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 Thousands of Kurds celebrate New Kurdish Year Newroz in southeastern Turkey  

 Source : AP | Agencies
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Thousands of Kurds celebrate New Kurdish Year Newroz in southeastern Turkey  21.3.2008 


March 21, 2008

DIYARBAKIR, Kurdish Southeastern region of Turkey, --  Tens of thousands of Kurds celebrated a traditional Kurdish New Year Newroz festival in Turkey's southeast on Friday, chanting slogans in support of a rebel group whose members Turkey considers terrorists and the group's imprisoned leader.

The crowd shouted "long live President Apo," the nickname of Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, who is now serving a lifelong prison term as the sole inmate of an island prison off Istanbul.

Authorities increased security measures for Friday's Newroz festival in Diyarbakir, deploying hundreds of riot police, and armored personnel carriers.

'Newroz' is the traditional Kurdish new year, The year 2008 corresponds to the Kurdish year 2620. All Kurds around the world are celebrating the new year 'Newroz' on March 21. It is Newroz festival today. Newroz means 'new day' in Kurdish. It is not a sign of victory, but the hope that victory will one day come. They want to be independent in their own country under the name of Kurdistan.

The Kurdish calendar starts at 612 BC. This is the year that Cyaxares, the grandson of Deioces (Díyako), the first king of the Medes' empire, occupied Nineveh and put the end to the brutality of the Assyrian empire in the lands under its occupation.       

A Turkish Kurdish woman flashes a V-victory sign as a boy waves a flag with a picture of the imprisoned Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan in the background during the Newroz celebrations in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey (Turkey Kurdistan), Friday, March 21, 2008. 'Newroz' is the traditional Kurdish new year, All Kurds around the world are celebrating the new year 'Newroz'. Newroz celebrated by Kurds as an expression of identity in Turkey, when they often assert anti-government sentiment by raising rebel flags and displaying images of jailed rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan in violation of Turkish law. Newroz,

Newroz is celebrated largely by Turkey's Kurdish population and is traditionally used as an opportunity to highlight separatist demands by Kurdish rebels. In the past, celebrations have ended in riots that claimed dozens of lives.

This year's event in Diyarbakir started peacefully. Police officers stayed away from the crowd, but filmed those who were entering the festival area.

Banners in red, green and yellow, traditional Kurdish colors used by the PKK, were seen everywhere.

"PKK is the people. People are here," the crowd shouted. "We are with you Ocalan. Teeth for teeth, blood for blood."

The pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, believed by many Turks to be a political front for the PKK, organized the festival and said it intended to keep the celebrations peaceful.

Since 1984 the PKK took up arms for self-rule in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan). A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

Kurds, a non-Arab people distantly related to the Iranians, make up around 20 percent of Turkey's population of at least 70 million.

The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds' identity in its constitution and of their language as a native language along with Turkish in the country's Kurdish areas,
the party also demanded an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and constitution against Kurds, ranting them full political freedoms.

Gurbet Onen, a 21-year-old Kurdish woman enjoying Friday's celebration, said Kurds need both economic and cultural rights.

"We want freedom. There are factories, no jobs here," she said. "We also want education in Kurdish. We want (Ocalan) to be released."

AP | Agencies

** Kurds are not recognized as an official minority in Turkey and are denied rights granted to other minority groups. Under EU pressure, Turkey recently granted Kurds limited rights for broadcasts and education in the Kurdish language, but critics say the measures do not go far enough.

The use of the term "Kurdistan" is vigorously rejected due to its alleged political implications by the Republic of Turkey, which does not recognize the existence of a "Turkish Kurdistan" Southeast Turkey.

Others estimate over 40 million Kurds live in Big Kurdistan (Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Armenia), which covers an area as big as France, about half of all Kurds which estimate to 20 million live in Turkey.

Turkey is home to 25 million ethnic Kurds, a large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK for a Kurdish homeland in the country's mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media. The Kurdish alphabet is still not recognized in Turkey, and use of the Kurdish letters X, W, Q which do not exist in the Turkish alphabet has led to judicial persecution in 2000 and 2003

The Kurdish flag flown officially in Iraqi Kurdistan but unofficially flown by Kurds in Armenia. The flag is banned in Iran, Syria, and Turkey where flying it is a criminal offence" 

Southeastern Turkey: North Kurdistan ( Kurdistan-Turkey) wikipedia


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