AKRE – 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: Wladimir van Wilgenburg