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 Turkey: Kurds celebrate traditional New Year, call for more freedoms

 Source : Agencies
  Kurd Net does not take credit for and is not responsible for the content of news information on this page


Turkey: Kurds celebrate traditional New Year, call for more freedoms 27.3.2005


Tens of thousands of Kurds in Southeast Turkey last week celebrated Norouz, their traditional New Year, which has been marred by tensions and bloodshed in the past.

Kurdish leaders who joined the celebration in Diyarbakir, the main city of the predominantly Kurdish region, urged Ankara to expand Kurdish freedoms and end years of conflict that have claimed some 36,500 lives.
“We expect the solution neither from the European Union nor the United States, but from those who are governing Turkey”, Tuncer Bakirhan, the chairman of the pro-Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (DEHAP), told the crowd.

Ankara, long under international pressure to improve the rights of the Kurds, has recently granted them a number of cultural freedoms as part of reforms aimed at boosting Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.
The Kurds, however, say the reforms should be enhanced and are pressing in particular for an amnesty for Kurdish rebels who have fought the government since 1984.
For the Kurds, Norouz has become an occasion to call for their rights and demonstrate support for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a 15-year separatist campaign against Ankara.
Scores of police kept watch as Kurdish men and women danced and sang around traditional bonfires at the festival venue in Diyarbakir.

Some revellers carried PKK flags and chanted slogans in favor of the group’s leader, Abdallah Ocalan, who is serving a life term for treason in a prison island.
In a statement carried by the pro-PKK MHA news agency, Ocalan, from his prison cell, issued a message advocating a loose confederal system of all Kurdish communities that would rule out an independent Kurdish state.
The authorities have often banned Norouz celebrations in the past for fear they would trigger unrest.
In 1992, about 50 people were killed by security forces during Norouz clashes. Two men were crushed to death and dozens injured in a police clampdown on Norouz demonstrations in 2002.
Norouz marks the awakening of nature at the March 21 equinox, and is also celebrated in Iran and other Muslim communities in the Caucasus and Central Asia. It is said to originate from an ancient Zoroastrian festival.



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