Refugees from Afrin (Efrin), now settled in Shahba (Şehba) in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES, also known as Rojava) – as a result of Turkey’s military take over of Afrin three years ago – celebrated Newroz and expressed their motivation to liberate Afrin.
The Newroz celebration began with a speech about Newroz that had been made by Kurdistan Workers’ Party leader Abdullah Öcalan some years ago. Then, Afrin region’s Autonomous Administration Executive Board co-chair Şîraz Hemo spoke, highlighting the significance of Newroz as a festival celebrating resistance against oppression.
The Syria Future Party (FSP) Executive Council member Hesen Koçer also spoke and stated that the spirit of Newroz will be an inspiration and “the resistance will last until Afrin’s liberation”. The Newroz celebrations ended amidst songs and dances.
Turkey militarily took over Afrin province in North East Syria three years ago. Ninety percent of Afrin’s population was Kurdish before the military take-over. However, the demographic structure of the city has now been drastically altered. The Kurdish majority town has been depopulated by systematic pressures on the Kurdish residents, which has caused 300,000 Kurdish residents to migrate.
The refugees from Afrin who had to flee settled in Shahba canton in a refugee camp. They have been living in tents for the past three years and are waiting to eventually return to their homes. Meanwhile, the families of the mercenaries who helped Turkish forces militarily take over Afrin have travelled from various cities in Syria and settled in Afrin.