Leyla Qasim

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Leyla Qasim (Southern Kurdish: لەیلا قاسم‎; 1952 – May 12, 1974) was a Kurdish activist against the Iraqi Ba'ath regime who was executed in Baghdad. She is known as a national martyr among the Kurds.

Birth and childhood[edit]

She was the third out of five children born to a Kurdish farmer, Dalaho Qasim, and his wife Kanî. She was born in Xaneqîn but was relocated to Irbil when she was four years old. The Qasims lived in wretched poverty, relying on rations for food and clothes. Leyla and her brother Çiyako were taught Arabic and agriculture by their mother when they were aged six and eight.

Political activism[edit]

When Leyla was sixteen years old Abdul Rahman Arif was overthrown by Ba'ath party leader, General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr. Leyla was disturbed by the violent takeover in the capital. During the late 1960s, Leyla and Çiyako wrote pamphlets on the horrors of the Ba'ath party including the new leader, Saddam Hussein, whom they described as being against Kurdish independence.

Leyla spoke to several Kurds in the Northern region of Iraq about the Ba'ath regime and the loose morals of the members. Leyla was told that her words were inspiring sedition.

In 1970 she joined the Kurdistan Students Union and the Kurdistan Democratic Party.[1]

In 1974, while studying at Baghdad University, she was accused of trying to assassinate Saddam Hussein. She was arrested, tortured and, in Baghdad on May 12, 1974, ultimately hanged after a lengthy show trial, broadcast throughout Iraq.[2]

  1. ^ "Leyla Qasim: Bride of Kurdistan". Peace and Collaborative Development Network. 2011-05-21. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  2. ^ What Kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq by Nadje al Ali and Nicola Pratt. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2009