On the evening of the 15th of March, the Centre for Kurdish Progress hosted its annual Newroz (Kurdish New Year) Reception at Portcullis House Westminster at the Houses of Parliament.
The event was hosted by the Shadow Home Secretary the Rt Hon Diane Abbott MP and the Scottish National Party MP Angus Brendan MacNeil and was presented by Taban Kamal Mohammed who won the Best Student (Female) Most Successful Kurds in Britain Award in 2016.
Approximately 200 people were in attendance including numerous British Politicians who provided the event and the organisation with cross-party support, including the Leader of Labour Party the Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, Labour MPs David Lammy, Dawn Butler, Rob Marris and Mary Glindon, Conservative MPs Andrea Jenkyns and Jack Lopresti, Scottish National Party MPs Chris Stephenson and Tommy Sheppard, the Independent MP Natalie McGarry, and Labour Peers Lord Michael Cashmen, Baroness Jan Royall, Lord Pendry, Baroness Whitaker and Lord Dave Watts.
Falah Mustafa Bakir the Head of the Department of Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq was also in attendance, so was Karwan Jamal Tahir, the High Representative to the UK of the KRG, both gave speeches.
Speeches were also made by Raife Aytek, Director of the Centre for Kurdish Progress, Ibrahim Dogus, the Founder of the Centre for Kurdish Progress and Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Opposition and the Labour Party. Key quotes from these speeches include:
“Tonight’s event like all the work of Kurdish Progress is for Kurds from any and all countries, to give them a voice and a platform. It is also to help non-Kurdish British people better understand Kurds and Kurdish issues, and to allow friendships to form between communities.” – Raife Aytek
“This is such an important year ahead. I look forward to working with you all, in the name of progress, in the name of peace.” – Ibrahim Dogus
“You have to respect people’s history, culture and values and work with them … Diversity is a strength not a weakness”- The Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP
Attendees with origins from all four parts of Kurdistan, many of whom wore traditional Kurdish clothes enjoyed a drinks reception and there was also a musical performance by Hadis Ayoubi, who is releasing her new single “BARAN”.
John Lubbock, a representative from a Wikimedia project intended to recruit Kurdish-language Wikipedia page editors with the aim of spreading this network to Kurdistan in order to extend greater access to information there were also present.
Several supporters were presented with Extraordinary Contribution to the Kurdish Cause Awards. The recipients of these prizes included:
Baroness Jan Royall, a British Labour politician. Baroness Royall was awarded for making many efforts to raise awareness of the Kurdish struggle including visiting Diyarbakir in February 2016 and meeting with representatives of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and writing extensively about the curfews implemented in Kurdish-majority cities in Turkey. She secured a 90 minute debate in parliament to discuss the human rights and political situation in Turkey, and vocalising her concerns for the HDP representatives who have been dismissed, arrested or imprisoned and stressed the serious violations of freedom in Kurdish-populated areas.
Simon Dubbins, the Head of International at UNITE. Mr Dubbins was awarded for having helped to bring Kurdish affairs to the foreground among Trade Unions in Britain and elsewhere in Europe and for leading a campaign and petitioned the Foreign Secretary to help secure the release from prison of pro-Kurdish politicians in Turkey. Thanks to his efforts, Unite are working to show solidarity with Kurdish people suffering in the Middle East.
Jack Lopresti, a Conservative MP. Mr Lopresti was awarded for having joined MPs of all parties on a visit to the frontlines against Daesh in Kirkuk and making efforts to support the important role played by Kurdish fighters in the struggle thereafter. These include his backing a proposal for the treatment of wounded Kurdish soldiers at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and for visiting wounded Peshmerga to thank them for their work on the frontline.
Stephen Smellie, branch Secretary and Deputy Convenor of the public services trade union UNISON in Scotland was awarded for his supporting role as a founding member of “Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan” with which he helped launch a campaign of solidarity with imprisoned Kurdish women this year and also for his work as secretary to the newly established Cross Party Group on Kurdistan in the Scottish Parliament.
Richard Wilding, a London based photographer and designer working internationally with museums, charities and governments on cultural exhibitions, websites and printed publications, was awarded for his work as the Creative Director of Gulan, a UK registered charity which promotes Kurdish culture. He was also awarded for his efforts in designing the Kurdistan Regional Government national badge for the remembrance of the victims of the Kurdish Genocide in collaboration with Gulan’s Artistic Director Della Murad. The badge was first used on 16th March 2013 at the 25th anniversary commemorations of the chemical weapons attack on Halabja.
After the extraordinary contribution awards, two additional Press and Publication Awards were presented to Dr Ipek Demir, a Sociology Associate Professor at Leicester University and Ata Mufty, a writer, activist, publisher and former organiser of the London Kurdish Film Festival.
The event also included the Most Successful Kurds in Britain Awards, which recognise and highlight the great successes of contributions made by Kurds to their communities, the UK and to Kurdistan. The Awards Judging Panel included representatives of the Kurdish Community in Britain. The judges are Founder and Executive Director of Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), Diana Nammi; Writer and Journalist Goran Baba Ali; Service Manager at Renaisi, Chinar Mohammad Diman; Gorran Movement UK Representative, Foad Jamal Salam; Poet and Writer Shie Rauf, Mayor of Harringey Ali Gul Ozbek and Director of the Centre for Kurdish Progress Raife Aytek.
Businesswoman of the Year
Aysel Enguzekli, director of ADA ASSOCIATES UK LIMITED an accountancy firm based in Edmonton
Businessman of the Year
Sarbaz Barznji, a Civil Structural Engineer who has established two construction companies.
Role Model Award of the Year (Female)
Cllr Makbule Gunes, a Labour Councillor for Tottenham.
Role Model Award of the Year (Male)
Professor Deiary Fraidoon Kader, a Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon and visiting professor at Northumbria University.
Student of the Year (Female)
Nadia Mardan is a current postgraduate student who has achieved a First in her law degree and a Distinction for her LPC.
Student of the Year (Male)
Ahmed Saleh a current PHD student with a law degree and Master’s degree in International Relations and Global Security.
Social Responsibility Award
Dr Mohammad Tammo co-founder, Treasurer and Head of Public Advocacy at of the non-profit Kurds House since 2014.
Art Award (Female)
Della Murad, an image consultant and fashion designer in the UK.
Art Award (Male)
Hussein Zahawy, an experienced and renowned musician who has performed and produced Kurdish music worldwide.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Female)
Zaynab Alikamal, pharmaceutical businesswoman and owner of Kings Medical Centre on Edgware Road London.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Male)
Dlair Kadhem, technological innovation specialist and businessman with clientele including the BBC, NHS, Ericsson and PwC.