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Turkey: Police Attack Kurds Celebrating Newroz

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

Thousands of Kurds took to the streets in celebration of Newroz, in a pre-planned event, but were dispersed with water cannons, tear gas and kettled across Turkey today. Despite the brutality they faced in Diyar Bakir, Kurds continued to march towards the square where Newroz celebrations, which mark the first day of Spring, were to be held. In the past, they were not allowed to exert their Kurdish identity in public, but since the 1980s, Newroz has become a symbolic event in highlighting Kurdish culture, and identity.

Newroz is usually celebrated between March 18 and 21, but the official date for Newroz is March 21. During Newroz, Kurdish people dress up in traditional dresses, and partake in folklore dance. Unfortunately today, violence was escalated by the presence of Turkish riot police, and the barricading of entrances towards the Square.

Kurdish Women mark Newroz in the Turkish capital Ankara. Photo credit: Jiyan Azadi posted on Twitter

Kurdish Women mark Newroz in the Turkish capital Ankara. Photo credit: Jiyan Azadi posted on Twitter

Yekbun Alp from Amed (Diyarbakir) tweeted:

@YekbunAlp: Turkish police have locked Amed and doesnt let anyone leave the city to celebrate Newroz.

In a poor attempt to disperse Kurds that were making their way to the Square to celebrate Newroz, unnecessary force was used by Turkish riot police. Alp explains:

@YekbunAlp: Turkish police is using teargas against the celebrators!!!

Violence continued, and led to the killing of one Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) executive in Istanbul. BDP co-chair Gültan Kışanak confirmed the death of Haci Zengin on her Twitter account.

Reuters reports on this incident:

Turkish police used water cannon, tear gas and baton charges to break up Kurdish demonstrations across the country on Sunday and one local politician died in the protests, a sign of rising tension ahead of the Kurdish New Year next week.

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.