The first bullet in the uprising in Southern Kurdistan

Thirty years ago the Raperîn, the uprising against the Saddam regime, began in Southern Kurdistan. The first bullet was fired in Ranya by Elî Nebî. His son Şoreş remembers the peshmerga fighter.

Thirty years ago, on March 5, 1991, an uprising (ku. Raperîn) led by a group of young people against the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein began in Ranya in Sulaymaniyah governorate in Southern Kurdistan. The rebellion was supported by the peshmerga from the mountains. On March 21, Kirkuk was captured and the uprising spread to all villages and towns. Baathist regime authorities and institutions were occupied, and the Iraqi army was pushed back from Southern Kurdistan. On March 27, the army went on the attack and retook Kirkuk the same day. On March 31, Hewlêr (Erbil) was again occupied. After that, a huge wave of refugees began; hundreds of thousands of people left for northern Kurdistan (Turkey).

At the request of France and Belgium, the UN Security Council decided on April 5, 1991, to establish a security zone in Southern Kurdistan. The Kurds were thus to be protected from attacks by the Iraqi army and supported with humanitarian aid, and those who had fled were to be allowed to return. Baath regime forces were banned from entering the north beyond the 36th parallel, and a no-fly zone was established. This UN Decision No. 688 was the first recognition of the Kurds after the Mosul Decision of 1925. The no-fly zone effectively made Southern Kurdistan an autonomous area. The refugees began to return.

The Raperîn also led to unity on the political front. In December 1991, the KDP- and PUK-led Kurdistan Front decided to hold parliamentary elections. A council of ministers was formed on July 7, 1992, and on October 4, 1992, parliament declared a federal government of Southern Kurdistan within Iraq. This regional government existed until the fall of the Saddam regime in 2003.

Peshmerga in Ranya

One of the Kurds who provided the first spark of the uprising in Ranya was Elî Nebî. His son Şoreş Elî Nebî told ANF about his father's story.

The family migrated to Ranya from Şemdinli, Hakkari. Elî Nebî was born in 1953 in the village of Medera near Ranya. His parents were farmers. He became a peshmerga fighter, returned home in 1975 after the Algeria Agreement, but never surrendered to the Baath regime. In 1985, he gave up being a peshmerga but kept in touch with the PUK. During the Anfal operation, he played an active role in rescuing the people of Xoşnav, Şawre and Rêwandiz and led them to the Iranian border.

The beginning of the 1991 Raperîn was actually scheduled for March 7. Elî Nebî had experience in peshmerga fighting and was instrumental in planning to capture the government facilities in Ranya. The youth took to the streets as early as March 5. The Baath regime had made preparations at the base between Ranya and Çakurna and stationed troops. Agents were active in Ranya.

The first bullet of the Raperîn

Elî Nebî noticed these preparations and confronted three agents of the Baath regime in Ranya. He fired the first bullet of the Raperîn. In the skirmish, one agent was killed and another was injured. The population gathered in a square in the city and Elî Nebî informed the people about the uprising. Thus the Raperîn began two days earlier than planned. All forces of the regime were driven out of Ranya that day. Haci Awa followed, and the next day Çakurna was liberated. Elî Nebî and his comrades-in-arms led the population and liberated the city on their own initiative. On March 7, peshmerga entered the city.

In the course of the uprising, Elî Nebî again became a peshmerga fighter. In 1994, a battle broke out between the PUK and KDP in Qaladizê. Elî Nebî went there to pacify the conflict. On May 2, 1994, he and other fellow fighters were ambushed by the KDP and lost their lives.

A good father

His son Şoreş says about Elî Nebî: "He loved his people and was respected among the people. As a father, he was fond of his family and always made us children feel his love. During his time as a peshmerga, he sometimes did not come home for four to five months. Because of his job, we did not live in one place permanently. We were sometimes in the village, sometimes in the mountains and sometimes in the city.

We are proud of him, both as his children and because of his fight for Kurdistan. He fought not only for the south, but also for eastern Kurdistan. When the PKK came to Southern Kurdistan, he supported them. All his life he served the Kurdish people."