VIDEO: A formal Flag Day ceremony is held at the Kurdistan Region Parliament in Erbil.
Interior Minister Karim Sinjari, who is also acting Peshmerga minister, gathered in front of the Council of Ministers building in Erbil along with other officials and staff to mark the day urging "dialogue as the only means to resolve Erbil-Baghdad issues.”
“The Colorful Flag,” as it’s called, was hoisted by the son of a slain Peshmerga at the ceremony.
VIDEO: The son of a slain Peshmerga raise the flag at the KRG Council of Ministries building in Erbil.
The Erbil Schools Activities Department organized ‘The Kurdistan Flag, the Umbrella of Co-Existence’ festival, where many entertaining activities are being held on Flag Day.
“Every year on this day we, the School Activities Department, mark the national Flag Day across Erbil province,” said one of the organizers, adding the events honor the Kurdistan flag.
The Kurdistan flag by a large number of people mostly dressed in Kurdish traditional clothing hoisted the flag on the Citadel.
VIDEO: In the heart of Kurdistan, the flag is raised atop the Erbil Citadel.
In Duhok, a sea of flags was raised at a public space by the sons and daughters of slain Peshmerga with Peshmerga officials and other youth taking part.
Alaya Rengin, or “The Colorful Flag” with a sun shining into bands of red, white and green was first used by Kurds in Turkey by the Republic of Ararat, led by the Xoybuns in their 1920s rebellion.
It changed slightly with the birth of the short-lived Kurdish Republic of Mahabad when leader Qazi Mohammed hoisted the flag on January 22, 1946 at Chawrchira Arena in Mahabad, now in Iran.
After being formally standardized in 1998 and 1999, Kurdistan Regional Government parliament adopted the current flag to be official in all aspects in 1999.
The red band symbolizes the blood of those sacrificed in the Kurdish struggle for freedom. The white band represents peace and equality. The mountainous landscapes and serene waters connect the Kurdish nation, which is represented by the flag’s green band.
Its 21-point golden-colored star bursts into all three bands, representing rebirth of an entity or the reincarnation of an idea, according to Mehrdad M.R. Izady, a prominent Kurdish historian who worked to standardize it.
In the wake of the October 16 events when Kirkuk fell to Iran-backed Shiite paramilitias supported by the Iraqi army, the Kurdistan flag was ripped down in public displays by the Iraqi forces, sparking anger among locals and on social media.
The takeover of oil-rich Kirkuk and other areas which were controlled by the KRG has further negatively impacted the local economy and government revenues. As the war with ISIS was nearing its end, Erbil was dealing with an ongoing budget dispute with Baghdad, repeated influxes of IDPs and refugees, as well a global drop in oil prices. The Kurdistan Region then faced punitive measures such as its two international airports in Erbil and Sulaimani being relegated by the Iraqi government to domestic ones.
Diverse Kirkuk, a Kurdistani or disputed area, is claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil. In accordance with Iraqi law, the flags of Iraq and Kurdistan are to be flown for KRG events, diplomatic visits, buildings, and institutions.
The Kirkuk Provincial Council, in a historical move this spring, decreed to raise Kurdistan flag across Kirkuk province along with the Iraqi flag. This move drew condemnation not only by Iraq, but also neighboring countries such as Turkey.
Flag Day was also marked in the town of Khanaqin which fell to the Iraqi forces after the events of October.
A group of students wearing traditional Kurdish clothing and holding the Kurdistan flag celebrated with Kurdish dancing, called 'shaiy.'
VIDEO: People dance to music on the streets of Khanaqin.
The Kurdistan flag was hoisted prominently, along with the Iraqi, French and EU flags, at Elysee Palace in Paris on December 2 when KRG PM Nechirvan Barzani was welcomed by President Emmanuel Macron.