As a reminder, in the previous articles, we paid a visit to Gilan Province in northern Iran and became familiar with the city of Rasht. Among the historical monuments of this city, the tomb of Mirza Kouchak Khan Jangali is one of the locations that remind us of the struggles of a freedom fighter to protect Iran in the face of colonial powers.
The map of the building is rooted in Islamic and traditional architecture. This tomb is in the form of a regular octagon; one of the common geometrical shapes in Iran’s traditional architecture. It covers an area of 40 sq meters and its height stands at 9 meters. The tomb is made of brickes, tiles, ceramic, and wooden logs; all of which are the local construction materials. The blend of these elements wtih with the green landscape surrouding the tomb is in line with the freedom-seeking spirit of that prominent figure. The ceiling of the tomb is tiled. The facade of the building is decorated with bricks and tiles. The ceiling of the building is supported by wooden logs, from within, and the top of the walls have been covered with ayahs of Holy Qoran.
In a review of history of Gilan Province, we realize that the ever-green province of Gilan has been the land of courageous freedom fighters. Those, who have conducted research about Gilan, including the historians and researchers of ancient times, of advent of Islam and in the post-Islamic eras up to the contemporary era, have confirmed that the people of Gilan are brave, broadminded, and independent and have never bowed down to foreign powers. In fact, the independence and freedom of Gilan in previous periods of time up to a large extent have been indebted to the bravery of these people. The people of Gilan have played roles in many of the liberation movements in Iran. For instance, although the central gravity of the Constitutional Movement was in the Iranian Capital, Tehran, the people of Gilan played a decisive role in the victory of this movement.
One of the prominent figures of Gilan Province, who played a pivotal role in the Constitutional Revolution through the Jangal Movement, is Mirza Kouchak Khan Jangali. In this section of today’s program, we review the life and struggles of this Gilani freedom fighter.
Born in the city of Rasht in 1881, he was highly interested in acquiring knowledge and sciences as of his childhood and therefore he attended Salehabad School in Rasht and later on studied Islamic sciences in Tehran.
He was polite, modest, well-mannered, committed to Islamic and ethical principles. He was also outspoken, brave, and a supporter of justice and the oppressed people.
Given these charactristics, he joined the Constitutional Movement in Iran in early 20th Century and participated in the conquest of the cities of Qazvin and Tehran. After the Constitutional Movement, he returned to his homeland, Gilan, and conducted political activities.
Upon the break out of World War I in 1914, although the then Iranian government had officially announced its impartiality in war, the British and Russian troops invaded the country. The foregin powers’ commanders started to interfere in all of the national affairs of Iran and foreign forces and their agents and mercenaries trampled upon the rights and freedom of people. At this period of time, the Iranian government was fragile and chaos prevailed acros the country. The administrative and social system was distorted and economic woes were rampant. In fact, the majority of people were in absolute poverty and a wave of anger and discontent had spread across the country.
Mirza Kouchak Khan, who was in Tehran, consulted with Tehran’s Ulema, and concluded that if a resistance movement would be established against the injustices of foreign powers and their domestic agents, the injustices would alleviate and the stage would be set for reformation of the community. Based on this ideology, Mirza went to Gilan and set the foundations of Jangal Movement. In this manner, a number of devoted and selfless freedom fighters formed an alliance to struggle against injustice; to expel foregin forces from the country; to sever their infiltration; and to establish security and social justice.
The operations of these freedom fighters started with sporadic attacks on the geopolitical positions of invading forces. Given that Jangal Movement was supported by majority of people, especially the grass roots, the Russians, who were stationed in northern Iran became fearful of the expansion of this movement and pressed the governmental officials of Gilan to suppress and wipe out this movement. Therefore, on several occasions, gunmen were dispatched to the scene to suppress these freedom fighters, but to no avail.
Following the termination of World War I in the year 1918, the British forces, in continuation of their meddlesome policies in Iran’s internal affairs, made strenuous efforts to force Mirza Kouchak Khan to surrender to British troops. But, when their ominous attempts to this end failed, they tried to cause discord among Jangal Movement freedom fighters. Finally, the plots of hostile informants caused rifts among Jangal Movement leaders and dealt a heavy blow to this movement.
On the other hand, the communist Soviet regime, which had ostensibly pulled out its forces from Iran, interfered in Iran’s internal affairs, based on a number of pretexts. For instance, in 1921, the Red Army pounded Anzali Port under the pretext of confrontation with the Czarist troops. Thereafter, Red Army troops entered this city. The Russians tried to persuade Mirza to cooperate with them. But, he never submitted to them due to his Islamic beliefs and his freedom-seeking spirit. The delivery of Mirza’s letters of protests, disappointed Russians and therefore the Russian troops plotted a coup against him and even tried in vain to kill him.
These developments took place concurrent with the coup inTehran in the year 1921 and instatement of Reza Khan as the agent of British colonialists. Reza Khan battled against Jangal Movement freedom fighters and in a fierce confrontation, a group of freedom fighters attained martyrdom. Finally, Mirza left for Khalkhal, west of Gilan Province to continue his struggles. But, on the way, he faced a major snowstorm at the mountains of Gilan.Mirza and a large number of his comrades died amid this snowstorm.
Finally, the conspiracies of the Soviet and British administrations led to the fall of Jangal Movement in 1921, upon the martyrdom of Mirza Kouchak Khan Jangali.
Mirza was a courageous combatant, who spent his life in the freedom-seeking struggles. The memories of the selflessness of Jangal Movement freedom fighters will never be forgotten.