Newroz Vigil for Afrin and Community Celebration

We are delighted to congratulate all friends and community with Newroz, the Kurdish New Year.

This year we again held a vigil dedicated to the people of Afrin, Northern Syria, who have been suffering under Turkish occupation since March 2018. For a year now, cases of destruction, kidnapping, ransom, sexual violence and the systematic destruction of the nature are increasing day by day.

The Vigil was held by the Martyrs' Memorial in Oxford on 20th March, the Eve of Newroz - the Kurdish New Year. It coincides with the Spring Equinox, and is a festival celebrating the beginning of spring. It symbolises freedom, revival and victory over oppression and injustice. With the estimated population over 30m, Kurds are one of the largest stateless nations in the world. They inhabit a region straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia. Over the centuries they have been displaced, suppressed, massacred, and their language and culture suppressed. For these reasons, Newroz is considered to be the most important festival in the year and a statement of support for the Kurdish cause.

On Sunday 24th March we celebrated Newroz with a community party at Cheney School. The event was attended by over 200 people who enjoyed traditional food and dancing. Children performed a short play about the legend of Kawa, the Kurdish national hero and a symbol of resistance. We are grateful to the Lord Mayor of Oxford Councillor Colin Cook who delivered a speech, and to the Councillor Lubna Arshad and local police community support officers for joining us and engaging with the community. We are especially grateful to Cheney School for putting up a Kurdish flag in the Assembly Hall, together with other national flags from across the world.