At least 100 detained in Newroz celebrations in Istanbul

Thousands gathered on March 17 to celebrate Newroz, the Kurdish New Year, marking the arrival of spring in several provinces across Turkey. Over 100 people were detained after the celebration in Istanbul.

Ferhat Yaşar / Gazete Duvar

Thousands gathered across several provinces in Turkey to celebrate the Kurdish New Year Newroz, marking the arrival of spring, on March 17.

The Newroz location in Istanbul was the Yenikapı Square with the slogan of “Stand up, it is time for freedom and victory,” organized jointly by the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party, Peoples' Democratic Congress (HDK), and Free Women's Movement (TJA).

Early in the morning, peddlers set up stalls on the streets towards the square, selling yellow, red and green scarves, rosaries, necklaces, bracelets and Amedspor kits. The square was also decorated with yellow, red and green banners.

The crowds entering the square chanted slogans of “Freedom for Selo,” referring to jailed politician Selahattin Demirtaş, and danced halay to Newroz songs. The police banned Kurdistan flags from the area.

The announcement of "Today is Newroz. Today is our day. Happy Newroz," was followed by a minute of silence. During the minute of silence, the crowd frequently chanted “Freedom for Selo.”

A banner reading, "No vote for bourgeois parties. No vote for contractors. Vote for Meral Danış Beştaş and Murat Çepni," was opened in the square. According to the organizing committee, more than 300,000 people have participated in the Newroz.

DEM Party co-chair Tuncer Bakırhan, and Istanbul co-mayoral candidates Meral Danış Beştaş and Murat Çepni attended the celebration, as Beştaş and Çepni danced halay and horon on the stage. 

The Newroz fire was lit by the Peace Mothers, a civilian initiative made up of women calling for a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish issue.

Taking the stage, Meral Danış Beştaş started her speech in Kurdish and said, "We are showing great resistance against the isolation and the blockade of our cities. If we stand by our party, we will liberate our friends. Each of your votes will free Selahattin Demirtaş. It will free Sebahat Tuncel. It will free Figen Yüksekdağ and Gültan Kışanak. We are honored by your enthusiasm, your stance, and your coming here. Thank you a thousand times."

A man named Murat Demirtaş proposed marriage to his girlfriend during the celebration.

At 5 p.m. local time, the police asked for the program to end, citing the deadline given by the Istanbul Governor’s Office. Tunisian artist Emel Meslusi could not take the stage after this intervention and the crowd started leaving the square in protest.

However, the police attacked the crowd at the exit points, battering many people. The police detained at least 100 people, including journalists.

(English version by Alperen Şen)