Who says spring is not rebellious?

Not only the thousands of people who attended Newroz celebrations in Diyarbakır, but everyone should interpret Leyla Zana's message pointing to the post-election period for a new peace process with a clear mind.

Vecdi Erbay / Gazete Duvar

On the morning of Newroz, March 21, the weather in Diyarbakır province was warm and slightly rainy. One wanted to do nothing but look out of the window at the rain and the people running around. The weather, at least in my neighborhood, was that romantic.

Yes, we woke up to such a romantic morning in Diyarbakır, but spring is also rebellious. The rebellious side of spring carried me all the way to Newroz Park, just like thousands of Diyarbakır residents.

In the past, before the appointment of the trustee mayors, municipalities used to increase bus services to the Newroz area. The trustees have been using various intimidation tactics for eight years to at least reduce the participation in Newroz. For example, they tried the "there is work on the roads" tactic and it failed. Thousands of people overcame the "work" barrier and reached the area. Another time, when ISIS was organizing bombings, again the area was full. However, the rumor that ISIS was going to carry out bombings had spread in the city days before, and the people of Diyarbakır had stood up to this spectre.

This year there were other obstacles: It was Ramadan, it was a working day and it was raining.

Let me summarize: In addition to these three obstacles, the romance of spring could not prevent the square from filling up. Because spring was rebellious.


What did I do?

When I got out of the taxi, the rain had almost completely stopped. I had a long way to go to reach the square. As I was walking in a hurry, I was looking around and chatting with people. Yes, many people were trying to reach the Newroz area in groups, shopping from the vendors on the sidewalk. A group of young people were walking next to me. Apparently one of them was a guest, attending the Newroz in Diyarbakır for the first time. Their friends were preparing them for what they were about to see, saying, "Diyarbakır Newroz is unlike any other Newroz." "If anything happens, don't leave us," they warned, reminding them of past Newroz incidents.

Fewer women were wearing traditional clothes than in previous years. I thought it was definitely related to the rain, a thought that was reinforced a little later when I tried to take a shortcut and got stuck in the mud.

There were no long queues at the search points. The police were polite and facilitative at the protocol entrance. However, at other entrances, we were informed that the traditional clothes worn by the people were being interfered with. Who knows how long this senseless intervention will continue?

The area reserved for the press, which for some reason was shared with the police, was not crowded. Because there were very few members of the press coming from outside the city to cover the Diyarbakır Newroz. As a matter of fact, there was also a lot of space in the section reserved for the protocol. There was a time when there was no room in the protocol. That's why those gaps in the protocol were a bit sad, but on the other hand, they marked a distance from those who were not truthful, which was a relief.

How many people were in the square? Journalists were asking each other this question. I can't give a number, but there was a great crowd.

The wire between the stage and the crowd also prevented taking photos and videos. Journalists were waiting to take photos of the young people who were climbing the wire.

News centers were waiting for photos and videos, but sending photos and videos from the square was a real pain. The cell tower went out, to say the least.


And now we come to the main question. What is the message of this Newroz?

This question is asked every Newroz. Especially since the Newroz when PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's message was read out...

In fact, given the current political situation, no one expected an 'extraordinarily surprising' message. However, Leyla Zana was attending the Diyarbakır Newroz after many years, and this led to a chain of possibilities.

The speakers did not take too much time: They demanded the lifting of the isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan. I think Cengiz Çiçek from the Peoples' Democratic Congress (HDK) gave the longest speech. The reason for the length of Çiçek's speech was that he read out Öcalan's previous Newroz statement.

Mehmet Öcalan, Leyla Zana

Leyla Zana had come to Newroz holding the hand of Mehmet Öcalan, Abdullah Öcalan's brother. When it was Leyla Zana's turn to speak, there was an enthusiastic surge at the front of the venue. Leyla Zana was excited enough to meet the masses after a long break. Her first sentence was like a translation of this excitement: "Amed, you will say 'Are you here again?' Yes, I am here again."

Leyla Zana had been away from the masses, and politics for about eight years. However, during these years she had not lost a single bit of her ability to communicate with the masses. Her command of the stage, the decisive emphasis on what she said, and the way she occasionally handed the microphone to the audience made her the most applauded politician of the day. I would not be exaggerating if I say that she had an impact on thousands of people with her years of experience.

Leyla Zana, as she reminds us, has been in politics for 40 years. In our interview with her, she talked about her resentments against the political tradition she comes from. These should have been resolved as she will be participating in election campaigns in several cities in the coming days.

The most important part of her Newroz speech must have been her emphasis on the need to solve the Kurdish issue through peace. Zana recalled the step taken by Abdullah Öcalan in 1993 to start the peace process and said that they would work to restart this process after the elections. Zana received full support from the people who filled the Newroz area for a new peace process. She also asked for the same support from politicians and civil society organizations.

While there are indications that the war will escalate in the military arena in the spring, there is nothing strange about the effort to fight for the solution of the issue. In fact, it is the right time to make an all-out effort to resolve the issue through peaceful means and dialog.

In his message to the "Kurdish Solution and Peace Conference" organized by İHD in Diyarbakır, Selahattin Demirtaş pointed to Öcalan and Erdoğan as interlocutors for a solution. Ahmet Türk pointed to Erdoğan, whom he said had persecuted the Kurds, as the politician who could solve the Kurdish issue. Leyla Zana had said in January, "Erdoğan should re-initiate the peace process." DEM Party Co-Chair Tuncer Bakırhan's six demands presented at Newroz were in the same vein.

Putting these messages of Kurdish politicians together, it is possible to predict that after the elections there will be pressure on the government and Erdoğan for a new peace process. There were signs in this direction during the Newroz celebrations, but will the proposal to resolve the issue through dialogue find a response? We will have the opportunity to see this after the elections.


After Leyla Zana's speech, I went out to the square. When I say I went out to the square, I mean that I reached the square after walking a world away. My impression was that the children were left at home this Newroz. There were also few elderly people, maybe because of the weather conditions, maybe because of Ramadan. It seemed as if only young people filled the square.

Slogans, halay, flags... And mud. I can't say I didn't envy the excitement, joy, and stubbornness of the young people who were dancing despite the mud.

I asked about Leyla Zana's speech in the field. The older ones told me how excited they were to see Leyla Zana in the political arena once again. Young people were meeting Leyla Zana for the first time and they were happy about it. Both those who said her speech was "good" and those who were evasive by saying "I couldn't listen to it properly" were not yet able to interpret Leyla Zana's message. I guess they were not wrong. It is not only the thousands of people who filled the field, but everyone should interpret Leyla Zana's message pointing to the post-election period with a clear mind.

The speeches were over. The artists were singing their songs. Then a torrential rain started. Everyone ran somewhere. When I got into the car, there was still mud on my shoes, even though I had cleaned them. The mud was also on my trousers.

Spring is like this, spring starts with Newroz and it is hopeful. Spring is rebellious.

Newroz pîroz be ("Happy Newroz").