Foad Mostafa Soltani
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|Other names||Kak Foad|
Foad Mostafa Soltani, or Kak Foad (in Kurdish:فواد مستەفاسوڵتانی، کاک فواد) was one of the founders of the Revolutionary Organisation of the Toilers of Kurdistan, popularly known as Komala. He is popularly known as “kak Foad”—meaning “brother” Foad. He epitomized Komala’s tenets and practice, so much so that he eventually became the organisation’s most prominent figure. In eastern Kurdistan, kak Foad’s name is synonymous with popular revolution. A song dedicated to him in Kurdish describes kak Foad as ‘the seed of revolution everywhere’.
Founding of Komala
Kak Foad was born in 1948 in Almana, a village around Sarvabad, in eastern Kurdistan. He graduated from High school in Sanandaj—eastern Kurdistan’s capital city—and went on to study Electrical Engineering in Aryamehr University in Tehran. At university, he met many political activists and was influenced by their leftist ideas and thinking. In these years, kak Foad spent a large part of his time studying classical Marxist books and discussing these ideas in secret meetings held clandestinely to evade the scrutiny of the dreaded state security apparatus. The ideas discussed in these meetings by kak Foad and a number of Kurdish university students eventually led to the formation of a clandestine group organised around Marxist and socialist principles and thinking that later came to be known as Komala.
After completing his national service, kak Foad was appointed as technical supervisor in Sanadaj’s Institute and High School. After only one month, SAVAK—the Shah’s secret police—arrested kak Foad, jailed him in a prison in the capital, and tortured him in an effort to extract information about Komala’s activities. However torture could not break his determination to safeguard the nascent organisation’s secrets. He went on hunger strike in protest to this treatment. The authorities then transferred him from the ward for political prisoners to the ward housing the general prison population, including those convicted of rape and murder, in an attempt to break his spirit.
Meanwhile, outside of the prison, Iran’s internal politics were undergoing major shifts. United States president Jimmy Carter—formerly an ally of Iran’s Shah—was quickly losing confidence in Iran’s leader as growing evidence of human rights violations and mismanagement of Iran’s economy mounted. The external criticism helped weaken the regime against its opponents and hastened the onset of political revolution. It also eased political oppression in Iran to an extent that Iran’s leadership allowed representatives of the Red Cross to come in the country and inspect Iran’s prisons. A year before his release from prison, amidst the ongoing events of revolution in Iran, kak Foad was transferred to Sanandaj prison upon his request. Kak Foad’s time in prison became a proud period in his political life. In Sanandaj he led a hunger strike by political prisoners for twenty four days that was a seminal event in Kurdistan during the revolution.
The 1979 Revolution and The First Resistant Movement in Kurdistan
In 1979, after four years in jail and the advent of Iran’s revolution, kak Foad was released from prison. Thousands of Marivan residents celebrated his release. He immediately set upon organising activities during the revolution, this time as a leader. Moreover, after his release he played a crucial role in the reorganisation of Komala that made it one of the most popular parties in Kurdistan following Iran’s revolution. Because of these efforts and the credibility he acquired in leading the popular movement in Kurdistan for social and political rights, his leadership in Komala became indisputable
For the eleven months following his release, kak Foad worked incessantly to promote the participation of Kurdish men and women in politics in a post-revolutionary climate. Between June and August 1979 a series of unprecedented events occurred under his leadership that are remembered as the proudest and most well-known historic events in the history of Kurdistan following the Iranian Revolution.
The most significant event is arguably the historic trek from other Kurdish cities to Marivan. As a reaction to the threats and presence of the Islamic Republic’s military forces in Marivan, kak Foad and the city council led the residents of Marivan to a camp outside of the city in an effort to avoid clashes and bloodshed with central government forces. This act of peaceful defiance brought the new Iranian government to the negotiation table and pressured the regime to accede to the demands of the people of Marivan.
This historic trek initiated from Sanandaj was a demonstration against the detention of ten political activists by the authorities in Marivan and in support of people in that city. This demonstrated kak Foad’s keen political insight—namely his skill at organising non-violent, civil and effective resistance and ability to encourage the participation of people from all walks of life, and both men and women. Kak Foad’s leadership encouraged thousands of residents from other cities and towns in Kurdistan such as Mahabad, Saqqez, Bane and Bokan took participate in this act of resistance. Additionally, this event and his resulting negotiations with the Iranian government demonstrated kak Foad’s unique insight in dealing with political rivals and occupying forces As soon as the authorities in Tehran declared their willingness to find a solution to the conflict through negotiation, the Marivan city council elected kak Foad as its representative to lead the negotiations. Kak Foad reported the result of the negotiations back to the people in the camp on a daily basis.
His formation of the peasant union which attracted so many was also an armed resistance against the oppression of the landlords. However a new stage in the struggle of Kurdistan began after Khomeini declared a Jihad against Kurdistan in August 1979. Kak Foad played a crucial role in preparation for an armed resistance in Kurdistan. Disappointed by the dishonesty of the regime in the negotiations and anticipating a military reaction by the regime to the democratic atmosphere in Kurdistan, kak Foad published his historic ‘The Kurdish People in Crucible’ in response to the Jihad, an act which inspired a huge popular resistance.
That September, the regime’s armed forces invaded and occupied Marivan, resulting the execution of a number of residents and political activists, including kak Foad’s two brothers Hossain and Amin. When the news reached kak Foad in Baneh, where he was attending meetings with other Kurdish leaders including Sheikh Ezadin Hossaini, Abdul Rahman Qasimlu and members of Fedayyan and Peikar, he left for Marivan to reorganise the members of Komala in that region. Unfortunately, on his way back to Baneh, he was trapped in the conflict between Marivan and Saqqez and surrounded by a huge convey of Pasdaran militia. He died after a short battle. Kak Foad was buried in Taleh Swar cemetery located his birth village of Almana—only six days after his brothers Amin and Hossain had been buried there as well. The year following kak Foad’s death, tragedy struck the Mostafa Soltani family yet again when the Iranian government executed two other Mostafa Soltani brothers—Majed and Amjed. This brought the total number to five people in the Mostafa Soltani family who lost their lives for their beliefs.
His determination in defending the rights of his people, sacrificing and going through hardship in order to promote his people’s struggle against oppression and invasion is what made kak Foad a great leader and very popular. Kak Foad was not only a party leader, he was a popular leader. Since his death, Kak Foad’s name and the story of his extraordinary life has been featured in many poets’ collections, in songs; it has resonated with young and old, men and women, and encouraged intellectuals and activists; his photos have acquired a permanent place in political meetings and celebrations; and his words now give hope to the new generation of young Kurdish activists as well.