Thursday 11 May 2023

President Masoud Barzani’s Remarks at the Grand Opening Ceremony of the Barzani National Museum


May 11, 2023

Barzan, Kurdistan Region of Iraq

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Dear guests,

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful


I warmly welcome you all. It is a great honor for us that you have come today. Please allow me to take advantage of this opportunity to present you with a brief history of Barzan. Much has been written and said about Barzan, alas a lot of it has been distorted by the enemies. However, after obtaining a lot of evidence from the archives of many of these states, it became clear to everyone that what emerged in Barzan was a liberation movement, a democratic pursuit.


The (Barzan Takya) was built in the ninth century AH by our great grandfather Sheikh Tajalddin. Meanwhile, he built a school for the jurist next to the Takya. He was a very knowledgeable scholar and the Takya and the school were widely welcomed by the people of Kurdistan and everywhere else. This continued until his death. After his death, he stopped for a while until his descendant, who is the first Sheikh Abdulsalam. According to all evidence, he was very capable and knowledgeable in religious studies. He began to lay the groundwork for social reform, but he passed away in 1872, after him, his son Sheikh Mohammed came to replace him. Sheikh Mohammed was very ascetic and pious. He always made a link between religion and guidance, but he had such great influence that the Ottoman Empire was afraid of him and always combated him. They arrested him and took him to Badlis prison for two years. He died soon after he was released, in 1903.

After him, Sheikh Abdulsalam, the son of second Sheikh Abdulsalam, took over the leadership of the takiya. During the time of Sheikh Tajalddin, who founded the takiya, they chose the (Naqishbandi) Sufi order, the second Sheikh Abdulsalam, although short-lived was indeed productive, he began as a great revolution that was perhaps a hundred years ahead of his time. He began a fundamental reform to define that, the Barzan path does not mean that everyone in the Barzan region is on that path, but the path is broader and bigger than that. Anyone who believes in these principles can be said to be a follower of the Barzan path. which are:


- Worship of His Almighty

- Humanity

- Morality as the definition of religion

- In humanity, we are all brothers

- Religion and nationalism are inseparable.

- Struggle against the oppressors is an obligation

- Preserving of the environment is required

- Women's rights must be protected and prohibited forced marriage of girls


Alongside this, he has extensive contacts with religious leaders, tribal chiefs and organizations, not only in Iraq, but in the region as a whole. At that time there was a governor of Mosul named Mohammed Nazif, who was a very dictatorial man. He tried to convince the Turks to declare a general curse against Sheikh Abdulsalam When these reforms were carried out, influence spread widely and rapidly in the region, which the Ottomans did not like.


The tribes that formed this federation known as Barzan are: Sherwani, Mizori, Dolamari, Gardi, Barozhi, Nzari and Harki Binaji, which are seven tribes that formed a federation and chose their title as Barzanis and continue to be directly affiliated with Batzan.


When the Ottomans decreed to attack Barzan from two or three fronts, there was a very heroic resistance. After that, Sheikh Abdulsalam was forced to leave the region and went to Iran. They had a great program there. They went to Badlisi. We knew that in our family and in Barzan, where he met the representative of the emperor. Recent evidence from the Soviet archives, as said to me by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov a couple of years indicate that he was indeed there and met the emperor. On his return, several traitors betrayed him and handed him over to the Ottomans. In 1914, he was martyred and executed in Mosul.

He was 37 years old when he was executed, but during that short life, he left behind a great history and a great legacy. He was replaced by his brother, Sheikh Ahmed al-Noorani (the great Sheikh Ahmed), who, although he was very old at the time of his brother's martyrdom, quickly filled the gap. I was one of those who had the honor to serve him several times, and there are many who have served him. He was truly a divine blessing. He was a great man, balanced, just, patient. Again, he was not allowed to continue the curriculum of his brothers and fathers and grandfathers. In 1931, a regiment led by Colonel Barqi came around Barzan one night and asked him to surrender. They fought, and the regiment was broken and tarred. Then, of course, the British planes that were helping Iraq bombed Barzan village and Barzan area. It was the first time they bombed Barzan village. A large number of women and children were martyred.


I don't want to go into all the details, but eventually after a six-month war, they were forced to migrate again to Turkey, where the Turks, who were then under the leadership of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, handed over Sheikh Ahmad to the Iraqi government. He spent 12 years in prison, the other time he spent 14 years in exile; in Nasiriyah, in Baghdad, and in Sulaymaniyah, but during the 12 years he was sentenced to death, he was in chains. They sent him letters several times, asking him to write a letter to Nuri Saed to ask for forgiveness. He said, 'I will not ask for forgiveness from you because you have betrayed us. I have done nothing and I will ask forgiveness from His Almighty and not from you. He stayed for 12 years and did not write the letter until July 20, 1958, when the July Revolution conducted by Abdulkarim Qassim released him from prison. We were children at the time, but we all went to the reception. It was a very, very historic and unforgettable day.

In fact, he is our guide, our master and our saint. Mullah Mustafa served this path very faithfully.


I will not go into all the details, however the historical path that Mullah Mustafa walked for 700 kilometers to reach the he Soviet Union, this in and of itself is a miracle. They fought several times and miraculously escaped, where they suffered the greatest suffering at the hands of Bagirov, who was the ruler of Azerbaijan at the time. Until Stalin died and Bagirov was executed, then the sanctions against the Barzanis were lifted during Khrushchev's time. The Barzanis were then finally allowed to enter colleges and Universities, Barzani was transferred to Moscow and treated with respect until he returned to Iraq on October 6, 1958, where he was warmly welcomed by the Iraqi people at Muthana airport.


The September Revolution carried with it many of the reforms of Sheikh Abdul Salam and Sheikh Ahmad, Mullah Mustafa Barzani implemented, during the revolution much of what has been started by Sheikh Abdul Salam and Sheikh Ahmad, especially insofar as the social sphere is concerned. We now feel the wisdom with which he led them. He constantly emphasized that our war against the regime does not mean a war between two nations. Our war is a war against an oppressive regime, be it Arab or Kurdish. Our ultimate mission is self-defense. During the September Revolution, many Arab brothers, Turkmen and Christian participated not only as Peshmerga forces, but also as leaders of the revolution. They, like Kurds sacrificed their lives in pursuit of the just cause of the Kurds. It is a great honor that the September Revolution became a refuge for all democrats and all freedom fighters of the Iraqi people. Barzani was able to establish spiritual and brotherly relations with many Shiite and Sunni religious leaders.


Now, God willing, after a while you will see a coat that Imam Muhsin al-Hakim (may he rest in peace) sent him as a gift.


We continue to be proud of Barzani’s legacy. Not a single terrorist act was committed during the September Revolution. Not a single civilian was ever targeted. Mullah Mustafa always conveyed the message that the soldiers are not guilty, they are like my own sons, I do not want Iraqi soldiers to be killed. If they do not attack you, you must not attack them. This must not be allowed to become a war between Kurds and Arabs. While this war is a tragedy, fighting an oppressive regime is obligatory.


We are reaping the fruits of that wisdom today.


This great presence here means that yes, this is the right path, the path of brotherhood, coexistence and reconciliation. This is the right path, the path of co-existence not bloodshed and murder.


Barzan is a small village in size, but it became a major target for all the empires and governments that came to the region. From 1892 to 1987.  This small village, Barzan was either occupied or burned sixteen times.  This shows the fact that this path is deeply rooted.


Barzanis’ resistance against oppression is in itself an indication that their success has historically stemmed not from their size, but rather their belief in righteousness. It was indeed that same belief that made them live with the thought that dying for this cause is a very normal thing.


Our ancestors have left us a very, very unique history. My request to all these friends is not to equate this great history with the present generation. The history and legacy of Barzan should only be measured on the basis of the struggles of Sheikh Abdulsalam, Sheikh Ahmed and Mullah Mustafa.


Relations between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad:


I'm not going to go into the past, but let’s talk about the present. There is a very good atmosphere now. We see a strong will and pure intentions. I would like to thank my brother, Prime Minister Mohammed Shaya; al-Sudani for his courage to implement the political agreement that has been reached. I assure him that we will support him with all that is within our capacity.


This proved that if there is a strong will and pure intentions, there is no problem that cannot be solved. We hope that this atmosphere and this pleasant situation will continue to solve all other problems, God willing.


Internal situation in the region:


This great presence is proof that Barzan is above narrow party politics and certain ideologies. I consider this an opportunity to make a sincere appeal to all parties in the Kurdistan Region to open a new page, I call for a broad meeting as soon as possible before November to discuss and solve all problems in a sincere, responsible and Kurdish manner. Let’s discuss all of the problems and attempt to resolve them. Prior to that meeting, I call upon the two Polit bureaus of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party to sit down, remove this ambiguity and create the conditions for these broad meetings.

A good opportunity has emerged. Nobody can gain anything by opposing one another. We should have learned a lesson from the uprising. After seventy years of struggle, sacrifice and blood, we could not do what was done in seven days when the whole nation became one. it was miraculously created, let's consider this. I would like to repeat this request to all political parties in the Kurdistan Region. I am ready to do whatever I can to support this request.


I ask all media and civil society organizations to help make this message a success, not to play a negative role, I ask you to play a positive role.

I consider it necessary to say that the Kurdish people  should act in accordance to the lessons that we’ve inherited from Barzani's path, the path of brotherhood and mutual acceptance.


We want all issues to be resolved peacefully and on the basis of mutual respect and common interests.


Thank you all again, for your attendance. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the friends of the Kurdish people, both those who are present and participating here in large numbers, and those who are far away and in different parts of the world.


I would like to thank the brothers and sisters who have undertaken this project, both in building this memorial and in organizing this program. It is fitting to express my gratitude to them.


I would like to point out that of those who accompanied Mustafa Barzani on his historic journey (to the Soviet Union), five men are still living, along with 10 women who married Barzani men there, some of them are present here, I especially welcome them and kiss their hands.


Thank you all again, thank you so much.


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