Iranian security forces have arrested dozens of Kurdish civilians and activists during and after the annual Newroz (also Nowruz in Persian) celebrations in Kurdistan in the past few weeks.

The security agencies of the Islamic Republic of Iran have summoned and interrogated dozens and warned them against holding Newroz celebrations in public.

The Intelligence Organisation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Ministry of Intelligence, and the Defence and Intelligence Organisation of the Law Enforcement Forces summoned many in Kamyaran, Marivan, Sanandaj, Saqqez, Bukan, Piranshahr, Rabat, Baneh, Oshnavieh, Orumiyeh, Khoy, Maku, and Salmas.

Reportedly, the security agencies made any public Newroz celebration conditional upon obtaining official permission from the governorates and hoisting the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran during the ceremonies.

They also asked organisers to sign written pledges to prevent participants from using Kurdish symbols such as red rose, white scarf, and so on.

The pledges also prohibited the playing of happy and epic songs and the mixed dancing of men and women at the ceremonies.

Following these threats and bans, a number of Newroz ceremonies failed to obtain permits. Nevertheless, popular groups in many towns and villages gathered and celebrated it spontaneously.

On 21 March, special police forces raided the Newroz celebrations in Sanandaj Children’s Park and arrested at least 20 Kurdish civilians and activists.

Arina Salimi (15 years old) and Batoul Azami (Arina’s grandmother) were released a day later on bail, but Sohrab Jalali, Arman Salimi (Arina’s father), Jamal Asadi, Foad Enayati, Sahand Barznji, Jamshid Farzi, Abed Khorshidi, Arash Shakiba, Keyvan Mahmoudi, Khaled Hosseini, Arash Fadakar, Keyhan Kakakhani, and Fardin Peymankar are still in custody.

A source close to the family of one of the detainees spoke to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) and said: “The arrests were made by the Defence and Intelligence Organisation of the Law Enforcement Forces, and after the follow-ups by the families, they were told by the Sanandaj courthouse that detainees would be held in custody until Saturday next week.”

Also, one day after the Newroz public celebration was held in Sanandaj Children’s Park, the office of the Ministry of Intelligence in the city summoned and interrogated at least 10 more Kurdish civilians and activists for participating in the ceremony.

In addition, on 22 March, security forces detained two Kurdish civilians, Ahmad Rasouli and Sasan Padash, for participating in the public Newroz celebration in the village of Qalateh Rash in Piranshahr, West Azerbaijan province.

Iranian police also raided the Newroz celebration in Oshnavieh, West Azerbaijan Province, beating some participants and preventing them from continuing the ceremony.

Reportedly, the government cut off electricity in the Nestan village of Sardasht in West Azerbaijan province, the day before the start of the New Year to prevent Newroz celebrations.