Monday, 28 May 2012, 07:38 GMT
Sheikh Mahmoud returns to Barda Qaraman

Statues of the renowned Kurdish leader Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji and his fellow fighters in Barda Qaraman, west of Suleimaniya. / GLOBE PHOTO/Aiyob Mawloodi

The Kurdish Globe
By Aiyob Mawloodi--Erbil

Statue to commemorate historic Kurdish leader at the site that formed the bastion of his valiant resistance

- Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji or Sheikh Mahmud Hafid (1878 -- October 9, 1956) was the leader of a series of Kurdish uprisings against the British Mandate of Iraq.

- He was sheikh of a Qadiriyah Sufi family from the city of Suleimaniya.

- He twice proclaimed himself king of an independent Kurdish state.

- Sheikh sued for peace and was exiled in southern Iraq in May 1932 and was able to return to his family village in 1941 where he remained the rest of his years.

- He ultimately died in 1956 with his family.

- He is still remembered today with displays of him around the Kurdistan Region, especially Suleimaniya.

- He was a brave leader against the British Mandate in Iraq and fought for the independence and respect of his people.

- He was the pioneer to many future Kurd leaders.

- He is a hero to the Kurd people to this day.

More than half a decade after the death of the prominent Kurdish leader Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji, the government constructs two statues of him near Barda Qaraman, the symbolic rock that protected him in several fights, west of his stronghold of Sulaimanyia.

The Barda Qaraman project consists of two phases, both of which were completed in three years. The first phase was to construct the statues of Sheikh Mahmud and the second phase was to build a park around the statues and the rock.

Engineer Siamand Kamal Mahmud, project supervisor of Sarbast Company, the implementing party of the Barda Qaraman Park, described the scope of their project and said they were responsible for the decoration, fountains and the green area of the project.

"The budget for the project was 580 million Iraqi Dinars [approximately USD 520,000] and we completed our part of the project on March 1st [2012]," Engineer Mahmud told the Globe.

Awara Ibrahim Hama Karim, the contracting engineer of the Sarbast Company, said that the first phase was directly implemented by the Sulaimanyia Directorate of Tourism.

"Mr. Omar Fattah allocated the budget for the project, and a committee from the Tourism Directorate implemented and supervised the construction of the statues and some buildings," explained Engineer Karim. "We did not interfere in this part, which was supervised directly by Ms. Mahabad, Sheikh Mahmud's granddaughter."

The responsibilities of Karim's company was more around the civil works of the project, which included the completion of some of the walls, the pedestrian walkways, greenery, plantings, watering of the plants, construction of four fountains and seating.

Karim explained that the budget was very limited considering the scope of work and hence they might not have been able to do a very good job.

"No project can spend more than 6.9% beyond the allocated budget, and if it reaches 7% the governorate would not support the project, and it should be submitted to the council of ministers," said Engineer Karim. "This process takes a long time and we did not want to delay the project."

One large golden-colored statue welcomes the visitors at the gate of the project, and a second statue is situated right next to the famous Barda Qaraman, with a number of statues of his armed fighters with guns and old-fashioned artilleries right behind his statue.

Now, as the project is completed, many people from the nearby villages and towns and even from Sulaimanyia are happy about this as a memorial of one of the most foremost Kurdish leaders from this area.

The same people visit the place to relax in the tranquil surroundings of the park while remembering the struggle Sheikh Mahmud endured against the enemies of his nation and against the forces of the British Mandate after First World War.