphasized brotherhood and solidarity with non-Persian minority groups, such as the Azerbaijanis.
Under Qazi Muhammad’s leadership and influence, the KDP sought to champion the rights of Kurds in Iran and provide a platform for their aspirations. By including non-Persian minority communities in their vision, the party underscored the importance of unity and shared struggles in the face of oppression and marginalization.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party aimed to address the longstanding grievances of the Kurdish population by advocating for freedom, autonomy, and interethnic harmony. Their goal was not only to advance Kurdish rights, but also to foster a broader sense of equality and inclusivity within Iran’s diverse ethnic landscape.
Qazi Muhammad’s instrumental role in the founding of the Kurdistan Democratic Party showcased his visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to the Kurdish cause. His contributions played a crucial part in consolidating Kurdish political power and organizing a unified front to advocate for the rights and aspirations of the Kurdish people within a democratic and inclusive Iran.
On December 16, 1945, a momentous announcement by Qazi Muhammad in Mehabad’s ‘Char Chira’ square marked the lowering of the Tehran government’s flag in institutions and schools, replaced by the flag of Kurdistan. This festive event symbolized the region’s newfound sense of autonomy and determination.
On January 22, 1946, under the leadership of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Republic of Kurdistan was officially proclaimed. Qazi Muhammad, as a symbol of hope and resilience, took the oath as the Republic’s first president, a historic occasion celebrated by delegations from across the Kurdish region.
In the capital city of Mehabad, Qazi Muhammad delivered a passionate speech, and for the first time in Kurdish history, the flag of Kurdistan, consisting of red, white, yellow, and green, was raised in parts of East Kurdistan. The Republic presented a comprehensive struggle program reflecting the legitimate aspirations of the Kurdish people for a state of their own, built on the principles of independence and modernity while respecting the sovereignty of neighboring countries.
Despite its short lifespan, the Kurdish Republic achieved significant progress. The Kurdish language was officially recognized and adopted in educational and governmental institutions. Schools were established, and cultural institutions, including the press and theaters, were created. Women actively participated in the new Kurdish life, and economic ties were forged with neighboring nations.
However, the Republic’s existence was abruptly cut short due to Iran’s refusal to negotiate with Qazi Muhammad regarding the Kurdish Republic’s relationship with the central government. With the support of British and American forces, Iran launched a brutal military campaign that suppressed the democratic movement in Iranian Kurdistan. This led to the dismantling of the Kurdish Republic and the reinstatement of Iranian control over Mehabad and its surroundings.
On March 31, 1947, following a mock trial, Qazi Muhammad, along with several Kurdish leaders and militants, met a tragic fate in Mehabad’s ‘Char Chira’ square. They were executed by hanging, marking a dark chapter in Kurdish history.
The memory of Qazi Muhammad’s exemplary leadership and his unwavering dedication to the Kurdish cause endures. His sacrifice and commitment continue to inspire subsequent generations in their ongoing struggle for Kurdish rights and self-determination. Qazi Muhammad’s vision of an independent and prosperous Kurdistan remains a beacon of hope for the Kurdish people, solidifying his place as one of the brightest and most revered figures in Kurdish history.
- Archie Roosevelt, Jr., “The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad”, Middle East Journal, no. 1 (July 1947), pp. 247-6