Greetings from Peace in Kurdistan on Newroz 2024

Newroz is that rare occasion across large swathes of Kurdistan, and this is particularly true in modern Turkey, where the Kurdish people can enjoy the freedom of expressing themselves in public openly and proudly their true identity as a Kurdish nation. At all other times such declarations of ostentatious collective public display would be suppressed by the state and with great savagery inflicting long-lasting consequences for individuals involved. On Newroz that fear is lifted, albeit temporarily, as Kurds take to the streets and the squares in towns and cities all over Kurdistan to celebrate this ancient festival that marks the arrival of spring, the season of life and new beginnings. Its symbolic meaning inevitably takes on far deeper significance in a period when the people are enduring great oppression and suffering that never seems to end. Newroz represents hope and has become an opportunity for reaffirmation of the will of the people that they can achieve their liberation long denied.

Newroz is a time for enjoyment and celebration allowing families to gather, friends to meet, and people of all ages to stand as one in their national colours, with their emblems, flags unfurled and to demonstrate their collective strength and indomitable human thirst for freedom with their music, dance and song. The rhythms are as ancient as the festival itself and the spirit of resistance is as old as human existence. The Kurds want what other peoples have long taken for granted, which is the right to express their true identity, to live in communities free from fear, to run their own affairs, write their own verses in their own language and to share their creative endeavours with their people. And also, the right to choose their own leaders. All these things are withheld from them. Only on Newroz are they allowed to taste these freedoms and as such it has become a unique occasion that they seize with great unrestrained enthusiasm.

We as Peace in Kurdistan share in the Kurdish celebrations around the festivities of Newroz but like the Kurds we are mindful of the terrible circumstances and fatal consequences of the ongoing conflict for the people,

The Kurds are ever mindful of the plight of their political prisoners unjustly detained like their political leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who has now spent 25 years in a Turkish prison cell in isolation and denied all contact with the world outside. The Kurds are aware that Ocalan will be 75 years old within a few days and that it means he will have spent a third of his entire life to date in detention. It has been through Ocalan’s efforts that generations of Kurdish men and women have grown in confidence and developed a national consciousness, finding the resources within themselves to enable them to draw on their own capabilities to build a formidable national movement that is reshaping the political landscape. Newroz allows the Kurds to regain the strength that will embolden them to rise to future challenges and grasp the freedom that awaits them.

Spring is a time of hope, but it is also one filled with foreboding given the ominous signs of renewed conflict. Turkish President Erdogan has in recent pronouncements has spoken threateningly of a new military offensive against Kurds on the border with Iraq and Syria, promising to finish the task by the summer. This can only mean more bloodshed and atrocities against the Kurds if the Turks are not restrained by their allies. Turkish leaders will have noticed the massacres that for months have been unfolding in Gaza where thousands of unarmed civilians have been slaughtered with little attempt to restrain or sanction Netanyahu. This action sets an extremely dangerous precedent for other states and will give confidence to others planning military actions that they can get away with violating international law without restraint or consequence.

Newroz must be the time to renew our solidarity by drawing inspiration from the collective strength of the people and their ingenuity to resist and triumph despite all adversities. Peace in Kurdistan sends its warmest greetings to the Kurdish people all over Kurdistan and in the diaspora communities who are marking Newroz. We join in their festivities and draw strength from the spirit of the people for the campaigns and challenges that lie ahead.

21 March 2024


Patrons: John Austin; Mike Arnott, President STUC; Baroness Blower of Starch Green, former GS NUT; Prof Bill Bowring; Mickey Brady, MP for Mid Ulster; Julie Christie; Noam Chomsky; Jeremy Corbyn MP;  Maggie Cook, UNISON women activist; Prof Mary Davis; Lord Dholakia; Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director;  Dr Radha D’Souza, writer;  Desmond Fernandes; Lindsey German, Convenor STWC; Melanie Gingell; Christopher Gingell; Prof Dr. Michael Gunter, Secretary-General, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC); Rahila Gupta author, journalist; Chris Hazzard Sinn Fein MP; Nick Hildyard, policy advisor;  Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru; George Katsiaficas, Greek-American historian and author; James Kelman, novelist; Baroness Helena Kennedy KC;  Jean Lambert, former MEP; Dr Les Levidow, Open University; Gawain Little, GFTU General Secretary; Elfyn Llwyd; John McDonnell MP; Mike Mansfield KC; David Morgan, journalist; Conor Murphy, Sinn Fein MLA; Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley; Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey; Kate Osamor MP; Margaret Owen OBE; Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey; Gareth Peirce; Dr Felix Padel, anthropologist;  Maxine Peake, actor; Dr Thomas Phillips, Liverpool John Moores University; Father Joe Ryan; Dr Thomas Schmidt, ELDH Europe; Bert Schouwenburg, International Trade Union Adviser; Roza Salih, Scottish politician; Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation; Stephen Smellie, PIK Trade Union Liaison Officer; Jonathan Steele, journalist; Chris Stephens SNP MP; Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal; Dr Federico Venturini, Associate Researcher, University of Udine, Italy; Dr Tom Wakefor; Dr Derek Wall; Julie Ward, former MEP; Frances Webber, former Vice-Chair of IRR and barrister; Kariane Westrheim, Chair, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC); Hywel Williams MP.


Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
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