ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A prominent Kurdish nationalist from Iran has died in Sulaimani on Thursday after a battle with COVID-19.
Jalil Gadani, a long-time member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), passed away at Hiwa hospital in the Kurdistan Region’s eastern city on Thursday after being in intensive care for almost a week, according to an official statement published by the group on Thursday.
Gadani, who has been involved in Kurdish Iranian politics for more than six decades, split from the KDPI in 2006 with a number of senior members to form the splinter group called Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP-Iran). He held senior positions in both parties for decades.
“Jalil Gadani was a book that was written over a 60 years period, my condolences to the Kurdish people,” said Facebook user Hassan Ahmed.
Established in 1945, the KDPI launched a decades-long insurgency against the Islamic Republic after the collapse of the monarchy in 1979, fighting for the rights of Iran’s Kurdish minority. Exiled from Iran and presently based in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Iranian forces have sporadically shelled the Region’s border areas over the years, targeting bases belonging to the Kurdish opposition groups from Iran, including the the KDP and KDP-I.
Several senior members of KDP-Iran were killed in an Iranian missile attack in early September 2018.
Gadani was born on March 3, 1934 in the city of Mahabad. He became a member of the KDPI in 1948 and was later sentenced to 13 years in prison for his political activism during the reign of Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi.
During his incarceration he studied the French language, and is said to have later received a bachelor’s degree in French from Tehran University.
Gadani witnessed the establishment and demise of the Kurdistan Republic in Mahabad as a student in the mid-1940s.
Kurdish leader Qazi Mohammed declared autonomy for the short-lived Kurdish state in present-day Iran on January 22, 1946. The new government gained the 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.
“One day, there was an abnormal movement inside the city [Mahabad], we asked, and they told us there is a satisfying news coming up,” Gadani told Rudaw in an interview on January 22, 2019. “Days later, [Peshawa] Qazi Mohammed declared the republic with the presence of thousands of people.”