1. Unemployment is everywhere in Iraq. Excepting food, all imported goods are very expensive. All Kurdish people born between 1945 and 72 are in the army.
  2. Political discontent and the construction of the left. Grouped along the Iranian border the nationalist opposition is caught up in internal disputes ignoring the everyday life of the people.
  3. Police brutality is at its height. No one could mention the opposition. To do so meant death and annihilation. In other words peoples' perspectives were restricted. They had no hope that the regime would be overthrown.
  1. At the outset people liked it. They thought Saddam's regime would be overthrown this way. Now prices started to rise gradually to astonishing levels - for example, a 80 kg sack of flour rose to 1000 dinars in Basra, 800 dinars in Baghdad, 600 dinars in Mosel. (footnote) A sack of rice in the south rose 375-400 dinars while a bag of sugar cost somewhere between 350-400 dinars. Unemployment rose dramatically. Most cafes and factories were closed due to a shortage of the basic necessities.
  2. The government kept stepping up the pressure on people. Militarisation became increasingly predominant, tightening its grip on urban centres. At the same time the number of army deserters rose. But the government was still powerful and crushed any opposition.
  3. During this period the KF stood to one side. They even put a stop to peshmerga activity. One example - the best: the head of a unit and two peshmergas were arrested on a visit to Sullemania. PUK stated that they had averted a shoot-out but that the government had arrested a member of one of their units.
The armed forces were moving towards the Iraqi border. There was a massive desertion of entire army divisions. The security forces were less active and confused. In Mosul army bases and security services were moved into the houses of local people. But as soon as they joined radio contact they were bombarded. That is why civilians disappeared. Most factories and places of importance were destroyed. The retreating army took their rifles back home with them and many people were predicting that the government would be overthrown. But when a ceasefire was declared on 26th of February, 1991, people were unhappy about it - preparations for the uprisings hadn't progressed far enough. The regime was weary and frightened and began to intimidate the people, wanting to prove to them that they had won the war because they had defiantly confronted some 30 countries - despite the incredible economic collapse, the destruction of Iraq and the killing of its people.
When the army retreated from Kuwait on the 29/2/91, a tank entering Basra shoots at any surviving photos of Saddam destroying them. This was the first spark of the uprising in the south and it begins to get underway and gradually extends to other towns like Koot, Omura, Nasria, Samawa, Najaf, Kurbala and Hilla - until finally it reaches Mosaib. But it was chaotic, religion being the dominating factor with everyone tying a green heart around their forehead pretending to be a Sayid. (footnote) The government infiltrates it in order to find out who the activists are. Their slogan was "Neither the East nor the West, but the Islamic Republic". All government buildings and institutions were looted with the majority of the army joining in. But they couldn't organise it. When the south was retaken by government troops the most horrendous massacre took place and all public meeting places were destroyed. Even now as people return they are being detained in groups. When the government resumed its attacks on Southern Iraq it was easy to recapture it - showing how religion is incapable of seizing the rhythm of uprising and revolution.
When the south exploded on the 29.2.91 it had a big effect on Kurdistan. In Kurdistan, armed units had been set up to initiate the uprisings. Every tendency wanted to set up their own armed unit. However, the armed units were independent. So it turned out Rania was liberated by the people on 5.3.91 and the Chwar-Korna division, the "secondary internal security force", surrendered to the people on 6/3/91 and therefore the Kawar Korna and Hasiawa receiving camps (footnote) were liberated. We belonged to the insurrectionary units in Sullemania having fours armed units in Karachawa, Azady (Khanwak Korakan), Majid Bug, and Sarachnar, each unit composed of about 30 people. But we were independent and we had several meetings with the "March of Communism", RAWT, with a view towards joint participation. They hesitated for three days. Finally they said they were not prepared to sacrifice the organisation for the sake of the people. The KF were set to hold a demo at 1 pm on 7.3.91. However, at 8 am that morning, we started moving. The entire city was liberated, except for the Akary security force that held out for a day. All Sulliemania was liberated by the 20.3.91. Hawlir was liberated in 3 hours on 10.3.91. and Kirkuk on the 20.3.91. The army, encamped nearby, came down and surrendered to the people. Then townspeople began to loot shops and government buildings. It didn't just stop there: they also looted the contents of offices and factories. Anyone mobile enough to have a car could see that all the cities and towns of Kurdistan had been taken over with little or no resistance, with the exception of Sulliemania where there had been much resistance though unsuccessful.


In Sulliemania, days before the uprising, internal security forces had warned the government institutions and departments that anyone caught agitating would be executed and their homes destroyed. Also on 6.3.91 prior to the uprising the governor of Sulliemania had convened a meeting with the Mshtashars (formerly the Jash) warning them to have their troops on standby. So on the same evening at 5 pm the armed forces started carrying out the following manouevres:

Doshkas (anti-aircraft guns) were placed at vantage positions. Mobile units and Modara (similar to tanks) were there in strategic places and some trucks, loaded with Doshkas and covered with sheets, prepared to move in on crowds and shoot. But to no avail because of the following reasons.

  1. No-one had any faith left in the regime and that meant that the regime had no-where to run to. And people were not prepared to sacrifice themselves for the regime.
  2. The KF had previously notified the Mstashars through letters.
  3. The internal security force was in an unbelievable mess.
  4. The uprising in the south had raised the morale of the Kurdish people.
  5. A general willingness to overthrow the regime was at its height. But a readiness to begin was lacking.
  6. The liberation of Rania had a pronounced effect on people's morale and also events in Sulliemania affected other places. That meant the liberation of one place after another, affecting everywhere else.


After having set up armed units we commenced the uprising at 8 am. on 7.3.91. The Majid Bug unit was out on duty, so for a few hours there were 10 people with two hand grenades and a borrowed rifle. In the first three hours we occupied the Iscan police station, the crime prevention and traffic wardens building, the Inland Revenue, the martyr Osman intelligence wing, the law courts,the prison and the old Sara cop station. The university stores were destroyed and looted by the people. Sarchnar Party headquarters and those in Aboosana were taken as well as the police station and public militia in Khansa Khorakan from Karachawa towards Hasib Salh and Sara. 8.3.91. Security headquarters have still not been occupied. We organise a march covering the entire city with eleven banners proclaiming the following.
  1. Select for your representatives conscious and upright people.
  2. Make the shora your base for the long term struggle.
  3. Revolutionary people! the achievements of the revolution has been at the cost of your own blood. Don't waste it.
  4. Class consciousness is the arm of liberation.
  5. Revolutionary people set up your own shoras.
  6. Long live the Shoras' Authority.
  7. Women are the arm of the revolution. They have a clear role to play (No obstructions must be put in the way of their participation).
  8. Unconditional and unfettered political freedom.
  9. Forward to the right of self-determination for the Kurdish people. We also hung two banners from the hospital calling for blood donors and asking people not to loot.
  10. Brothers and sisters: Your sons in the hospital are in need of blood. Who will volunteer to go to the hospital.
  11. The hospital's medical store is a safe guard to revolutionaries and the injured. Anyone touching it would be considered a thief.

We also managed to get many people to give blood which we took to the hospital. On the 8th there were nearly 1000 wounded and in Sulliemania 300 had been massacred. Until the 8th there was no PUK base. The Shoras's movement swiftly proclaimed itself, seizing the initiative. The number of shoras increased rapidly until there were 54 district shoras altogether. There were workers' shoras also. (The City Council workers's shora, the textile workers' shora, the cigarette workers' shora, the chicken factory shora, the Hamoraby Company's shora, the power industry shora, Semini Company shora and the shora at the hospital).


  1. Every Shora had its own radio station which broadcast its own programme, its publications, poetry and activity and the wants of the local people.
  2. Every shora set up medical posts where blood could be donated to the hospital and be used to treat local people.
  3. Each shora had a number of committees dealing with the media, the militia, medical matters, administration, finance and general assistance and the law, as well as a committe for relations between the shoras and a foreign relations committee.
  4. The method of struggle is to be had in the shora's authority.
  5. The shoras organised meetings in localities and factories. But not all of them were able to hold a general meeting. More on this later.
  6. The building up of a militia for resistance purposes.
  7. The shoras elected to work on some public matters.
  8. On the 16th of March, 1991, the anniversary of the massacre of Halabja, the shoras incited the entire city even threatening the KF.
  9. On the 17th, a general meeting of all the shoras took place at the Majid Bug shora to elect a supreme shora covering the city.
  10. On the 18th, the KF called for the disbanding of the shoras.
  11. On the 18th, at 2 pm, there was a general meeting of shora delegates. At 9 in the evening it was decided to condemn the KF declaration.
  12. On the morning of 19th, a meeting of shora delegates and the KF was held. At the same time a rumour spread around that shora delegates had been arrested and their activities curtailed. The shoras organised a demonstration in front of the KFs base. (the former Baathist "Peoples' Culture House".
  13. On the 20th a march was organised against the KFs position which had called for the disbanding of the shoras.


There are lots of opinions about the crisis; each coming from a particular perspective or angle. Some blame RAWT, the March of Communism group, and some, a hard-line extremist group. Others say that they all thrived on the rivalries between themselves. The KF blames a political faction amongst them composed of anarchists and a group of teenagers. It says that their language is utopian, that Kurdistan still hasn't been liberated and that if what they're saying is true then let them go and liberate Kirkuk and not occupy ourselves with all this big talk. Such views attempted to justify things to the KFs rank and file and some of the shoras.

However the crisis started as follows. In the beginning the shoras were a massive social movement gathering a huge force around themselves. All political tendencies, left and right, were directly trying to either control or manipulate this social movement for themselves or to liquidate it or take over. But once itwas acknowledged that thiswas an independent social force not belonging to any political organisation, the latter, feeling their interests threatened started directly opposing the shoras here and there. From the start the KF wanted to take over all the City's institutions and rebuild them.In that period the crisis was over political power which is why the shoras became the centre for class struggle which meant: womens' struggle, unemployment, free elections for representatives and the overall authority for the city's affairs etc...

At the time, the shoras struggle was against the bosses (the big directors, administrators) and the old administration which the workers had terribly bitter memories of. The KF, however, wanted to give the bosses back their jobs. For example, in these places, (factories,offices), the bosses were insulted by the workers; sacked people such as Karim Osman, the boss of the City Councii and bosses such as Aziz Khoshnow of the cigarette factory, Khalid of the clothes factory, Khasm (electricity) and Mustapha Hagy of the Mamoraby company. Later on these people brought along with them KF peshmerga squads, proceeding to obstruct and prevent the generai assemblies of the factory workers. Here and there, Jamal Hawramy and (Kakimr) Haloy Aha Smell (footnote) even attacked some shoras and wanted to close them down. What they were doing in part was to spread poisonous propaganda against the shoras creating a threatening atmosphere of terror. This meant that the crisis was not an invention of any particular group or tendency but in itself had a realistic basis that would have come out sooner or later and which is a problem for us.

Some political tendencies (hard-line and extremist) wanted to confront the KF. For instance, the March of Communism group, RAWT, wanted to oppose the KF in order to sharpen the crisis within the shoras stating they would cut off any heavy hand daring to oppose the shoras. Extremist influence was equally on the move within the shoras. But there was another group active at the base at Awat calling themselves "The Forward Movement of the Shoras Group". More collaborationist, they wanted to minimise and nuance the shoras colours to a degree that the KF would find satisfactory, so that later they could dissolve the movement within the KF. Two days after the KFs declaration calling the shoras unauthorized, this tendency disbanded and closed the doors ofthe shora. They are still confused and don't know what to do. But the shoras' movement ignored the threats of the KF until the day the cities were retaken by the forces of the regime.


  1. A large part of the shora's movement didn't acknowledge the KFs social authority and thought everything should be carried out through the general assembly.
  2. Some of the slogans were provocative causing the peshmergas to re-entrench themselves instead of getting them to support things. They were saying "disarm yourselves, bourgeois capitalists, from head to toe you are incapable of carrying things through. Whenever have bourgeois capitalists carried arms?"
  3. When the KF broadcast their declaration to attack the city of Kirkuk, on the same day the left were ironically organizing a march against the KF. The outcome of this was not in the interest of the shoras.



  1. The institutions of terror that the Baathist Party had strengthened and continually regenerated for 23 years broke down in a short space of time and there's no way they can be rebuilt again.
  2. It has made Kurdistan andIraq into a political society. Everyone has become political, men, women and even young children of all classes. Class struggle is put on the agenda.
  3. The shoras's movement was the bright star of the uprising because it acknowledged itself as the bearer of the interests of the workers and exploited in the cities and villages. It didn't bargain away the achievements of the revolution; it was against any form of inequality, against nationalism, religion and social backwardness. It didn't want to cool down the uprising's heat-wave in the public heart despite all the inefficacy and lack of clarity.


  1. The weakness of nationalism in holding back the tempo of the uprising.
    1. The energy and enthusiasm in the people's heart was gradually cooled down bit by bit and the KF made poisonous propaganda proclaiming peshmerga forces are everything and the public could do nothing. And that's how they got the market going again with traders and street vendors. At the same time the KF went through houses taking back what the people had looted and selling it for themselves.
    2. People started complaining about these unwanted individuals who were the force which tried to crush the uprising before it happened and now today were in charge under the KFs leadership.
  2. The practical and serious activists of the uprising were not organised but were working from within the movement's heart. The leftists who've carried on looked at the movement from outside - they weren't at the heart. But the activists weren't organised in another sense; lack of a communist political organisation. (footnote)
  3. Absence of a connection between the workers' socialism and the key-points of economical, social and political changes.


When the forces of the regime resumed attacks on Kurdistan, the committee of shoras' delegates published a leaflet declaring resistance within Kurdistan; setting up training centres in every shora base, sending shora peshmerga (footnote) forces into battle even if the KF didn't officially recognise them. We sent two units into battle in Kalar for 10 days. We also sent a force to Kirkuk, a mainly symbolic act since the number of peshmerga was only about 80. We also gave a lift to 25 peshmerga of Kirkuk's October Shora unit. On that trip we spoke and agreed with the KFs leadership of military operations although practical relations remained the same. Via telex they contacted Masine Jalal and Masood Burzany for us and after two days we got a reply. As shoras we were about to have a meeting with the KFs political leadership but on the day we were to have the meeting the city was evacuated during the night and we missed out.


The Shoras' Movement and the form it took emerged from historical necessity in the uprising. It was forever expanding its influence in all different ways and increasingly publicised itself. The Shoras Movement was the ground on which to stiffen and sharpen social struggles and the political and ideological crisis. This ground let all social possibilities develop. Some people on the left wanted to take a softer line but that didn't work out. Another tendency which was so passive that they were reformist and never active on the ground. When the KF declared the shoras to be illegitimate they retreated saying "because the KF has reached the conclusion that the shoras have to be disbanded it's best not to leave them a faded shadow, passive to the point where the KF would be satisfed with them". There was another tendency which was nationalistic. It said they didn't oppose the KF and they withdrew. There were also extreme leftists. They were prepared to confront the KF - even with arms whilst the majority were thinkinp about the future fate of the shoras and wanted in every conceivable way to protect the revolution's achievements and to gather as many people around their class interests as possible. But the Shoras Movement was unfortunately short-lived.



The public aren't conscious of its own interests to a sufficient degree for the following reasons:

  1. Starvation, poverty, high prices is an objective situation and the people cannot gather themselves together around their own interests. An everyday dog's life prevents them.
  2. The black dictatorship now without cover hasn't permitted the public to find their own self-practice.
  3. It's true the oppressive institutions were broken but the oppressive institutions built up in people's heads didn't dissolve within those few days and more time was needed.
  4. Nationalistic, religious and social backwardness were obstructing people's vision and prevented them from actively coming onto the (shoras) terrain.
  5. The social authority of the KF had its role to play on the public.
  6. The organised left was very weak and nearly dead. It didn't participate. Even though the shoras movement was immature and deficient, day by day it was taking great steps forward, distancing itself from all the forces which didn't express its interests.


I will write to you giving details of these issues in following letters.
Greetings... To all friends and mates - greetings from all supporters and fans of the shoras movement.
Help us, support us. Introduce us to Europe. Whatever way you can, one by one, in groups, help us, it doesn't matter about some differences of opinions amongst us.


You can alter some things on condition that it won't affect the core content. (footnote)

Shoras' Movement activist (14.6.91)



  1. The average wage was 150-220 dinars per month, so a sack of rice would have cost roughly twice the average monthly wage (TN)
  2. Sayid: A kind of religious title like Mullahs. They could be Sunni's but more likely Shia. Persecuted during the time of Harun-al-Rashid. In fact he killed all of them. (TN)
  3. Receiving camps: made up of easily constructed concrete buildings and used tor those people transferred trom vlllages and small towns destroyed by the Baathists.
  4. Nickname: the moustache. Haloy, meaning eagle, is a common name like Victor. Aha - the fathers' name. Smell moustache. (TN)
  5. Nothing was ever settled here. There was continuous fighting between insurgents and Baathist forces. (TN)
  6. Is this an ultra-leftist reflex? (TN)
  7. Peshmerga is also a general term meaning those who are prepared to fight to the last drop of blood.
  8. Toose: a small town near Kirkuk where a terrible atrocity took place during the uprising.
  9. Budenan: a town on the Turkish border where 8,000 people were kidnapped in 1985
  10. No alterations have been made in the translation of this text.

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