Kurdish New Year this Year Might be Very Different

It’s around the corner, the 21st of March, the day when Kurds celebrate Newroz, their new year, welcoming spring by camping in the mountains early in the morning with their families and friends enjoying barbeques, dancing and singing.

A Kurdish girl celebrating Newroz, by Azad Bozan, 2015
A Kurdish girl celebrating Newroz 2015 by Azad Bozan

The war in Syria made it very difficult for Kurds living in north east Syria, also known as Rojava, to enjoy the celebrations, which were usually interrupted by bombs, killing many civilians.

Kurds and other Syrian ethnicities are waiting for this Newroz with caution, after the Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD announcement of a draft about declaring federalism in north east Syria, where the majority are Kurds. The party also announced that the declaration will be on the 21st of March.

Some Kurds we asked inside Rojava were very happy about this declaration: “We are very positive about this move. Federalism will ensure the voices of Kurds in Rojava will be heard globally. We only wish that it happens peacefully and without bloodshed” Said Jiyan, a 22 year old student living in Rojava.

Many of the Kurds living in Rojava are concerned about what will happen next. “I don’t know what to say” said Shilan, a 37 year old school teacher. “People and families in Rojava are stuck, surrounded by closed borders. If Turkey, the regime or ISIS troops attack us after the declaration, where will the families and children run” She added in bitterness.

Shilan and her family are on a standby status, waiting to see what will happen with fear and anger, practically about certain political figures: “Those politicians are using us, the civilians, as firewood for their own political and personal achievements”

When asking Kurds abroad about PYD declaring federalism in Rojava on Newroz day, the answers weren’t too optimistic. “This declaration must be recognised by the world’s leading countries, otherwise it’s just on paper” Mira, a 38 year old living in Germany told ZÎV.

The reactions from other Syrian ethnicities on social media were mainly negative, calling for the unity of Syrians and condemning all sorts of division in the already divided Syria.

While many Syrian argue about the timing of this declaration, Farah, a Syrian Arab, has a different opinion. “I am with federalism, especially now, because simply, people have the right to establish a stable life and to start planning for their future. In my opinion, the rest of Syrians are apparently willing to live in war for five more years. Come on! Let some of Syrians live in peace!”

Garilla dance in Qaneel Mountains during Newroz celebration in 2015 by Azad Bozan
Garilla dance in Qaneel Mountains during Newroz celebrations in 2015 by Azad Bozan

Farah who lives currently in the USA had also fears that the federalism might make it hard or even prevent the rest of Syrians from visiting Rojava in the future: “I hope we make a better example of the Iraqi federalism. Iraqis in Baghdad cannot go to Iraqi Kurdistan without special permission or a visa”

The whole Middle East is boiling and drowned in conflicts. It’s not very easy to make any political declaration, there will always be serious challenges. Kurds declaring federalism in Syria on the 21st of March is a huge deal, it might turn Rojava into the most peaceful Syrian territory or turn it into a battlefield. All options are possible.

What is important for Rojaviens abroad is to see their land free so they can go back and contribute in rebuilding it. Niroz, a Kurd from Rojava living now in Turkey said about the declaration: “All we want from the Kurdish government in Rojava is to work on establishing and implementing laws that protect human rights, women’s rights, freedom of speech, animal rights and last but not least, democracy for all”