"We Got Enough From War Heroes We Need Peace Heroes" is the slogan under which the Qamishlo Peace Festival took place in northern Syria.
This is the third year in a row that the city of Qamishlo is hosting a festival that brings together the various ethnic and religious communities of the local area to celebrate the region’s culture. The festival was held on 21 September on the International Day of Peace in order to emphasise the values of communal co-existence in a region that has been devastated by totalitarian forces in recent years, most notably ISIS.
“Today is the International Day of Peace aimed at spreading peace between all of the communities of the region, between neighbours and the world. We hope to live in security, peace and love. We hope that Qamishlo will be an example [of co-existence] for the world”, remarked Jameel Muhammad, an official from the Douz for Civil Society organisation.
A variety of local and international civil society organisations as well as human rights organisations were present at the festival and witnessed the celebration of local culture in defiance of the terror of the recent past. International representatives were exposed to music, songs and dances performed by Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians from the region as well as a variety of stands representing local civil societies that were advocating diverse causes, including environmental issues.
“One of the aims is to promote volunteerism regarding the issue of water safety and waste management”, continued Jameel Muhammad.
The city of Qamishlo has been a prominent cultural and political centre since the expulsion of ISIS militants from the region and the entrenchment of the political rule of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. Despite intermittent security breaches over the past two years, the city and the surrounding region has enjoyed relative security under the supervision of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the various regional communities have had their cultures celebrated in order to foster co-existence between them.