ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Pro-Kurdish parties and civic organizations in Turkey joined by citizens commemorated the death last week of renowned Kurdish leader and former President of Iraq Jalal Talabani.
Convening at a local mourning house in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) officials welcomed hundreds of visitors who came together to honor the revolutionary and former Peshmerga commander affectionately known as Mam Jalal or Uncle Jalal by his people.
Veteran politician and former provincial mayor of Mardin Ahmet Turk praised Mam Jalal’s legacy, reminding of his work to create national cohesion among the Kurds.
He was also instrumental in previous efforts to bring a peaceful solution to Turkey’s problem with some of its 20 million Kurds, said Turk who the Ankara government deposed from his post last year.
Leyla Guven, the Co-chair of the Diyarbakir-based Congress for a Democratic Society (KCD), said Mam Jalal was a big loss for the people in all four parts of Kurdistan, divided between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
Talabani’s departure came at a time when the Kurdistan Region held a referendum for independence from Iraq and Kurds in Syria built a de facto autonomous region, both while fighting an ongoing, years-long war against the Islamic State (IS) that massacred and enslaved thousands of Yezidi (Ezidi) Kurds in 2014.
“Obviously, he was a towering figure like Mullah Mustafa Barzani, Masoud Barzani, and Abdullah Ocalan,” she said, mentioning the late nationalist leader, his son, the current President of the Kurdistan Region, and Turkish-imprisoned founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Last week, HDP sent a delegation to the funeral ceremony of Mam Jalal in the Kurdistan Region city of Sulaimani.
The delegation was headed by the party’s Co-chair Serpil Kemalbay and its spokesperson Osman Baydemir.
The party’s charismatic Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, who could not attend the funeral because of his imprisonment by the Turkish state, sent out a letter expressing his sorrow over Talabani’s death.
Last week, HDP declared that the seven days’ mourning period announced by President Barzani in the Kurdistan Region was applicable also for the Kurdish people in Turkey.
Talabani died while receiving treatment at a hospital in the German capital of Berlin a week ago. He suffered a stroke in late 2012 which led to ever severing health issues the following years.
Talabani, also the founder and long-time Secretary-General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), was the sixth and first democratically elected president of Iraq since the country’s foundation in 1920.
He was also the first non-Arab politician elected to the position, serving in office from 2005 until 2014.
The Kurdish leader has stayed away from politics since his stroke and regularly traveled to Germany to receive medical treatment.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Kurdistan 24’s Diyarbakir correspondent Hesen Kako contributed to this report)