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Republic of Liberty: Life, Political Thought of Nawshirwan Mustafa

By Hoshyar Omar Ali

Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin (1944-2017) began his life in Sulaimanyah in the Sarshaqam Quarter in Khanaqa. He was the son of an ordinary mother and father. He lived like an ordinary citizen. He had an unconquerable belief in the power and wisdom of the common people for struggle. Throughout his life he supported hundreds and thousands of people to become leaders. He always used to say: “If I could, you can too.” Nawshirwan Mustafa spent his childhood, primary school and high school in Sulaimanyah. He then went to Baghdad to study at university. Eventually he went to Vienna to pursue postgraduate studies. Before completing his doctorate he travelled back and forth to the mountains of Kurdistan to launch a new revolution. In the years that followed he found himself in Berlin, Paris and London but he was always present in Kurdistan, even if he left temporarily.

Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin was a leader, guerrilla warfare strategist, journalist, historian and sociologist. He was a unique man. The story and history of the life of Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin is the true story and history of the people of Kurdistan for liberty, as it also is an inseparable part of the history of the war of humankind against despotism in all its forms, which begins with the formation of the first human society. Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin was not merely a leader but a perpetual idea as ancient as the history of humankind itself: this is the idea of human freedom.

Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin would completely re-invent himself.

First, as soon as he became the Secretary of Komalay Ranjdarani Kurdistan, he changed that force to a political and armed party that reflects the reality and demands of the Kurdish liberation movement instead of an ideological party entrenched in world communism.

Second, when the Kurdistan Parliament and Kurdistan Regional Government were established 1992, he used all his powers to transform the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to a civil and democratic party capable of democratic governance. He also took the same steps in Kurdish politics.

Third, when he concluded change was not possible within PUK, he resigned and established the Gorran Movement. He is the only leader who voluntarily left a political party that he was a founder of and the leader behind. Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin is one among a few individuals in the world history that gave up power – instead of exploiting his position to stay in power – to reap the fruits of revolution, similar to George Washington and Nelson Mandela. Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin has secured his place in the history of the Kurds through these steps and his numerous writings.

Gorran Movement: A Social, Democratic and Political Revolution

Gorran Movement is a political party of the ideas that emerged during the Enlightenment, in particular the writings of John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu. It is a political party vehemently opposed to hereditary rule, its political platform is democratic and its goal is democratic transition in Kurdistan through the promotion and protection of political and civil liberties on the basis of citizenship, the rule of law, transparency and accountability and tolerance in society. Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin considered Gorran Movement a social, democratic and political revolution.

It is a revolution in Kurdish society through the democratization of the mind of the citizens of Kurdistan. Up until the recent decades the vast majority of the people in Kurdistan resided in villages. Feudalism was a system firmly in place in which aghas had absolute control over all spheres of life and the population toiled for a few aghas. Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin knew too well that liberty is not inherited by sons and daughters from fathers and mothers. It is a right that every generation and every person must fight for it day and night to secure it, and fight many times harder to protect it. Genuine change is essential for Kurdish society, in which citizens see themselves as endowed with rights and freedom so that it moves from a tribal society to a modern and civil society, and in which all the political and civil rights, the right to life, security and dignity are protected though the rule of law, and in which citizens know that the legitimate source of authority is the consent of the people within a social contract. In the absence of democratic citizens democratic transition is a difficult task, if not impossible.

Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin through this revolution introduced a new understanding of citizenship, society, politics, authority, freedom and human rights into Kurdish society. Through Gorran Movement he put these ideas into practice. Civil and republican governance are the pillars of the civilization of democratic states that began with the Renaissance and became widespread in the Enlightenment Age. Republicanism emerged as opposition to hereditary rule and it constituted another part search, pursuit and struggle of humankind to build a more perfect form of governance.  Gorran movement is a civil and democratic revolution opposed to the governing system which has the characteristics of non-democratic and authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa.  Throughout the twentieth century the Kurds fought against successive regimes in Baghdad for freedom. In that fight hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Kurds gave their lives. Following the uprising in 1991 the goal of freedom and democracy were destroyed. Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin through Gorran Movement put the struggle of Kurds for freedom back on its righteous historical path.

Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin was a hero and an extraordinary leader for hundreds of thousands of Kurds. I heard from him myself many times that the true heroes for him were the free, courageous, determined, fighters that are men, women, girls and boys. Nawshirwan Mustafa Amin is an integral part of history, politics, life and freedom of the Kurds. He is not dead. He never dies. It is our responsibility to strengthen and bring about the triumph of the civil and democratic revolution that he has engineered.

May 21, 2017

London, Britain


About Sarkawt Shamulddin (61 Articles)
Sarkawt Shamsulddin is a political analyst on Middle East Affairs and co-founder of the Kurdish Policy Foundation

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