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Political party that organized 19451946 revolt to form an autonomous republic for Kurds in Iran.

The Democratic Party of Kurdistan, Iran (KDP), was formed in 1945 by Kurdish nationalists in Mahabad, a predominently Kurdish town in West Azerbaijan province, a region that came under Soviet military occupation following the joint Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran in 1941. While declaring its desire to remain within Iran, the party demanded the use of the Kurdish language in state schools and government offices in Kurdish areas; the retention of tax revenues for the benefit of the region; and the establishment of provincial assemblies as upheld by the constitution. The party claimed for Kurds a "distinct national identity" based on language, history, and culture. Finding the government unresponsive to its demands, the party, with the help of local tribes, launched a revolt and declared the formation of the independent Republic of Kurdistan in December 1945. The Soviet army did not oppose the move, nor a similar effort by Azerbaijan Turks in the provincial capital at Tabriz. In fact, Soviet occupation forces prevented the central government in Tehran from suppressing the revolts during the first half of 1946. Nevertheless, under the central government's Royal Army attack, the Mahabad government fell in December 1946.

During the revolutionary upheavals of 1979 Kurdish intellectuals from the Kurdish Democratic Party formed councils (shuras) that held local power in conjunction with the leading cleric in Mahabad, Shaykh Ezz al-Din Hosseini, and his followers. They also boycotted the referendum on the country's new constitution. The party and its activities have been suppressed since 1980. On 13 July 1989 Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, secretary-general of KDP, and two other high-ranking party members were assassinated in Vienna, Austria. Ghassemlou's successor, Sadegh Sharafkandi, met with a similar fate on 17 September 1992 in Berlin.

See also Azerbaijan Crisis; Kurds.


Eagleton, William. The Kurdish Republic of 1946. New York; London, U.K.: 1963.

Entessar, Nader. Kurdish Ethnonationalism. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1992.

parvaneh pourshariati

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Political party advocating the autonomy of the Iraqi Kurds.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) was founded on 16 August 1946 at the suggestion of Mullah Mustafa Barzani, who was then in the Kurdish republic of Mahabad. Its creation sanctioned the split of the national movement of the Kurds into different, sometimes opposing, Iranian and Iraqi organizations.

In the absence of Barzani, who went into exile in the Soviet Union, KDP became a progressive party, led by Kurdish intellectuals quite close to the Iraqi Communist Party. After he returned in 1958, the party was shaken by a severe crisis, opposing Barzani's acceptance to the political bureau, along with Ibrahim Ahmad and his son-in-law Jalal Talabani. KDP never fully recovered from these events of 1964 and became a mere instrument of Barzani.

After the collapse of the Kurdish movement in 1975 and discredited by Barzani's decision to stop the resistance, KDP lost the monopoly it had enjoyed for thirty years. Today, the KDP led by Masʿud al-Barzani must share leadership of the movement in Iraq with its rival, Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and several smaller organizations.

See also Barzani Family; Kurds; Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK); Talabani, Jalal.

chris kutschera

Democratic Party of Kurdistan

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