The Political and Literary life of Ibrahim Ahmad

* Ibrahim Ahmad was born in 1914 in the city of Suleimani in Iraqi Kurdistan.
* 1937 he completed his studies in Law at Baghdad University.
* 1942-1944 he served as a judge in the cities of Irbil and Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan.
* 1939-1949 he founded, along with Aladdin Soujadi, the well-known Kurdish literary periodical “Galawezh”. He was the journal’s publisher and chief editor. Many of his poems, short stories, translations of stories (mostly from English), and literary articles were published in this periodical.
* 1944 he left his official position as a judge to in order to fully commit himself to political activity and the literary periodical.
*1949 he was sentenced by a special Iraqi court (established by the royalist regime to contain political opposition during a „state of emergency“) to two years of prison in Baghdad, and two years of local arrest in Kirkuk.
* From 1930 to 1970 he was politically active in several Kurdish organizations, parties and associations. As a consequence he led an underground existence during long periods of his life. This was especially the case after 1947 when he became an active member of the Kurdish Democratic Party, becoming General Secretary in 1953. After 1970, he lived in one of the autonomous areas of Iraqi Kurdistan and became an advisor to the resistance’s leadership. After 1975 he has lived as a political refugee in England.
* He has published many essays, poems, articles and other writings in Arabic, Kurdish and Persian. Unfortunately, some of his literary work has either been destroyed or been lost over the course of his underground life – and as the leader of the KDP’s armed resistance force in Iraqi Kurdistan’s mountains between 1961-1970. Much of his work was published under different names such as “B.A.R.” or “Bile” or other pseudonyms.
*He was long acknowledged in all parts of Kurdistan and in Kurdish exile as one of the greatest (if not as the greatest) living poet, pioneer novelist, writer of essays, and political writer on Kurdistan.
*His poems, while not more than ten in number, are in a class of their own in the Kurdish literature. Many have been translated to other languages as Arabic, Persian, English and Russian.
*Ibrahim Ahmed’s most famous poems are the following:
1- “Yagdar U Hiwa” = “Memories and Hope” was written in Baghdad in 1933. A romantic poem addressed to his lover (Kurdistan in this case), it later became a very popular song called “Shirin Bahare” = “Sweet Spring”.
2- “Berew Ronaki” = “Towards the light”. Written in 1945 it is about the burden of political and social struggle and the difficulties encountered on the way to freedom, independence and liberation.
3- “Dwa Tiri Kewan” = “The last arrow of the warrior”. Composed in 1949 on his way to prison, he points out that repressive measures characterize the last days of the royalist regime, which he compares for its power, methods of oppression and inevitable fate to Nazi-Germany.
Ibrahim Ahmad’s short stories, articles and poems were published in three different magazines: “Galawezh”, “Hawar” and “Zhian” as well as in books. These are some of them:
“Yadgari Lawan” = “Memories of youth”. It is a small book of poems and stories published in Baghdad in 1933, to which he contributed, amongst other Kurdish writers.
“Diari Lawan” = “Gift of youth”. This is a little book of poems and stories published in Baghdad in 1934, also as part of a collection featuring other Kurdish writers.
3- “ Kwereweri” = “Misery”. Short stories published in Baghdad in 1959, including the following:
A- “Kara Lotey Manoochar” = “Manoochar’s shabby donkey”, 1945
B- “Khaze”, 1943.
C- “Kwereweri” = “Misery”, 1944
D- “Tolasandin” = “The Vengeance”
E- “Le Wilati Quareman” = “In the land of the heroes” , 1942
These stories are mostly about the struggle of poor farmers in Iraqi Kurdistan against their feudal masters and the Government in Iraq. In the 1940-1950’s Ibrahim Ahmad was an advocate for poor farmers against the authorities, a role he played on a voluntary basis, as part of his political battle and work.
His last story “Le Wilati Quareman” is about the Russian resistance against the Nazi-Germany.
4-Two other short stories have newly been published in the magazine : “Chirekey Kurdistan” = “Kurdistan’s cry”, published by Ibrahim Ahmad, in 1979 in England (approx. 3 issues per year). These stories are:
A- “Bawk U Kur” = “Father and son”, 1979
B- “Pirsey Shaheed” = “The vigil of martyr”,1980
5- Many other short stories and poems were published by Ibrahim Ahmed in “Gelawezh”, but he retained no copies and their titles are forgotten. There are only a few complete collections of “Gelawezh” left, hidden away in secret in Iraq. Ibrahim Ahmad’s work is effectively banned there.
Ibrahim Ahmed started writing novels in Kurdish in 1933. This was an important milestone in Kurdish literature. He has written eight novels altogether but unfortunately three of these have been destroyed, or are hidden in Iraq. Original manuscripts of five of his novels remain among his possesions in England. These are:
1- “Zhani Gal” = “The sufferance of the people”. It was written in 1956 and is about the Algerian’s battle for liberation, with a nod to the Kurdish situation. It was only pubilshed in 1972 in Iraq. It was translated into Persian and published in Iran in 1980, and into Turkish and French and published in France, in 1994. It is the only book by Ibrahim Ahmad that has been published in those countries.
“Dirk U Gul” = “The thorn and the flower”, was written in 1961 and consists of two volumes of 300 pages each.. The first volume was published in 1991. The second volume is ready for print but hasn’t been published yet due to lack of resources. It couldn’t have been published in its time because of political reasons.
3- “Awat U Nahomedi”= “Expectations and Desperation”, written 1933 and consisting of 550 hand-written pages. It has not been published yet.
4- “Harzakari U Hezhari”= “Negligence and Poverty”. It is written 1972 and consists of two volumes, 250 pages each, unpublished.
5- “Zhian U Khabat” = “Life and Struggle”, written 1961, 760 hand-written pages.
Secondary Sources on Ibrahim Ahmad and his literary work
During long periods in Iraq it was forbidden to write about Ibrahim and his work. At times he was completely banned and the mere mention of his name was prohibited. During the years 1958-1961 and 1970-1974 the Kurds enjoyed a certain degree of freedom, which made it possible write about him. Sometimes comments and analyses of his work were written about his work without mentioning his name.
Despite this, there are some sources that can be named:
1- Dr. Kemal Fuad in:
A-Kurdische Handschriften, Wiesbaden, 1970.
B-The foreword to “Zhani Gal”, Irak, 1972.
C- German Lexicon of International Writers.
2- Dr. Izzaddin Mustafa Rasoul:
“Al-Waqia fi al-adab al-kurdi”= “Realism in Kurdish Literature”, Beirut,1969.
3-Karim Mirza Ghaffour: a literary analysis of “Yadgari Lawan” and “Diary Lawan”, Baghdad, 1978. Written in Kurdish, the writer doesn’t dare to name Ibrahim Ahmad by name and only analyses the works.
4-Piremerd: a literary critic of “Yagadari Lawan” , in the magazine “Zhian”, 7/9/1933.
5-Dr. Jamal Maroof Khaznadar in:
A-Kurdish Journalism Guide , Baghdad, 1973
B- A book in Russian about Kurdish literature, Moscow, 1967.
6-Prof. Joyce Blau: Memoire du Kurdistan, Paris, 1984.
Here a translation of the story Khaze is found.
7-Swedish-Kurdish periodical, issue 1-2/1986, has translated Khaze to Swedish, with an outline of Ibrahim Ahmad’s life.
8-The Kurdish Newspaper “Kurdistan Express” (published in Sweden) featured Ibrahim Ahmad in several issues, as well as his different work and thoughts.
Ibrahim Ahmad’s Political work and life
Ibrahim Ahmad was one of those who organized the famous demonstration against the then colonial power of Great Britain in Iraq, in front of the City Hall in the city Suleimani in 1930. Many people were wounded or killed when the Iraqi police opened fire against the peaceful protest demonstration. That day is now known as “Black 6th of September” in Kurdish history.
In 1931, he went to Baghdad to intermediate school and after that to secondary school as there were none operating at the time in Suleimani. He consequently studied law at Baghdad’s faculty of law and reorganized a Kurdish youth organization in order to expand it. He managed to do so with the help of some of his friends, stretching its activities beyond the simple borders of Iraqi Kurdistan, and attempted to reunite Kurdish writers from all parts of the Kurdish homelands. He made this organization more efficient and prosperous than ever before. They also started a Kurdish publishing firm and a printing work that published a Kurdish political calendar and other publications.
1937, he wrote a pamphlet called “Arabs and Kurds” in Arabic. This publication was a cry for solidarity between Arabs and Kurds, and an explanation of the fact that Kurds and Arabs alike had rights, since neither at this time had an independent state of their own. The rights declared were for both people to have a country of their own, since even Iraq was ruled over by the British at that time. This pamphlet had a large impact on political opinion in Iraq. After that, Ibrahim Ahmad was marked as a Marxist and was regularly persecuted by the authorities.
In 1944 he became responsible of the J.K. (Komeley Jianewey Kurdistan) alliance’s branch in Suleimani, even though it had been originally established in Mahabad in Iranian Kurdistan. Subsequently, this branch evolved to serve the entirety of southern Kurdistan, ie Iraqi Kurdistan. When the J.K. changed its name on the 16th of July 1945, to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (K.D.P.), Ibrahim Ahmad became chairman in Iraqi Kurdistan. This branch of the K.D.P. published a magazine “Dengi Rasti” with Ibrahim Ahmad as editor.
After the decomposition of the Mahabad Republic, in December 1946, the different branches of the KDP that existed in Iraq joined forces, and KDP Iraq was founded. An earlier attempt had taken place, without success, however, in August 1946. At the earlier attempt, Ibrahim Ahmad had been present at a secret meeting in Baghdad as an observer for the Southern Kurdistan branch of the KDP, that had been established (1945) in Iran. When the KDP in Iraq was finally officially founded, Ibrahim Ahmad became responsible for its organization in the city of Suleimani.
In 1951 the second of the KDP’s secret conferences was held in Baghdad and Ibrahim Ahmad was chosen as a of its temporary Central Committee and given the responsibilities of a general secretary, even though a general secretary had been chosen. Iraqi authorities had expelled Dr. Jafar Karim to Iran, however, so Ibrahim Ahmed stood in the latter’s stead.
1953 the KDP’s third conference was held in secrecy, this time in Kirkuk and Ibrahim Ahmad was chosen as the new general secretary in the party. The KDP’s newspaper between 1949-1956 was named “Rizgari” with Ibrahim Ahmad as its editor. After 1956, the party’s newspaper was named “Khabati Kurdistan” with once again Ibrahim Ahmad as editor. In 1959, the party’s newspaper became legal and changed name to “Khabat” with Ibrahim Ahmad as editor and publisher.
In 1960, Ibrahim Ahmad was sentenced to prison because of an article in Khabat which was a critic against the Iraqi Government and demanded autonomy for Kurdistan as promised in the Iraqi constitution. Ibrahim Ahmad remained in hiding until the armed opposition began in Iraqi Kurdistan, in September 1961, under the leadership of the party, when he went to the mountains and established his headquarters in a cave in the Suleimani area known as “Malooma”.
In March 1961, Khabat ceased to be published legally and started to do so illegally in the freed areas of Kurdistan., until 1970. But after the shattering of the KDP year 1964 two issues of Khabat were published by both wings of the party.
1964, a division occurred in the KDP, with Ahmad on the one side and Barzani on the other. This division left bitter experiences in the movement. But the division finally led to Barzani’s victory 1970 and both wings reunited again, with the effect that Ibrahim Ahmad retired more or less politically.

Source: Kurdistan Newsline – PUK Issue 26-Apr 23, 2000


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1 Kommentar

  1. The novel, Mal du Peuple (Zhani Gel) is not about Algeria but about the Kurdish resistance and ‚Kurdayeti‘. It is set under the Ba’ath years although it claims to be written concerning the period under Nuri Said – the descriptions are all from the later struggle of the National Liberation Army and is set in Sulaimaniyah. I have the French translation which Ibrahim Ahmad gave me and inscribed in the dedication for me. I have just re-read it. It merits translation into English which his wealthy offspring could easily finance.


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