Kurds celebrating Newroz in Akre, Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

ERBIL ــ Radical group of the Islamic State (ISIS), which controls large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, threatened Monday to punish any citizen in areas under its control captured celebrating Newroz.

Jabbar Mamouri, commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), confirmed that ISIS has banned celebration of Newroz, which marks start of spring mostly celebrated by Kurds, because “it contradicts the group’s ideology”. 

“The group vowed violators with a punishment of up to 20 lashes in public,” the source said.

Mamouri emphasized that ISIS banned all forms of inherited celebrations within the cities and towns under its control, deploying more of the so-called Islamic police (al-Hisba) to observe movements of the citizens. 

In this regard, Imad Berho, leading member of the Kurdish Youth Movement (TCK) in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, said “ISIS prevents everything that does not match its ideology”.

“This barbaric group wants to impose its radicalism on the Kurds and other communities in areas under its control. But Kurds will continue celebrating their new year day [Newroz] because it is a symbol of dignity and liberation from tyranny,” he added.  

Kurds celebrate Newroz amidst bloody war against Islamic State

The Kurds in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey celebrate the coming of spring every year [Newroz] on the 21st of March and they lit fires and torches all throughout Kurdistan despite the war against the Islamic State (ISIS) and an economic crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Near 1,500 Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been killed since the Islamic State attacked the Kurdistan region of Iraq in August 2014, and thousands of Yezidis have been killed, raped, and enslaved by ISIS when they took over Shingal (Sinjar) region in northern Iraq. 

In addition, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has been suffering from an economic crisis due to the low oil prices and Kurdish dependence on oil exports, while the Kurdish government promised to tackle corruption and cut expenditures. 

“It is true that Newroz [New Year] this year is celebrated differently because a lot of people wanted to celebrate Newroz but didn’t have money to celebrate it, and we have Daesh [ISIS],” said Adil Muqdad from the city of Kelek. “But the Kurdish people try to be above all of these problems and celebrate it as much as they can,” he added.

Adil’s brother agreed. “This is something Kurdish and this has been going on for a long time. If we don’t celebrate Newroz, Daesh and other enemies of the Kurds will be happy and say they prevented Newroz,” said Shkar Muqdad. “The celebration of Newroz will hopefully continue forever because this is a national Kurdish celebration.”

“In terms of the economic situation it has gotten worse, “ said Bilend Akre, 34. “Of course there is corruption but there is corruption everywhere, it’s natural and it can be tackled,” he added.

“Newroz is a national Kurdish celebration, we have to do it every year,” said Bestun Jamal, 33. “The sacred Kurdish martyrs are celebrated this year and we pay tribute to the martyrs,” he added.

“Newroz will continue because Newroz is a symbol for Kurds and it’s about freedom and a national occasion. Kurds should unite to overcome the current challenges,” said Dilgesh Yousef, 30, a Kurd from Syria.

For many Kurds it is a part of their national struggle against rival states. “The Peshmerga forces are defending Kurdistanm from Shingal until Kirkuk’s disputed territories, “ said Heval Akre, 27. “80 countries are fighting against Daesh [ISIS] and supporting the Peshmerga forces,” he said. “Israel is also approving the idea of Kurdish statehood.”

Moreover many Kurds are optimistic that the Syrian Kurds will also achieve a form of self-rule in northern Syria after the announcement of federalism for Rojava [Kurdish areas of Syria]. 

“It is the same in Rojava. What the Kurdish forces achieved in Rojava is a historical accomplishment for all Kurds, said Yousef. “Maybe in the future the Kurdistan territories in Iraq and Syria would be connected to each other.”

Reporting by: Sozbin Celeng and Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News

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