Thousands of people attended today’s Newroz (also known as Nowruz in Persian) celebrations in Gilan-e Gharb, Kermanshah Province, despite challenges and threats by security forces to prevent the event.

After a group of civil and cultural rights activists in Gilan-e Gharb announced plans to hold a Newroz celebration on 21 March, security forces recently pressured and threatened the organisers to cancel the event.

The Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) has learned that security forces arrived at the venue of the event in the morning and began collecting posters and other materials brought for the celebration, and blocked the roads leading to the Newroz celebration venue in the Navdar area, four kilometres from Gilan-e Gharb, to prevent the public from attending.

A source in Gilan-e Gharb told KHRN: “The pressure from the security agencies began after the widespread announcement of the Newroz celebration by civil and cultural rights activists in Gilan-e Gharb. First they tried to cancel the event by threatening the organisers, and when that failed, they tried to prevent the public from attending by being present at the venue in Navdar and blocking the roads leading to the area from this morning”.

According to the source, despite all the pressure and severe internet disruption in the city, thousands of people from Gilan-e Gharb County moved towards Navdar in the morning.

However, the blocking of routes leading to the area by military security forces caused heavy traffic on surrounding roads, and many tried to reach the celebration site on foot.

According to reports received and pictures posted online, the Newroz celebration took place with the participation of thousands of people, despite the obstacles created by the military security forces.

At the same time, the Gilan-e Gharb governorate issued a statement declaring the event in the Navdar area as “unauthorised and illegal” and holding the organisers responsible for any consequences arising from such an event.

This year, as in previous years, civil and cultural rights activists organised Newroz celebrations in different cities and regions of Kurdistan despite institutional pressure.

In some of these events, security forces threatened the organisers and demanded that they refrain from wearing symbolic clothes and chanting revolutionary slogans.