Large crowds mark Kurdish New Year in Istanbul
Istanbul, Mar 19 (EFE).- Tens of thousands of people gathered on an esplanade in Istanbul Sunday to mark the Kurdish festival of Newroz, despite cold weather and rain.
Newroz is officially observed on the spring equinox (March 21) but celebraitons are often moved to the nearest Sunday.
Despite the persistent rains, the event attracted a large crowd of mainly Kurdish residents amid a festive spirit which saw revelers joyfully sing together, dance and jump over bonfires.
The gathering also took aim at Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist government with shouts of “Resignation” and “Democracy for Turkey”.
Flags of left-wing political parties fluttered in the cool breeze, including the Peoples’ Democratic Party of Turkey, HDP, a pro-Kurdish left-wing formaiton that is third in the Turkish parliament, and various small left-wing parties that hope to obtain a seat through a broader alliance with HDP at general elections slate for May 18.
Those present at the Kurdish celebration called for the release of Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdag, former HDP leaders who have been imprisoned since 2016 as part of a wider government clampdown on opposition leaders.
The first Newroz celebrations were held on Saturday in some Kurdish areas of eastern Anatolia, such as Hakkari, while events in dozens of cities across the country, including Ankara, Izmir and Antalya unfolded on Sunday.
There will likely be several local celebrations on Monday and on Tuesday, the day of the equinox.
Newroz will be celebrated in Diyarbakir, the largest city in the Kurdish regions of Turkey, where in the past up to a million people have gathered to mark the Kurdish New Year. EFE