ERBIL, DIYARBAKIR (K24) – People across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and other parts of Greater Kurdistan in Iran, Syria, and Turkey celebrated “Kurdistan Flag Day” on Thursday.
In Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region, an official ceremony was held in front of the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Council of Ministers building in order to observe Flag Day which was attended by many dignitaries, including Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani who tweeted, "It was an honor for me to commemorate Kurdistan Flag Day with a mother [and] wife of one of our fallen Peshmerga."
Students, teachers attending university, primary, and high schools, celebrated, as did many in towns and cities across Kirkuk, Suleimani, Halabja, Erbil, and Duhok Provinces. This festive day was celebrated by wearing Kurdish flag pins and traditional clothes decorated in the vibrant colours of red, yellow, and green found on the flag of Kurdistan.
In a message posted on his official Facebook page, the President of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani said that the flag of Kurdistan "is the symbol of our people's unity." Barzani said he "saluted the pure souls of the martyrs and commended the resistance of the people of Kurdistan and the sacrifices of our Peshmerga heroes."
On social media, people colored their profile picture with Kurdish flags. The Peshmerga soldiers fighting the Islamic State militants posted pictures of themselves raising the flag across the front lines.
In Diyarbakir, the main Kurdish city in Turkey, at least seven Kurdish political parties and organizations gathered in the center of the city, and raised Kurdistan flags and offered statements to the media.
Some of the curfew-imposed neighborhoods in Diyarbakir have been devastated by ongoing clashes between Kurdish PKK fighters and Turkish police and military forces.
Members of the Youth Association of Kurdistan handed out Kurdistan flags as the head of the minority Party for the Freedom of Kurdistan, Mustafa Ozcelik called on the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Turkish government to end the increasing levels of violence and to solve the "Kurdish issue through dialogue."
Kurdistan Flag Day is celebrated annually on December 17 since 2009 when the Parliament of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq passed a law to commemorate the Kurdistan Republic, also known as the Mahabad Republic. In 1946, shortly before the Iranian State reasserted its authority over the Kurdish territory, the founder of the short-lived Republic of Mahabad, Qazi Muhammad, entrusted the flag to the legendary Kurdish leader, then chief of the Republic's military, Mullah Mustafa Barzani. Three months after the Iranian army took control of Mahabad, Iranian authorities executed the President Qazi Muhammad by hanging.
The flag was first designed by the exiled leaders of the nationalist Xoybun (being oneself) movement in the early 1920s. It was first used as a state flag by the self-declared Kurdish Republic of Ararat (1927-1930) when its territory was forcibly retaken by the fledgling Republic of Turkey.
(Siddiq Eren and Hero Mawloudi contributed to this story from Diyarbakir and Erbil)