Thousands gathered across several provinces in Turkey to celebrate the Kurdish New Year Newroz, marking the arrival of spring, on March 20.
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 Mithat Sancar, non-governmental organizations, and many other representatives of political parties.
Some 83 people were detained after the event in Istanbul, according to the Istanbul Governor's Office.
The Lawyers for Freedom Association (ÖHD) said the detainees were battered and mistreated by police, adding that the reason behind the detention was that they allegedly stayed in the area for longer than the scheduled time allowed for the event.
It added that they would later be released from detention.
Bugün Yenikapı Newroz alanında 81 kişi 2911 S. K. muhalefetten gözaltına alındı.— ÖHD İstanbul (@ohd_istanbul) March 20, 2022
Gözaltı gerekçesi ise şu: “Etkinlik için saat 16.00’a kadar izin verildi. Siz bu saatten sonra dağılmadınız.”
Bir suç yok, suçlama yok ama gözaltı var. Çünkü hukuk değil düşman hukuku uygulanıyor! https://t.co/6yq5rRfZZz
Newroz was celebrated in many other provinces, including the Kurdish majority eastern provinces of Van, Hakkari, Bitlis and Elazığ, the southern provinces of Gaziantep and Hatay, and the northwestern province of Bursa.
The celebration in Istanbul was led by the Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) with the slogan “Dem dema serkeftinêye” (Now it is time to win).
“They have now started the hegemony they started 30 years ago in our south in our north, in Ukraine,” the presenter of the event, Tuğçe Özçelik, said in her speech at the event.
“We want the people to reach democracy and freedoms and the Kurdish issue to be solved through democratic means in 2022’s Newroz,” HDP Istanbul provincial branch chair Ferhat Encü told Gazete Duvar.
“Happy Newroz. This is the voice of the solution, the power of the solution. The more we get together, the more we grow. The more we unite, the more we open the way for peace, democracy, freedom and equality for this country,” HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar said in his speech at the celebration in Istanbul.
“This is a difficult road, it is full of obstacles, oppressions and pressure, but no power stopped, and will stop, us from our march. Because now, it is time to win,” he added.
Jailed former HDP co-chair, Selahattin Demirtaş, called on citizens to attend the Newroz celebrations in Diyarbakır and marked the New Year in a tweet in Zazaki, Kurmanji and Turkish.
Rojbaș. Newroz pîroz be. Hêvî dikim ku Newroz bibe wesîleya aștî, azadî û wekheviyê.— Selahattin Demirtaş (@hdpdemirtas) March 21, 2022
Rojweş. Newroz pîroz bo. Ma hêvî kenê ke Newroz bibo wesîleyê aştî, azadî û seyyewbînîye.
Günaydın. Newroz kutlu olsun. Newroz'un barış, özgürlük ve eşitliğe vesile olmasını diliyorum. pic.twitter.com/eSmv7Q9OBO
In Gaziantep, photos of Deniz Poyraz, a staffer who was murdered at the HDP’s İzmir provincial branch last year, and Kemal Kurkut, a young Kurdish man killed by the police during Newroz celebrations in 2017 in Diyarbakır, were held by those who flocked to the celebrations.
Newroz, this year, was celebrated as the HDP, Turkey’s second-largest opposition party, faces the possibility of a closure after the country’s top prosecutor demanded the party’s dissolution on terror-related charges and the ban of 450 party members from holding political office for five years.
The indictment, accepted by the Constitutional Court, came after calls made by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to permanently shut the HDP down. It follows years of a crackdown on the HDP, in which thousands of its members have been tried on terror-related charges.
A summary of proceedings was launched against HDP MP Feleknas Uca earlier this month for saying the word “Kurdistan” at an event two years ago.
Also, earlier this month, parliament voted to lift the immunity of HDP lawmaker Semra Güzel on accusations of terrorism.