Despite war, Syria Kurds celebrate Newroz




ARA News

Qamishli, Efrin, Duhok– On Friday, the 21st of March, Syrian Kurds in north and  northeastern Syrian celebrated the traditional Kurdish Spring festival of Newroz. Like their peers in Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey, Iran and in the diaspora, Kurds in Qamishli, Amude, Efrin, Derik, Tel Temir and other areas in Syria welcomed Spring and lit the fire of Newroz to symbolize “the end of Tyranny”.

Thousands of people in Qamishli city participated in the celebrations of Newroz in different locations. The Local Committee of the Kurdish National Council (KNC) allocated two places in east and west of Qamishli city for the celebrations. Kurdish songs were played and Kurdish folk dances were performed by Kurdish dance groups. While the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan allocated a football field in Hilelye district for the festival performance; flags of the Democratic Society Movement of Rojava (TEV-DEM) and YPG flags decorated the place amid a huge local participation. Beside playing songs and presenting folk dances, and theatrical performances were also presented.

Members of the Popular Protection Units (YPG) took the responsibility of protecting the locations of the celebrations and all the roads leading to them. 

Amid security concerns and political disputes, Kurds in Amude city celebrated the festival in two different locations. The festival performance organized by the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan with the participation of the PYD-led self-rule administration officials took a political aspect and gained heavy security protection. Meanwhile, the Kurdish National Council (KNC) took the responsibility of the organization of Newroz festival in Dokar village in the countryside of Amude city. 

Speaking to ARA News, the chairman of the KNC’s Local Committee, Issam Arif said: “We didn’t want for Newroz to be only a festival this year, as we aren’t seeing the end of bloodshed in Syria. There are cities which get bombarded and besieged amid a huge displacement of residents. So we honour victims of the Syrian uprising on this occasion.” 

Abdul Ghafour Hussein, a member of the leadership body of the Azadi Party, told ARA News: “Newroz for us is a day for joy, but this year is different as more than 300.000 Kurds emigrated from their areas and the number of deaths reached more than 200.000 in all Syria.”

However, others complained of the political aspect which the celebrations of Newroz took. “I would like to celebrate Newroz and have joy even if it’s only one day,” said Masoud, one of the participants in the Newroz celebrations in Amude city. 

While Nalin and Avin from Amude city expressed their optimism about the future and their joyful feelings for Newroz. 

“I aspire for the Kurdish rights in Syria and wish we achieve a federal system,” said Obaid, another participant from Amude city.

The celebrations in Efrin city, north of Aleppo, were not different from the celebrations in other Kurdish areas. Again due to the Kurdish political disputes, the Democratic Society Movement of Rojava (TEV-DEM) which the PYD constitutes its main bulwark, and both of the Azadi Party and the Kurdish Democratic Party (el-Parti) held the Newroz celebrations in two different locations. Beside the participation of the Kurdish singer Hikmet Jamil and presentation of theatrical performances, speeches were given in the celebrations organized by TEV-DEM movement to honour the resistance of people in “Rojava” (Syria’s Kurdish areas) and the efforts of the YPG forces. 

While the Yekiti Party released a statement announcing non-participating in the Newroz celebrations this year due to “the state of war in Syria and Kurdistan, and due to fears from terrorists carrying out suicide bombings”. 

In Efrin city, which used to embrace huge celebrations of Newroz in five different locations in its countryside (known for its stunning nature), the number of participants in the celebrations of Newroz this year was remarkably less than the previous years as many people have been seen heading to the mountains and nature, while others visited the graves of their relatives who have lost their lives in the clashes which occurred in Efrin region over the past months.   

Sharin Othman, a participant in the celebrations in Efrin city, stated to ARA News that the low number of participants in the Newroz celebrations this year “is due to the difficult living conditions and the circumstances of war amid displacement of residents and killing which Efrin region has seen”. 

“Even though there have been preparations for the celebrations two weeks before, the conditions of war has taken the joy of Newroz away,” she said. 

In Erbil city, the capital of the Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq, the KNC representation in Iraqi Kurdistan organized a Newroz festival in Kasinzan area with the participation of three folk dance groups. Thousands of Syrian Kurds who live in Iraqi Kurdistan gathered to participate in the celebrations. With the Kurdish national anthem played, a minute of silence was observed to honour those died for Kurdistan. 

Kawa Azizi, the spokesman of the KNC’s representation in Iraqi Kurdistan, delivered a speech in which he congratulated the Kurds for Newroz and referred to the sufferings of the Syrian Kurdish refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan demanding the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to grant residence permits to refugees and provide them with freedom of movement. 

Meanwhile, Said Gabari, the prominent Kurdish singer from Syria, participated in the celebrations with his folk songs, while many poems were recited for the occasion of Newroz. The celebrations were concluded with playing music and group dancing. 


Reporting by: Jinda Ahmed, Judi Aziz, Serbaz Sino

Source: ARA News


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