Leyla Qasim, born in 1952 into a patriotic Faylee Kurdish family in Xaneqîn, emerged as a remarkable figure in the struggle for Kurdish freedom. Relocating to Erbil at the age of four, she and her siblings, including Sebih, Selam, Sefa, and Selah, were deeply committed to education despite facing discrimination as Faylee Kurds.
The Baathist regime's policies forced Leyla to move to Baghdad with her family. As Faylee Kurds, they belonged to a group enduring brutal discrimination in Iraq. Faylee Kurds, residing in the "Agd al-Akrad" quarter of Baghdad, were known for their secular and moderately nationalist stance, speaking their distinct Kurdish dialect.
Leyla's unwavering determination for an independent Kurdistan led her to join the Kurdistan Democratic Party in 1970. Beginning her sociology studies at the University of Baghdad in 1971 Becoming an active member of the Kurdistan Student Union (KSU) in 1972, Leyla met her companion, Cewad Hemewendi, sharing a profound love for their homeland, Kurdistan. Leyla not only openly expressed her devotion to Kurdistan but also demonstrated that women could actively participate in politics alongside men.
In a tragic turn of events, Leyla, along with her friends, including Cewad Hemewendi, was imprisoned in 1974 on false charges of attempting to hijack a plane. Despite being symbols of freedom, they fell victim to the Ba’ath party's tyranny. During her trial, Leyla exhibited immense courage, boldly proclaiming, "Kill me! But you must also know that after my death, thousands of Kurds will wake up."
Sentenced to death within 15 days, on May 12, 1974, at 7 a.m., Leyla and her friends were executed. On the way to the gallows, she sang the Kurdish national anthem, symbolizing her sacrifice for Kurdistan's freedom. Leyla's death ignited a fire in the hearts of fellow Kurds, especially Kurdish students, who joined the Peshmerga forces to continue the struggle she dedicated her life to. Described as fearless, intelligent, devoted, and soft-spoken, Leyla Qasim's legacy endures as an enduring symbol of courage and dedication in the quest for Kurdish freedom.