Thousands celebrate Newroz across Turkey, 224 detained in Istanbul

Thousands gathered on March 19 to celebrate Newroz, the Kurdish New Year, marking the arrival of spring in several provinces across Turkey. Some 224 people were detained during the event in Istanbul, the Istanbul Governor's Office announced.

Gazete Duvar

Thousands gathered across several provinces in Turkey to celebrate the Kurdish New Year Newroz, marking the arrival of spring, on March 19.

Thousands gathered at Istanbul’s Yenikapı Square to celebrate the arrival of spring, with the attendance of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Pervin Buldan, non-governmental organizations, and many other representatives of political parties, Ferhat Yaşar from Gazete Duvar reported.

Some 224 people were detained during the event in Istanbul on the grounds of “trying to bring illegal banners and shouting illegal slogans,” according to the Istanbul Governor's Office.

The stage in Yenikapı Square was covered in black due to the Feb. 6 earthquakes which claimed more than 49,000 lives according to the official figures. 

Instead of the HDP banners, the Green Left Party banners were held in the event. The HDP considers entering the elections under the Green Left Party, due to the risk of being closed.

The Green Left Party banners

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.

People called on the government to resign and shouted “Freedom to Selo,” referring to the jailed former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş.

Taking the stage, HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan said “Newroz is the day when Kurds, Turks, Armenians, Assyrians, Laz, Bosnians, Pomaks, those who live under oppression, those who are exposed to violence, injustice and unlawfulness, all identities and all faiths raise their voices together against oppressors, evil, violence, unlawfulness.”

“We welcome this Newroz at a time when our people lost their lives, and experienced great pain due to earthquake and flood disasters. That's why, maybe it's not in a holiday mood, but in a time when the anger of those who died in the earthquake, those who were buried under the rubble against the government. This year's Newroz is a bit sad, painful and angry,” she said.

“In the next Newroz, we will celebrate it here hand in hand with all our (prisoned) friends. Let no one doubt that. The future is ours. After May 14 (election), the future belongs to all of us,” she added.

Newroz was also celebrated in many other provinces across Turkey.

In the capital Ankara, the police did not allow for many political parties’ banners to be brought in the area, Serkan Alan from Gazete Duvar reported.

Speaking on behalf of the Ankara Labor and Democracy Forces, Hüseyin Gökoğlu reminded that the government withdrew from the Istanbul Convention and the Law No. 6284 to Protect Family and Prevent Violence Against Women is debated. 

“The struggle of women resisting everywhere will bury this government in history,” Gökoğlu said.

In the western İzmir province, Peace Mothers and Deniz Poyraz’s mother Fehime Poyraz lit the Newroz fire, Cihan Başakçıoğlu from Gazete Duvar reported.

Deniz Poyraz was a young woman who was shot dead during an armed attack on an office of the HDP in İzmir in 2021.

HDP İzmir co-chairs Berna Çelik and Çınar Altan, as well as Workers' Party of Turkey (TİP) head Erkan Baş, took the stage in İzmir and emphasized the importance of the upcoming elections.

On the other hand, HDP Şanlıurfa provincial branch announced that they canceled Newroz celebration this year due to the deadly earthquakes and floods, Fatma Keber from Gazete Duvar reported.

Turkey’s southeastern region was struck by two major earthquakes on Feb. 6, affecting 11 provinces.

Moreover, the southeastern Şanlıurfa and Adıyaman provinces were hit by flash floods late on March 14, leading to the death of at least 18 people.